Definition of "cabal": the contrived schemes of a group of persons secretly united in a plot.
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
Photo by Laura Posterick, Copy That MPLS.
Rachel: When I was moving back to the Twin Cities, I grabbed coffee with a bunch of theater people I knew to try and reconnect. Heather Meyer and I had been in a sketch comedy group together back in the day and I directed one of Katherine Glover's solo shows for the Minnesota Fringe, and they were both now seriously pursuing playwriting. I had almost identical conversations with them about where they were with their work and what they wanted to do, and it felt really great to talk to people who understood where I was coming from and felt like peers. Heather introduced me to Gemma Irish, and we had the same conversation. Then Katherine brought in Alayna Jacqueline, and we declared ourselves a cabal. Cabal means a group of people working closely together for some shadowy purpose, and for us, the shadowy purpose is our own success as playwrights. We started meeting monthly to check in and encourage one another and share opportunities. We read each other's artist statements and help with applications and generally talk shop. It's also a chance to hold one another accountable. If you promise the Cabal that you're going to finish a draft by the next reading, you'd better get it done.
What has been the best part about working with such a talented group of women?
Rachel: Writing is often lonely, and there's something empowering and encouraging about sharing that lonely experience with people who understand. It's easy to get into your own head and doubt yourself, especially as a female writer, and knowing that these smart, talented, awesome people have the same anxieties and doubts helps keep things in perspective.
There are so few opportunities and so many people writing plays, it's easy to get caught up in feelings of jealousy when someone succeeds. But, being a part of the Cabal has helped me adjust my perspective. If a really great play gets picked up, then it's ultimately for all of us, because maybe it'll make someone else more willing to take a chance on new work. And if one of my fellow Caballers gets an opportunity, then I can appreciate their success as much as I would my own. It makes it easier to keep going when you're not doing this alone.
Has anything surprised you as you put together this reading series?
Rachel: I'm really thrilled with how receptive the audience has been. We're asking people to come out and sit in a gallery and listen to a new play on a Wednesday, and they actually do it. We ran out of chairs at the first reading! I'm also always surprised by how much a script comes to life when good actors speak it aloud in front of an audience. It's one thing to sit at home typing on a laptop and thinking about a story, it's another thing entirely to share a space with people imagining the same story. Even without props and costumes and sets, so much can be conveyed with just words, voice, and imagination. We've made some really cool stuff happen in the White Page, and I'm so proud of the work my fellow playwrights have made.
What does being a "theater instigator" mean to you?
Rachel: Being a theater instigator means not waiting around for someone to give you permission and deem you worthy. It means being ambitious and proactive and supportive of the success of others. Paula Vogel talks about how a rising tide lifts all boats, and how the way to succeed is to find artists you respect and support their work. Rather than relying on institutions or established gatekeepers, we can validate each other and help one another make work that we believe in.
How could the Twin Cities become more playwright-friendly?
Rachel: Produce more work by local playwrights. I don't know if it's some sort of Midwestern self-deprecation, but I've heard from many playwrights in town that they had to get productions somewhere else before people here would take them seriously as writers. Like, oh, if Chicago likes you, you must be a real playwright.
There are some companies who take the time to develop relationships with local writers, but not as many as there could be, given the staggering volume of playwrights in town. There isn't an easy solution here. Doing new work is hard and risky. It takes time and resources and a specific skill set that may not be as developed here. But, I know the theater community is not taking full advantage of the talent that's here in our own backyard.
Fresh Pages 2018 New Play Reading Series
Wednesday, April 25th 7pm
A Pornography Play
By Katherine Glover
A Minneapolis antipornography ordinance in the early 1980s comes to national attention and divides the feminist community.
Wednesday, May 30th 7pm
By Gemma Irish
Telekinesis. A mysterious weather pattern. A falling-out between friends. Who is causing what, and can Olivia ever recover?
$10 suggested donation
Doors open at 7:00 PM for light refreshments
Readings begin at 7:30 PM