A! Magazine for the Arts

Barter Theatre Unveils "Shaping of America"

February 8, 2011

ABINGDON, Va. – Playwrights across the country, as well as locals, are invited to participate in Barter Theatre's new series, The Shaping of America.

Barter Theatre is posing the question, "What is America – where did we come from and how did we get here?" The series will explore The Shaping of America over the course of the next 15 years as 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of America's Civil War and 2026 marks the 250th anniversary of the founding of America.

The Shaping of America series will investigate America from its founding to the present through the development of one new play per year.

The first step in writing a commissioned play for the series is to submit proposals from March 30 – June 30.

Nicholas Piper, director of new play development, said, "Ideally, these are not necessarily plays documenting historical events, but rather, events are used as springboards that lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves as a nation – our challenges, our culture, our character, our people: the stories, perhaps, you won't find in history books."

Piper says the goal of this initiative is to have a 15-play cycle that gives witness to who we are today – how we got here and maybe, even, where we're headed.

Barter has become one of the leading regional theatres in the country when it comes to developing and producing new work. For the past 10 years, Barter's Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights (AFPP), a new-play development program, has given voice to dozens of new works that have gone on to full production in Abingdon and in theatres across the country.

As one of a handful of theatres that employs a year-round resident acting company, Barter offers a group of artists – actors, directors, designers – who are dedicated and experienced in the development of new work.

Piper adds, "This is not a call for plays that have already been written. Rather, this process starts with an idea and develops from there."

For more information and complete instructions on how to submit your proposal, visit www.bartertheatre.com/shapingofamerica.