Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Wendel Sloan
PORTALES—Janeice Scarbrough, chair of Eastern New Mexico University's Department of Theatre and Dance, recently spent two weeks at the Kennedy Center Playwrights' Intensive in Washington, D.C. Only 42 applicants were chosen nationwide.
As part of her application process, Scarbrough submitted her play, "Mia, Emma and Rose," which has been previously staged at ENMU and will be again on Oct. 28-29. The play will also be taken to Amarillo in November in regional competition for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
The "intensive" name of the workshop was accurate. Scarbrough spent 12- and 13-hour days in the Kennedy Center, which paid expenses for participants, writing new works and re-writing old ones, as well as networking with directors, literary managers and agents.
"I learned so much not only about my writing, but about teaching," said Scarbrough. "I picked up many tricks of the trade that I can share with students."
The former New York City resident, where she worked as a professional actor, said she also made a lot of contacts for theatre festivals--including festivals for first-time student playwrights.
Workshop participants were taught by well-known playwrights and teachers. Marsha Norman, the author of "Night, Mother" (later turned into a movie starring Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft) and chair of playwriting at Julliard in New York City, was one of the instructors. Another was Gary Garrison, chair of playwriting at New York University. Participants also met movie actor Bill Pullman ("While You Were Sleeping," "Independence Day"), who was working on a play about the space shuttle disaster.
"Writing is re-writing" is the mantra that Scarbrough said she heard over and over. "That is something I try to instill in my students, but it's hard for them to understand its importance."
Scarbrough said that the workshop was an invigorating experience that gives her renewal as a teacher. "It's important to have a life outside the classroom. You're not just a teacher, you're a full-fledged human being. All of our experiences are things we bring to the classroom."
Scarbrough also said that she learned that, as a writer, you can have a career from Portales, New Mexico. "It's much more difficult as an actor because you have to live where there is professional theatre," she said.
During the workshop, alumni of the program visited. One was ENMU grad Leonard Madrid, who is now working on his MFA at the University of New Mexico.
Eastern students have been very successful in previous Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festivals, and Scarbrough believes she gained ideas which could enhance this success.
"It was a great two weeks," said Scarbrough. "I am excited to share what I learned with my students."