I’m currently in the midst of casting and scheduling twelve full-length script readings as part of the low-residency MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen that I run out of the New Hampshire Institute of Art.
A major feature of the program is to offer our student writers the opportunity to experience their scripts (both plays and screenplays) come alive and given voice for the first time by professional actors–an initial test of their new material written during the semester just ended–and to get valuable feedback from faculty (all professional writers), fellow students, the actors participating, as well as other invited professionals. We are committed to this aspect of our program because it’s the only true way for writers to learn what works and what doesn’t and to become a part of the collaborative process that our industry embraces.
But pulling all this off is not an easy task. Our residency is ten days long and two of these days are taken up with other aspects of the learning process–Visiting Artist talks, special elective courses, and talks by graduating students. And in the eight days remaining, the readings have to be fitted in between intensive classroom work where various elements of the craft and business of script writing are explored in-depth. Not to mention having to work around actor schedules.
So “marathon” is a pretty accurate word to describe this cornucopia of new work being released for the first time, all of which takes place in various conducive venues in our beautiful Peterborough, NH homebase. Our residencies have become a glorified script writers’ camp where students and other artists from all over the country and Canada gather to celebrate and study our art. Crazy as it gets at times, it’s where our students learn how to be successful storytellers in a field that turns their stories into living performances bound for the world’s stages and screens.
We may all leave the residency staggering home from sheer exhaustion (coupled with a large dose of inspiration), but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m the Program Director of the low-residency MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen being offered by the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Our next residency runs June 19-28 2015. We are now considering applications for starting the program in January 2016. I’m also a playwright and screenwriter, producing partner in my production company Either/Or Films (The Sensation of Sight and Only Daughter), and a professional script consultant.
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