The Here & Now Project
A Call for Submissions
Growing up in New York, I was privileged to see my hometown represented, mythologized and eulogized in movies, plays and TV shows on a regular basis. As a child, I imagined everyone had this same experience—that the stories they watched were also about where they lived, what had happened there, and what was happening there now. But as I grew up, I realized this was not the case. Far from it, in fact. For various complicated reasons, the stories we’re told oftentimes do not show the full picture of our nation’s geographic diversity. And I wanted to help with that, in what little way I could: to amplify the voices and the stories from across the United States, and to help people across the United States hear those voices and stories.
This is the goal of the “Here & Now Project”—which begins its modest pilot phase this summer, thanks to the generosity of the people at HowlRound. The project aims to find new theatrical voices, playwrights creating work across the United States, and to put them in conversation with one another by (in this initial phase) having them create short works about where they are, and what is happening there now. This project came about due to the magic of Twitter, and HowlRound’s Weekly Howl, in which members of the HowlRound staff ask questions about the theater and we, the twitterverse, answer as loudly as possible. And so, one week late last year, the question was “How do we make theater move at the speed of current events?” As a matter of luck, I had recently been reminded in a class of "The Living Newspaper" that the Federal Theatre Project undertook in the 1930s: in a time before television, the internet, before even Saturday Night Live (gasp!), the Federal Theatre Project funded entertaining revues of small scenes that featured current events, local and national, as a means of civic engagement. While it is undeniable that new forms of media since the 1930s have successfully disseminated national issues broadly, local ones remain less explored terrain, especially in the theater. And while other mediums are perhaps better suited to reaching a mass number of people, the theater is uniquely suited to reaching out to local populations, and letting them witness their stories as a community. While this is not the only power theater possess by any means, it is one that is worth exploring, especially in this particular time, when we are on the verge of a national election and the country feels so deeply polarized.
Throughout the months of June, July, and August, we will feature short works by four playwrights from across the United States on the HowlRound blog weekly, in the hope of fostering discussion about what is happening here and now. It is the dream of this small project that once these pieces are made public, that perhaps they can be performed together as an evening by the theaters in the communities where playwrights are located, as a means to try to understand the summer of 2012—both from a local and national perspective.
And while other mediums are perhaps better suited to reaching a mass number of people, the theater is uniquely suited to reaching out to local populations, and letting them witness their stories as a community.
It is also the hope that, should the pilot stage of this program generate interest, we will scale it up accordingly. In this way, the Here & Now Project seeks to amplify a few more voices creating work for the American theater. But, really, all this depends on you—yes, you—the HowlRound readers, and—especially you—the playwrights reading this, whose stories we want. Below you will find the call for submissions, with the very things you will need to send along, electronically. Please, by all means, send in your work, and help make the Here & Now Project live up to the potential that we believe it has to offer us.
A Call For Submissions: HowlRound is seeking four playwrights from across America to take part in the Here & Now Project—an online series fostering theatrical work exploring the nature of America today by reflecting what is happening here and now. The pilot program will select four writers from geographically diverse sections of the country, asking them to write one new short piece (from five to ten minutes in length) once a month for three months that reflects where they are, and what’s happening there now. These pieces, each credited appropriately, will then be posted weekly to the HowlRound blog as an ongoing series for the months of June, July and August 2012. These pieces can take any form the playwright can think of including but not limited to: -A dramatic rendering of a moment in time. -A rigorously naturalistic ten minute play. -A confessional monologue from a state senator. -A dreamscape of images that typify this moment in time. -A pageant of local personalities. -A series of harrowing interviews with wildlife. -Or anything else the playwright can devise. While history pieces (and imagined futures, apocalyptic and otherwise) have their place, this is not it!
Here and now is the focus, thus the pieces should be based both in the here (where the playwright lives) and the now (the summer of 2012). Outside of that, the playwright should feel free to use their imagination to dramatize their here and now. Interested playwrights should send the following to daniel(at)howlround.com no later than Friday, April 20. Late submissions will not be considered, nor will anything outside of the following items: - one thirty-page excerpt of a full-length work. - a 150-word description of why you are interested in writing about where you live and what's going on there and why HowlRound readers would benefit hearing from you. - 100 word bio and headshot. Selected playwrights will be notified no later than May 18.