A couple of weeks ago, I let you know what’s in store for the Azuka blog this summer. I want to highlight some corners of Azuka that you might not be familiar with — that will include weekly spotlights on each of the seven playwrights from our writers group New Pages. And if you didn’t know we had a writers group, you’re in the right place. Before I introduce our writers (starting tomorrow!)…what is New Pages?
New Pages gives local playwrights a unique writer-centric space to develop their work. Based on the needs and processes of the individuals in the group, New Pages seeks to support Philadelphia playwrights from the spark of an idea to a production-ready script.
I asked Azuka’s own Artistic Associate and fearless New Pages leader Maura Krause to speak more about the group, how it works, and its importance to us in our commitment to new work. So enough from me. Take it away, Maura!
“The foundational impulse behind New Pages was to create a space for local playwrights that is responsive to their needs. This mission ended up being two-fold, with one goal being to facilitate writer-centric new play development before a script ever enters a rehearsal room, and the second being to contribute to an increasing number of productions by local playwrights in Philadelphia. In addition to creating a regular meeting space for the members of New Pages, Azuka has made a commitment that for at least three seasons, Azuka will produce one play per season by a writer from the group. Next season (2019-20), we are thrilled to be producing New Pages member Douglas Williams’s play SHIP, a world premiere as well as our New Professionals production.
In order to shape the meetings of New Pages in a way that would serve the playwrights’ needs and processes, we asked everyone what their ideal writers group would look like. After getting a lot of input and considering what our resources could make possible, we settled on the general shape of New Pages being twice monthly sessions for three hours, with each meeting generally being focused on a single full-length script by one of the member playwrights. Occasionally we have a day where several folx bring in excerpts, or the beginning of a brand new play, but the bulk of our time is spent on finished drafts, often with playwrights bringing in iterations of the same script multiple times. In addition to the group’s tremendous dramaturgical generosity, part of what makes this special is that thanks to the support of the Independence Foundation’s New Theatre Works Initiative, Azuka is able to bring in actors for the casual in-progress readings. Not only does this allow the group’s writers to focus on listening, it also makes for an even meatier conversation afterward, as the actors bring their own astute questions and observations to the text.
We’re also really excited to being producing public full-length readings of the plays that New Pages playwrights have been working on, both inside and outside of the group. At the suggestion of member playwright Jackie Goldfinger, Azuka is dedicating the dark Monday nights while we’re in production to mounting readings. You can check out our brochure for those dates and which playwright is going up when — the plays, of course, are TBD!
Overall, New Pages was a logical extension of Azuka’s commitment to the community around us through Pay-What-You-Decide, and 19 productions of plays by local playwrights over our 20 year history. However, it is also something we’re incredibly passionate about — the ability to truly welcome writers into the Azuka family and say “we believe in you” is incredible. It’s thrilling to see a play morph and grow, and even more so to see a playwright continue to explore their voice. The hope is that New Pages continues indefinitely, and once our first three years have elapsed Azuka will do what we can to find the resources to continue it in its current (or evolved) form. No matter what, though, Azuka will continue to produce local playwrights and support them in some way, as we always have.”
In my last post, I spoke to the idea that you belong at Azuka. We want you here, we want to welcome you to see theatre no matter what your circumstances. It’s a happy coincidence that Maura’s addressed that too, but for our artists. We do believe in new work, in new voices — and we can’t wait for you to hear them. Our New Pages playwrights include…
Thank you, Maura, for detailing New Pages; and you out there — be on the lookout for the dates and times of next season’s New Pages readings! And of course, check back here every week to hear from the writers themselves.
Hope you’re all keeping cool (and dry!) See you soon.