News: Anne Washburn leads online Playwriting Workshop at The Flea, June 13 - 21

Anne Washburn
Anne Washburn. Photo courtesy Spin Cycle PR.  
The Flea Theater has announced Anne Washburn (Mr. Burns, a post-electric play; Shipwreck) to lead a Pataphysics Playwriting Workshop in June 2020. Pataphysics Playwriting Workshops are an intimate, intensive opportunity for writers to create new work and explore new ways of writing under the guidance of master playwrights. Washburn’s Pataphysics workshop, titled Make Good Politics and Bad Art and Bad Politics and Good Art—a workshop in virtual activism and the civic function of theater, will be offered online on June 13, 14, 20, and 21. Applications are being accepted through May 17, 2020.

Named for Alfred Jarry’s science of imaginary solutions, Pataphysics workshops are a gymnasium for the writing brain: curious, particular, and rigorous. Students enter with blank sheets of paper and leave with pages of notes, fragments, scenes, even entire plays unlike anything they would have written on their own.

“Pataphysics classes have always been an important place to rethink how and why to make theater,” says Washburn, who has led and facilitated Pataphysics workshops for many years. Washburn will investigate both of those questions in a workshop exploring how – or if – theater can be politically engaged, make meaningful art, and be an effective form of activism. Writers and theater makers with a bent for real-world activism are encouraged to apply.

“In these uncertain times, what remains certain is our deep need for civic engagement,” Artistic Director Niegel Smith says. “The always-inspired Anne Washburn takes that even further by guiding a workshop that will look at the intersection of civics and theater making. Let's write great plays, as great citizens. I can’t imagine a better Pataphysics for this moment.”

Washburn invites playwrights to join her on an adventure of difficult questions and direct action:

“We are going to do real world, non-partisan, largely virtual activism around voter registration and voter protection. At the same time, we will use this work as a springboard for a series of writing prompts which will examine why good civics is bad art and vice versa. We will *not* come to a heartening conclusion about eating your moral and art cake at the same time; we will not come to any conclusion; we will make some form of small consequential action and we will write a great deal.

This workshop is for you if the idea of actual street voter registration is something which intimidates you and which you would have been guiltily reluctant to do if times were different and humans could interact. This workshop is for you if you are uncertain about the real value or efficacy of political writing in the theater but have political-social-civic-concerns/passions/terrors.”

The Pataphysics workshops are led by master playwrights who are known not only for a distinct and groundbreaking body of work but also for their abilities as teachers. The workshops are structured around the idea that whatever is most immediately interesting to a teacher will make for the most engaging class. Each workshop is geared toward generating new material and new ideas through writing experiments, readings, and interesting conversations. They’re an opportunity for writers, emerging and experienced, to challenge their own assumptions using strange muscles and surprising parts of the brain. Previous master playwrights include Paula Vogel, Mac Wellman, María Irene Fornés, Clare Barron, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and Erik Ehn.

Pataphysics students have been produced by and have received awards from: Humana, The Public Theater, The Flea, Princess Grace Award, Little Theatre, Soho Rep, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Manhattan Theatre Club, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, Lucille Lortel Playwriting Fellowship, Printer’s Devil, Horla Theatre (London), BRIC Studios, New Dramatists, NYFA, Whitfield Award, Portland Center Stage, New Georges, Clubbed Thumb, HERE, Playwrights Horizons, La Mama, The Cherry Lane Alternative, Annex Theatre, Dixon Place, Empty Space Theatre, MacArthur Foundation Award, The Ontological, Ensemble Studio Theater.

To apply, participants should submit an application here. The workshop is being offered at the special online price of $210.

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