So, check it out. A press release. It says a bunch of stuff about what we’re doing and why, and even hints at the rest of our season. I promise that a less media-centric version of this information is coming, but if you want it NOW NOW NOW, then read away.
For immediate release
New theater, Coil Project, adds to rapidly growing DC theater scene
Washington, DC, April 21, 2014 — DC’s theater scene seems more and more active every day, and shows no signs of slowing. The announcement of a new theater company, The Coil Project, and its ambitious nine show slate shows there is still room for more.
“We wanted a theater with a focus on developing its talent,” said Creative Director and founder Erik Harrison. “I was pretty sure that if we built an environment that made the best actors, writers, designers and directors that the work would be interesting automatically.”
Harrison thinks this focus is what makes The Coil Project worth doing. “There is a lot of theater in DC, and that’s a good thing. But I also see a lot of actors playing the same kinds of parts, directors doing the same kinds of shows, writers struggling to get produced. Coil wants to take those talents, get them outside of their comfort zone and really put them through their paces.”
This philosophy goes directly into the way The Coil Project organizes itself. Instead of a single season, Coil will offer a new play every seven weeks to give artists maximum opportunities to build up a body of work. Plays will be developed internally to stretch a particular set of artists in a specific way. This starts with Coil’s premier work, Come Out And Say It, by Erica Smith.
“Erica is a really talented playwright in the early part of her career. We’re starting with one of her previously produced works to give her a chance to see how a change in cast and director can affect a play’s voice. That’s our first show, Come Out And Say It,” Harrison said.
Come Out And Say It is a tightly paced drama about the intertwined lives of five criminals and the aftermath of a heist gone wrong. Written by Smith and directed by Victoria Glock-Molloy, the show starts off Coil with a bang on May 2nd. But that doesn’t mean Harrison is done with Smith.
“I want to be in the Erica Smith business. After Come Out And Say It we’re committed to producing a work of her’s that has only had staged readings in the past called Stonefish. We’ll then finish our Erica Smith series with an entirely original piece that Erica will write while working with our actors, going through various drafts before directing the piece herself. By the time we’re done she’ll have three produced credits, a directing credit, and a brand new script. It’s like spring training for a writer.”
Smith isn’t the only talent Coil intends to develop. Actors get the spring training treatment as well. “Shakespeare wrote some of the meatiest material an actor can ever hope to bite off, but she’s also got to get out from under all the great performances of the past. It’s a huge burden that can freeze an actor up. That’s what Words, Words, Words is all about.”
The Words, Words, Words series of plays will be new works made from Shakespeare and built to run its actors through the gauntlet. “Our first Words show will be Elsinore which turns Hamlet into an intimate interactive experience that requires actors be in character at all times and develop rich inner lives for those characters. This is more than just setting Shakespeare in Imperial Japan, or the like. We’re making new plays out of Shakespeare’s great words.” Elsinore, set to premier in August, will be followed by a play adapted from Shakespeare’s histories called Margaret and featuring “a killer title role for a woman” and a third Shakespeare inspired piece still in development.
Finally, Coil has plans to let actors and writers and directors play with how content is created. “Film studios tightly couple writing, directing, and acting in the pre-production process, developing a single piece of unrepeatable art, and I’ve seen DC theater pick up on that model and see what kind of wild things they can make. It forces everyone to stretch.” Coil is developing a series of plays on this model of writing, directing and producing by collaboration with the first, tentatively called Sexts set to open in roughly October.
Doesn’t Harrison worry about the level of ambition on display? Or that, if successful, his core talent will move on to bigger and better things. “We’re here to get theatrical artists outside their comfort zone and on stage as often as possible. An unambitious season serves no one. If our only accomplishment is generating a career for our company members that is so strong they don’t need us anymore, that’ll be worth it. But I strongly suspect that there will always be hungry talent looking to fill the ranks.”
That The Coil Project is only one of a number of small theaters DC plays host to shows that Harrison is probably right.
Come Out And Say It written by Erica Smith, directed by Victoria Glock-Molloy performs a limited run May 2nd and 3rd at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th Street, SE Washington, DC 20003. Tickets available at http://thecoilproject.org/