At the end of August, I was looking forward to applying to The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group. It meets biweekly, offers $3,000 stipend yearly and an additional stipend to see shows. Also, you are guaranteed at least one reading at The Public and you get to see in on rehearsals of shows. I know some past particpants, and I know how much the program helped them grow as playwrights.
Earlier this week, I checked The Public’s website to see the deadline, assuming it would be the same as it has for the last three years. But the deadline still read August 2009.
So I called them and they said they were still “deciding internally” as to whether the program would continue for 2011. Who knows if the funding was cut (it was generously provided by Time Warner) or what the real deal is. But regardless, it’s unfortunate and bummed me out.
All I really want to say is that programs like this are SO WORTH IT. For everyone. Not only for the writers but for the future audiences of the work these artists produce.
One of the writers in the 2010 group was Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins who did Neighbors. Which was hands-down one of the most thought provoking plays I’ve ever seen.
And so importantly, simply knowing programs like this exist seems to be sustenance in itself. Knowing there’s opportunties, whether or not I’m accepted, pushes me ahead and helps to keep me writing. As much as it is about the “process” of writing itself, it’s also about knowing there’s a community who wants to sustain and nurture you.
So, I cross my fingers that the program will continue. For playwrights, audiences, and every playwright who sits at their computer, looking for writing opportunities hoping that their work and effort doesn’t just fall into a big black hole.