Sunday, September 28, 2014

Curating a season

A recent e-newsletter from Portland Stage posited the question “What goes into crafting a season?” Anita Stewart, Portland Stage’s Executive and Artistic Director, answers the question with “Conversations, letters, emails, and scripts coming from audiences and artists alike...and reading, reading, reading plays...”

This certainly sounds familiar. So how it is that tKAPOW crafts its seasons?

tKAPOW has placed a great deal of emphasis on curating our seasons around unifying themes for several years. This approach requires that we select shows that complement each other in the way that they relate to the season’s theme. We also find it important to build season upon season so that the shows we explore this year relate back to what we did last year and next year’s shows will relate to this year’s and so on (the past three seasons for example have had the themes “Dream,” “Awake,” and “See”).

“Reading, reading, reading” is absolutely a reality of show selection. The fact is that we often read dozens of scripts before we decide upon one single show in a season. How do you even choose scripts to read? This can be quite daunting so we have developed a formula that helps provide structure to our season. Without being too strict about how we do it, we produce a European piece in the fall, a comedy in the winter, and the work of an American Master in the spring. Throw in our other projects, like the 24-Hour Play Festival, three playreadings for the ARTiculate series at the Currier, a devised work in June and... viola! A season!

Sounds easy, but in honesty, in addition to the “reading, reading, reading” there are tons of late nights, heated arguments over particular titles, and lots of private heartbreaks over the realization that a certain favorite just isn’t the right fit for the season.

Oh, and one more thing, lots of luck. Sometimes you just happen across a show (one possible result of all that reading) that is just perfect for the season and you share it around and everyone agrees that it is a must do (these are few and far between, but Eurydice and Penelope are great examples).

Since the beginning, tKAPOW has been commited to producing theatre that challenges both artists and audiences. We are very aware when we sit down to discuss shows for the next season that as a theatre company you are only as good as your last show. We work hard to constantly push ourselves to do better work. We are also keenly aware of the importance of input from our audiences and colleagues. So, please send us along a great script you just read, or grab one of us after a show and tell us what you did or did not like about the play. As we start looking forward to season 8 (hard to believe it), we’ll be needing all the help we can get.

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