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Great Plains Theater Conference

Discussion with David Lindsay-Abaire
Following the performance of Rabbit Hole
Published on June 18, 2010

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The Great Plains Theatre Conference is an annual gathering of Midwest thespians. It features work from both firmly established American playwrights and the emerging writers that are propelling the genre today. It is presented yearly by Metropolitan Community College in association with Omaha Community Playhouse, Creighton University, Kaneko, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

The Conferences’ Evening Performance Series is a unique opportunity to see theater of a very high level in a relaxed environment. The lively crowd at these performances, which is surely drawn heavily from the tight knit Omaha theater family, is not above cat-calling their favorite actors and directors before the show. However, once the curtain goes up, you will not find a more engaged and attentive audience, the perfect segue to the informative question and answer sessions that follow.

Pulitzer-prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire served as the Honored Playwright for 2010. His gripping, heartfelt, and surprisingly funny drama, Rabbit Hole, about a marriage dissolving in the wake of tragic accident, was the final performance of the week. Probing questions following the weighty show quickly gave way to wine, cheese, and congratulations—Creighton’s Lied Education Center for the Arts was truly a house among friends for the evening.

More than anything, the Conference is a chance to enter into the dialogue of the stage with the artists at its forefront, or, as one speaker at the Q+A put it, “A chance to come together in the support and love of the theater.”

Since 2006, the week long conference has mixed education with the evening’s entertainment. For the theater community, the week represents a chance to take master classes, work on scripts, and receive feedback from master playwrights, theatre scholars, directors, and the public. For Omaha theater lovers, the conference is a chance to enjoy the over 50 playwrights whose work is featured.

According to their website, the Great Plains Theater Conference has three specific goals:

  • Nurture new playwrights, giving them an opportunity to have their work performed; and to study with, and receive thoughtful feedback from experienced theater professionals.
  • Be a place where emerging and more accomplished playwrights can workshop their new work and receive attention from national theater professionals.
  • Be a catalyst for vibrant new work to be launched into the national theater scene (source, Great Plains Theater Conference)

Evening performances for 2010 included:

Crime or Emergency by Sibyl Kempson
Waaxe’s Law by Mary Kathryn Nagle
Mountain Head with Constance Congdon and Erik Ehn
Turpentine Jake by James E. Hurd Jr. and Linda Bannister
The Writer’s Voice with David Lindsay-Abaire, Constance Congdon and Erik Ehn
Fuddy Myers by David Lindsay-Abaire
Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire

Aside from the marquee evening events, playwrights also saw their work featured in daytime mainstage events and in labs. Mainstage playwrights included: Kevin Artigue (Lost Sharks), Steven Bogart (Pigcat), Kimber Lee (fight), James McLindon (Distant Music), Asher Wyndham (Cassius Sargent’s Chicken Bones) with dozens of other Play Lab playwrights in support.

The Conference also features a Writer’s Workshop. This series of hands-on playwriting and acting classes is designed and led by talented theatre professionals. For 2010, the 90 minute classes were lead by featured artists Erik Ehn, Constance Congdon, and Marshall Mason, with additional artists including Dr. V. Arumugham, Bostin Christopher, Kip Fagan, Kim Gambino, Mike Iveson, Sibyl Kempson, Tom Riccio, Marty Skomal, Lee Wochner.

jordyAn writer since 2008, Jordy freely admits he's waiting for his golden parachute "anxiously." He microblogs @jordyclements + macroblogs

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