Columbus Playwrights Join the National Conversation
By Amy Drake, Drake Oration Company
Although Columbus is some distance from the theatrical hubs of New York or Chicago playwrights still have an opportunity to be heard. The Dramatists Guild is reaching out to include some of the lesser known, but still vibrant communities where theater is being produced, including Columbus. This gives up-and-coming playwrights an opportunity to join the conversation, and find out what others in the field are talking about. The importance of this message came about when I discovered that Columbus had lost its regional representative spot. It came about this way: I telephoned the Dramatists Guild office to inquire about applying for the vacant position and was told it had been abolished because Columbus was not a place where new theater was being created. I was incredulous! How could this be?
As I was assembling a cohesive argument against this pronouncement I rattled off the names of a good dozen or so active theater companies among the perhaps 40, or more, based in Central Ohio. The administrator I spoke with seemed genuinely surprised with my list and asked how many of the companies were producing new works. I estimated at least 10. I was then tasked with surveying theaters to find out which ones might be interested in receiving information about upcoming regional events, workshops, and readings. The results were encouraging. I am still hearing from theaters willing to connect to a wider community and passing their contact info along. In the meantime, DG members can attend upcoming events in nearby cities as close as Cincinnati or Pittsburgh.
Playwrights who have had works produced for a paying audience are encouraged to apply for membership in the Dramatists Guild. The valuable information in the journal, services, conferences, workshops, events and opportunities for networking are certainly worth the price of membership. I’ve made new friends and met in-person fellow playwrights I had become acquainted with online.
There really are myriad ways for a creative individual in Columbus to find his or her niche. In the Internet age opportunities abound to have one’s work under considered by theaters across the country, or even the globe. Dedicated playwrights can even produce shows in their own backyard. If you want to stage a grander show apply for a grant. If you’ve never written one take a class on grants writing, the public library offers them for free. The key is to treat theater with the same dedication one would bring to any other career.
I wrote and staged my first play when I was five years old, but didn’t return to the form until decades later. If you have an idea for a book, film, play, painting, or sculpting there’s no time like the present to get started. There are many arts guilds supporting many members, just as the Dramatists Guild has done for me. These organizations are as close as your Smartphone or laptop. You can even start your own Meetup group right here in Columbus.
Amy Drake is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Board member of the International Centre for Women Playwrights and Theatre Communications Group. Amy’s plays have been performed in New York, Chicago, and other US cities. Her recent play, Eyes like Opaque Gems, won Most Popular Play in the Midtown International Theater Festival (MITF) Short Play Lab, NYC. Home Body received a staged reading at The Ohio State University New Works Lab in 2015 and was nominated for four awards in MITF, New York. She was voted Theatre Roundtable Best Director for Night Must Fall and was assistant director for the Actors’ Theatre production of Servant of Two Masters, which ranked among The Columbus Dispatch Top-10 shows of 2012. Amy is also an author, academic writer, conference speaker, and poet. Amy holds a B.A. from Ohio Dominican University and a M.S. degree in marketing and communication from Franklin University. Her education includes creative writing and history summer programs at Cambridge University, UK, Reed Hall, Paris, Kenyon (College) Summer Institute, and Yale University.