Playwrights Retreat to Ohio

Information about retreats organized by the Ohio State University Department of Theatre for the International Center for Women Playwrights (ICWP), whose work is archived in Ohio State's Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


And so the 2007 ICWP Ohio Retreat is now history. All the playwrights have left, the computer lab is empty, and the New Works Lab is again free for students working on their own projects. The last gasp was the Ohio Sweet Corn Roast today. Among us, three playwrights, three volunteer actors, one host/corn roaster, two spouses and a friend consumed two dozen ears of corn, roasted in their husks, spread with melted butter and/or sprayed with hemp oil, seasoned with salt/spike/kelp flakes, and consumed. A little bit of rain (well, at the start, a lot of rain) dampened things a bit, but didn't harm the corn.

Playwrights with corn at the ready: from left, Nancy Gall-Clayton, Mrinalini Kamath, Amy Lynne Holland.

and I roast the corn; photo by Nancy Gall-Clayton

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Going Out With a Bang!

Full evening tonight; no photos--too busy listening and absorbing, and by the time I remembered the camera, I was driving away and the playwrights were headed out for Indian food.

New scenes tonight from Cynthia Wands and Amy Lynne Holland; exciting to watch these plays being developed, scene by scene, over the space of the week. Amy also brought in a short piece, Driving with Goats,
inspired by a news story she found about a foreign driver being arrested for driving 110 miles an hour--and explaining that the reason he was going so fast was that there were no goats getting in the way. A very funny, and charming, piece! Then Nancy Gall-Clayton brought in a full length she'd been revising since early this morning--an intense family drama, with a series of issues about aging and family acceptance, powerful, but with rich humor. We, alas, only had time to read the first act; Nancy promised to bring the second act next year!

Thanks to all the playwrights who attended, and who did such exciting work. A richly rewarding, and heady, week. And thanks to the volunteer actors who participated and made the words come alive; all the playwrights expressed warm appreciation for hearing the words spoken. Cynthia was particularly eloquent on how important it was for her to have the actors' contribution, and how their work revealed a wide range of new facets and possibilities.

So all that's left is the farewell Ohio sweet corn roast tomorrow. Unhappily, Cynthia and Cheryl Conner will be leaving early, so only Amy Lynne Holland, Mrinalini Kamath, and Nancy Gall-Clayton will be able to share corn with volunteer actors. And a great thanks to the playwrights who participated during the week:

Kathy Burkman
Vicki Cheatwood
Cheryl Conner
Emily Davis
Nancy Gall-Clayton
Amy Lynne Holland
Geralyn Horton
Mrinalini Kamath
Kathy Coudle King
Diane Rao
Cynthia Wands

And also thanks to the volunteer performers who turned out:

K Adamson
Mary Bade Von Coeur
Cate Blair-Wilhelm
Irene Braverman
Ryan Britton
Joe Cofer
Jo Fell
Kristina Kopf
Gloria Kraus
Kyle Jepson
John Kuhn
Alex Mack
Kevin McClatchy
Jane Mowder
Ellen Nickles
Angela Palazzolo
Bob Pettigrew
Kal Poole
Carol Shelton
Jessica Studer
Peggy Williams
Sarah Worthington
Tatyana Yassenov

Friday, August 03, 2007


Nancy Gall-Clayton joined us tonight, having driven up today from Louisville. And we said farewell to Kathy Coudle King, who left this evening, and are saying goodbye to Geralyn Horton, Vicki Cheatwood, and Diane Rao, all three of whom depart tomorrow. Geralyn tells us that all the playwrights recorded long enough for her podcast that two of them will use material recorded here--one devoted to the retreat, another to the trials, joys, excitement, challenges (and fill in whatever you want to add!) of being a woman playwright in North America in the first part of the twenty-first century. So watch/listen for them at (the current podcast has Geralyn talking about coming to Columbus, recorded before her departure for this year's retreat--should be interesting to compare her before and during podcasts, not to mention an afterwards, should she do one!

