AMERICA-IN-PLAY designs each year’s workshops to suit the life and development of what is unique to each cohort. This coming year, our subject matter will primarily be post-Civil War through the 1920s. We will continue the story of the Yankee in his later incarnations and give special attention to the transformation of the character in the climate of modernism. We will look at an array of plays that introduce new forms responsive to the alterations in American life; we will examine ethnic theatre; we will continue to delve into popular entertainment. We want to include exploration of the physical environments of production, including approaches to scenic design and acting, in order to ask how the world in which texts are performed inform the writing. Through these projects, we seek even wider and deeper conversations with our shared ancestors.
A lingering rumor in standard theatre history is that a true American drama did not exist before Eugene O’Neill. Not so. We have an enormous, but neglected, wealth of comedies from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, plays that comprise our folk drama. These comedies of and for the people contributed to shaping an American identity, and their codes still live in popular culture. AMERICA-IN-PLAY aims to immerse playwrights in this legacy and strengthen their connection to this past as a source for contemporary American writing. My design is to initiate conversations between current writers and those of the past, not for the purpose of resurrection, but rather to enrich present writing through the grounding and inspiration from long-forgotten plays.
- Lynn M. Thomson, Founder and Artistic Director