Plays, Plays, Plays*

By Lucy Walker

Sometime recently, fall arrived in Maine. Red leaves and pumpkin spice products are all around us. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some autumn. It just surprised me because it means I have been living in Portland for more than a month! When I got here, I arrived later than the other interns, so I had to play catch-up. Everything felt a bit new and overwhelming, especially in the area of literary management. It’s funny to think back on that now because, these days, our new play process feels wonderful – like I’m riding a shiny bike that is a rad shade of violet.

Since I am not assistant directing any shows until 2015, I am spending my whole fall in the Bungalow. The Bungalow is our office, the top-floor space where we, the directing and dramaturgy interns, spend our days researching, writing PlayNotes articles, reading plays, and excitedly checking the mail. Initially, after a summer of camp, I wasn’t too crazy about the space, because we don’t have any windows or fresh air. But the more I do here, the more I like it. We have a wall of desks and computers, free-floating tables in the middle, and the “reading corner.” This is my favorite place, with a collection of cozy couches and chairs. It’s a good place to read plays.

And do we read plays…lots of them. Right now, we are out of “tenners” — ten-page script samples—which is a rare and exciting moment for any literary department. Usually, we are constantly reading both tenners and full-length scripts submitted for the Little Festival of the Unexpected and the Clauder Competition. Reading so many scripts is both a joy and a curse. When I get a great play, it’s wonderful and affirming and makes me want to go out onto Forest Avenue and sing theatre’s praises. When I get a less great play, or five of those in a row, it’s a severely different reaction. That is usually the moment when I take a break and visit the costume shop to squirrel away some candy corn, that great culinary fixture of fall.

But in all seriousness, reading scripts is one of my favorite things to do. Every script I read not only challenges me as a director, dramaturg, and writer, but also shows me more possibilities for how to utilize theatre. Every play is a glimpse into that playwright’s life; their background, interests, knowledge, relationships, and worldview. And I treasure and appreciate that opportunity, even if the script itself is making Hrosvitha roll around in her grave.

Not gonna lie, I am itching to get into rehearsal. I have been thinking about starting my own side project just to satisfy that urge. Anyone know any Spanish-speaking actors in Portland? But in the meantime, I am off to my favorite chair in the reading corner, a large, flowered monstrosity, to— wait for it— read a play!

*Please sing this in your mind to the tune of “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child.

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