Great Plains Theatre Conference. Nine days in Omaha. Spirited conversations with witty, articulate people from all over the country. Warm Midwestern hospitality. Lots of wine, good food and new friends. No sleep, quiet time or tornadoes. And I would happily do it all over again (but let me take a nap first).
When The Singularity was chosen for the GPTC, I wasn’t sure what I’d gotten myself into. I’d never been to Nebraska. The conference dates included my ten-year anniversary with James. The only planes that fly non-stop to Omaha are tiny. I didn’t know any of the people who were going to be there, including the director and cast of my play.
Whatever fears I had were quickly washed away during the first breakfast at the hotel when I met the other playwrights. They were a welcoming group, and we had instant chemistry. Within a day or two, I felt like I’d known some of them for years. We fell into easy friendships the way you do when you’re a kid, spending the entire conference laughing, telling stories and supporting each other. A bit of magic in an otherwise indifferent world.
Intellectually, the concept of seeing three or more full-length play readings each day sounded difficult but doable. And it was, though I was surprised at how mentally and emotionally taxing it is to hear so many stories in a row. This wasn’t passive theatre watching. We were filling out response forms and giving feedback during the talk backs, and because we wanted to be supportive of each other we really concentrated on what we were listening to. My playwright’s brain was stretched from seeing so many new pieces that incorporated different themes, language and structure than the plays I write. I look forward to seeing how that exposure will impact my writing going forward.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the people who make the GPTC happen. I’ve never before had this sort of opportunity to let the day-to-day worries and responsibilities of my life go and just concentrate on something I love.