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August 16th - 23rd, 2009

2009 ICWP Retreat
Columbus, Ohio, USA


Department of Theatre
The Ohio State University
Drake Performance and Event Center
Columbus, OHIO
Dates: Aug 16-23 2009

Geralyn Horton's report:

The 2009 ICWP Retreat opened in Columbus Ohio with a corn roast at the home of Professor Alan Woods and his wife Anne.

Playwrights showed up as they arrived, and met each other and some Columbus friends and neighbors who are interested in the Retreat and its writers.

Monday am was the first day of work, which commences officially whenever the earliest bird gets to the Drake Performance center.

Not everyone works at the computers in the OSU Department of Theatre's Lab-- several writers set up their laptops or legal pads on tables in the Drake upper lobby, where the huge windows overlook a soothing but ever-varying vista of sky and river.

Most of us feel inspired by the quiet companion- ship of other writers, working diligently near by. Those who prefer complete silence and solitude may stay in the dorm across campus and work in their room.

Lunch is usually brown-bagged, or purchased from the selection at the Pizza Pad, where any time between 9 am and 2 pm a sprinkling of writers may be found talking shop over coffee and a snack.

Near the 4 pm end-of-the-Day's session there is a flurry at the printers, as writers use their OSU Buckeye card to print out copies of the completed work for reading by the actors that evening.

Here's the roster of writers. I may have missed someone-- if so, apologies. Kellie Bean,
Vicki Cheatwood. Christine Emmert, Catherine Frid, Debbie Feldman, Geralyn Horton, Mrinalini Kamath, Nicole C. Kearney, Barbara Macchia, Farzana Moon, Mary O'Malley, Anne Pecaro, Diane Rao, Donna Spector, Chris Shaw Swanson and  Cynthia Wands.

Workshops and/or information sessions were held daily at 4:00 p.m., in Drake's top floor Lab Theatre.

Central Ohio theatre companies/artists participated:

  • Evolution Theatre Company
  • Beth Kettleman, from the Lawrence & Lee Institute and MadLab Theatre
  • Katherine Burkman, Women at Play and Process Theatre.
  • Available Light Theatre Company
  •  Geoffrey Nelson, Artistic Director of CATCO (Contemporary American Theatre Company; Central Ohio's Equity house)
  •  Christine Emmert presented a workshop on writing historical drama
After the Workshop, most writers head out for dinner and shop talk together, some go back to the Lab for more writing.

At 7pm writers head back to Drake, upstairs to the black box Lab Theatre, where Professor Woods has organized a team of local volunteer actors for cold readings of whatever the writers are creating -- although about a quarter of the writers are also performers, and happy to fill in roles.

Field Trips

We also went on a couple of Field Trips: Friday afternoon we saw a matinee in the downtown Arts Center by Available Light Theatre, an experimental group whose actor-generated production I'd seen on a earlier Columbus trip.

Currently they are performing CHURCH, by Young Jean Kim, recently produced at PS122; check them out at .

ICWPers had a range of reactions to this piece, from "it's self-indulgent anti-theatre" to awed admiration. Some of us discussed the show in detail on the first Podcast. (Listen - link at the foot of the page)

Saturday night a group of us went to see Actors' Summer Theatre, outdoors in Schiller Park just south of downtown Columbus. The production of Shakespeare's AS YOU LIKE IT, by William Shakespeare, featured a combination of actors and life-size puppets, and was co-directed by John S. Kuhn and Beth Kettelman.

We were all eager to see how this worked out, because Beth Kettleman's account of the design and use of the puppets in her 4 pm presentation earlier in the week was fascinating.

Writers had full access to other campus computer labs and the University libraries, and some ICWP writers became readers for the night session's overflow and carried on in the dorm after the formal work day was over. I wish I had the titles and a short description of each of the writers' work and the feedback they got.

The variety was amazing, and a real break with the Well Made Freud-based American Play of Domestic Naturalism much in evidence. Unfortunately, I didn't take notes-- and apparently no one else did either. If those who also attended could also contribute some documentation, that would be a Good Thing.

Next Page - More retreat info with Podcasts of Members interviews and discussions about the benefits of the retreat :

Plays, Pyjama Parties and 2 Podcasts

Alan Wood's blog- external site

On Page 2 -

Plays, Pyjama Parties and 2 Podcasts

Photos By Vicki Cheatwood

Corn roast party

Anne Pecaro and Mrinalini Kamath hanging out at the loading dock waiting to get in the lab.

View of the Olentangy River from the Drake Performing Arts building. Great mix of urban life and wildlife. We saw great blue heron, a woodchuck, a raccoon, two rabbits, and a bunch of ducks and Canadian geese.

playwrights_lab_ohio09web.jpgPlaywrights in the computer lab creating work for the evening readings.

retreat-pre-reading09-web.jpgA pre-reading chat: left to right, Alan Woods, Donna Spector, Geralyn Horton, Kathy Burkman


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