San Diego Playwrights

Getting San Diego Playwrights Produced on San Diego Stages


on June 16, 2015


“Writing the Changing World,” the third national conference of the Dramatists Guild, is being held in La Jolla July 16-19, 2015, at the Hilton Torrey Pines. The Dramatist Guild promises that the conference will be “a happening unlike any other.” The Guild states, “Bringing together more artists from film, television, and social platforms, we’re offering panels and workshops on storytelling for the future. Attendees will be exploring creative outlets in an ever-growing theatre community, have access to entrepreneurial marketing strategies for all creatives, and continue to map out challenging artistic paths.”

The conference will include many San Diego playwrights, some of who will lead panel discussions and present readings of their plays to attendees. The public is welcome to attend but a discount is offered to Dramatists Guild members. Admission to the conference ranges from $395 to $535 depending on when you sign up. There is a discount for students with valid I.D. Discounts for volunteers are also available through Tari Stratton,

For a full schedule of each day’s events and activities, click on the link:

Gary Garrison

Gary Garrison, Dramatist Guild Executive Director of Creative Affairs

We put the following questions to Gary Garrison, Executive Director of Creative Affairs at the Guild, as a way to glean some insights into the upcoming conference and how it might benefit local playwrights.

1) How does the conference title, “Writing the Changing World,” reflect the current state of affairs for playwrights, and what programs in the conference directly address this theme?

I think it’s important to recognize that no dramatist has a straight trajectory while building and shaping a career. There are often long periods of writing, with sometimes even longer periods of rejection, frustration and exasperation with little to no attention from the theatre community. What, then, can dramatists do to survive their careers? What can any of us do to keep ourselves above the poverty level, using whatever skills we have as dramatists or theatre people? One answer has become increasingly clear over the last five to ten years: we see more and more dramatists embracing film and television as a way of staying financially solvent. We also see, most often in television, network shows being helmed by playwrights.  Since a good number of our members are on the west coast, and film and television is such a prevalent industry there, why shouldn’t we make an effort to explore that industry as a source of work and commerce for playwrights, as well as understand the commonalities of craft and career? That’s why we chose the west coast as the site of our conference this year.

In terms of the conference title or theme, “Writing the Changing World,” the world is changing culturally and politically at break-neck speed — gay marriage, for example, has changed the cultural landscape of so many states in our country (California alone has been a fascinating study in the psychology of change). The legalization of pot has had a profound impact on the here and now. Banks all over the world are being indicted for bad business practices; weather is literally changing the face of our globe. As dramatists, what responsibility do we have in mirroring our current society and addressing our future? Hopefully the 2015 DG conference will answer some of those questions.

2) What special (out of the ordinary) kinds of programming are in the works for the conference?

Our conference is constructed primarily around panels, workshops and seminars. These are a few of the over 100+ events that will happen across our time there:

Audio/Radio Writing

The Playwright-Performer

The Making of Jukebox Musicals

One-on-One with Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez

Blogging as Political Activism for Theatre

Comedy Across Mediums

The Cultural Fingerprint in Writing for Television

Women Writing Women

Lisa Kron

Lisa Kron

What makes what we do particularly unique is that we have access to a number of reputable writers that sit on our Council of the Dramatists Guild, or work in collaboration with our Council members. So, for example, in the Comedy Across Mediums panel, we have Lisa Kron (Tony award winner for Fun Home this year), Dan Castellaneta and Deb Lacusta (The Simpsons), Mark Krause (cartoonist), Lisa Lampanelli (comedian), David Rambo (playwright and television writer, The Lady With All the Answers) and Michael McKeever (playwright).

3) Why San Diego (La Jolla)?

It was on the west coast, it was cheaper than any major city on the west coast — which directly translates to our members, it has a thriving theatre community, and quite frankly, where can you find a more beautiful setting?

4) Who are the keynote speakers?

John Logan (Red, I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers)

Marsha Norman (The Secret Garden, ‘night Mother, The Color Purple, Getting Out)

Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (Designing Women)

Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked, Pippin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Conference attendees include members of the San Diego Playwrights network who will lead panel discussions and present readings of their plays. On Thursday, July 16 at 3:00 p.m., Patrice Cassedy will lead a panel on Writing From History: Finding Your Niche (and Passion), featuring Aleta Barthell, Thelma Virata de Castro and Anita Simons. At 4:00 p.m., de Castro will speak about Building Community: How to Get Produced in Your Own City. Cassedy, Simons and Steven Oberman will complete the panel.

On Thursday, July 16 at 8:00 p.m., in the “After Hours” portion of the conference, Cassedy will present White Playwright/Black Story, which will include a reading by San Diego actors Monique Gaffney and Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson of a scene from her off off-Broadway play Detroit Blues, followed by a discussion that explores the question: Can we tell each other’s stories? On Friday, July 17 at 9:00 p.m., Oberman will present Vanished: Taking it to the Fringe, which will include a reading from his interactive show “Vanished,” and a discussion of the process of producing it for the upcoming San Diego International Fringe Festival.  

Hope to see a bunch of you at the conference. Let’s welcome our fellow playwrights with open arms!

For more information about the Dramatist Guild and National Conference, visit



  1. Sal U. Lloyd says:

    ““San Diego needs a Theater Incubator, a place to give birth to new voices both as actors and playwrights. Individual theaters around town, no matter how wonderful they are, and how they piece-meal original works in their schedules, their agenda is always the bottom line.”
    — Bill Virchis, interview with San Diego Reader

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