Hank Kimmel – Board President/Flobel Advisor
Amber Bradshaw – Managing Artistic Director/Flobel Adviser
Nectar News Reporter: Michele Baldwin
We are here with Hank Kimmel and Amber Bradshaw of the Working Title Playwrights (WTP) Group in Atlanta. WTP was informally started in Atlanta in 2000 by a group of six playwrights who were part of the recently-disbanded Blue Machine Writers. They founded WTP with the goal of helping playwrights develop their work in bi-weekly critique sessions.
Nectar News (NN): I really love that WTP is all about community building and providing a platform for its members to have this opportunity to excel at their craft. Can you tell us a little bit about the group?
Amber WTP: Sure, in the world of community building, the way that we approach how that works for theatre makers in the process of creating plays, is that the more artists that we know and connect with, the better our work and success will be. And our growth will be stronger if we can learn from one another. So, a lot of what we do is bring people in the room together so they can get to know one another and potentially collaborate in the future.
One of the community building aspects of what we do is that we are part of the founding of IDEA ATL. IDEA ATL stands for Inclusion, Equity, Diversity in the Arts Atlanta. it’s a collective of theatermakers, who have committed to training themselves in equity, justice, inclusion and diversity. In addition to supporting the work of IDEA ATL, we’re collaborating with organizations in Atlanta that have similar equity goals, which has been really exciting. The Town Hall for racial reckoning that just happened in Atlanta is one example.
Community is everything to us at WTP. Our goal is to create programs where writers, actors, directors, dramaturgs, and stage managers can come together in a room and create work together and contribute to the process of a play being born. I don’t think we can do the process of new development without a really strong engaged inclusive community. When I started with working title in 2016, that was already a strong part of the mission of the organization. I’ve just kind of taken that and run with it, with support from the board.
Hank WTP: I would say sprinting with it wonderfully. Amber is our Managing Artistic Director. I’m a Playwright and Board President.
NN: I know that you have some really, strong core values, can you talk a little bit about your core values as a group.
Amber WTP: Hank, do you wanna take that one?
Hank WTP: Why don’t you go for that one, Amber?
Amber WTP: The first one is inclusion, and that means that we are a space in which we include all voices. However, in the effort to be inclusive we also have created guidelines, rules, and generative things so that everyone understands what’s happening in the room and how to be in a space with one another. So that’s an ongoing growth process for us. I added the core values to the website maybe a couple of years ago, because it became really clear that we needed to be extremely transparent about what it meant to be inclusive and that it is a challenge to be inclusive. To make everyone feel as if their voice can be heard and their voice is valuable. The second one is brave space. We are creating a space that is brave, so that people feel comfortable saying things that may be difficult for others to hear. Saying things that are controversial and also making mistakes where they can learn and grow, is also a part of brave space, which is not necessarily just safe, it also gives you a chance to be courageous. The final value is collaboration. And although it’s something in theatre that we all talk about, I think that it is a lofty goal that we do not often meet. What it really means to collaborate, is to fully value, respect and listen to one another. If we are not doing that, we are not collaborating. Every single program that we do with Working Title is founded in inclusion, brave space, and collaboration. We don’t believe we can do this work in a way that is respectful and honoring of the work, without those three values.
Hank WTP: Empathy and acknowledgment are other words that come to mind – as well as being respectful and coming from a loving place. Yes, we understand that some work may be considered controversial, and, as part of the process, writers are asked to consider their intentions, what they’re trying to amplify with their work so the responders can be thoughtful about their feedback.
Amber WTP: And I think that’s valuable in saying that everything we do has feedback and moderation involved. A lot of producers have chosen not to do talk backs, because they can be difficult conversations that don’t always go the right direction. We are in the business of encouraging people to open those dialogues up and find ways of managing the room with care. We create guidelines so that those traditional feedback derailing moments don’t come up. We hope everybody can be a part of a conversation that will impact the way they see the world.
NN: It definitely is a much-needed conversation that you have to have about the pieces, because you are here to help. I understand when you are giving your critique, as you said, you’re cautious and you have some rules about that. Please tell us a little bit about them, as well as the Monday night series.
