gglassworks of art
Artistic Director of New Work Heidi Stillman on how Lookingglass develops new scripts
Heidi Stillman in a promotional
image for next season's production
of Our Town.
The Word is 80 Days is Lookingglassâ€™s 49th world premiere.
Itâ€™s hard to believe weâ€™ve done so much original work in the last
twenty yearsâ€¦but I counted and itâ€™s true! Lookingglass is
the largest ensemble-based company in the country that primarily produces
original work from within its own ensemble; there are only a few others
of similar size and longevity: Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis;
and The Wooster Group in New York City. Gglassworks, our artistic development
program, is where the original work is created and developed.
our early history, we didnâ€™t have a formalized development program.
At our ensemble meetings we would pitch our ideas to each otherâ€¦just
ideas, not a word of text on paper. The ideas that caught the imagination
of the group were voted in, and then it would be a mad scramble to the
finish line of opening night. Sometimes this led to great artistic success
and at other times it led to trouble. We got tired of feeling â€śOh,
if we only had more timeâ€¦.â€ťand started to develop our work further
out. Most of the time now when we vote, there is a full script that
has been worked on for a year of two before it even comes to the table.
Artistic Director of New Work, I think I have the best job in the company.
I get to spend my days and sometimes nights working with my friends
and colleagues on their projects; I get to live in the world of art
here is how it works at gglassworks. For a project to be put into development,
the artist submits a written proposal, and then the artistic directors
(aided by straw polls of the ensemble) decide what gets funded. Project
development takes many different forms depending on the needs and working
methods of the artists involved. Some writers/creators are very text
based and start with the written word, others begin to generate material
from physical workshopsâ€¦ the image drives the creative process and
then the word follows.
gglassworks can include month-long writing sessions, readings of scripts
in progress, feedback, and workshops. There is a vast array of workshopsâ€¦some
to generate a physical/visual language for the project, some to write
the script, some to see if a script is working, and some to learn specific
skills for the show. We also have an annual week long Artistic Development
Retreat, where ensemble and artistic associates read, workshop, and
discuss each otherâ€™s work. The vast majority of our shows pass through
our artistic development program, including Around the World in 80 Days
which I hope you see!
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