Telluride Playwrights Fest… Notes from the Inside

Telluride Playwrights Fest… Notes from the Inside

by Tracy Shaffer

Day 1. Began this morning with a table reading of my script "American in Hiding". I'm feeling a little vulnerable, having just finished this version on Sunday, I haven't even had a chance to read it. The cast is spot on. I can hear the bones of my story and the missing pieces. Feedback is given by the other festival participants and then I set them free. I want to get back to my cast. They're invested, they're engaged and they are all smart as hell. As the discussion unfolds, each collaborator brings insight and vision as we bounce around the whys and what ifs of my play. I am no longer feeling vulnerable, but strenghtened. This is what I came here for. 

In 2008, I was invited to workshop my play (w)hole at the TPF, my first time in Telluride. I fell in love, not only with the box canyon and the people, but with the process this festival allows me. I rewrote the entire play that week and then got valuable feedback from the Telluridians in the house. Last year I returned with the script and with the help of the response from festival playwrights after the 'salon' reading (after dinner at Jennie's), I was able to polish it for an October production. On Monday night I'll find out if (w)hole wins the Colorado Theatre Guild "Henry Award" for Outstanding New Play, many thanks to Telluride. 

Playwrights don't have the same luxury as other artists in that our medium has a missing component in the audience. When we add the actors, some time to rehearse, rehash and rewrite, we need to see it in front of a good house. Thus my goal is clear. I have a fresh version of a full-length script and a week to fill out the painting, adding shadow and perspective. I have established a track record of trust with the Telluride community and the Telluride Playwrights Festival. I know the feedback will be stimulating, challenging but not painful. At least from your end…

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