Amber WTP: Yes, so our Monday night critique sessions are really our foundational program. We do it twice a month. Three writers get to submit work each time. We end up having a nice diversity of work in the room each evening that we do it. So actors are cast to be in all the different scripts and everyone in the space is part of the feedback. The rules that we have as part of our moderated dialogue are: 1)raise your hand to speak and I will call on you; 2)snap if you agree so that we can get a consensus, right, instead of people repeating that they really liked something or people repeating the same feedback again and again; 3)be respectful and courteous to those who have submitted this evening. They are sensitive. They are artists being very courageous; 4)avoid the use of like or dislike. And this one is always a bit controversial ’cause people don’t love that. It also encourages people to understand that this isn’t about what they like, or dislike. It’s about how they’re responding to the piece. And if the responses are that this made me uncomfortable or I felt offended by this, then that’s useful as a response; 5) no new or suggested narratives. We are not looking to rewrite this play, we’re looking to respond to it. If you have an idea, please go write that play. We would love to have you bring it in and share it with us; 6)be respectful to your fellow artists in the room. Everyone in the space has the responsibility to take care of and nurture one another.
Hank WTP: Michele, one thing that may be distinct about how we do feedback is that when the writer submits their work, their identity is anonymous. This protects the writer from having to defend their work. Amber’s wonderful predecessor, Jill Patrick, introduced this as an experiment for six months, and at first there was a lot of resistance, but that resistance faded. When we were going to go back to the “old” method, folks were vehement about sticking to the new method. It led to more robust and objective feedback. It also meant that the writer had to communicate through their words, rather than just defending the piece. It also sets up a more professional environment as writers don’t feel personally attacked and can also sit back and really hear the feedback. A lot of times you know who wrote the piece, but the fiction of anonymity allows for more respectful and thoughtful feedback.
NN: If they don’t know, they’re just being honest like a child.
Amber WTP: I think it’s valuable too, to note that when we are doing our dialogue, the three questions that are asked beyond what the playwrights questions might have are: 1) what resonates for you, what sticks out for you? 2) what distracts, what confuses? 3) Do you have any questions for the playwright? The playwright will not answer these questions. They are for the playwright to know that these are questions you have, and they will take that home and they will respond to that within their script. And I always have to say that because if I don’t, if we have a new playwright, they will answer the questions. That’s just a natural response.
NN: Like you said, they just want to jump up and defend themselves or support their story. Do you have a talk back afterwards with the writer, once they get their questions and notes and are trying to work through them or to incorporate or not into their scripts? I know you also offer the dramaturg service, so what does that process look like afterward.
Amber WTP: Do you want to take that one, Hank?
Hank WTP: I think this may be a suitable time to mention that silence is also an important part of our process. After something is read, we have 30 seconds of silence (it’s a minute if we meet in person), where everyone just sits, perhaps closes their eyes, and takes a deep breath before launching into feedback. As a writer, it’s wonderful because after hearing your work, you get a chance to clear your mind. For the responders, it prevents reflex kind of judgments and allows for more thoughtful feedback. It’s also refreshing to sit in silence after something sensitive and invested has been shared. We have a chat box now, when we do things by Zoom, so people can also respond in that way and there’s a whole conversation that can be saved and then afterwards the writer can review that. If you know the writer, you also have the option to respond to them privately and vice versa if you’re the writer. The key is to build up a trusted community. With 30 to 40 people in the room, there’s a wide range of perspectives. Sometimes you might get feedback about the logic of a piece – or a misplaced fact – while also getting a more global reaction to a piece’s theme.
Amber WTP: Thanks for mentioning the moment of silence, Hank. A few years ago, we set this up so that you would listen to the reading and then you would have a minute of silence with the group. We use the Insight Timer bell. You’ve got a bell at the beginning and a bell at the end, and then you start with the feedback and then you jump right into that. I was introduced to this by a really amazing dramaturg named, Mei Ann Tao, who offered this as an option for feedback work. I remember saying, “I’m not sure this is going to work in the South. It sounds a bit crunchy but I’m going to try it”. People have really appreciated it and we’ve gotten positive feedback about it that has surprised me.
NN: It’s almost like they have a minute to meditate and ingest all that they’ ve just heard. And instead of the knee jerk reactions, it’s like no, let me just really think about that. I love that you add such care and concern for the writer. You really are this incubator for us as artists to come and play. We’ve got a lot of stuff going on in the world and you speak a lot to social injustices, so I’m curious as to how you are poised to respond to the current needs of the BIPOC artist and other minorities, given you are a platform for them to hear their voices. Please tell us more on how you support that initiative?
