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Inside Sandbox @ CTG: Feral Drives, Fierce Women: A Conversation with Sheila Callaghan

Center Theatre Group recently invited donors, Kirk Douglas Theatre subscribers and the general public to the KDT’s rehearsal room for a special DouglasPlus event called Sandbox@CTG. The Sandbox is an opportunity for our audiences to meet CTG’s family of artists and to participate in the creative process by attending readings of new works and sharing their responses with the creators. At the Sandbox event on April 14, playwright Sheila Callaghan, the recipient of CTG’s Fadiman Award for Playwriting, presented a work in progress and discussed the subject of her CTG-commissioned play Bed in an evening titled “Feral Drives, Fierce Women.” The 60 attendees enjoyed an hour of inquiry and exploration revolving around the playwright’s process of creating a new play. Callaghan is currently working on the first draft of the script, which explores the dynamics of power and intimacy over the course of a relationship.

Joy Meads, Sheila Callaghan and Tiffany Lopez share a laugh during the panel discussion. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz. The evening began with a reading of a scene from another Callaghan play, Elevada, which premieres this spring at Yale Repertory Theatre. Joy Meads, CTG’s literary manager, then moderated a discussion between Callaghan and Tiffany Lopez, a U.C. Riverside Professor of Theatre. The conversation touched upon women, ambition and how our culture responds to women who take charge and go for what they want. Callaghan answered insightful questions from the audience about women’s roles in drama, the use of language in her works, and how she empowers female characters to express their desires.

Experiences like these are valuable to artists as well as audiences as they offer a chance for the playwright to connect with people and hear their responses while the piece is still taking shape. CTG’s Associate Artistic Director Diane Rodriguez directed the reading, giving Callaghan an opportunity to see her script brought to life by professional actors and to receive immediate feedback from an audience that is passionate about theatre.

Actors Satya Bhabha and Paco Tolson read a scene from ELEVADA. Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz. DouglasPlus provides the flexibility to explore new work and push boundaries through fully and minimally staged events, workshops and readings and traditional and non-traditional performance configurations.

The William James Fadiman Award was established at Center Theatre Group in 2000 thanks to a generous gift from the late Regina K. Fadiman in honor of her husband and former CTG board member, William James Fadiman. The award supports the commissioning of a new play by the recipient as well as a one-week residency at CTG. The award is part of CTG's ongoing efforts to introduce vibrant, new work to the theatre community.

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