Saturday, April 2, 2016

Last Frontier Theatre Conference

Because in those days I had a yearning to go to Alaska.
- Willy Loman, "Death of a Salesman"
Founded in 1993, the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, presented in partnership with Prince William Sound College, is a weeklong event which features performances, staged readings and workshops, providing emerging playwrights the opportunity to receive valuable feedback from professional and often prestigious playwrights, directors, producers, academics and critics.

In Valdez, Alaska. The LFTC takes place in Valdez, Alaska, in June. And I’m going.

Notable playwrights who have been honored or have attended have included many whose last names alone are recognizable, like Miller, Albee, Kushner, and Wilson (both.)

Me, I wrote something I had been thinking about for years, it spilled out maybe two years ago, I have had a couple of readings and wanted to try it out. Among several of its offerings, LFTC has a “Play Lab” in which you will have one rehearsal and then a staged reading which will be attended by a trio of special guests who will comment on your work. I chose to submit my new play to LFTC in August 2015, and almost immediately received an email from director Dawson Moore. Not an acceptance email, but one he no doubt sends to every applicant who does not live in the great Northwest.

The gist was, “Really?” As in, so you've applied to our theater conference via email. Did you notice that we are in Alaska?

My response was not as ridiculous as it seems. “Hey man, I’ve been to Alaska.” I’ve even been to Valdez, though admittedly, it was part of a cruise the wife and I took for our Honeymoon in 1999. But I can fathom the vast distances, the miles, the expense. Yeah, if accepted, sure.

See? I been to Valdez.
Last month, shortly after my father died (I mean, just ten days after my father died) I got the message. “Congratulations, David.” It read. “Your play The Way I Danced With You has been accepted for inclusion in the Play Lab at the 24th Annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference.

“I hope you will be able to join us.”

Indeed. I hoped so, too.

It took a little time. Summer is busy, but work and family have been extremely supportive, and I am definitely going. The folks on the Facebook page have been very helpful and informative. I can expect a bit of roughing it - not exactly camping, but I may be lying on the floor of a college dorm in a sleeping bag in a room with at least two other people. Theater people.

I will also be attending others’ readings, produced productions, workshop and seminars, dinners with complete strangers, perhaps a glacier cruise (included!) and generally hobnobbing with a gang of writers and other theater people, none of whom I have ever met before in my life. It's thrilling, It's intimidating.

First things first, this will take some cash and I intend to do a bit of fundraising. However, to that end I am working to provide a very special premium - a performance of I Hate This.

It was my intention to perform the show again this year, as the events in question occurred fifteen years ago. I haven’t presented I Hate This in five years, but have been inspired by subsequent productions by others in Manchester and Oneonta. After father died, it suddenly seemed even more important. Then I got the call, and now it also seems practical.

Here’s the thing. Soon I will create crowdsourced fundraiser. There will be one premium; a ticket to the show, which will occur in early May. Details to come. I hope I see you there.

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