Wright Now, Play Later



Ever conjured up an awesome concept for a play…and dreamt up a whole production in your head? Well, your dreams might just turn into reality. Starting this October and running until January, Center Stage presents patrons the opportunity to get involved with playwrights’ creative processes through a new project called “Wright Now, Play Later.”

WNPL is an outgrowth of Center Stage’s “Wright Right Now” program, which places local playwrights in several locations (lobbies, streets, even food trucks) to take prompts or commissions from passerby and write plays for them, right then and there. But Gavin Witt, Associate Director and Director of Dramaturgy at Center Stage, felt that there was still a missing piece in achieving the full spectrum of theatre.

“It’s wonderful to focus on the inspiration and perspiration to the act of creation,” he explains. “But where was the performance?”

That’s where WNPL comes in. This time, accomplished playwrights, patrons and performers are brought together to turn an idea about a play into a spontaneous, lively performance executed in Baltimore’s local businesses and well-known public places. The project also expands Center Stage’s reach to include an online platform that gathers prompts from all over the world.

On Monday, Center Stage introduced their team of playwrights for October: Nathan Alan Davis, Larissa FastHorse and Hank Boland. The three artists selected three prompts submitted by the public via Facebook and Twitter and had 24 hours  to write a short play based on the submissions. Afterward, the public voted for their favorite play online from each of the participating playwrights. On Oct. 13, the three winning plays were performed, flash mob-style, by on-call actors  in various pop-up locations around the city.

One of the participants,  award-winning playwright and choreographer from Sicangu Lakota Nation Larissa FastHorse, has worked with Center Stage in the past, but said the concept of WNPL is entirely new to her. “Center Stage keeps finding ways to surprise and challenge artists and their audiences,” she explains. “Every time I get an email from them, it’s like opening a present.”

To FastHorse, the best part about the project is watching the process and performances online. Even though she’s currently in Los Angeles, she can still view the final results. “As a theater, Center Stage is always looking for ways to make the work accessible and embrace technology. I wish more theaters were doing that,” she says.

Hank Boland, seasoned playwright and previous Artistic Director at Strawdog Theatre in Chicago, also loves receiving and going over the prompts. “The thing that draws me most to the theatre is the live audience and their relationship to the entire theatre experience. Tearing down the walls that isolate the audience from the experience is what continues to inspire me in my theatre work. The audience/experience relationship is what allows theatre to become its most vital and most collaborative and most fully realized,” he explains. “Getting these prompts as inspiration from the audience is another wall down.”

Similar to FastHorse, Boland has never done a project like this before. “These are writing muscles that I generally only use in a workshop setting, or as warm ups, so it’s nice to bring them to bear on a project like this,” he discloses.

WNPL not only celebrates and challenges playwrights (from emerging to established voices), but brings the public closer to how theatre is made. “A performance began as an idea that had to be shaped into a script and curated into a group of performances… you put them in the middle of that and it makes theatre more transparent, more engaging and more interactive,” Witt says.

If you’re interested in attending the live performances this month, watch out for an announcement of locations on Center Stage’s Facebook page. A live stream will also be available to those who can’t attend.

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