The program proceeds as planned.  New voices (read young playwrights) are welcomed, introduced, their work read aloud (sometimes by the playwrights themselves, sometimes by actors), and discussed.  Engaged in conversation about the intensely personal and profoundly important art of playwriting.  Last year about this time David Cote hosted a discussion at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center featuring some prominent NYC-based critics and scholars.  This year, sponsored by Theatre Communications Group, David Cote hosts three playwrights with intriguingly different origins and career trajectories (and some words to say about critics and we’ll get to that) and with strong distinctive storytelling voices: David AdjmiYoung Jean Lee, and Tarell Alvin McCraney.  The conversation sparkles, the talent shines, the words bounce, the audience appreciates.  This evening and the theatre reflected in it is vibrant and hopeful and frankly very smart and funny.

Cote edges into the evening’s conversations with a reference to a 2005 article by Jeffrey Jones that sets us up for word play and intelligent analysis and just plain fun.  An article originally published in the October 2005 issue of American Theatre called “Thinking about Writing about Thinking about New Plays” (and reblogged by the author in 2007) poses the question of preparing audiences for new work (hello there dramaturgs).  How, Cote asks, can critics and artistic directors and others act as curators to make new works accessible to their audiences.  How, he muses, are the new audiences prepared to read the newer stranger and wilder theatrical creations presented these days?

Cote offers his own quick sketches of the panel members’ writing styles.  Of Adjmi: layers of dialogue that play like a musical composition.  Of Lee: ironic, bitter, using found objects.  Of McCraney: double hung visions, heightened lush sensual language.  And the audience is prepped.

Read More: click here.

© Martha Wade Steketee (October 26, 2011)

Original posting on Steketee’s blog Urban Excavations at


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