21 Aug 45th OOB Festival Celebration Party
If COVID-19 couldn’t stop us from having a one-act play festival, then it certainly couldn’t stop us from throwing a party! Normally we start the week with a kickoff party and end it with a celebration of the playwrights and Concord Theatricals staff who make OOB possible. Last night we combined both into a smashing Zoom party.
Not only did we have a full virtual house and a signature cocktail, we were honored to have the prolific Dominique Morisseau as our special guest. Morisseau’s work has been performed around the world, earning her a long list of awards and laurels. She is well known as the author of The Detroit Project, a play cycle which includes Skeleton Crew, Paradise Blue, and Detroit ’67. In addition to being an alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group and a MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow, she was recently a Tony-nominee for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations as the book writer.
Concord Theatricals’ Senior Director of Acquisitions and Artistic Development, Amy Rose Marsh, invited Morisseau to share advice and stories with our Final 30 playwrights. Marsh opened the Q&A with a simple yet impactful question – “How are you?” Morisseau appreciated the question. “I think we forget artists are people, too,” she explained, “Fragile people.” Through the countless losses, Morisseau beautifully summarized how this crisis is shaping her and the artistic community at large. “I’m becoming irreversibly who I’m going to be for the rest of my life.”
When asked for advice on self care, she explained there’s no “one size fits all” solution. That said, she called for the rejection of the very American notion of prioritizing productivity over people. “Are you productive taking care of your spirit?”
This lead to a broader discussion about the industry and current events. There’s been panic about whether theatre will survive the pandemic, to which Morisseau argued, ” Theatre is old as time, it’s not going away.” Instead, we should take advantage of our extra time at home and think about the industry’s diversity and parity issues. “Lip service will not save us. Action will save us.”
When offering industry advice Morisseau warned that, “Broadway is a brand in our psyche,” and our obsession with it is unhealthy. She challenged playwrights to focus instead on their voice, exposing their voice, and to think the impact their words have on other people. “You have resonance out there.”
After the Q&A, OOB’s Artistic Director Casey McLain and Concord Theatrical’s Acquisitions and Artistic Development Manager Garrett Anderson announced which thirteen plays the judges advanced to the final round.
ALLIGATORS, MINKS + NEW MONEY by Danielle Eliska Lyle
Sincerely, Best Wishes, Regards by Gillian Beth Durkee
i didn’t think you’d be so unhappy by Shara Feit
The Improv Class by John Connon
Masking Our Blackness by Vincent Terrell Durham
Beech. Oak. Iris. by Julianne Jigour
Slow Jam by Caity-Shea Violette
cara has a hole in her head by Elise Wien
Voir Dire by Carissa Atallah
You’re My Favorite by Jenny King
The Falling Man by Gethsemane Herron-Coward
Testimony by Miranda Huba
CRUSH by Krista Knight
Out of these thirteen plays, the Concord Theatricals staff could only choose six for publication and licensing. Those six are Krista Knight’s CRUSH, Shara Feit’s i didn’t think you’d be so unhappy, Vincent Terrell Durham’s Masking Our Blackness, Caity-Shea Violette’s Slow Jam, Gethsemane Herron-Coward’s The Falling Man, and Carissa Atallah’s Voir Dire.
It was a challenge to restructure a theatre festival into a virtual format, and we couldn’t have accomplished this without the help of so many people. To our judges, thank you for taking the time to read the Final 30 plays and assessing them with care.
To the Concord Theatricals staff who volunteered so many hours to build a new festival format from scratch, thank you for your creativity and resourcefulness.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you to our playwrights who bravely shared their voices with us. Your stories are beautiful and we look forward to seeing all the places they’ll go. These are strange times to be an artist, and I hope OOB has provided you all some joy, comfort, and empowerment. If nothing else, maybe you’ll remember one last piece of advice from Morisseau, “[Writers are] powerful, more than we might think we are. It’s a dangerous power, so use your power for good.”