Contact: Jean Dykstra
Kristoffer Diaz (BA ’99), author of the Pulitzer-nominated play The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, is mentoring students as the Playwright in Residence for Gallatin’s Summer Theater Lab.
Three students have been selected to participate in the lab—Kelly Kirwan, Caitlin Hogan and Chan Lin—each of whom has written a one-act play for development. Each student has a faculty mentor: Christopher Cartmill is working with Kirwan, whose play is called What Feeds the Flame; Myla Churchill is working with Hogan, whose play is The Book Club; and Michael Dinwiddie, director of the lab, is working with Lin, whose play is titled Stasis.
“These are three really interesting, very different plays,” says Diaz, who is currently developing a musical. “The exciting thing is when you have plays that are really grappling with some issue, something somebody needs to say, and these are all tapping into something very personal for each playwright. It’s a pleasure working with them.”
The students did a cold reading of their plays with Diaz and their mentors, all of whom offered suggestions on reshaping and improving the works. Diaz also met individually with each student. After spending three weeks writing, the students were assigned directors and a cast to do staged readings of the plays, which will be performed on June 25 for an invited audience.
“It’s unusual, in that playwrights generally don’t get this kind of focused feedback and this kind of extended period to work on revisions,” Diaz says.
“The idea," says Michael Dinwiddie, "is to nurture artists in their writing, so they are better able to express their ideas. The lab is intended to help them grow as playwrights.”
This is the first year that Gallatin has a Playwright in Residence, though it is the third year of the Summer Theater Lab. Two years ago, playwright and Gallatin student Jack Moore (BA ’10) developed Killing John Grisham during the lab. The play was selected to be part of the influential New York Fringe Festival last summer, starring Christopher Cartmill and directed by Gallatin alumna Nicole A. Watson (MA ’08).