Amber WTP: I think there’s a lot of different ways that we make the organization as welcoming as possible. Obviously having these guidelines in the room, so that people feel like they know what’s going on and they know who’s there. That’s been a really important factor in making people feel comfortable and welcome in a space. We’re actually in the process of reviewing the entire program of our Monday night critique sessions. From the program’s title to the submissions form, to how we do that work. Because we’ve found that not filtering those submissions can sometimes be problematic. And we need to find a way to manage what is coming through the room. I’m developing a committee of people that will be between 10 and 15 people from all different backgrounds, races, ages, ethnicities, experiences, so that we can create an atmosphere that welcomes all who are willing to collaborate and listen and does not encourage a culture of fear or hatred or bigotry, that is harmful to everyone in the room and traumatizing to our BIPOC artists.
So that is something we are working very hard to make sure we can promise, and that that is not an empty promise. And then what we also do is to make our programs more accessible is that we do a lot of bartering with our members and our actors. We have an Actor’s ensemble of 81 members, which we are so excited about. We began this in 2017. The idea was to create a room that was complete and that we have actors that are not only interested in developing plays with playwrights, but they’re very passionate about it and they believe in it. A lot of our artists are beginning to call themselves theatre makers because we’re not just playwrights, we’re not just directors, we’re making all of it and we’re doing it together.
And a lot of that involves listening. If we get feedback, and we do not listen to it and we do not respond to it, then that is a huge mistake. Every time we get feedback, no matter what it is, we are always questioning it, bringing it to the board and talking about it. We’re a membership organization that engages our entire community of theatre makers, so it’s really important that we are listening at all times. I believe very strongly that one of the altars of white supremacy is, turning off your listening and not allowing yourself to acknowledge the value of feedback and how it can make us all better. And then of course the IDEA ATL work has been wonderful for our community to be involved with. And I have a wonderful committee of folks that I work with for that collective, and it’s also helped our community see that we are fully engaged in this work in a very active way. We also have a scholarship and an apprenticeship too!
Hank WTP: A few years ago, we implemented the Roz Ayres Williams scholarship fund. Roz actually was a dear friend and colleague of ours, and one of our members underwrote a scholarship where artists of color apply to not only get mentorship, but a membership to Working Title. The apprentice program is a way for us to expand leadership opportunities. That’s one of our current goals, to set up a leadership structure to invite more people in the room. As an organization, we don’t have a lot of fixed costs – such as space – so our most valuable resource are people.
We don’t need a board that’s going to raise $1,000,000 – although no complaints if they do – but we do depend on our motivated board members who help us find creative ways to reach our goal of raising $150,000 a year. With that said, a big part of our diversification has been getting more young people in the room, and our first apprentice, Quinn Xavier Hernandez, has been a one-person parade in this regard. If you came to Working Title 10-15 years ago, it would have been perceived as a greying organization. Now there’s more age, gender and racial diversity. Those things make a difference in creating a vibrant place to create art. We are fully committed to making sure that every time you walk into the room with us, you’ll be acknowledged in some way. We do a section called “plugs”, where people can go around the room and introduce themselves, share their entry point for theatre and then share anything they want to plug. To me, it’s one of the most valuable parts about what we do. It provides information and provides the opportunity for connection. I’ve had some projects on my own and I realize, without being conscious of it, I hire folks who are in the room. If our room is diverse, this means that there’s a greater chance the work we share with the community becomes diverse. It’s also leads to less self-conscious collaboration since folks hire folks they know and the demographic elements can become secondary. Amber is wonderful about setting people up and showing the mutual benefit of being invested in each other’s work. I’d like to think that folks are now starting to understand that if you listen to my story, you’re going to be more inclined to listen to mine. Then folks will follow each other around and go to theatres and other parts of town where they otherwise might not go. Not necessarily because they think they should do it, but because, well, you know, Michele was a part of my reading, she came to my reading, so let me go see what Michele has going on. I think that really is where the barriers will continue to crumble. I think that’s really an important thing that Amber has created as part of our structure.
NN: Pure community building and collaboration and supporting one another. I know you have a lot of other programs besides the Ethel Woolson Lab. Tell us more about some of them, like the Table Series. Has that been tabled, and during Covid? What’s going on with the rest of your programming, like the master classes, Workshops, everything?
