Great Plains Theatre Conference Continues Developing Theatre’s Best and Brightest

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May 16th, 2016

Omaha, NE — Omaha will once again be the focus of new voices in American Theatre.

Participants from Last Year's Great Plains Theatre Conference

Participants from Last Year’s Great Plains Theatre Conference

Starting May 28th, the 11th annual Great Plains Theatre Conference descends upon Metropolitan Community College and the Omaha Area, offering significant opportunities for new and emerging playwrights to learn and grow, no matter the level of experience in theatre. 26 plays were chosen from a group of over 680 submissions to have their own staged reading workshops in front of some some the nation’s preeminent theatre practitioners. The conference’s artistic director, Kevin Lawler, had glowing things to say about his year’s crop of writers.

 
“It’s one of the strongest batches of plays we’ve ever had before. That usually means that the playwrights coming out are really unique, cool individuals because they’re so deeply focused to be able to write something that good. They’re minds are just incredible. A lot of times, they can be very nerdy, funny, weird, brilliant people. It’s really fun to have them out here.”

 
While the conference’s focus is on the emerging playwriting voices across the country, Conference program coordinator Scott Working said the backbone of the conference is the actors, front of house workers, and other local artists who volunteer their time and effort to make the event a success each year.”

 
“It always pleases us to have people come in from around the country, around the world, and attend these readings and see the amount of talent we have in this town. It really surprises them. We not surprised because we know (how talented the city is). It really shows us that we do have a lot of really generous and talented people that perform at all levels. It’s definitely a vital point.”

 
Lawler said the conference serves as a way for artists to connect and exchanges ideas, stories, and experiences. Many times, it’s those small interactions that make a lasting impression on attendees.

 
“They speak of it in ecstatically glowing terms. It’s a little overwhelming the feedback that comes back because many of them say they have life changing experiences artistically. Many have said it’s the best experience they’ve ever had as a playwright.”

 
Along with the PlayLabs, Great Plains will once again feature PlayFest, a performance festival held on selected evenings during the Conference in various locations across Omaha. PlayFest examines how theatre is produced, its connection to society and what new designs are possible. All of the events of the conference are completely free and open to the public. When asked about the its importance on both a local and national level, Lawler said that the conference serves a vital and essential need to the creative infrastructure of our world.

 
“I’ve always believed for years that the ability of a community to explore their lives through sharing stories with each other is essential for the health of that community. In this day and age, where we’re down to Twitter and short sound bites, it’s hard to find a place where we can sit down and look in depth and tell an in depth story. In playwriting and theatre, there’s a whole group of people that dedicate large chunks of their life toward looking at a specific story, bringing that story to life. Then in a very concentrated hour and a half, we can all sit down as a community and look at that story in depth and then have a conversation about it. That’s something that’s not really provided in a lot of other ways in our community and it really is vital. If we are to able to tackle any of the challenges we have as a community, we need to be able to do that kind of sharing with each other; of our communal stories that are happening in our city. That’s what Great Plains is about at its essence.”

 
The 2016 Great Plains Theatre Conference beings May 28th and continues through June 4th. For more information on all of the conference’s events and how to attend, visit www.mccneb.edu/gptc.

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