By Carrie Chapter, Philadelphia Theatre Company
Regarding the world of creative writing, Ernest Hemingway once said that “we are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” The young writers of Rebeck’s caustic comedy, SEMINAR, know this lesson all too well, as they sacrifice their work on the despotic altar of Leonard, a famous author who instructs them in a private seminar.
As the third show in the PTC 2012-2013 season, SEMINAR represents more than just a hilariously opportune play to lift the wintry spirits of our audience; it also reunites the company with playwright Theresa Rebeck. Back in the late 1980s, Rebeck was a young writer involved in the PTC Mentor Project, which paired established playwrights with the emerging crop of theatre artists. Her mentor was the WINGS playwright Arthur Kopit, and PTC went on to develop some of her work in our STAGES series. Rebeck would become a fine successor, as she grew to be a prominent writer for the stage, film, television – not to mention authoring essay collections, articles, and novels.
With our production of her Broadway hit, SEMINAR, Rebeck makes a glorious return to PTC. On Sunday, she joined us at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre for our American Playwrights in Context onstage interview series, which was held immediately after the matinee performance. Rebeck was interviewed by fellow playwright Michael Hollinger, and the two quickly realized they were both ardent admirers of each other’s work, which made for a particularly rich and engaging conversation. To see two playwrights, who both teach writing, discuss a play that is all about a writing class was truly remarkable! Next up for the SEMINAR programming is our Special Topics panel discussion, “O Mentor! My Mentor!: Exploring the Barbed Complexity of Teacher-Student Dynamics in the Writing World,” with panelists from UPenn’s Kelly Writers House and Temple University’s Creative Writing program. The panel has been encouraged to invite their students!