An open letter from the Chair

On the occasion of the beginning of The Baltimore Playwrights Festival’s 40th Season, I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to the BPF family and friends and touch base. I hope everyone is weathering the current events with as much grace as possible under unprecedented pressure.

Hopefully, you noticed that the BPF leadership posted our response to the turmoil surrounding racial issues facing our country today. Here’s our statement in full, in case you missed it:

BLACK LIVES MATTER
The Baltimore Playwrights Festival leadership wants to assure all of our writers, audiences, and supporters that we stand in solidarity with the Black community during this time of protest and introspection. Like many other arts organizations, we can and will do more to ensure that these voices are heard.

The pandemic situation has sidelined our much-anticipated production of Do It Now!, the musical based on the life of William Donald Schaeffer, former governor of Maryland and former mayor of Baltimore, with music and lyrics by Jonathan Jensen and book and additional lyrics by Rich Espey. It was scheduled to be presented in conjunction with Fells Point Corner Theatre. Alas, we have had to pivot away from that collaboration for the time being, but we sincerely hope that we will be able to pick up where we left off at some time in the future. We hope to be able to present this outstanding piece of theatre sometime in 2021.

We are still working out details of how to proceed with our usual slate of readings this fall/winter season, but so much depends on our ability to do justice to the outstanding group of writers whose work was submitted this year. We are looking at socially-conscious ways to present the readings, either virtually or via limited seating, social-distancing-observant live performances. The BPF is committed to doing everything we can to adhere to the safest regulations regarding Covid-19.

As I begin my third year as Board Chair, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow board members, reader/evaluators, our superb family of actors, directors, theatre-makers, the area theatre leadership, and most importantly, our illustrious writers, who, for the past 39 years have supported this organization that was born of a desire to create a space where local playwrights might have their voices heard. Board Treasurer Kathleen Barber has been with the organization since its inception and continues to be a stalwart supporter. Board Vice-Chair Miriam Bazensky has spent more than thirty years helping to guide and shape policy with a sure and steady vision. Quae Simpson, Tom Piccin, and George Andre Tittle round out our current slate of leadership and I humbly thank each and every one of them for helping me to realize our joint mission – to shine a light on the talented writers who call the Baltimore area home and chose to share their artistic endeavors with us all.

For 39 years, we have presented to the public productions of 300 new plays, given over 500 public readings, and evaluated more than 3,000 play submissions. I’d like to think we are just getting started, and I cannot wait to see what this formidable institution will contribute to the future.

So thank you, dear supporters. In these difficult days, we all have a charge to help each other, support the efforts of the BPF and the greater Baltimore theatre community, and keep our eyes on the prize – presenting the best plays we can while offering a safe space to support our writer’s visions.

Stay Safe and Take Care!
Sincerely,
Timoth David Copney, Chair
Baltimore Playwrights Festival

BPF mourns the loss of Debbie Bennett

Debbie Bennett, actor, designer, producer, former BPF Board Member and stalwart friend of Baltimore Community Theater, passed away on August 9, 2020. She was immensely talented. An interior designer by profession, Debbie brought to the stage a strong sense of clarity, balance, passion and humor, whether she was gracing the stage as an actor or bringing a play to life as a set designer and producer.

Debbie participated as an actor in countless BPF readings and served on our Board 2011-2013, developing for us a Strategic Business Plan. She had a wicked sense of humor, was kind, and had an unerring eye for beauty. Debbie attended The American Embassy School, studied Art History at Swarthmore College and Interior Design at The George Washington University.

Debbie acted in (among others) the BPF plays, Real Time by Mimi Teahan, Keeping the Faith by Carol Weinberg, Seafood Buffet by Rosemary Frisino Toohey, Turtle Soup by Anne Lefter, Willie Baby by Kimberley Lynne, Joe Dennison and Carol Weinberg, Amanda’s Line by Kathleen Barber, Miss Alice Plays by Rich Espey, Helena Troy by Rich Espey, and Frank Talk by Sharon Goldner. Debbie produced the BPF plays Dusting Belgrade by Ronda Cooperstein and The Blue Eye of Robert Oppenheimer by Victoria Danos. She designed the sets for Scorpions by Mark Scharf and Unraveled on the Gravel by Kevin Kostic.

The Baltimore Playwrights Festival is honored to have Debbie as part of the BPF family. She will be missed.

Evaluations of Season 40 plays are complete

The Baltimore Playwrights Festival, while closely monitoring COVID-19 impact and regulations for reopening, have completed readers’ evaluations of plays submitted for our 40th Season, and evaluations have been forwarded to all playwrights. We have not yet determined when or in what form we will be able to hold public readings of new plays. Like the rest of the world, we are waiting to see how the Pandemic will play out. Rest assured that we are enthusiastic about the new plays we have received, and although on “pause,” we will resume our mission to serve Maryland and DC playwrights just as soon as it is safe to do so.

Above all, we hope everyone stays safe during these challenging times. Let’s all take care of each other.