The American Theatre Wing (the "Wing") has released new book:
THE AMERICAN THEATRE WING PRESENTS: THE PLAY THAT CHANGED MY LIFE, America's Foremost Playwrights on the Plays That Influenced Them.
Conceived by the Executive Director of the Wing, Howard Sherman, edited by Ben Hodges (Theatre World) and published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, The Play That Changed My Life features an introduction by Paula Vogel and contributions from nineteen of America’s most distinguished playwrights on the plays that transformed their lives.
The book is available via the Applause Theatre & Cinema Books website or Amazon, among other places.
In connection with the release, the Wing is offering a competition wherein you may share your own story of a play that inspired you.
The contest entry period began yesterday , Monday, November 2nd and closes on Sunday, November 29th. To enter, visit http://americantheatrewing.org/contest. The final expert panel judging the contest includes ATW Board of Directors Chairman and President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, Ted Chapin; Applause Books’ Editorial Director Carol Flannery; award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang; and former Time Magazine arts editor and Broadway and Me blogger, Janice Simpson. Additional prizes will be given based on voting by the general public, which will continue through December 11.
What was the play that changed your life? I would have to say, Arsenic and Old Lace. My friend Jamie and I, 8th graders at the time, went to see the Kermit High School production. I don't remember who played Abby and Martha, but I remember them being absolutely hysterical. I thought they were the most wonderful creatures I'd ever seen (I was 12 at the time!) and I remember feeling amazed at what they were doing. They inspired Jamie and me to come up with our own version - our old ladies were Maud and Tressie and we still refer to them to this day. I won't tell you which of is Maud or Tressie though. The best thing was that it inspired me to seek out more live theatre experiences, and to even get involved in plays as crew and actress when I was in high school .
A couple of other well known theatre ladies have chimed in with their pivotal experiences:
HARRIET WALTER - I suppose the one, it sounds kind of silly but I guess it was The Sound of Music when I was about ten. I saw that and I just fell in love with the whole atmosphere. I hadn’t been to that many theatre shows. I’d usually gone to films. I suppose a kid is always make-believing, and there’s something about actors, they keep that bit of them that says, “This could be me. In another situation, if I’d had another life, this could be me.” And it’s their way of expressing themselves and expressing their aspirations. Where a writer will write it down, we do it through another character, we express ourselves through another character. It made an instant connection with me when I saw other people being transported into another world but still being themselves. That’s the kind of magic that instantly translated to me and I’d take home the LP and sing all the songs and all that stuff. I guess that was when I first thought, that’s what I want to do.
JEANINE TESORI - I was an intern at Playwrights Horizons in 1983 when I just graduated from college, and watching them put together Sunday in the Park. When they just did the first act and then they did the second act only three or four performances and being outside of it and watching the process, that’s when I really thought, That’s something I want to be a part of. And I just have this unbelievable memory of Bernadette Peters for the first time in that hat, waiting in the hall. The old Playwrights was kind of low rent and really a wonderful place. But I have such a vivid memory of watching that piece come together. And my job was to go – Steve Sondheim doesn’t know this – I was the messenger who would bring his sheet music to rehearsal. And I never once looked inside. I would get on that bus I was thinking “Look inside! Look inside!” And I never did ‘cause I was afraid.