#WriteChange: Elana Gartner

Featuring recipients of DGF #WriteChange Scholarships

Elana Gartner, one of 10 recipients of a DGF #WriteChange Scholarship

Playwriting is a very lonely sport. During my time as a playwright, I have tried to connect to other playwrights and theater communities by joining Dramatists Guild, founding or joining playwriting groups, doing continuing education, networking at post-theater drinks and having coffee with people whenever possible. When I became a mother, these in-person meetings became more difficult. I joined the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP), an entirely online but very active community in which I have become a board member, the volunteer manager and the founding co-chair of the 50/50 Applause Awards, recognizing those theaters that produce women playwrights in, at least, 50% of a given season. I have continued writing and participating in my local playwriting groups but having a larger community of writers has been invaluable. Through them, I have found the resources to help market my work on various sites and I have connected to new communities like the Playwright Binge and other women playwrights organizations throughout the country. Being in New York, I have been fortunate to sometimes be able to meet people from these groups that are visiting.

However, farther flung opportunities are harder with my family life. Residencies and conferences are almost impossible to attend. Two years ago, a script of mine was accepted to the Great Plains Theatre Conference (GPTC) and, with difficulty, we arranged things so I could participate. The experience was exhilarating and such a relief to be working intensely with other playwrights who could understand the challenges I was having in my work. One playwright identified the answer to a script problem I had been having which led to a much stronger re-write. The GPTC playwrights were an enthusiastic and supportive group and I have kept in touch with some of them through social media or emails about opportunities. One has even joined one of my playwriting groups and an actress I met there directed a staged reading of mine a year later.

To get to GPTC, I ran a Kickstarter campaign that was successful enough to have extra money to get me to my pivotal first DG conference in Chicago. I found a whole new group of people who taught me strategies for social media, different ways to think about script submissions and it gave me an opportunity to meet theater companies and literary managers face to face to discuss my work. After a workshop on it at the conference, I very closely followed the trajectory of the New Play Exchange until its recent launch. Meeting some of the more prominent playwrights in our field or hearing them speak was quite special. I always read about them in the DG Magazine but it is powerful to experience a workshop or keynote of theirs and then talk with them in the hall.

As a board member for ICWP, I used the opportunity to run a brown bag breakfast for ICWP members to meet in person, an extremely unusual opportunity that I would want repeat or expand on. It was so successful that we scheduled a second one the next morning and ended up recruiting new members to the organization. When meeting theater companies from Chicago, I was able to personally tell one of them that they would be a recipient of the 50/50 Applause Award.

Nothing can replace the face to face meetings, workshops and informal conversations that people have at these conferences. My current lifestyle doesn’t give me a lot of opportunities to do that or do continuing education right now, even with the online DG conversations. My recent work with ICWP has blown connections wide open internationally online and I am eager to meet the people I have been collaborating with and introduce them to each other.

Among her other scripts, internationally produced and recognized playwright Elana Gartner has written Daughter (PlayLab Selection, 2013 Great Plains Theatre Conference), Because of Beth (Productions: Howick Little Theatre; The Workshop Theater, producer: Small Pond Entertainment),Pilar’s Brother (Finalist: 2010 Met Life Nuestras Voces Playwriting Competition. Reading: Repertorio Español), Spinning (Production: Fabrefaction Theater Company. Awards: Winner of 2008 Fabrefaction Theater Company Playwriting Competition), and Ernie Evan (Production: Genesis Repertory Theater; Heights Players. Staged Reading: 6x10 Festival, producer: 4th Meal Productions). Two monologues from Elana’s playsDaughter and Because of Beth were published in “Audition Monologues for Young Women #2: More Contemporary Auditions for Aspiring Actresses”, by Gerald Ratliff, 2013. Elana founded the EMG Playwriting Workshop which has fostered a supportive community for playwrights and joined a second playwriting group, Manhattan Oracles. She helped to edit a second edition of “You Can Write A Play!” by Milton E. Polsky. She is a board member for the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) and helped to found the ICWP 50/50 Applause Awards, recognizing those theatres that have produced women playwrights in at least 50% of a given season. Ms. Gartner is a graduate of Oberlin College and a member of the Dramatists Guild.

DGF #WriteChange Scholarships

The Dramatists Guild Fund awarded ten writers from across the country with DGF #WriteChange Scholarships. The $500 scholarships will help dramatists offset the cost of travel for attending one of the largest conferences for American dramatists. The Dramatists Guild’s National Conference in La Jolla, CA July 16 -19, hosts educational programing and networking opportunities with hundreds of writers from across the country.

Ten dramatists were selected from over 80 applications. Recipients of DGF scholarships hail from California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Washington D.C.

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