Why VisionFest?

LiveWire asks

If we gave you one minute, would you be able to name ten new play festivals in Chicago? We bet you could. We can… And if you gave us more time, and the power of the internet, we could come up with a whole laundry list more (and we’re talking haven’t-done-laundry-in-a-month-type of list). So, why establish yet another festival of new plays when there’s a saturation of festivals in this city? Why VisionFest?

The first answer was, why not? There are a lot of people writing today, and writing worthy piece of theater! Isn’t that a great thing?!

The answer to that question is simple. YES, it is a great thing!

So, let’s put a call out there and get some artists together and put on a show! We’ll call it LiveWire’s New Play Festival and everyone will come to see it because every and their mother goes to see new plays and… Wait! Does everyone AND their mother come to see new plays?

The answer to that question is also simple. Probably not. And that’s not a great thing.

So, why the heck do another new play festival if no one is going to come and see it?

Cause it’s not about the audience, it’s about the work!

What? Wait! It’s not about the audience? Shouldn’t it about both?

Hmmm… Let’s build on that. Let’s do a new play festival that not only exposes new work to the community, but also gets the community involved in the new work. That way, it becomes about the work AND the audience. Now the question is, How?

When LiveWire established VisionFest, we answered that by first tinkering with the submission process so we weren’t just putting out a call to playwrights, reading those plays then picking the ones we liked to produce. We added a step prior to putting a call out that sought community feedback on the submission guidelines.

Our inaugural festival polled the community about what theme they wanted the playwrights to tackle. The community voted and ‘Control’ was the theme of VisionFest 2008. In 2009, we wanted to find a universal location for all the plays to take place in, so we polled the audience and all VisionFest 2009 play took play on a ‘Street Corner.’

This year, we decided to pick the theme of Feast for the festival and we asked the community to chose a line they wanted all the plays to incorporate. After receiving a multitude of suggestions, we narrowed the list down to ten and polled the community. The winning line is “I can’t remember the last time we were all together.” It will be heard in all VisionFest3: Feast plays, presented at the Tom Robinson Gallery (2416 W North Ave.) – Nov. 4-13 (Thu-Sat at 8pm). more info at http://www.livewirechicago.com/vision.

So, what we’ve got on our hands now is a new play festival that changes this up a bit. The audience becomes involved with the plays long before they set foot in the theater. They’re given the opportunity, and the responsibility, to shape new work without hearing a word. Plus! We provide ample space in the VisionFest programs for the audience to write down their comments and feedback on each piece, all of which will go back to the playwrights.

And, there you have it! We’re excited to collaborate with you to bring the third installment of this one of a kind festival to life.

Check back soon for more info on the plays and playwrights of VisionFest3: Feast. First, we asked each playwrights 5 probing questions, their answers coming up next…

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