Here at Protest Plays Project, we’ve been working hard to figure out how we can best make ourselves useful. It began with a drive to just do something in the face of a whole lot of political divisiveness: “Let’s identify and share short protest-related pieces from playwrights via the New Play Exchange!” Soon after, we decided to initiative direct calls for performative texts that supported March for Science and Bad and Nasty’s Flag Day Event.
Now we’re moving forward with Protest Plays Project’s phase 3: To create a monthly short play series, posting plays by playwrights around the country. We’re calling it Heal the Divide.
The idea is inspired by my own experience writing for Daniel John Kelley’s Here & Now Project on HowlRound.com five years ago. The goal of the project was to engage playwrights in bringing to light stories representing the whole conversation happening in this country. I was one of four playwrights selected for the project, and it was a seriously cool experience.
First, as a playwright, I hadn’t really written plays about my hometown before. Thus, this project helped me look closer at my own roots and community as a writer – and the experience was not only enriching but personally cathartic as it helped me develop a deeper understanding of a city and state that I loved, but was also in disagreement with in some pretty big ways.
Second, I loved reading the other pieces. Getting a peek into the worlds of my fellow Here & Now writers was awesome and helped me to connect with their communities in ways I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
Third, readers enjoyed reading the plays focusing on these less-frequently dramatized cities/communities – and that was genuinely awesome.
Considering how successful the Here & Now project was, and considering how divided much of our country now feels, it seems like a really good time to put forth a similarly inspired project aimed at bridging some of those gaps.
The Heal the Divide initiative has invited five playwrights from different parts of the country to write a short play or monologue inspired by their community’s concerns for each of the next three months. The issues or topics covered are up to the playwrights, and their own perspectives will color how they approach each piece – which is just as it should be.
I can’t wait to share these playwrights and their work with you!
And I hope that you will find inspiration in what they write! I hope that the opportunity to read works from playwrights writing from a community perspective will help you feel more connected, and perhaps help you consider and open yourself to stories you may not otherwise hear or consider.
It might also just be a really nice way to connect with like-minded playwrights from different parts of the country and maybe bridge some of your own creative gaps, as Protest Plays Project in general has already done for me.
And if you, like us, believe that theatre can cultivate empathy and inspire change, and want to be a part of the Heal the Divide Project, don’t be afraid to reach out! We’d love to see these plays shared in a reading series, and we’d love to connect with new playwrights in the event we’re able to do this again once our first round of playwrights complete their online Heal the Divide residency.
Up Next: Meet our Heal the Divide Playwrights!