Play Development

New Play Design Lab, Bay Area Playwrights Festival

Through both the Paul Franz, Jr. Fellowship and a Lehigh Faculty Research grant, I created and was the director of The New Play Design Lab with the Playwrights Foundation, San Francisco, CA during my first two summers at Lehigh. Through my twelve year relationship with the foundation and my development experience, I realized that a very rich opportunity for designers existed within their annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival. The Playwrights Foundation has a long-time tradition of championing playwrights and featuring many directors, dramaturgs and actors during the festival. However, the consistent presence of designers had been absent from this initial stage of play development until I introduced this program which underscores the important role that designers play and provides the support system needed to integrate them into the play-making process. During the program’s pilot season, I gave students the opportunity to participate alongside professionals as designers. I helped Rebecca Osborne write a successful Strohl grant application to join two other students from Lehigh and three Berkeley students in San Francisco for the month-long endeavor – two weeks of development with a three-day retreat followed by two weeks of public readings and additional rehearsals. I mentored all six young designers through rehearsals, design meetings, and studio classes to create response collages for each of the plays as well as “Cornell Boxes,” based on the small-scale assemblage sculptures of Joseph Cornell. I curated an exhibition of the work presented during the readings. During the 2013 season, I not only continued to serve as director of the program, but took on a more artistic role by serving as designer for two of the plays in addition to supervising two other professional designers for the remaining four plays. The Playwrights Foundation has found that the program has had such a positive impact, that they seek to make it a permanent part of the festival.

New Play Development Workshop, Association of Theatre for Higher Education (ATHE)

From 2012 - 2020, I have been invited to present at ATHE and have enjoyed being part of the Design, Technology and Management Focus Group (DTM). I have regularly participated as a scenographic dramaturg as part of the New Play Focus Group in every year I have attended, designing one to two scripts per year. I am part of the creative team that helps develop a script over the five day period concluding in a public reading. After two years, I introduced a new concept of the design display into the program. Designers create collages of the research and development process which are displayed at the readings. These displays bring prominence to the designers’ roles by displaying the research process and giving fellow collaborators and the audience better insight into the visual elements of the plays. The displays were so successful that they have become a permanent part of the process. Additonally, I have served as the DTM Conference Planner and Focus Group Representative, each a 3-year position.

2by4 Theatre

I am a founding member of 2by4, which was active from 2012 - 2015. We were a company of Bay Area actors, designers, directors and playwrights working with other artists to create live theatrical events for local audiences. Drawing inspiration from the communities we live in, we made work that is fueled by the principles of cross-disciplinary collaboration, intellectual and emotional curiosity, and high quality artistry. We developed scripts including Caught, by Christopher Chen, which received a world premiere at InterAct in Philadelphia in 2014, won an Obie Award in 2017, and has gone on to be produced nationally and internationally. It All Makes Perfect by Erin Bregman received a staged workshop at Z Space, San Francisco in 2015.

Melpomene Katakalos
Venue : 
BAPF at the Thick House, San Francisco