Creating the Play/Experiencing the Process

By Marco Santarelli

In spring 2012, NYU Steinhardt presented Theatrix! A Festival of 10-Minute Plays for the fourth consecutive year. While constantly evolving, the festival remains dedicated to the creation and production of student work in both Educational Theater’s undergraduate and graduate community. Unique to this year’s Theatrix! is its evolution into an intense and liberating form under the guidance of Amy Cordileone, the festival’s curator, who encouraged the participants to take risks in writing, directing, and performing their work.

Being chosen as a playwright for this year’s festival was an indescribable honor, albeit a nerve-shattering experience. It gave me an opportunity to take my creative process to a new and professional level. Instead of the usual “write something and see how it sounds” approach I normally take when writing, the Threatrix! team gave me specific guidelines, schedules, and even a playwriting mentor to keep me on task and help take my play from the page to the stage.

Before the plays were chosen, each playwright had to select a director to take on the role of casting and see the piece to completion. I had the honor of working with my friend and classmate, Jack Dod, who approached his role with enthusiasm and professionalism. For this totally collaborative effort, the Theatrix! team set up workshops, readings, panels, and a one-on-one mentorship for the playwright and director, giving them advice and encouragement during the long and strenuous process. What was most exciting to me, and to most of the students involved, was the playwriting panel sponsored by the Uproar Theater Corps.The panel consisted of three professional playwrights who spoke about their experience in the theater to the Steinhardt students and faculty. I was impressed with their unwavering dedication to their craft and was honored to have had the opportunity to discuss my play with them and to learn from them. I believe this instilled a surge of new energy into the process, as each playwright and director followed up by attacking his or her play with vitality, polishing and refining the work with the audience’s enjoyment in mind.

On a personal level, I had the opportunity to work with Daphie Sicre as my playwriting mentor. Her copious notes, as well as her comments and questions, helped me to see the work through the eyes of another playwright and audience member as we moved toward opening night. This was very important to me as my play, Dandelions for Angels, is loosely based on a difficult personal experience, so having a voice not connected to the subject was exactly what I needed. I’m thankful to Daphie, Amy, and the entire Theatrix! team for giving me the opportunity to revisit the months I spent lying in a hospital bed, following surgery for a brain tumor, and to bring my story, and the story of countless others, to the public. I am truly grateful for the Educational Theater community’s tireless efforts in and dedication to this collaborative process and for the opportunity to participate in this festival, which has provided one of the best experiences of my life.

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Theatrix! was established as a student-run play festival for students in the Program in Educational Theatre in 2003. In its current incarnation, the play festival involves the writing and performing of student-written ten-minute plays.