How did you get involved with the Arkansas New Play Fest?
I was invited to participate! I was involved in an earlier workshop of The Champion at BRIC Media Arts in New York and am grateful to explore it further.
Is this your first time working in Arkansas? How do you find it? Expectations vs. Reality?
No, I've worked at Arkansas Rep twice. Fayetteville's great: friendly, a mix of relaxed and sophisticated. I got my Acting MFA at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the two towns seem like sister cities.
How does working on a play in development compare to working on a published script?
The beginning of both processes feel similar: coming to a text with an open mind, ready to pay attention and ask questions. Soon though, they part ways: working on a play in a development, I can't fall as deeply in love with any choices or discoveries I've made - because a playwright can cut lines and whole scenes by the next day! But on a positive note, actors in a new play get to bring their big, beautiful storytelling, story-loving brains and hearts to the text, telling playwrights and directors what they notice, what confuses them, what resonates with them. And not just about their specific roles, but across the entire story. We get to be a developing play's advocates in a really active way.
Do actors need to have a different kind of skill set to work on a play in development (new pages everyday)?
A sense of adventure's great. And an absence of insecurity: if a scene gets cut, it's not about your work and in fact may be because your work clarified something for the playwright and director.
How do you think the Arkansas New Play Fest compares to other new play development workshops that you have been part of in the past?
Well, the first distinction is that we get New Play Fest t-shirts. Yay! On a serious note, the t-shirts, the get-togethers for Fest casts and production teams, and the two showings - each in a different location - are all about community. I've been a gig-to-gig actor for most of my professional career, with only a few artistic 'homes'. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the New Play Fest's spirit of community, of joy in gathering to think and create and share is truly special.