Amber WTP: Right now, you can still attend ’cause they’re all virtual, Michele. It’s actually really fun to do the virtual classes because we’ve been able to attract many people who may not have been able to attend otherwise.
Monday night critique sessions are virtual, so we’ve continued those in full. The second program of course is the Table series and we’ve got four of those slotted this year. what we have with the table series is great, because the table series is basically a one-night event where the playwright gets to bring in a play that’s very much in process, very early in the process potentially and they get to hear the play for the first time with the actors and a dramaturg leading the process. The table series is dramaturg-led. It’s all about the process. We’re not talking about the directing, the presentation, the design, none of that will be discussed. We’re really talking about the play, the text and where the playwright wants to go. We want to fully support them in their process, whatever that may be. This year we have a really wonderful group of playwrights that the Table Series will be featuring their plays. We may even have a table series reading that is outside
NN: I could see that.
Amber WTP: Yes, because this playwright really wanted to do it live. All of our programs are as specific as possible beyond MNCS to serve the playwright and what they want. With the Ethel Woolson Lab you’re looking at a much more in depth process: a 29-hour workshop. As far as the Master Classes go, we still cover those with entry fees. Although we do try to keep them as affordable as possible. One of the other things we’re doing with Covid is, we have some alternative membership options where you can pay for six months instead of an entire year if you can’t afford the entire year. We have another option where you can pay for a second membership and then we can offer a scholarship to someone who cannot afford it. We’ve had two members already do that. And then for our Master Classes, if somebody can’t afford to attend, they can email me, and be able to attend. So really again trying to make sure that our resources are available to our artists and our theater makers no matter what they can afford.
Hank WTP: Our membership fees are $125. Our Master Class and dramaturgical fees are about half of what you would find if you looked around the landscape nationally for the class. More and more, we also provide access to many theatres in town – both big and small. For example, we have a collaboration with Theatrical Outfit, which is one of the top theatres in Atlanta. We exclusively provide content for their Unexpected Play Festival. We also have a collaboration with the Georgia Lawyers for the Arts and Actors Express (another top theatre in Atlanta) where we present a continuing legal education class, where lawyers will come spend $135 to sit in the theatre for three hours to watch plays where the lawyer-protagonist is faced with some kind of ethical dilemma. The lawyers in attendance get CLE professional credit. The event is an important community builder, and, yes, fundraiser for all three organizations. Most of the plays are written by Working Title folks. Playwrights get paid for them. This is a rare example where we are involved directly in production. Our main mission is to help playwrights develop their voices and plays, but we also try to create an environment where playwrights can go out into the world and making sure their work is production worthy. We also encourage playwrights to develop their own “salons” where they can meet in smaller groups with colleagues. I’m part of an informal group with other WTP writers we call “Church” because we usually meet on Sunday mornings. It’s usually about 5-6 of us reading and sharing work. For those looking to create their own readings, we provide them access to our 75-person acting ensemble. Playwrights often ask where canI get actors. We tell them, here they are. Make sure you feed them, give them gas money or something to get them involved. So again, we’re trying not to be a hierarchical organization but create a web where people can make connections and go for whatever directions that are suitable for them and their artwork.
NN: You totally are the epitome of this nucleus ball that supports everything art. And I love that you offer scholarships to your members and folks that may not be able to afford it, along with other types of important initiatives. How do you get funding? Do you still need funding opportunities? There’s a world out here that we’re talking to, so tell us what WTP needs to sustain and how we can stay supportive of you?
