Write Now and The Bonderman – A History
Write Now is a re-imagining of one of the TYA field’s leading new play development festivals: the Waldo M. & Grace C. Bonderman Playwriting for Youth Symposium. The “Bonderman” was first conceived by founder Dorothy Webb in 1983 as she became aware that there were few opportunities for playwrights to come together and explore the issues surrounding the creation of high quality dramatic literature for young audiences. Dr. Webb, then a professor of theatre at Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI), began dreaming about a place where playwrights writing for young audiences, along with those who produce their work and publish that work, could come together to share their plays, their ideas and the practical problems existing in the field.
For 27 years, under the visionary leadership of Dr. Webb, the Bonderman nurtured TYA playwrights through a biannual festival that combined workshops with presentations to the field. The Bonderman began at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) as a small effort to “facilitate the creation of new, good quality theatre for children.” In time it grew into an alternative venue to the Kennedy Center’s New Visions/New Voices program, providing an opportunity for representatives from producing theatres and academia to gather and discuss a broad range of issues relevant to the field. With the closure of IUPUI’s theatre program in the mid-1990’s, the event moved to Indiana Repertory Theatre, where it continued under Dr. Webb’s leadership.
In 2011, Dr. Webb informed IRT of her intent to retire and IRT began to look for a new partner. At various times over the past few years, Artistic Directors Janet Allen (IRT) and David Saar (Childsplay) discussed the potential of “sharing” a revitalized Bonderman; after a joint meeting in Indianapolis last May, the two theatres agreed that there was significant potential for re-envisioning the Symposium to address challenges of creating new work in the current environment and to embrace the broadening pool of theatres that are producing work for young people. The first Write Now was held March 14-17, 2013 at Childsplay.