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Geeky Press' Scripted helps local playwrights and actors bring a play to life.

Bridging the gap from page to stage



With every theater production, there comes a time when the plot must leave the page before making its way onto the stage. And during this crucial in-between time, it's often imperative that the playwright receives feedback on his or her work.

Which is exactly why Elise Lockwood, of Indianapolis' The Geeky Press writing collective, decided to start a monthly reading series featuring scripts written by local playwrights and read by local actors. Held at Fountain Square's New Day, Scripted was created to show the process of playwriting, and to give up-and-coming playwrights a chance to see what it takes to get from the page to the stage.

"We have the established big theaters, like Phoenix and the IRT, who have playwrights in residence, but there are so many more playwrights than just those," Lockwood says. "The reason I wanted to do Scripted was from being in rehearsals with new works and wanting to expand that circle outward. If you don't know a theater company or haven't worked with somebody before, it's hard to get your work out there."

Having been around theater for most of her life, Lockwood grew up in the Indianapolis area, where her mother could often be seen on stage. "I grew up going to community theater all the time," she says. After graduating from DePauw University with a writing degree, Lockwood got involved with Indianapolis theater companies, including NoExit Performance. She saw the need for a script reading series.

"I realized there wasn't a place for in between when you're writing a script on your own and seeing it in production," she says.

With this in mind, Lockwood made a callout to local playwrights, asking them to submit their new works to be read aloud by hand-selected casts of local actors. "If they don't have a cast in mind, or if it's a play that isn't planned for production, I do all of the work with contacting people and arranging for actors," she says. As for the script submission guidelines of Scripted, Lockwood made sure to keep things fairly open-ended, allowing for all genres of theater to be included. These loose guidelines also applied to how far along the playwright is in the writing process too.

"I will always give precedent to works that have not been produced before, but I sort of wanted to experiment with seeing where in the process we could get stuff," Lockwood says. "So with the first one we did, the second act hadn't even been written yet. But, the one in January will actually be in rehearsal when we read it, and this will be the first time it's gotten feedback outside of the cast."

At the aforementioned first Scripted, Paige Scott had a cast of actors read through a musical she wrote titled J. Eyre. Rather than bringing recordings of the songs in the musical, Scott instead decided to bring her keyboard to the reading, which added another dimension to her Scripted experience. "I brought my keyboard and played through the score and tried to the best of my ability to make a clear explanation of events while the actors read the book portion," she recalls. After having a Lockwood-led discussion about her musical with those in attendance following the reading, she was then able to get a better understanding of what changes needed to be made to her script.

"It highlighted what I need to work on in dialog and conversation framing in scene work," Scott says. "It also made me aware it isn't about just you as the writer getting what you need. It's about making sure the actor expressing your point of view understands it."

Scott is just one of the many playwrights that has submitted their scripts to be read at Scripted. In fact, Lockwood already has scripts selected for February and March installments of the reading series. "There are so many talented playwrights in Indy that I wasn't aware of," Lockwood says. "I've had friends start to come out of the woodwork who I just knew as actors or directors." With a vision toward the futures of Indy's theater community, both Lockwood and Scott hope to see this trend continue, as more and more playwrights learn they have a place to test out their new works at Scripted.

"It gives local playwrights a chance to really hear what they wrote and get feedback to improve their skills," Scott concludes. "We have a lot of writers who aren't heard and it's difficult to be heard, but Scripted gives those people an ear."


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