July 2005  | This Issue

Michael Bettencourt

Playwrights' Forum: A Real Forum for Playwrights

our years ago, I spent a wonderful weekend in Memphis, Tennessee, with Playwrights' Forum, a producing organization putting on Dancing At The Revolution, about Emma Goldman's two years in federal prison. Not an easy script to do, technically, and it opened on August 16, the anniversary of Elvis' death and the start of what locals call "Dead Elvis Weekend." But we managed to survive and sell out the run.

Over this recent Father's Day weekend I had another chance to spend time with Playwrights' Forum, who had elected to do A Question of Color, about an illegal interracial marriage in North Carolina in 1907 (based on the memoir of the same name by Sara Smith Beattie).  And again I want to use this space, as I did then, to thank Playwrights' Forum for being the gutsy, tenacious, and gracious organization it is. Special applause for producer Mark Rutledge, director Tony Horne, musical director Lemondra Hamilton, the entire cast, and all the volunteer staff and board members of Playwrights' Forum for bravely carrying on an incredibly risky enterprise in the "theatre community": producing entire seasons of unknown work by unknown playwrights.

That is correct: producing. Not an offer of self-producing (you get everybody and everything, we'll let you use our space and we'll do some marketing), not the starved offer of a script-in-hand reading, not the almost-there-I-can-taste-it breadcrumb of a workshop -- but full production: "overture, hit the lights, this is it, the night of nights / no more rehearsing and nursing a part...."

They have taken chances with me because it is their reason for being to take chances, and I wish I had more than kudos to use to repay them for their generosity and faith. But kudos I can offer, so hats off again to Playwrights' Forum for their courageous mission to give unknown playwrights and their unknown but eager-to-be-seen plays what they really need: three dimensions embedded in the fourth dimension of time and the fifth dimension of camaraderie and bravery.


©2005 Michael Bettencourt
©2005 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Michael Bettencourt has had his plays
produced in New York, Chicago,
Boston, and Los Angeles, among others.
Continued thanks to his "prime mate"
and wife, Maria-Beatriz

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