Lark Playwrights' Week. September 20-24, 2011.

The Lark Playwrights’ Week has instantly become a tradition for me as a Manhattan resident.  Last year’s adventures at this festival of evolving new play love were part of my self-designed theatrical welcome wagon to my new city.  (See those thoughts among reflections on the first New Black Fest here:  Last year’s adventures occurred in a midtown hideaway, the organization’s long time residence in a shabby but serviceable office building.  My notes about the locale:

  • “I hung out for four evenings this past week at the Lark’s 2nd floor performance/rehearsal space on 8th Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets.  A building and a performance space for which years exploring Chicago storefronts and basements and backrooms featuring theatrical companies prepared me well — not luxurious, tucked away, but where theatre magic often happens.”

This year, the Lark has relocated to splendid spare refurbished-with-a-light-touch performance and rehearsal and reading and working space at 311 West 43rd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.  The Lark facilities have moved up in altitude (they now occupy portions of the building’s 4th and 5th floors) and quality of life, for artists and lucky audiences alike.

The full 2011 line up of public events is listed here:

I was able to attend three readings among this year’s offerings and offer a few observations (no reviews) and dialogue snippets from each

  • 23 September.  Get Thorpe by Ken Weitzman, directed by Evan Yionoulis.
  • 24 September.  Timberland by Katharine Clark Gray, directed by David Hilder.
  • 24 September.  Failure: A Love Story by Philip Dawkins, directed by David F. Chapman.

Get Thorpe

  • “I thought it might be fun to run him down.” (Eisenhower about Thorpe)
  • “It’s not battle field to battle field.  It’s purgatory to purgatory.”
  • “What is more important to a story than who gets to tell it?”


  • “I can never quite get it up for the whales.”
  • “I may not be walking in your exact footprints but I’m pointed in the right direction.”
  • “Marooned in the non-Austin part of Texas.  That’s my nightmare.”
  • “People with nothing will always find someone else to blame it on.”
  • “I didn’t realize this revolution was going to be accessorized.”
  • [stage direction] “Cheers in that rambunctious key of protest.”
  • “In the end we always create legends.”

Failure: A Love Story

  • [stage direction] “Henry knew what it meant to know a city from the water up.”
  • “I want a man who loves with all of his little boy heart — like a dog.”
  • “You’re causing a tsunami in Saugatuck.” [I’m a western Michigan girl by birth and I love both the rhyme and the reference to this Lake Michigan shore area historical artists’ colony.]

The staff at the Lark are now becoming friendly acquaintances.  In the past year, through similar events (readings, conversations, performances) many fellow attendees are now familiar faces.  Several of the playwrights I have known in other locales and am delighted to see again this week.  In Philadelphia and through my work with the Philadelphia Dramatists Center and as a freelance dramaturg, I got to know Katie Gray and Slip/Shot author Jackie Goldfinger.  I saw Dominique Morisseau‘s Detroit ’67 during an early reading of it as part of the Public Theater‘s Emerging Writers Group program.  (Ah, new play development programs do indeed continue to grow and prosper in New York City.) This is my first introduction to Philip Dawkins‘ work, whose reputation has preceded him for me following an enthusiastically received production of his play The Homosexuals at About Face Theatre in Chicago this past summer.  Philip and I talk about his current and future projects (including one about cow girls, which reminds me of a stick pony cowgirl competition from earlier in 2011, and video clips are later exchanged). His reading director and I connect over many things (including Chicago, there’s always Chicago), and I am invited to a reading of another new play a few days hence.  And so it goes in this world — work to work, hand to hand, person to person, theatrical wonder to theatrical wonder, friend to friend.  Honoring the work.  And it continues.

© Martha Wade Steketee (September 28, 2011)

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