No playwright works in a vacuum. Nearly every dramatist is influenced both by predecessors and by being part of the zeitgeist of his or her contemporaries. As such, a new series sponsored by Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and New Dramatists is offering notable playwrights hosting and "curating" readings by other notable playwrights. They, in turn, are reading from their own works as well as plays by writers who influenced them.
The Playwright's Voice reading series began Feb. 8, when Ellen McLaughlin (Tongue of a Bird) hosted an evening with Constance Congdon, Elizabeth Egloff, Tony Kushner and Mac Wellman. Ping Chong, Jessica Hagedorn and Sung Rno were the guests Feb. 15, with David Henry Hwang (Golden Child) curating an evening titled, "Legacies: Asian-American Drama." Feb. 22, Jack Gelber, Romulus Linney and Megan Terry shared their "Uncommon Visions," with Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss) hosting.
Closing the series on Leap Day, Feb. 29, will be Luis Alfaro, Migdalia Cruz and Caridad Svich, taking part in "Celebrating Contemporary Latina/o Playwrights." (The idea sprang from TCG's recent anthology of Latino playwriting, "Out of the Fringe." )
TCG is best known for publishing American Theatre magazine and publishing numerous books on play productions and theatres around the country. New Dramatists, founded in 1949, offers a haven for playwrights to develop their craft via workshops, staged readings, awards and prizes. New Dramatists membership lasts for a seven-year span, with alumni including Robert Anderson, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, Richard Foreman, William Inge, Donald Margulies, Terrence McNally, Suzan-Lori Parks, John Patrick Shanley, Mac Wellman and many more.
For tickets ($5) and information on The Playwright's Voice series as New Dramatists, 424 West 44th St., call (212) 757-6960. -- By David Lefkowitz