Brave New Play Rites is pleased to announce that along with our Faculty Advisor, Sara Graefe, we will be bringing on both Ramón Esquivel and Sasha Singer-Wilson to assist in the adjudication of the plays for our 2017 Festival.
Both Ramón and Sasha have extensive experience in theatre as well as with the Brave New Play Rites Festival. With the festival submission deadline fast approaching, we’ve asked our adjudicators a few questions about their previous involvement with the festival, as well as what they are looking for in terms of play selection.
Tell us a little about your involvement with Brave New Play Rites in the past.
Ramón: I was a producer for the 2015 and 2016 BNPR festivals, and also a playwright that first year. My play Aurora was beautifully directed by Sara McIntyre and performed by Allie Pev and Rachelle Tomm. Beyond the usual producer duties like casting, coordinating rehearsals, promotion, and working with the venue, I also directed the Staged Reading Series for the 2015 Festival.
Sasha: I was an associate producer and playwright in 2015 and a producer in 2016. In the 2015 festival My Ocean premiered as a short play. I went on to develop it into a one act with director and dramaturge Ulla Laidlaw and actor Nadeem Phillip. This version premiered at the Vancouver Fringe in September. My producer duties ranged from liasing with directors and organizing the first directo/writer workshop at PTC, to managing our budget and rehearsal scheduling.
What’s your favourite thing about the Festival?
Ramón: As a playwright, I welcome any opportunity to see my work presented on stage, and celebrate any theatre or festival that prioritizes new work for the stage. Brave New’s mission is to produce these new plays, and to give playwrights the opportunity to go through the entire production process. Since 2015, the festival has moved off the UBC campus and become prominent in the greater Vancouver theatre world. I love that we work with Vancouver actors, directors, and designers. It gives Brave New a vibrancy more akin to the Vancouver Fringe festival.
Sasha: I love that BNPR involves a wide range of artists. For some writers, who primarily work in other genres, the festival might be the first and only time they see their work onstage. Others bring a wealth of theatrical experience. This is a really exciting part of the festival and asks for patience and collaborative generosity from every person involved.
Other than the specific festival requirements, what are the key things you are looking for in terms of selecting plays for the live productions or staged readings?
Ramón: Plays that are risky, vulnerable, and inherently theatrical. I hope the UBC playwriting students make the most of the opportunity to write a play that is challenging, scary, and possibly even doomed to failure. I’ve loved many Brave New plays and hated — yes, hated — others, but the plays at either end of the spectrum are the ones I remember. I hope every Brave New festival has a mix of wonderful triumphs and glorious disasters. It’s the great environment for theatre artists to play.
Sasha: I am interested in work that takes risks, both in form and content. I will be looking for plays that are uniquely theatrical and must be told on stage, right here, right now.
Any advice for playwrights about to submit for the festival?
Ramón: Two things. First, start writing early. That way, you can sketch out a few ideas before committing to one. Choose the idea that really gnaws at you, especially if you don’t really know what to think about it, or how you’re going to do it, or if it’s going to work at all. Second, make time to revise in December and January. When you get feedback, first from your peers in workshop and later from your director and actors, accept it graciously and use it to really examine your script, wrestle with it, rewrite generously, and then cut viciously. Plays aren’t written; plays are wrought.
Sasha: One of my (s)heroes, Young Jean Lee, sets out to create “the last show she would ever want to make”, which I take to mean, she doesn’t let fear stop her from telling the stories she knows she needs to tell. Take risks! Be brave! And then take the time to edit, revise, and polish.
So there you have it folks! We look forward to another great Festival in the upcoming year.
All the best,
BNPR 2017 Producer
Adjudicator —Ramón Esquivel
Ramón Esquivel’s plays have been produced in theatres, universities, and schools in New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Austin, Seattle, Vancouver BC, and elsewhere in North America. His play Aurora premiered at Brave New Play Rites 2015, and he was a festival producer for two years. Three plays—Luna, Nasty, and Nocturnal—are published by Dramatic Publishing. Ramón works with the Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas, a writing centre for kids and teens, and is a member of the Seattle Repertory Theatre Writers Group. He is completing his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.
Adjudicator — Sasha Singer-Wilson
Sasha Singer-Wilson is a Toronto bred and Vancouver based theatre artist. A graduate of the BFA Acting Conservatory at York University and an MFA Candidate in Playwriting at UBC, Sasha has trained and worked with companies including Soulpepper, SummerWorks, One Yellow Rabbit, Jumblies, Convergence Theatre, Theatre Gargantua and Theatre Passe Muraille. She co-runs the project based theatre company the blood projects. They make immersive performances in intimate places and re-imagine traditional theatre spaces.www.sashasingerwilson.com