Hank WTP: Amber, can I take the lead on this one? I’ve been the board president since our inception as a non-profit since 2003. Right now, we operate with a budget of $80,000, which we were in the process of trying to double before Covid hit. We always pay artists. We had two staff positions and now we just have one. One of my goals is to make sure our staff positions are paid, and we need to get Amber paid more. We’ve been fortunate in that some folks from the community are stepping forth to help us build and improve our infrastructure. We have a wonderful consultant, a playwright named Alexander Johnson, who is a media consultant and he said, why not start thinking big, about being a six-figure organization. Another non-profit specialist, Susan Pavlin, who is also one of our playwrights, has also stepped forth to give us guidance to fortify our corporate infrastructure. We get some public funding from the Georgia Council for the Arts. We have some family foundations that have given some money. We do a fundraiser at the at the end of the year where we try to raise $20,000, which is modest for some non-profits but more than just the $20,000, we also try to make sure we get 150 donors. When we get donors, we don’t segment them by how much they give. Everybody is pulled together. I’m really proud of the fact that our support goes deep, understanding that a $10 donation from one person may be as (or maybe more) meaningful than $1,000 to them in terms of the personal value of that amount. We want make sure everyone gets thanked immediately. We keep a list and then just let people know that we really appreciate it, however they extend out for us. But it can be tricky for us to get support, since we’re not a producing organization. We don’t have shows to sell. Of course, our costs are low, so we don’t have to spend a disproportionate amount of time chasing funds. For our board, we have a give or get of $1,000, and most people will find creative ways to get that. One of our board members makes a donation through a corporation that has a two-for-one match. Others will donate by doing video for a fundraising campaign, which then we can use for grants. Another board member will throw a party for us. Of course, we are still on the lookout for other creative ways, so if there’s anybody out here that can give us advice on how to do that, we welcome that. At some point, we’d love to get our own space. We were close to doing that in 2007 when the economy collapsed, and we lost that opportunity. Amber, what else do we do to raise money?
Amber WTP: Yeah, you know honestly, because we’re so small, and the way funding is set up, we’re not eligible for a lot of our funding in the state of Georgia and in the City of Atlanta. I think, the Georgia Council for the Arts grant is the only government funding we receive. Primarily we are funded by our end of the year fundraiser, which raises between 20to 30 Grand, depending how successful we are. But what we’re learning is that it’s complicated to fund an organization that’s inclusive, because what we offer is mostly free. Most of our events and services are free. We are a training advocacy resource organization, and that if we were to charge for everything we offered, we would be putting boundaries in places that we absolutely don’t agree with. So it continues to be a challenge for us. We have some donors that have been incredibly generous to us. But we do need more people that just love and are passionate about what we do and want to help us continue to offer these services to people for as little as we possibly can.
Hank WTP: I’ve got one thing to add to this, and this may speak to those who are outside our community. In Atlanta there’s an umbrella organization that gives a majority of funding to the arts. Until recently, the criteria for submitting applications created a bar to access. An organization like ours would have to spend more money and time trying to put a grant together, and they’re asking for things that we just don’t have the resources to manage. There’s new leadership there and they actually committed to lowering the bar for access, understanding that smaller organizations can’t track (or pretend to track) every single statistic. I think that’s really encouraging. Because the money tends to sift to the bigger organizations. I’d like to think there’s a movement in Atlanta to take a chance on artists as entrepreneurs, rather than just institutions. I think that’s encouraging.
NN: It is hard, as you want to support and not be a burden, because as artists we don’t have a lot of money. Unless we’re lucky enough to find some work that pays. Are all of your donors pretty much local, or are they branched out? Hopefully, this interview will secure some outside, global Angels to help support the initiative.
Hank WTP: We usually get donors from about 15 different states. Some may be from kind-hearted family members and friends.
Amber WTP: Cast members that have moved.
Hank WTP: Yes, it’s really impressive. We do get support from far and wide. When people see what we’re doing, and we really have no boundaries. Our plays can go anywhere and now especially virtually, we have writers from more and more states that subscribe to this kind of work as well.
Amber WTP: We have people that join us from other states because there’s no playwriting support in those places. We have people that Hank’s worked with. Playwrights from four different states last year, because they wanted to have a dramaturg work on their and is probably our best marketing tool, because he knows everyone and is just wonderful at nurturing people’s work and making sure they feel welcome. That’s no small feat and he does a wonderful job of it.
Hank WTP: Dan Schneider is my role model.
NN: Dan is a Bridger and he’s so free, loving and kind, which is probably why we connected. So I’m wondering, from what I’m hearing and also experiencing, is I feel everyone is complaining about having to be at home. I know as artists, we want to be on stage and near our peers and others. But do you find that being in the virtual world has made new meetings of people and new community building opportunities better? What do you think and how do you feel that WTP will utilize this time to grow and secure the things that it needs from a virtual world to survive?
