Enter Stage Write: The Culture*Park Play Lab at Co-Creative Center

By Steven Froias

#NBCreative Writer-at-large

NEW BEDFORD, MA – In a world where visual spectacles often take center stage, it’s refreshing to see the spotlight shift a bit towards the power of words and storytelling. Imagine a place where words leap off the page and come alive on the stage, where the raw essence of human expression is captured through the medium of playwriting. 

The building blocks of this transformation has been happening on Monday evenings at the Co-Creative Center in downtown New Bedford, and it’s all thanks to the Culture*Park Play Lab.

If you’ve ever been intrigued by the art of playwriting, or if you’re a seasoned playwright looking to refine your craft, the Culture*Park Play Lab is the place to be. The Lab is the new breeding ground for innovative theatrical works that might soon grace the stage with the help of actors, directors, lighting crews, and costume designers.

Culture*Park is the driving force behind the annual short play festival, a tradition that has persevered even in the face of occasional pandemics. This year, the festival returns to the New Bedford Whaling Museum on Saturday, November 18th, marking its 19th edition of original plays. The Play Lab is an initiative that doesn’t just nurture creativity but also ensures a continuous stream of engaging content for future productions.

Running from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Monday evenings throughout the summer and into the fall, this unique workshop allows playwrights to explore, experiment, and refine their creations. “It’s an opportunity to work on a play with actors in a dedicated space,” explains Culture*Park. The Lab welcomes new voices and multi-language plays, creating an inclusive environment that celebrates diverse perspectives.

The Play Lab’s potential is vast and inspiring. Playwriting transforms lonely words into living emotions, tangible characters, and unforgettable narratives. Long before the virtual realm became intertwined with digital mediums, plays brought people together for In Real LIfe (IRL) shared experiences that only the theater can provide.

At the Play Lab, it’s not just about penning words; it’s about breathing life into ideas. Participants have the chance to:

  • Explore Ideas: Craft and develop short scenes or plays.
  • Outline Through Improvisation: Shape the narrative through spontaneous improvisation exercises.
  • Hear the Dialogue: Listen to actors bring your work to life, with completed dialogues.
  • Staged Readings: Present already completed short plays for further refinement and growth.

If this opportunity resonates with you, don’t hesitate to get involved. Reach out to Patricia Thomas, the co-director of the Lab, at culturepark@earthlink.net for further information, guidelines, or to submit a proposal. That’s your ticket in.

Furthermore, if you’re looking to dive deeper into the art of writing short plays, there’s an exciting special workshop on the horizon. “WRITING THE SHORT PLAY,” taught by the award-winning playwright Candace Perry, will take place on Monday, August 28, from 5 to 8 pm. This workshop welcomes both experienced playwrights and those new to the craft; all that’s required is the desire to create. 

In this three-hour immersive experience, participants will:

  • Consider Engaging Theater Elements: Delve into the crucial aspects that make theater engaging and powerful.
  • Learn from Successful Examples: Study successful short plays to gain insights and inspiration.
  • Participate in In-Class Exercises: Engage in creative exercises that stimulate your writing process.
  • Begin Crafting Plays: Start crafting your own short play with newfound knowledge.
  • Discover Submission Opportunities: Gain insights into submitting your play to platforms like the Culture*Park Marathon.

Candace Perry, a prolific playwright with an extensive portfolio, will guide participants through this enlightening workshop. Having had over forty short plays produced in both the US and Ireland, Candace brings a wealth of experience and passion to the table. Her contributions to Culture*Park Marathons, Boston Theatre Marathon, Provincetown Theater Festivals, and Women’s International Theater Festivals speak volumes about her expertise.

The workshop will also be hosted at the CO+ Creative Center on 137 Union Street in downtown New Bedford. To secure your spot, make sure to reserve in advance, as seats are limited. You can contact the organizers at 774-473-4294. Price of admission is $25.

In a world that’s constantly evolving, the power of human expression and storytelling remains timeless. The Culture*Park Play Lab and the upcoming workshop with Candace Perry offer the opportunity to nurture local playwriting in the original IRL medium. If you’re drawn to the magic of theater, don’t miss out on these enriching experiences that celebrate the written word’s enduring ability to inspire and captivate.

  • Submissions are currently being accepted for the 19th annual Culture*Park short play marathon. Deadline is September 16, 2023. Email culturepark@earthlink.net for more information.
  • Find out more about the Culture*Park Play Lab on the New Bedford Creative Peer-to-Peer Eventbrite page here
  • Play Lab is part of the ARTnet ARPA artist training and recovery initiative, funded by federal award number SLFRP1067 awarded to The City of New Bedford by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and is facilitated by New Bedford Creative at the NBEDC.

FEATURED IMAGE: At the Culture*Park Play Lab in the CO-Creative Center, 137 Union Street, downtown New Bedford. Culture*Park image.

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