By Rachel Whorton
On an average summer day around an average conference table, three actors read an exceptional, though unfinished, script about an average boy named Zachary Briddling. The play, Zachary Briddling Who Was Awfully Middling by Finegan Kruckemeyer, was one of three plays selected for the New Plays for Young Audiences series in the historic Provincetown Playhouse.
The actors, including myself, were undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students from NYU and beyond. Over the course of one week, director Emilie Fitzgibbon of Ireland’s Graffiti Theater helped us create a world derived from Zachary’s crayon drawings. Giants, storytellers, roller skating squirrel-monkeys and girls covered entirely in hair were all characters from Zachary Briddling’s imagination; and it was up to just 2 actors to make the full cast of characters come to life around the third actor, Zachary himself. So my fellow actors and I engaged in some exploration of voice quality, pitch, volume, body posture, attitude and gesture as we tried to create at least 8 different characters…each.
As new pages came in during the development process, new characters appeared and disappeared, changed and mutated, combined and emerged more dynamic than before. Even after audiences entered the equation, the playwright and the director encouraged us to keep exploring and creating because the ultimate goal of New Plays for Young Audiences is to help the playwright develop his or her script.
Scripts in development are my favorite type of work because they are never confined to the notion of what has been, but are always looking forward to the possibility of what could be. The collaborative nature of the New Plays for Young Audiences rehearsal process made the experience anything but average.
New Plays for Young Audiences is an annual summer play development series located in the historic Provincetown Playhouse. Founded in 1998 by Lowell and Nancy Swortzell, NYU’s prize-winning New Plays for Young Audiences has developed over thirty new plays written by leading playwrights for young audiences and families including Carl Miller, Y York, Laurie Brooks, Suzan Zeder, Bryony Lavery, Lois Lowry, Angela Betzien, and José Cruz González. These plays go on to receive publication and production throughout the world.