|Chris and Dano Madden in a workshop of First Snow |
at the 92nd Street Y. Photo credit: Miki Murata.
During my studies, Professor David A. Miller introduced me to his New York City-
based theatrical collective, The Artful Conspirators. He took a handful of students to the city to experience the collective's Open Rehearsal Series in which a playwright, director, and actors would spend a weekend rehearsing and developing a new work by the playwright. I do not know exactly why, but the process of developing a new play specifically for the purpose of development, not production, took me by surprise. Maybe I thought, rather naively, that writing development ceased to exist after college, that you either learn to be a good writer and your works go on to be produced/published, or you don't and that's just too bad. In any event, I was enamored by the process. I found myself using the same tools for theatrical and literary discussion I learned at University, but in a professional environment.
After my studies at Bloomsburg concluded, I took an internship with the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in McCall, ID. There, I was surrounded by several emerging and established playwrights whose plays were handpicked from hundreds of submissions to be developed at the conference. I noticed there were people hired by the conference specifically for the purpose of developing the plays and using those familiar tools for discussion. It was about that time I came to realize my studies had not only prepared me to be a writer, but also a dramaturg.
What the hell is a dramaturg? Well, the definitions vary based on the needs of the company and/or play, but essentially the function I serve is as an advocate for the playwright. I assist playwrights with their needs pertaining to their play, which can include anything from researching the play's topics to analyzing the plot structure or character trajectories. Little did I know, I had begun honing this skill long before I knew what dramaturgy was, back in Creative Writing workshops with Professors Claire Lawrence and Jerry Wemple.
Enamored with and exhilarated by the process of developmental theatre, I came to New York City seeking more. In NYC I worked with id Theater (the company responsible for Seven Devils) and The Artful Conspirators as dramaturg for BAD HUSBAND, a new play by Dano Madden. Dano, who I met through Professor Miller, is an esteemed playwright who I am proud to say has become an invaluable mentor and a dear friend to me.
|Rehearsal of First Snow at the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference. |
Photo credit: Sarah Jessup.
While developmental theatre is part of my career, I am first and foremost a writer. Since I graduated, I have written two full length plays which have received professional development and one short play which has received production. My most notable work has been First Snow, a play which takes place in a town based on Centralia, Pennsylvania, and makes reference to a few Bloomsburg-inspired landmarks. I submitted this play to the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, and lo and behold a year after my internship I was invited back to develop this play. I am currently a playwright intern with Project Y Theatre, a NYC theatre company, where my plays have also been developed with their playwrights group.
Now I am in the midst of submission season—both submitting my own plays to theatres all over the country and working as a reader for Seven Devils—cognizant of the careers I can pursue and grateful to the educational system which has enabled my pursuit.
To learn more about Chris, please visit: christopher.ulloth.com
Update: Chris was recently named the Associate Literary Manager for Project Y Theatre Company in New York City and is a semi-finalist for the prestigious National Playwriting Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.