On the Road with Pat and Bob Schieffer

Our administrative assistant Sarah Stone reflects on her experience driving the Schieffers to and from Staunton for the 2017 American Shakespeare Center Annual Gala.

IMG_3806.JPGThe plan was to get there fifteen minutes before I needed to be there, but I pulled up to their building five minutes late. The whole way to DC in my little grey car, I could hear my dad’s voice in my head reminding me to be focused and calm when operating a vehicle, but sometimes it takes a lot of energy to heed that advice he gave me so many years ago.

Today, I was stressed about the heavy traffic and the timing kerfuffle, but the cobblestone drive, the circular fountain, and the uniformed doorman calmed me down. “I’m here to pick up Bob and Pat Schieffer,” I told him. “I’ll just use my cell to call them to let them know I’m here.” He nodded and stepped back into the lobby while I waited for their voicemail greeting to finish. Then, as if he had taken my initial words as a request, the doorman presented The Schieffers and their luggage. We loaded up – Bob in the front and Pat in the back – and started the journey to Staunton, VA.

You know who knows how to get around DC during crazy events? People who live there. Amid roadblocks and half-naked runners, I would have been lost if Bob and Pat hadn’t steered me beyond where my iPhone was telling me to go.

Once we got out of DC, the conversation flipped from frustrations about DC traffic to excitement about the ASC Gala, college life, various productions of Hamlet, and books (those we’ve read and those Bob has written). As I-66 turned into I-81, we discussed the beauty of Virginia, the delight of Staunton, and any imaginable opportunities that lie ahead. And dogs. We chatted about our dogs.

“What kind of dogs do you have?”

“Two mutts, both about 30 lbs, which makes them great apartment dogs. What kind of dogs do you have?”

They’ve always had beagles, but they haven’t had dogs for 13 years.

We’re nearing Staunton, but amid roadblocks and witches and wizards, I wasn’t worried about getting to the Blackfriars Playhouse to drop the Schieffers off for the Gala rehearsal. Because you know who knows how to get around Staunton during the Magic and Mischief weekend? People who live here.

I dropped Bob and Pat off at the entrance to the Playhouse and waved goodbye. I saw them briefly at the Gala, but between conversations and pictures (and a starring role in the Gala performance for Bob), they were in high demand.

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Bob and Pat Schieffer at the ASC Gala. Photo by Lauren Rogers.

After brunch the next day, I picked Bob and Pat up from their hotel. After we pried Bob away from a few conversations, we three loaded into my little grey car and started back for DC.

“I’m relying on you two to be my GPS,” I said. “Is that OK?”

Pat smiled. “We’re just going back to our house? Oh, yes, we can get you there.” Good.

Our conversation started with my hopes that they’d had a good time at the Gala, which was greeted with enthusiastic (but exhausted) comments about what an enjoyable evening it was. We reviewed the people they met, the things they learned about the theatre, and the possibility of coming back to see Hamlet at the ASC after the New Year. As I-81 turned into I-66, we discussed the various unions associated with the performing arts, Pat’s newly acquired producer credit, professional next steps, and coffee.

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Co-Founder and Director of Mission Ralph Alan Cohen, Burbage Award recipient Lesley Currier, Goodfellow Award recipient Robert C. Vaughan III, Honored Guest Bob Schieffer, and Managing Director Amy Wratchford. Photo by Lauren Rogers.

Traffic started to bottleneck as we reached DC; there were fewer roadblocks, but just as many delays as there were the day before. With the turn of the wheel, the car entered the serene environment of Bob and Pat’s driveway. As we got out of the car, the doorman greeted us: “Same girl!”

“Yep! Same girl as yesterday!”

Bob and Pat got out of the car and collected their belongings. We hugged, and I agreed to call them next time I’m in town for any length of time.

“You were a good driver,” Pat said as they turned to go into the building.

“Thanks. My dad would be very pleased to hear that.”

I waved goodbye, got in my little grey car, and quietly drove back to my two 30lb mutts in Staunton.

Sarah Stone is from Cleveland, OH and lives with her husband and two dogs in Staunton, VA. She likes to talk about food, classics, and rules that are bendable.

 

 

Photo Blog: 2017 Gala Highlights

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had!” -Bob Schieffer, probably just being really polite

This past weekend the American Shakespeare Center held its annual Gala, a weekend full of activities including one-night-only performance performance of Emma Whipday’s In Search of Shakespeare, featuring renowned newsman Bob Schieffer in full Elizabethan garb.

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Bob Schieffer and David Anthony Lewis in In Search of Shakespeare.  Photo by Lauren Rogers.

