by Tyrone Phillips and Andrew Hobgood
A World Premiere Conversation is:
A simultaneous event connecting audiences attending the January 2016 world premieres of Byhalia, Mississippi at theatres in seven North American cities. A multi-city digital conversation on Monday, January 18 will connect creative teams and audiences from all participating cities.
January 8th: Four separate productions open on the same night in Chicago, Memphis, Toronto and Charleston, SC.
The simultaneous part of WPConvo is already exciting the production teams in each city. Script changes made in Chicago rehearsals are immediately being implemented in rehearsal rooms the following evening. Stories are being shared, questions are being asked and relationships are forming between artists who are separated by thousands of miles. What excites the participants the most is the ability to encourage their audiences to share the experience of going to a new play with someone they know in another city. Live in Birmingham, but have family in Memphis? Invite them to go to the theater with you. We want our audiences to share the experience of going to see an important new play. WPConvo does this in a way that invites a discussion with a larger audience than just your fellow patrons in the lobby after the show.
I wonder whether, say, a dozen theatres, large and small, in different cities and towns, could agree on a single work of theatre (and I’d much prefer that it was a new work, not a classic revival), a play of social and political importance, that could be near-simultaneously produced across the country. Not a tour, not a handful of co-productions, but a whole bunch of theatres doing the same work within, say, an eight-week period.Howard Sherman
A reading of Byhalia, Mississippi in Chicago in October 2014 started a conversation between Definition and The New Colony that was rooted in a deep love for the five inhabitants of this play: Jim, Laurel, Karl, Ayesha and Celeste. They felt like family even to those of us who had not grown up in the South. A few months after we began chatting in Chicago, Playhouse on the Square in Memphis named Byhalia the winner of their NewWorks@TheWorks Playwriting competition and gave the play a scheduled world premiere for January 2016. After digging up a post from Howard Sherman’s blog from March 2013, we were inspired to attempt something bigger than what we originally conceived as a co-world premiere across two cities.
Though we didn’t reach that magic “dozen” that Howard originally dreamed of, we are thrilled to be launching World Premiere Conversation with the other risk-taking theatres that comprise our baker’s half-dozen. (Is that a thing?) [Editor’s note: Apparently a baker’s half dozen IS a thing. Good call.] We believe this play will get people talking. Our two companies began this conversation over fourteen months ago and we feel that we are only getting started.
And that conversation starts in…
There is still a lot to discover. Our hope is that wpconvo.com does on a larger scale what we always want to do with every new play we produce: Get a conversation started. Get people excited. Connect with our audiences and connect them to each other. We can’t wait to show you everything we have cooked up for you here on the blog over the next 40 days. We think there is a great Conversation to be had.
Thanks for joining us.
Tyrone Phillips and Andrew Hobgood
Definition Theatre Company is a Chicago ensemble-based theatre founded by graduates of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Featuring a multi-ethnic core companionship of actors, Definition strives to artistically reflect the myriad of modern America to inspire and engage the communities it represents through contemporary and classical theatrical works. Our mission is to tell language-driven, relationship-oriented, thought-provoking socially relevant stories.
The New Colony strives to contribute original material to the American artistic canon, and develop a new theater going audience. Through active collaboration with emerging artists of all disciplines, The New Colony continually develops fresh perspectives and aesthetics. With the goal of exploring enticing subject matter and the common language of emotional experience, The New Colony will help cultivate the next generation of arts supporters. New Plays. New Musicals. New Audiences.
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