Amber WTP: I feel like it’s not better, it’s sort of an AND, right. Because I do think, as we said, we’ve had a lot of people attend events that may not be able to make it generally. So that’s been a really special addition to the work we’re doing. But I would say the community aspect is so different. Typically at a session or an event, we would have a bunch of people hanging out afterward talking to each other about the work they’ve done, or the work they’ve listened to. I would say moderation is different, right, on zoom. But I think that you are right, I think it gives us as artists an opportunity to be creative and to think outside of our box. And I think that’s always good for artists to do. I love a challenge. I’m sure you do, Michele. I think there’s going to be sort of a flurry of content, around next year, that’s really fresh that came out of this time. I think that’s really special. I hope it’s not all plays about a pandemic, because that would be a bummer. It’s too soon, y’all. lol.
NN: Right, like you said, things that you had before that you didn’t get to write…. Hank
Amber WTP: Hank is great about getting his plays done. So many plays. He writes like 5 plays a week. I’m not sure when he sleeps.
Hank WTP: Actually, this morning I was working on a play that I’ve had incubating since 1986. So, in the strange way, the pandemic does provide some time that I hadn’t before. Also, this time gives us more access to other theatres and theatre-makers. I’m going to a play tonight that’s in Los Angeles. I attended one last night in Chicago. If it’s online, there’s really no impediment getting there. In Atlanta a big impediment is our traffic, so that’s been taking out of it too. But there’s a big void from not being able to be with other folks out in person and finding the spark from those interactions. And even just driving around Atlanta sitting in traffic, sometimes can be a point of inspiration. So much is coming through the screens of what we see in the world. It’s convenient but limiting.
NN: Yeah, I agree. I am concerned about our outlook if things continue to go the way they are going. People are not wearing masks and so we see spikes here and there, and now the arts, which are already the last venues to open, are even more threatened. We’re not sure where we are going? Luckily you have really strong initiatives, outside of your core values, that you also strive for your group. Although we touched upon it a little, please, talk a little more about them or the collaborations, like the “I love my lawyer” collaboration that you did with the lawyer’s group. Has that been done with other groups?
Amber WTP: I think we didn’t mention that one of our collaborations has been with True Colors Theatre company. Jamil Jude and I led a panel last year, An Advice for Writer’s panel featuring Eugene Lee, Gabrielle Fulton, Addae Moon and Annie Harrison Elliot. And we were going to do another one until the pandemic hit. But trying to give people an opportunity to hear from established writers working both in television, film and theatre, which was a really wonderful collaboration that we did at Spelman College that hosted us. Courtroom drama has been really cool because we’re collaborating with Georgia Lawyers for the Arts as well as Actors Express. We use the space at Actors Express, Georgia Lawyers for the Arts manages the CLE credits, and all the legal aspects of it and then we manage the plays, the playwrights, the casting and who’s directing those pieces. So that’s been a really fruitful collaboration. Our collaboration with Theatrical Outfit for the Unexpected Play Festival is only about a year old. We’re doing our second one this year. It will probably be virtual. The new artistic director of Theatrical Outfit, Matt Tourney, is really excited about local people and local work and developing plays. He’s already in the process of developing one of the plays that we did in the Unexpected Festival last year. Very excited about collaborations that actually lead to potential development and workshop opportunities for our playwrights. That is just the ultimate goal, right. One of the ways we work with the Alliance Theatre is for the Ethel Woolson Lab, which we do all of our labs at the Alliance in their black box theatre on the third floor, which is a wonderful little black box space. One of our board members is the Education Director and Associate Artistic Director at the Alliance, Christopher Moses.
I would say every single collaboration we have, and each initiative, has led us to another initiative and another collaboration, which I think is just sort of the nature of engaging with diverse communities.
Hank WTP: We try to encourage our playwrights to look for opportunities to expand where theatre can be produced. And if you think about it, when the artists marched in Atlanta in protest, that’s a type of performance art. I think also artists need to acknowledge that there are different forms of creating art at this point and it’s not just putting something down on a piece of paper and then hoping someone read it. The key is to think creatively about expanding opportunities – such as approaching restaurants, coffee shops, workplaces and conferences as a means to use theatre as community outreach. I’m part of a group called the Alliance for Jewish Theatre, and we try to encourage synagogues to use new theatre work as part of their ministry. In fact, one of our members, Candi Dugas, has been a minister of a church where she was producing a play a month. This kind of enterprise reminds me of a quote attributed to Jonathan Winters, “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.” We encourage our members to not sit around waiting for a theatre to produce cause especially right now, they may not have the money to produce anyway. And if they are, they’re going to take the plays that are backlogged from this past year and they may not want your 8-character play anymore. As theatre makers, our creativity should not be limited to creating the work, but also creating funding and opportunity. I’m hoping our members can bring forth even more new initiatives that we can help nurture and support.
