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Can You Write A Play?

Have you ever wanted to write a play? Have you written a short work and wished to see it performed? Breadcrumbs Productions has a deal for you with its Theatre Scratch Series.

First, a little about Breadcrumbs Productions. According to Actor/Producer Derek Emerson Powell, “We are a burgeoning theatre company based in Syracuse, NY, dedicated to supporting local artists and performers, while supporting the development of new and original work!”

Along with producing unusual and challenging works on a regular basis, the group has recently recruited work —and found its first three short pieces— that the writers, and all of us who attend, will see staged.

Breadcrumbs has now begun its official artistic residency at Wunderbar. Wunderbar is the new bar and theatre in the heart of downtown Syracuse (https://www.wunderbarsyr.com/).

“The bar is owned by Nick West and his husband, Tanner Efinger (https://www.tannerefinger.com/),”  Powell went on, “who is also the artistic director of Breadcrumbs Productions, and the mastermind behind this whole operation. While Theatre Scratch Night (https://www.breadcrumbsproductions.com/scratch) was originally Tanner’s plan, it is not an original idea, and has been done in NYC (https://theaterforthenewcity.net/?vh_show=scratch-night-tnc) and at Battersea in the UK (https://www.bac.org.uk/content/39534/create_with_us/scratch/what_is_scratch) which is where Tanner got most of his inspiration from.”

“We would like to formally congratulate each of the accepted applicants for the first official night in the Theatre Scratch series,” said Powell. “Martikah Williams, Isaac Betters, Louis DiNolfi, and Jodi Bova. The Breadcrumbs team could not be more thrilled to bring the new and challenging works of these artists to the Syracuse community at Theatre Scratch Night on Thursday, May 2.”

Tickets are just $5, and can be purchased at the door, or soon on the Breadcrumbs website. Everyone is welcome at this event to help celebrate the original work of artists in our own community.

The purpose of a “Scratch Night” is twofold – to promote the original work of new playwrights in the CNY area, encouraging our community’s engagement with the arts – but also to there’s nothing like “putting a play on its feet” to help a writer hone a particular work, and the craft of writing a play in general.

“After each performance of an original work,” Powell said, “there will be an opportunity for the audience to pose questions to the playwright, and an opportunity for the playwright to pose questions to the audience … a sort of moderated feedback session. My hope is that playwrights will use this opportunity to continue to develop their work, taking the responses and reactions of their audiences into account.”

“The only stipulation for the playwright is that each individual work may not exceed 15 minutes in length,” he went on. “While this may limit the amount of content, it allows us to showcase several original ‘Scratches’ in one ‘Scratch Night.’ We have three 15 minute shows for May 2nd, and I have several impressive submissions that I plan to showcase over the rest of the year. The more we do, and the more attention we garner from the arts community, the more playwrights should come out of the woodwork of CNY to participate – either with submissions of their own, or with a desire to help critique new and original works from the area.”

The first three playwrights whose applications were green-lighted include: Martikah Williams, Isaac Betters, and a collaborative project between Lou DiNolfi and Jodi Bova.

A quick peek at each work:

Martikah Williams

A Work in Progress, written and directed by Martikah Williams.

Finals week is fast approaching and for junior Tiffany (Wyrann Ross) anxiety is at an all-time high. She has to pass all her exams, or she will be dismissed from school. Her best friend Teriana (Nadia Ingram) is determined to help her pass Chemistry but can’t seem to get her to focus. With Tiff using everything in sight as a distraction Teri becomes more frustrated that she’s wasting her time.

Williams’ goals with this play are to create leading roles for black women, and ultimately bring more diversity and fresh storytelling to theatre in CNY. (Also featuring Shannon Williams as “Alexis.)

Isaac Betters

Untitled, written and directed by Isaac Betters

According to the writer, “This piece is a reworking of my graduate thesis project. I attempted to make the case that it’s possible to encounter philosophical ideas through performance, understanding different things than you might through a close reading. This is the critical moment of Plato’s Symposium, following Socrates’ grandiose explanation of love, (which itself follows a series of speeches from the other participants – all of which are aimed at others present). He seems to say that the purpose of love is to encounter Beauty itself, in order to be able to create beautiful ideas. Once you have done so, you no longer need Love, because you no longer have to search for Beauty. Instead of ending the Symposium here, however, Alcibiades (played by Garrett Heater, a drunken younger orator, a real person who was in love with Socrates and was, at the time of the Symposium’s writing, exiled and executed, along with Socrates himself) bursts in, and instead of giving a speech about love, gives a speech about Socrates. My question here is: if the real purpose of love is understanding, why does Alcibiades enter? Because we must fail, as humans, or because there’s more to love than producing beautiful ideas and the search for Beauty?” Socrates is played by David Minikhiem, and Mary Musial plays Diotima.

Lou DiNolfi

Creativity Project by Lou DiNolfi and Jodi Bova (who are also their own cast)

“An experimental collaboration using inspiration from various disciplines to influence the artists in creating new works. Transformations may evolve into a non-linear, non-traditionally structured, non-reality-based world in which the ephemeral, magical, spiritual influences are front and center. A theatrical piece that answers the question “How is it possible that beyond unimaginable and inexplicable fear, pain, suffering, tragedy or curse lie the blessings of life?” Using movement, music/lyrics, spoken word/text, visual imagery this piece will viscerally evoke experiences of facing mortality, love, loss, grief and the unexpected beauty/truths that are revealed within the darkness of that journey. Through the incorporation of visual and performing art(s) a story of courage, healing, and hope will be told that can take place in walking through the fire and experiencing/witnessing the transformation that results.

Jodi Bova

Consisting of approximately 13 chapters or snapshots of the various realities, points of view that are contained within Life and Death, five main individuals will speak, sing, dance, play music (and supported by live and recorded sound/projections, musicians, chorus/ensemble) to uncover the ecstasy in the agony, the diamonds in the manure, the lotus in the mud, the love that always remains.”

Powell told us that “Local playwrights interested in submitting for future Scratch Nights can email me, Derek Powell, at derekpowelldpt@gmail.com for more details on the future of Scratch in Syracuse. If our first night goes well, I would like to continue doing a series of quarterly Scratch Nights.”

So check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/breadcrumbsproductions/ and put May 2nd on your calendar. Oh, and if you’ve got an itch to write for theatre, here’s an opportunity to – yeah, “Scratch” it!

Nancy Roberts
Writer, voice over artist, information achitect, very curious person.