At the 2015 event, the talent indeed ranged from veritable unknowns to known quantities like [Duncan] Sheik and the Q Brothers. [Executive Director Betsy King] Militello insists that she tries to keep a diversity in the final projects in all areas.
“We can’t have eight shows that are all big and all sunshine, and on the flip side we can’t have eight shows that are all four-person ensembles,” Militello said, adding that she also wants a mix of musical styles and next-step opportunities for the work.
This year’s shows included a touching story about a young boy and his imaginary friend, a hip-hop take on Othello, a film noir-style mystery, a comedy set in the video game world, a dark comedy at an apocalyptic theatre, a Great Depression-era gothic fantasy, a tragedy about two immigrants in New York, and a fantastical story of a young boy’s mysterious adventure.
“It’s sort of a marketplace for people looking for new work to develop,” said Will Van Dyke, who was at the festival for the first time with his musical Imagine Harry, which he wrote with Jeff Talbott. “Ultimately, a goal is always production, but for us specifically, the goal is to find a place that would foster it from where we are now to a production.”
…The networking atmosphere between presentations is just as—if not more—important than the shows themselves. After each presentation, the writers go to a table outside the theatre and exchange demos for business cards. There are also happy hours and a closing night party where folks can mingle. These, as much as the performances, are where valuable connections are made that can further a work’s future.
Read more at americantheatre.org.