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Five original scripts presented at Clamour's Clay & Water 2024

Posted 3/28/24

PENNEY FARMS —The playwrights sat in the front row and exchanged glances eagerly as the lights dimmed. Each playwright wondered just before the show, but none more so than the one whose play was …

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Five original scripts presented at Clamour's Clay & Water 2024


Posted

PENNEY FARMS—The playwrights sat in the front row and exchanged glances eagerly as the lights dimmed. Each playwright wondered just before the show, but none more so than the one whose play was about to be performed: “Will the audience like it?”

Five playwrights were chosen nationwide in a highly competitive selection process, earning them that front-row seat for Clay & Water, the sixth annual playwrights’ retreat hosted by Clamour Theatre Company.

From March 17-21, the Clay & Water cohort set aside the distractions of regular everyday life to dive deeply into their scripts. Each playwright worked with a dramaturg – who is like an editor for theater – to polish the narrative, sharpen the prose, and bring the most out of their scripts.

A developmental reading followed each day of the retreat, performed by the talent of local actors and actresses from Northeast Florida.

The developmental reading is an exciting aspect for playwrights and theater companies. It is when new plays are presented to the audience for the first time, and the script begins to solidify before it is adapted for an onstage production.

It is a minimalistic but deeply emotional experience. Because there is no stage, costumes, lights or special effects, the success of the developmental reading is carried by the strength of the script’s writing.

The following were the developmental readings:

  • “Lived Experience” by Amy Tofte
  • “Girl on a Hill” by Cris Eli Blak
  • “The Practice Room” by Aly Kantor
  • “Glory to the Father” by Pamela Morgan
  • “small quiet good” by Chandler Hubbard

There is electric, wonderful, nerve-wracking anticipation of being on the “hot seat.” It is invigorating to hear the script’s dialog out loud and to share that art with others for the first time.

During this year’s Clay & Water, the audience laughed, teared up, cheered and applauded the scripts. An audience feedback section follows each developmental reading.

Members of the audience were enamored with each script and could not pick a favorite. Each script brought unique characters, settings, emotional spectrums and philosophical understandings.

“I couldn’t stop crying on the drive home,” one audience member said.

Elaine Smith, Clamor's founder and artistic director, looks forward to Clay & Water every year. Many of its productions have gone on to win prestigious awards.

"We open an application window, and people submit scripts and answer questions. We review all of it. We try to find playwrights from different areas of the country. We look for a range of experiences and try to narrow it down to five," Smith said. 

Smith was involved in theater her whole life. When she moved back to Clay County after a career in New York, she realized the cultural hole that a professional theater company could fill.

Clamour was incorporated in 2017 with the mission of bringing professional theater to Clay County. The company has performed at various venues in Orange Park, Fleming Island, and Green Cove Springs.

"The best way to learn about us is to come on out. Clay & Water has an audience discussion. You'll never know where these scripts end up, but you'll get to say, 'I saw it first,'" Smith said.

Clamour’s next production will be "Passing the Baton," a one-man play to be performed in the Village Improvement Association on May 16. It will contribute to the year-long festivities of Green Cove Springs' 150th anniversary. 

The theater company wants to continue enriching Clay County's productions as it seeks a permanent artistic home. If you are interested in donating or learning more, visit clamourtheatre.org.

"They've been saying theater has been dying, but we're still here. There's nothing like being in the same room with terrific actors. Every show is different," Smith said.