Using ITN with Students – by Lynda Crawford

Indie Theater Now is a rich resource for teaching playwriting. One way that we use it in the playwriting lab at SUNY/Empire State College is by having students view plays by Indie Theater Now playwrights who are visiting the lab. For example, Chris Harcum has been a guest at the lab for the last three summers and students have read several of his works from ITN.

Another way I have used ITN academically is with a student working on a solo piece. We both purchased the United Solo collection to read through and discuss, making it the curriculum for the course. It’s been a great resource for some of the finest solo pieces that are currently being written and performed.

Students in the playwriting lab are also invited to submit plays to be considered for inclusion in the ESC Playwriting Lab collections that Indie Theater Now has twice published. This has not only enabled some of the best plays from the Lab to get more visibility on ITN, but it again puts the students in contact with the tremendous variety of contemporary plays and playwrights published there.

I know there is more I could do to use this invaluable resource. My own plays are on ITN and I might encourage students who are curious about my work to read some of them there, although I suspect they already do. I would like to suggest that students choose at least one play to read from ITN as a requirement for the playwriting lab, as I believe it beneficial to introduce them to this incredible resource of new work—and perhaps it might be an outlet for their own work one day. (And the price is so reasonable for students—membership is free and most single plays currently cost in the vicinity of $1.29.) I’d also love to have more ITN playwrights join us for discussion at the playwriting lab.

I’m very grateful to Martin Denton and Indie Theater Now for all ITN has done to support the scrappy, exciting, and daring new work of independent theater artists that enriches all of us.

Lynda Crawford, playwright

Lynda is a New York playwright, published by ITN, who leads the Playwriting Lab at SUNY/Empire State College.