'Overheard at New Visions/New Voices 2012' compiled and edited by Abra Chusid

 At New Visions/New Voices, we gather together to hear stories: stories of the characters onstage, brought to life by dedicated creative teams; stories of the playwrights’ discoveries through the week of development.  Coming together as a field, we also have the opportunity to share stories about our work around the world: stories of successes and risks, challenges and strengths. 

Zoom out, and you will see another story developing, in which we all play key roles. It is the story of our continuous and ongoing development of theatre for young audiences:  What does our field look like now?  How will we shape it in the years to come?  What are our hopes and dreams for young audiences worldwide? 

Individually, the quotes below may be provocative, funny, or somewhat strange; together, they tell a story.  A story of now.  A story of us.  A story of this benchmark in TYA. 

Overheard: The Process of New Play Development at New Visions/New Voices

“What we’re doing here is enlisting your experience, your sensitivities, and your wisdom in developing these plays; which are still developing.  Keep in mind that these readings are just moments in time.  Following a week of development, and a conversation that will continue right up until opening.”
  -Tony Graham (UK), Discussion Facilitator

“It’s always fun to see other people struggle.”
  -Anonymous

“What I’ve learned about writing, I learned from Americans; from TV and movies.  This is a very special moment for me, if you liked it – because I’ve done something right.  So thank you.”
  -Martin Baltscheit , playwright (Germany), after the reading and discussion of his play Only a Day.

“We had a playground, where [the actors] could handle anything we threw at them.”
  -Director Tim McDonald, (USA) about the caliber of the actors for the festival, and their importance in the    development of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach

“I learned again that directors and actors need story.”
  -Elif Temucin (Turkey) International Playwright Observer

“I think I’ve learned to write from character vs. story.”
  -Joe Brennan (Ireland), International Playwright Observer

“You have to be able to be open … and to give myself the time to think.”
  - Amaranta Leyva, (Mexico) International Playwright Observer

“Peter Brook, the well known TYA director, says: ‘After the performance, what is left?’”
  -Tony Graham

“Take away the energy of the day.  Take away the importance of what you do.  We have to continue to create great work for children here, and all around the world.”
  - Darrell M. Ayers, Vice President, Education, The Kennedy Center, in his closing remarks..

Overheard: Musings on Theatre for Young Audiences

“The juicy words in [ASSITEJ/USA’s] mission include connect, engage, and inspire.  And we try to do that everyday.”
  -Karen Sharp, President of ASSITEJ/USA

“I prefer TYA with less butter and sugar.”
  -Cristina Gottfridsson, (Sweden) International Playwright Observer

“Yes, and more acid!”
  -Cecily O’Neill, (UK) International Playwright Observers’ Dramaturg, in response to above

“It’s not about being good or bad. It’s about seeing possibilities.”
  -Methe Bendix, (Denmark) International Playwright Observer

 

“In my country, the majority of children do not have access to theatre.  On my continent, the majority of children do not have access to theatre.  Of course, they don’t have access to a lot of things...theatre opens the door to transformational experiences. ASSITEJ creates a place for that to happen.  ASSITEJ is about creating and nourishing theatre for young audiences around the world.  It’s only through partnerships, and only through discovering synergies, that we discover the work we can do in TYA.”
  -Yvette Hardie, President of ASSITEJ. South Africa.

Overheard: Reactions to the Plays

“[I wanted to] create a contemporary, idyllic American fairy tale.”
  -Ernie Nolan, (USA) playwright of A Lonely Boy’s Guide to Survival (and Werewolves).

“This is a play about how awful it is to be taught, and how wonderful it is to make discoveries.”
  - Rives Collins, (USA) Professor at Northwestern University, responding to Cautionary Tales for Children.

“I was delighted and relieved when the grandfather was introduced and I realized he wasn’t a villain, but a fully realized, three-dimensional adult in a children’s play.”
  -Pamela Sterling, (USA) Professor at Arizona State University, responding to The
Transition of Doodle Pequeño.

“When I first encountered [The Transition of Doodle Pequeño], it was like a shining light in a dark room…Think about what a joy it is to put something good out into the universe.  And I mean good not just in its craft, but in the ideas it puts out there.”
  - Wendy Bable, (USA) director of The
Transition of Doodle Pequeño

“This is the sort of play that can change your mind in sixty minutes.  Kids can have a conversation about whether or not Reno is gay…ambiguity is good because people can change their own minds.”
  -Janet Stanford, (USA) Artistic Director of Imagination Stage, responding to
Transition of Doodle Pequeño.  USA.

“I stare into a place where nothing is happening.  Nothing at all.  Not even darkness, cause that’s a thing.  Or silence, cause that’s a thing too.”
  -Australian Playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer, in The Boy at the Edge of Everything

“I love that this play invites young people to engage in deep, abstract, mind-blowing thoughts.”
  -Rives Collins

“I don’t know.  That’s why it’s great to be here, so you can tell me what my play’s about.”
  -Playwright Kevin Dyer, responding to a question about his play Minotaur

“Do American theatres have the courage to put this up?  We live, we die, we procreate – it’s all a part of life.”
  -Audience response to Martin Baltscheit’s Only A Day

“In America, post-September 11 and Columbine, there’s a trepidation from parents about making children sad…I appreciated the play because I cared about the characters and I wanted to know what happened next.”
  -Linda Hartzell, Artistic Director of Seattle Children’s Theatre, responding to Only a Day.  USA.

“He spoke for the magic of the moment, and was our guy.  Right before our eyes – what more do we need?”
  -David Gonzalez, playwright/storyteller, responding to the narrator in Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.  USA.

“The book was written for British kids, with New York as the exotic other.  What happens when the play is written and performed for kids in New York?”
  -Finegan Kruckemeyer responding to in Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.

Overheard: Final Reflections

Writing plays is solitary and difficult. Making productions is communal and difficult.  New Visions/New Voices seeks to nurture both sides of the coin.

Perhaps in the course of your work
you might find yourself
with a splinter of ice
in your eye,
in a place with demons
or ogres
or werewolves,

a place where time has shifted
where parents are missing, where friends
are scarce.

If so, close your eyes, take a moment
and reflect on this weekend.
When you open
your eyes again
what may appear to you:
a fox and a boar,
a trusty sidekick,
or an imaginary goat.

And what they will offer you
is a way
out
of the labyrinth,
a way
out of the
twisty
place

-Written and delivered by Kim Peter Kovac, in the festival’s concluding remarks. 

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