A Look Back: Projects & Programs Locally

Making Seattle a destination for new work starts in Seattle. As Umbrella Project grows our national network and works to build a stronger bridge from Seattle to the national conversation, our first commitment is still to the vibrant, messy, ambitious, and bold community of our rainy city.

We began building our local network by seeking out theatre companies that champion new plays. While there are hundreds of productions of new plays per year in Puget Sound, only a  few of those plays are seen by the general population (non-industry) and even fewer that are developed and premiered here go on to have second productions or any sort of life outside Seattle. Umbrella Project works with the companies in our network to help fill in the gaps between idea and staged reading, reading and workshop, workshop and premiere and beyond.

One year later, over 20 organizations that have stood up and made a commitment to new work including; 14/48 Projects, ACT- A Contemporary Theatre, Annex Theatre, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Forward Flux, Live Girls! Theater, Mirror Stage, Northwest Playwrights Alliance, Parley Productions, Pratidhwani, Rain City Projects, RED STAGE, Seattle Public Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre, STAGEright Theatre, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, The Horse in Motion, The Pocket/The Slate, and The Satori Group.

The Forecast, our monthly-ish newsletter, and our New Play Calendar, highlight the new play related events happening across the 19+ local theatre companies that are part of our network. We also had a few people join us for a very small test of an early version of the New Play Pass—our first sketch at building a sustainable revenue stream and a channel to reach new audiences.

We are continuing to host the Seattle chapter of Dramaturgy Open Office Hours every month at locations around the city. The Dramaturgy Open Office Hours Project launched in the spring of 2014 in New York City with the intent to increase accessibility to dramaturgs, and to create a place where people could meet to discuss dramaturgy in a relaxed, informal way. With UP as a co-sponsor of DOOH, we continue to provide basic support to other freelance artists, to build networks of collaborators, and to increase awareness not only to the role of dramaturgs in the creative process, but also to the many dramaturgs living and working in their vicinity with whom they might choose to collaborate. We just had one last night, and it was great.

Script Consultancy is a program which offers our dramaturgical services to the larger community at a sliding scale. Playwrights will be paired with an Umbrella Project dramaturg for one-on-one sessions to discuss their script. Our dramaturgs aid playwrights in structure, character development, world-building, amongst many other aspects of accelerating a new play. All plays that come to Umbrella Project via Script Consultancy may be considered for future co-productions with the playwright’s consent.

It’s been a big year and we’re already looking ahead to more! These are just some of the programs and projects we’re continuously working on.

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