One playwright. Two nights.

We performed seven short plays by Suzan-Lori Parks this past Friday and Saturday night; Week 43 of the year-long 365 Days / 365 Plays festival. This has been a great couple of weeks – they’ve been fun plays to explore, and we had a fantastic group of ensemble members and friends to explore them with.

We invited audiences to stick around for discussions with the cast and the directors after both shows, and had some great conversations about the brilliant and crazy idea of writing a play every day for a year and then handing them out to almost a thousand theatre companies around the world to interpret and share with audiences.

Parks writes with an incredible amount of faith in the artists who will pick up her scripts and bring them to life on stage; she creates strong characters with distinct voices and she explores powerful issues, but she leaves a lot of specific choices up to the directors and actors.

Audience members pointed this out to us both nights – with five directors working on our seven plays, there were questions about the different styles and approaches, and what elements of the performances came from the directors and actors, as opposed to the playwright. Sarah wrote about this yesterday (although modesty may have prevented her from talking about A Round for Glenn Gould, in which she directed a large chorus of actors that seemed to emerge organically from the audience itself before filling the theater with voices and movement – Parks doesn’t give any instructions as to where this chorus should appear, but Sarah’s choice created the feeling of community and manic security that the text suggests).

After two weeks of exploring and two nights of performing, we’re saying goodbye to Parks for the moment. I’m looking forward to the next chance I’ll have to play with her words and ideas, and I look forward to the ways in which this sense of exploration will inform the way we approach other playwrights.

With that in mind, our attention returns to Pearl Cleage and Bourbon at the Border.

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