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Call for Submissions: Mac Wellman Symposium at The Flea Theater

The Flea Theater, 20 Thomas Street, NY NY 10007
Categories: Literary Theory
Event Date: 2019-10-04 to 2019-10-06 Abstract Due: 2019-06-09

Call for Papers, Panel & Roundtable Proposals, and Workshops

Mac Wellman: Visionary and Provocateur

October 4 - 6, 2019

In fall 2019, The Flea Theater will present a Mac Wellman Festival featuring four iconic plays and two world premieres by the celebrated playwright and Flea co-founder. As part of this celebration, The Flea is hosting a symposium on October 4-6 at the theater’s performing arts complex in Tribeca, exploring Wellman’s plays, philosophy, and impact on the American theater.  The Flea is currently seeking proposals for panels, roundtables, workshops, and papers from professionals and scholars who are exploring the complexities of Wellman’s work.

Mac Wellman, dramatist and poet, is one of our nation’s most under sung vanguards of dramatic truth, experimentation and the poetic absurd. Starting with his seminal 1984 essay “The Theatre of Good Intentions”, Wellman has challenged the morals and purpose of theater in the U.S., advocating for new theatrical forms rooted in America culture and language.  His plays are provocations to his collaborators and his audiences, challenging and inspiring as they investigate deeply necessary political and social questions. He is at home making sense of, while ripping apart, the world view of white supremacy, critiquing cultural hypocrisy, envisioning how our consumer capitalism will wreak environmental havoc, and reveling in anarchic language that seems like nonsense before it is understood as truth. His plays are prescient: works from the 1990s and 2000s anticipated our current political and ecological situation, warning against dangers that went ignored.


The symposium will feature presentations, discussions, and practical workshops that explore:

- The breadth of Wellman's career as a playwright and cultural critic

- His iconoclastic approach to theater and use of language

- His poetry and how that has influenced his theater making

- The unique demands that interpreting his work places on directors and performers

- Methodologies for approaching his text for directors and performers

- His political lens and approach to writing about American politics and culture

- His exploration of morality in America and beyond

- His definition and desecration of Geezer Theater

Proposals about these and any other subjects related to Wellman’s work are welcome. Special consideration will be given to proposals that relate to Mac’s preferred title for the Festival, “Evilish; Or The Art of Stacking The Deck”.

In addition to the symposium, attendees will have the chance to view all six plays in the Festival over the course of the weekend.

Submissions are being accepted through June 9.

Please submit a brief abstract, biography, and any A/V requirements at https://forms.gle/QruxTzkUu7EUHjdU8

Notifications will be sent out by June 21.

Please contact Company Dramaturg Drayton Hiers with any questions at draytonh@theflea.org


Mac Wellman is Distinguished Professor of Play Writing at Brooklyn College, and a widely recognized playwright, novelist, and poet. His honors include NEA, Guggenheim, Rockefeller, NYFA, and FCA fellowships; multiple Obies, including one for Lifetime Achievement; commissions from McKnight, the McCarter Theatre, Sundance Children’s Theater, NYSCA, NEA, and the Actors’ Theatre of Louisville; and residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and Pratt Institute.

Wellman’s recent plays include The Offending Gesture (Connelly Theater, 2016); Muazzez (PS122’s COIL Festival, 2014); Horrocks (and Toutatis Too) (New Museum, 2013); and 3 2’s; or AFAR (Dixon Place, 2011). His most-frequently produced plays include The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (1998-2015), Antigone (2001-2014), The Hyacinth Macaw (1994-2015), A Murder of Crows (1991-2015), and Sincerity Forever(1990-2014). Published anthologies include The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (Nine Plays) in 2008, Cellophane (Eleven Plays) in 2001, and The Bad Infinity (Eight Plays) in 1994.   

Wellman’s fourth novel, Linda Perdido, won the 2011 FC2 Catherine Doctorow Prize for Innovative Fiction; his third novel, Q’s Q, was published in 2006 by Green Integer, and was followed by a volume of stories, A Chronicle of the Madness of Small Worlds, with Trip Street Press in 2008. His books of poetry include Split the Stick (2012), Strange Elegies (2005), and Miniature (2002).

Wellman has taught playwriting at Yale, Princeton, NYU, RISD, Brown, the University of Texas, and TheatreWorks (Singapore). He is an acknowledged mentor to numerous younger writers, including Young Jean Lee, Thomas Bradshaw, and Annie Baker. He is a co-founder of The Flea Theater and has served as editor of Breathing Space.


Drayton Hiers