This project was my first practical involvement as Resident Director with the Flea Theater in New York City and lasted about seven months from December 2013 to June 2014. With 48 playwrights involved, 54 between actors and singers, main director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, a large group of associate and assistant directors, an indefatigable stage manager and 11 assistant stage managers, the show was an exercise in coordination of an incredible number of creative inputs and professional skills.
From my point of view, the most interesting part of this collective endeavor was the opportunity to witness the several phases of contemporary script development under master dramaturg Jill Rafson, Literary Manager of Roundabout Theatre Company. The project started with an offer to several American playwrights for a commission to write a 1- to 10-minute rewrite of an episode from the York cycle of medieval mystery plays. Each episode would need to “stand on its own while serving the larger goal of telling the story of Man’s Salvation.” Not only was it important for the plays to work in terms of their own dramaturgical arc, they also needed to be stitched together in a coherent fashion.
The plays went through a series of drafts, revisions, readings, workshops, rehearsals, and combined run-throughs that at times seemed more than chaotic, but the whole eventually paid off, and produced a contemporary take on the Medieval collection, including digital media/hashtags, gender-bending, and unexpected outcomes for traditionally revered religious figures.
For the full evening program, click here.