09 Aug Forty-First OOB Festvial Kick Off Celebration
Competitions are stressful enough. So, every year we start the festival by inviting our Final 30 to the Samuel French office for a warm welcome complete with snacks, calm-inducing beverages, and a special guest to impart wisdom and encouragement. As Co-Artistic Director Amy Rose Marsh emphasized at last night’s kick off, “Yes, this is a competition, but this week is also a celebration.” Though the goal of the OOB Festival is to be selected for the final six, the spirit of OOB is a celebration of playwrights, the stories they bravely share, and that beautiful, wild thing called theatre.
After our playwrights and staff mingled, sharing mutual excitement over the coming days, Marsh held a Q&A with renowned playwright Tina Howe. Known for a large repertoire of work including Birth and After Birth, Museum, The Art of Dining, Painting Churches, Coastal Disturbances, Approaching Zanzibar, and Pride’s Crossing, Howe’s writing has won countless awards and has been produced around the world.
Howe’s warm presence and expansive wisdom about the industry and art of play writing drew the immediate attention of the room. As she spoke to our Final 30, or to the “reluctant exhibitionists” as she often refers to playwrights, she reminisced on her early works of short plays that were varied degrees of successful, “terrible”, and actually not-so-terrible. When asked what she believed to be the difference between a wonderful and a terrible play, Howe turned the question on its head, “The question should be how do you know if you have the support? It’s about having that endorsement to keep you going.”
During the Q&A Howe also admitted to having a (seemingly) simple goal in her work, “All I really want to do is shock people.” And she asked our “reluctant exhibitionists” to consider their creative goals. “You have to figure out what you want to do to the audience,” she said.
However, what was possibly her most illuminating advice on play writing came towards the end when addressing the age-old question of juggling both a day job and an artistic career. “I think you have to think about how important it is to you,” she explained, “I think it’s about gauging how much you want it. What do you need to keep going?…I think you have to stoke the fire.” Then she turned to our Final 30, “I think the fact that you’re all here means you’ve accomplished that.”
Thus our celebration continues tonight as we watch the first round of short plays. We look forward to seeing you at the theater! And, to our playwrights tonight, break a leg!