The scoreboard of The Ohio Stadium looms in the distance to the northeast of the Drake Performance and Event Center, center indeed to the creativity of ICWP writers this week, even as the OSU campus is chock-a-block with high school sports and cheerleading camps.

no computer lab for Mrinalini Kamath! She prefers to plug in her laptop in the hallway of the Drake, with large rivers overlooking the Olentangy River. And those who've been here for various ICWP events will note the new carpet, installed last winter!

scripts in hand, Cynthia Wands, Kyle Jepson, and Jessica Studer read a new scene from Kathy Coudle King's Campanieras--the piece about the dirty war in Uruguay that grows more chilling each night. Volunteer actors Kal Poole and Joe Cofer look on approvingly.

Veteran Columbus actors Irene Braverman and Gloria Kraus are part of the grannies in the next scene from Geralyn Horton's Against the Dying of the Light. It's been terrific watching the play grow, day by day, over the past five days.

Cheryl Connor, Vicki Cheatwood, and Emily Davis enjoy the reading of Emily's inventive short piece about cows who are roommates, as they prepare to go to work at the milking posts--brushing their hair, sharing secrets, etc.-- Girl Talk

We also heard more from Diane Rao's piece about the world boggle champ, Amy Lynne Holland's very funny Apoca-Lola, about a secretary in Hell who becomes one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and Cynthia Wands' play that started out to be about Will Shakespeare's lost years, but is now turning into something entirely different, much to her surprise. And the delight of those of us looking on, watching the process of change and growth in all these plays.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


heard first scene of a new play Amy Lynne Holland's creating about a horrific murder; then the next scene, fresh off the computer, of Kathy Coudle King's Campanieras, the piece exploring the dirty war in Uruquay through women prisoners preparing to rehearse The House of Bernarda Alba. A scene of a play Diane Rao first explored at last year's retreat, about a woman who's become the World Boggle Champion (it's a word game your reporter's never heard of) and will get to appear with Oprah as a result. And finally, a new section of Against the Dying of the Light, Geralyn Horton's play about the Raging Grannies.

Sarah Worthington, Peggy Williams, K Adamson, Jane Mowder, and Angela Palazzolo read Geralyn Horton's Against the Dying of the Light.

Diane Rao watches the reading of Against the Dying of the Light, Geralyn Horton's piece about the raging grannies

playwrights and readers kick up their heels, literally, after a day and evening of doing so metaphorically and creatively!

readers and playwrights gather, a bit clearer this time. From left: Playwright Amy Lynne Holland, readers K Adamson, Ryan Britton, Peggy Williams, Kal Poole (in rear), Jane Mowder, playwright Diane Rao, readers Angela Palazzolo, Alan Woods (in back), Sarah Worthington, playwrights Kathy Coudle King, Cynthia Wands (in back), Vicki Cheatwood (in front), Mrinalini Kamath (in back), Geralyn Horton.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Diane Rao from New Concord, Ohio, Emily Davis from Columbus, and Amy Lynne Holland from Cleveland joined us today. Much work done, and interesting readings this evening, followed by a gala dinner to celebrate Vicki Cheatwood's birthday at Aladdin's, middle eastern cuisine that seemed to satisfy hungry playwrights--

Sarah Worthingon (at left) is God, with Jessica Studer and Kyle Jepson as Ninevites and Alex Mack as Jonah in Vicki Cheatwood's very funny (and contemporary) retelling of the story of Jonah, written for her Dallas church and to be performed in October.

Jessica Studer, Kyle Jepson, Alex Mack, Kal Poole, and Emily Davis read from Kathy Coudle King's Campanieras--based on testimony from women imprisoned in Uruguay's 'dirty war.' Volunteer reader Joe Cofer looks on.

Vicki Cheatwood and Mrinalini Kamath watch the reading, while Kathy Burkman listens in a relaxed post.

A gaggle of playwrights watch the reading of Geralyn Horton's Against the Dying of the Light, her play showing the Raging Grannies in action; from left, Mrinalini Kamath's dark hair, Kathy Burkman, Cynthia Wands, Amy Lynne Holland, Vicki Cheatwood, Cheryl Connnor, Diane Rao, Geralyn Horton, and Sarah Worthington (who's reading).

at Aladdin's Restaurant, celebrating Vicki Cheatwood's birthday. Around the table, from left: Cheryl Connor, Cynthia Wands, Sarah Worthington, Kathy Coudle King, Vicki Cheatwood, Diane Rao, Mrinalini Kamath (partly obscured), Geralyn Horton, Amy Lynne Holland, and Emily Brown. (Kathy Burkman has a son and fiance visiting, and so didn't join us for dinner).