So, yesterday was just not enough for all the thanks we have for actors at Seven Devils. We needed one more day!
Today is for all the actors who go the extra mile, who ...
Photos by Sarah Jessup
Ask any playwright who has come to the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, and they'll tell you that they are utterly blown away by the gorgeously talented actors who Jeni hires for the company. Some are famous, some aren't, but they are all very skilled at an important thing: new play development. Not all actors know that working on a new play, in a new play workshop requires a particular set of skills. (Goodness! n\No: not that set of skills.) Working on a new play requires actors to be quick on their feet, to be fierce, to be emotionally intelligent, to make big, bold choices. So today, we give another huge virtual round of applause for all the actors who bring these new plays to life.
And now, a special word from our friend and collaborator, Ann Pittman Zarate:
Even more actors we love and admire...
There are have been so many actors who've been part of our conferences, that it would be difficult to thank each of them individually (but you can see their names on our website). Here are just a few of these remarkable and generous actors, in moments captured by our company photographer Sarah Jessup:
We are, after all, a playwrights conference!
During our campaign, we have gotten so many lovely letters and notes from some conference playwrights from over the years. So -- today, we're turning our blog over to these lovely writers, to let them tell you why Seven Devils deserves your support, in their own words. Thank you, playwrights!!!
A special note of Gratitude from our good friend and frequent collaborator, Christy Montour-Larson:
I still recall the first time I emerged through the canyon into the valley -- where the Payette Lake opened up to me and reveals beautiful McCall, Idaho for Seven Devils Playwright Conference. It was 2008. For twelve years, being a part of Seven Devils has been a life changing organization for me.
Seven Devils has given me a chance to explore, the freedom to fail, the safety to jump. It has given me exceptionally dear friends, lots of belly laughs, incredible stars, Burgdorf Hot Springs and Bistro 45. The world’s largest cinnamon roll. The teary smile on a playwright’s face because they saw their play cherished, honored and well cared for. Most importantly, Seven Devils has given me stories. Stories that stir my imagination. Stories that make me think, laugh and cry.
And today, we need stories more than ever. Thank heavens Seven Devils exists during this challenging time. For when theatres are able to reopen, our communities are going to need theatre makers and new stories more than ever. I can’t wait to see what American playwrights will share with us.
Since Seven Devils has given me so much, I easily became a Devils Advocate and made a $20 a month donation. Won’t you join me in supporting new plays?
Christy Montour-Larson has directed 22 readings at Seven Devils, including SUICIDE, INCORPORATED, GENERAL STORE, SWIMMING WITH WHALES, FATA MORGANA, NO MORE SAD THINGS, THE OPEN HAND, MINNEAPOLIS/St. Paul, THE SECRETARY, and THE ROBERTASSY. She has served on the Board of Directors for 9 years, President for 6 years.
Though you may not realize it, in its early years, Fay Todd literally made Seven Devils possible. In fact, it would not at all be an exaggeration to say that, were it not for Fay, we might not be here today. A lifelong philanthropist with a special interest in teaching, arts and writing in particular, Fay did something rather remarkable all the way back in 2001: she believed in us. Thanks to Fay, we came out of the first Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in the black. Not only that, we had the wherewithal to fund raise for the following year, and the next. That Fay supported us in these early years enabled us to survive long enough to become eligible for grants that often require a three- to five- year history before making an investment in a company.
Even more remarkable, Fay, who lived in New Jersey, actually drove across the country more than once to attend the Conference. She sat in rehearsals, talked with artists, and endeavored to learn all she could about what we were doing and why. On a personal note, Fay was a friend whose wisdom and advice was invaluable. She was committed to our survival. It mattered to her. She inspired me, and all of us, to live up to the faith she had in us.
When Seven Devils signed on to support a newly-formed arts scholarship, created in honor of a McCall student who had grown up doing theater at the Alpine Playhouse, Fay agreed to match - dollar for dollar - the funds we raised. She did so each subsequent year until she passed away in 2014. This tradition of matching donations became such a part of the fabric of the Conference that it continues to this day, thanks to a handful of donors and businesses (including another person I'm tremendously grateful for, Carol Tiffany, who introduced me to Fay and who now sits on our board). Fay didn't just make things happen, she helped to make them matter. Now they continue to happen, even after her passing. I suspect that's just what Fay would want.
In light of all this, it should be no surprise that in her memory, her family created a scholarship fund in her name, the Frances Starr Todd Fellowship. Because Fay cared so deeply about education, the Fellowship focuses on supporting our internship program, most notably through the Frances Starr Todd Design Fellowship, which you can read about below.
On this Giving Tuesday, I can think of no one more deserving of gratitude. I wish I had a photo of Fay to share, but she was never one to have her face billboarded up on the things she supported, so perhaps it is fitting that the remainder of this post focus on work that is the legacy of her efforts on behalf of the Conference.
If you've ever attended the conference, you'll have heard me express my thanks to Fay Todd and the AK Starr Charitable Trust. Through Fay, the Trust was the first foundation to support the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference - support that made the entire endeavor of Seven Devils possible.
- Jeni Mahoney, Producing Artistic Director
About the Frances Starr Todd Fellowship
The Design Fellows then work on a set rendering that we display in the lobby of the Alpine Playhouse so that the audience can see what a set might look like, what the functionally neutral gray furniture and props stand in for.
To the right is a slide show of some of the Design Fellows and their work (2017, Sabrina Reed; 2018, Shay Dite; 2019, Katherine McCann; 2020, Jay Tyson).
We hope you will join us in honoring Fay, her family and their support for these amazing student artists.
We are grateful for every donation.
Learn more about the Frances Starr Todd Fellowship on our webpage.
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Seven Devils Playwrights Conference Family and Friends