Donor Spotlight: Jane Wagner
You’re a passionate supporter of Alley All New. What about this new work initiative do you find most imperative to the Alley Theatre and to Houston?
For Alley Theatre audience members, this initiative offers the unique opportunity not only to see new plays performed for the very first time, but to see them alongside their playwrights in a more raw, organic form than we'd otherwise be afforded. This privilege is quite unlike our typical theatre experience.
The intimate workshop format gives us an insider's view, getting us closer to the play's genesis and to the playwright's vision before the work is tweaked and cut, shined and polished. No matter how these plays evolve from here, or where they will end up in their more finished stages, there is an earned pride and exhilaration in supporting its playwright by supplying actors, directors, and an audience for the play’s development.
To be recognized as a theatre that supports new plays and their playwrights adds rich dimension to our theatre, keeping us relevant, open and current. The commitment to seeking out new works infuses new energy into our theatre and makes it a model for our theatre community in Houston and well beyond our city.
What Alley All New readings or workshop performances stood out to you last year?
Songs from Mrs. Mannerly was laugh-aloud pure delight, filled with humor and nostalgia. Seeing Richard Kind in his hilarious role was a treat.
Miller, Mississippi, which is about as far a departure from Songs from Mrs. Mannerly as one can get, was powerful and deeply disturbing. I found the mystery and pace of it mesmerizing, its revelation of secrets and exploration of hatred gripping, hauntingly realistic, and well told.
Syncing Ink is an innovative and refreshingly told coming of age story and the fact that its playwright, NSangou Njikam, acted and rapped in it, added to my experience. I also appreciate how the intrinsic imperfections in new works are an integral part of the privilege and the point of the All New Festival.
What do you look forward to most about the Alley All New Festival in February?
I very much look forward to repeating the kind of experience that I enjoyed last season. Elizabeth Frankel and Skyler Gray set the bar very high with the inaugural season of the Alley All New Festival, cultivating a delicious variety of plays, topics, and treatments.
The few days were intense and satisfying, not only because of the rare opportunity to see many new plays over a short period of time in intimate settings with the playwrights in attendance; but the additional opportunities to gain insight into the works, from the talkbacks with the playwrights and the ability to casually visit with playwrights and actors over meals, enriched the experience and appreciation for the plays.
It was thrilling to participate in and support this exciting new venture and I have complete faith in Liz and Skyler’s continued guidance and nurturing of Alley All New. I can’t wait.