It’s an exciting time here at ATC! I’m Carrie. I’ve been the Production Manager of Actor’s Theatre for 6 seasons now and as we move into our 24th season, we’re stepping outside of our comfort zone and trying something completely different. And now for something completely different:
The nuVoices for a nuGeneration play festival began this past Sunday evening with a kick-off soiree for everyone involved with the festival.
These actors clean up pretty good, don’t they?
Working full-time at ATC often keeps me trapped up in this building with a threaded needle in one hand and a roll of duct tape in the other. I wish I had time to become more engaged with the rest of the Charlotte theatre community, because there are always fantastic shows to be seen and amazing talent to meet. But this festival has given me a chance to work with some of the most well-known artists in the Charlotte theatre scene! Vito Abate of JUST DO IT over at Theatre Charlotte, J.R. Adducci of the recently established 700 Miles South company, and both Nicia Carla and Peter Smeal, who are delightful staples at Children’s Theatre. Those are just a few examples of the variety of talent that we’re experiencing right now at ATC.
The process of a new play festival is a demanding one. Here it is in a nutshell:
It began with ATC dramaturgs reading 288 plays that were submitted to the festival from all over the nation. We were hoping for 100 submissions and got 288. We exceeded our expectations by… a lot of percent! Through a process of elimination, they narrowed it down to 4. Those 4 plays were randomly assigned to 4 directors who have never previously directed a show for ATC. After a full day of auditions (A VERY FULL DAY OF AUDITIONS) the shows were cast with a total of 22 local actors. When the playwrights arrived, we jumped into a week-long rehearsal process.
Each of the 4 shows rehearses 6 hours a day in alternating shifts. Work 3 hours, break 3 hours, and work 3 hours. Throughout the day, the playwrights work on making any script omissions, additions, and alterations that they believe will strengthen their show. This is where it gets tricky! Being a new experience for ATC, we knew this process would have a learning curve. You can either lean into that curve, or pull away and curl up in a ball until it’s all over. With as comforting as I find the fetal position, pulling away just didn’t seem like the right option. We’re lucky to have a festival advisor who has helped us stay organized with the daily script changes. Martin Kettling is new to the Charlotte area, but a veteran to the world of kick-ass theatre. Having worked for years as the Literary Manager for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, he brings with him prestige, experience, and some really awesome organizational skills. Plus, he can unjam a copier like a pro. We owe much of the success of this festival to Martin. He arrived early each morning, coffee in hand, to print up those new script changes for each of the actors. Each day, the actors arrive knowing they may have a whole new script waiting for them. It’s exciting as an artist, but also a little scary. With just 4 days of rehearsals before an audience views the reading, there is a delightful tension in the air.
Lauren Dortch Crozier, an actor in the project, says,” It’s an intense, caffeine filled week, but i can’t wait to see the shows.”
I asked Artistic Director Chip Decker where he got the idea for the nuVoices festival:
“It’s something I felt Charlotte needed. We haven’t had anything quite like this since Charlotte Repertory and since ATC’s goal is NEW WORKS, it just felt like a natural step. New play festivals are notoriously NOT money makers, especially in the early years, so, for years now, we’ve been seeking funding for this type of project and we found a great fit with the Women’s Impact Fund, whose $70,000 grant made this dream possible. We’re already searching for sponsors for the coming years. This festival doesn’t just help ATC, but it also helps the entire theatre community. It gives more paid opportunity for Charlotte actors and directors. Plus, we want the rest of the world to know that Charlotte is a city helping to produce new works.”
Today is Thursday. As we say in the theatre world: IT’S THE DAY OF THE SHOW, Y’ALL. This is where it all comes together. STILL by Jen Silverman at 6:00pm and SUMMER ON FIRE by Mike Bencivenga at 9:00pm. Each of these performances is followed by a talkback with the playwright and director. For just $10 a show, you can be a part of new and upcoming theatre. When they go to Broadway, you can say, “I remember when…”. It’s time to head over to ATC. NuVoices or BUST!