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Guests enjoy In Search of Shakespeare.  Photo by Lauren Rogers.

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Allison Glenzer in In Search of Shakespeare.  Photo by Lauren Rogers.

The performance was followed by dinner, award presentations, and dancing at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel.

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Table design by Amanda Williams.  Photo by Lauren Rogers.

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Co-Founder and Director of Mission Ralph Alan Cohen, Burbage Award Winner Lesley Currier, Goodfellow Award Winner Robert C. Vaughan III, Honored Guest Bob Schieffer, and Managing Director Amy Wratchford.  Photo by Lauren Rogers.

Burbage Award recipient Lesley Currier is the founder of Marin Shakespeare Company in San Rafael, California.  She leads the company’s Shakespeare for Social Justice program which uses drama therapy techniques with acting instructions to give inmates the opportunity to study and perform Shakespeare, learn teamwork and positive goal-setting, practice self-reflection and self-expression, and build emotional competency and empathy.

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Leslie Currier.  Photo by Lauren Rogers.

Robin Goodfellow Award recipient Robert C. Vaughan III is the Founding President and CEO of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

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Dr. Ralph Alan Cohen and Robert C. Vaughan III.  Photo by Lauren Rogers.

The evening capped off with some solid dance moves.

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Photo by Lauren Rogers.

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Hidden Figures author Margot Shetterly and Former US Poet Laureate Rita Dove doing the Wobble.  Photo by Jeremy Douylliez.

A special Sunday morning brunch followed the next morning featuring a conversation between Ralph Cohen, Bob Schieffer, and Robert C. Vaughan III.

 

 

 

The Next Generation of Playwrights Has Arrived

IMG_3730.pngIt’s been long anticipated and highly publicized, and now the wheels are officially in motion. Anne G. Morgan, our Literary Manager at the ASC, is beginning to sift through play submissions for the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries Project.

Take Note

Launched in April of this year, the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries (SNC) Project is an initiative to develop one new play to respond to each of the 38 plays in Shakespeare’s canon. The project is a competition: in addition to a $25,000 prize, the winners will get their plays produced at the ASC in repertory with the play it stems from. This year, Anne is searching for companion plays to Henry IV (Part 1), The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Comedy of Errors, and The Winter’s Tale, two of which will be produced in 2019.

“Before you read it, any play you open could be the next great play,” Anne says. “There’s so much potential in this early phase.” Anne started working at the ASC at the beginning of September, and she’s already got her rhythm: in addition to reading play submissions, she’s refining the application form, answering emails, and absorbing as much institutional knowledge as possible.

On February 15, Anne will send viable play submissions to a group of readers who will help determine the list of finalists. “I am really excited about the moment we start to narrow down the pool. When the reader reports come back in, I’ve done my own reading, and it starts to become clear that we’ve got some good options, that’s the moment that’s really exciting to me.”

Mind the Gap

Fresh from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Anne has plenty of experience with new play cultivation through her work with its National Playwriting Conference. While at the O’Neill, she was able to sharpen her skills in application management and in advocating for living playwrights; these skills will come in handy during her work on the SNC Project.

She ends up being a customer service representative, an agent, and an editor for each winning playwright. Anne notes, “It’s really important to me that, not only am I taking care of the playwright when I sit down and read their play. . .I’m taking care of the writer the moment they email me with any question they have in the application process. . . .And then after we select [a play], I want them to feel taken care of with any notes that we have, in the rehearsal process, and all the way through opening night.”

Anne is excited to be involved with a playwriting initiative that is so specific: rather than putting out a general call for new plays, we are asking for plays which accommodate a large cast, walk hand-in-hand with a Shakespeare play, and utilize universal lighting.

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The call for play submissions is open, meaning anyone can submit. Anne has some advice for submitters: “Read all of the information on the website…and articulate how [your] play can speak to the Shakespeare play to which it is corresponding.”

All Aboard

Now that the wheels of the SNC Project are moving, Anne is excited to engage more than just budding (or established) playwrights. Over the course of the next year, ASC fans can get involved with the SNC Project both by spreading the word about the project and by coming to the theatre to see the plays during the rehearsal process. “One of the exciting things about new plays is that they’re not finished…so having an audience is very helpful for a playwright to hear, for example, where the laughs happen and why… so they can make rewrites.”

As the wheels of the SNC Project start their 20-year run, they promise to turn quickly. By September 2019, the ASC will have produced two world premieres of new plays, have two more plays chosen to produce in 2020, and be in the process of selecting two more plays for 2021. So take note and mind the gap; all aboard! It’s going to be a fast ride.