NN: Before we go, how does one join WTP?
Amber WTP: There’s no application process. There’s nothing required except for going to the website and joining us as a member. Right now, you can join for $125 for the year, which is July 1st to June 30th of next year, or you can join from July 1st to December 31st if you cannot afford the full annual membership. And then if both of those things feel inaccessible to you, as I mentioned earlier, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you can afford to join us. If people are out of state and they’re really interested, most of our work is virtual right now. If they are an actor and they want to join our ensemble, that’s another way to come in and join us too.
Hank WTP: And also, there’s other barters, too. Sometimes people can contribute to social media, write articles, do membership recruitment, even helping us fundraise. Our website is workingtitleplaywrights.com for those who want to find out more. Also, folks are welcome to subscribe to our mailing list without any obligation too, so you can be kept apprised by what’s going on. We’re also trying to assist some of our members set up their own groups, in other places and within our community, too. Whatever we know, we’re eager to share. So many have helped us, we’re willing to do the same, if there is anything useful we can offer.
NN: One more thing, tell our listening audience whether it’s through this medium or in a text form, what are some other resources that you need, that if someone were listening and could give it to you, let us know what that is as well.
Hank WTP: What you’re doing for us, Michele, is an example of a generous contribution of your time and talent. Thank you!!! Like every organization we need financial resources. We welcome them and we also welcome collaborations as well. If I had more time, I’d like to see if there was a way to market our Courtroom Drama series to other lawyer groups in other parts of the country. Also, we are eager to expand the outlets for our work. Some of our playwrights have done work at parties and special events. We used to do playwrights slams at coffee shops. If anybody has any idea of ways of connecting and wants to join us as well, we welcome that. And we’re always looking for board members. We have a great Advisory Council as well with artists from all over the country and we do connect with national groups like the Dramatist Guild. Amber, you’re involved with the literary LMDA organization, Literary Manager Dramaturgs of the Americas. If anything strikes anybody about what we’ve said, and how to get involved after looking at our website, we welcome any kind of contribution.
Amber WTP: We have a small but mighty board and we’d love to grow it a little bit. We’d love to grow. We actually don’t have an actor on our board. We were talking about that. We really need an actor on our board. So you know, we’ve tried to make sure that we don’t just have playwrights, that we have people that are business people. And we still need more folks that are really driven to be a part of what we do and to bring their voices to the process. We really are more about board members that are engaged in the mission and about the advocating of the mission, rather than people that have a big pocketbook. That’s important but it’s not everything and it’s not the only thing that matters to us.
Hank WTP: And we don’t discount a person with a big pocketbook. For another organization, I once had one board member say, I’m giving you seven seconds every year and in that seven seconds I’m going to write you a check. I can’t recall what it was for, $10,000. I’m like that’s fine, I won’t bother you for the rest of the year. Michele, I thank you for your time in speaking to us. I really appreciate that you took time and to us, in the sense, you’re subscribing to our mission just by the time you spent with us today. So again, when you talk about how we adjust to a new world this just gives us another opportunity, as Amber said, it’s like an AND. People are at different phases of struggle and we certainly acknowledge that. But also, we just want to make sure we keep the path clear, so we take the next steps. So that when things get resettled, we can be more positive and all that, so thank you very much for your time!
NN: To see that you have all come together collectively is a beautiful thing and if we can help in any way to support you, we are here. Closing words from you both.
Amber WTP: Well I just want to thank you for taking the time to share what we do with people you know. We want to serve artists, you know. Artists are so underserved, and it’s very important that creatives continue to create, it’s just everything to us, so thank you Michele.
Hank WTP: My final word is, it’s taken us a long, long, long time to get to the starting line. And I feel like we’ve taken the first couple of steps forward. We welcome others to join the race for us, which we expect will be a marathon. A satisfying one.
NN: There you go! Nectar News signing off with Hank Kimmel and Amber Bradshaw of the Working Title Playwrights