Literary Manager Anne Morgan looks back at the accomplishments made over the past year.
Each year, right around the end of December, a flurry of articles come out reflecting on the year that is nearly concluded. But here at Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries, we like to do things a little bit differently. So now, four and a half months into 2018, it’s time for us to look back over the last year. And what a year it’s been!
Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries was announced on April 21, 2017. The news was met with enthusiasm by playwrights, Shakespeare scholars, theatergoers, and more. ASC and the project were featured in the New York Times, CNN, Vox, and more.
Not 24 hours later, the first play was submitted for consideration.
In May, the ASC announced that it would be hiring a Literary Manager to helm the project. And in June I was hired.
In the months between my hiring and beginning the position, applications continued to roll in, as did questions about the project and the application process. When I began at the start of September, my first task was clarifying the application process, both internally and externally. By the end of that month, all changes to the application process had been implemented. A few weeks later, I wrote my favorite blog post to date, comparing Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries to The Hamilton Mixtape.
November was an exciting month for SNC. Not only was the application process in full swing, but we announced the titles for the second round of the SNC application process. (Plays engaging with our Round Two titles – Othello; Henry IV, Part 2; Midsummer Night’s Dream; and Cymbeline – will be accepted June 1 – August 1). Announcing these titles eight months in advance encourages writers to specifically consider SNC when writing a new play; in the future, we hope to announce Shakespeare titles 1-1.5 years in advance of the application deadlines.
By December we had begun to amass more scripts than I could comfortably read myself and so the reader recruitment began. Nearly fifty people volunteered to read scripts for the project.
In January, I traveled with my ASC colleagues to Cincinnati for the annual conference of the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In addition to speaking about Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries on a panel on “Shakespeare Translation and Adaptation,” I also joined Austin Tichenor’s Reduced Shakespeare Podcast to talk about the project. My time at the conference proved that there is a hunger among Shakespeare theatres for new plays and new pathways into the Bard’s work. I look forward to sharing our new plays with STA theatres and with the broader theatrical community.
The deadline for applications for the first round of the project was February 15th at 11:59 pm. The last application was received at 11:56 pm.
Reports from our talented readers rolled in throughout March. Once all reports were received, 51 plays were identified as semifinalists. Those semifinalists were sent out to our Semifinalist Panel Readers. And semifinalist reports are due this week.
So, that’s all that has happened in one year. But there’s still so much more to do. In the next few months, we’ll announce the first two selected plays, we’ll begin accepting applications for the next round of the project, and we’ll announce titles and application details for the third round of the project. By the time another whole year has elapsed we’ll have cast, developed, rehearsed, and produced the first two plays; selected SNC plays #3 and 4; and begun preparations for even more cycles of applications, selection, development, and production.
Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries is a twenty-year project. So stay tuned for everything that’s ahead!