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A spotlight for the playwrights

Checking In With ... Kelly Miller and John Glore

March 05, 2013|By Michael Miller
  • Kelly Miller and John Glore, co-directors of the Pacific Playwrights Festival, with stacks of scripts at South Coast Repertory on Monday.
Kelly Miller and John Glore, co-directors of the Pacific… (KEVIN CHANG )

A lot of young scribes owe a debt to South Coast Repertory's Pacific Playwrights Festival. And so does Nicole Kidman.

The actress got her most recent Oscar nomination for the 2010 film "Rabbit Hole," in which she played a mother coping with her young child's death. The movie was based on the play of the same name by David Lindsay-Abaire, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Before it passed that hurdle, though, it got through another tough audience: the staff of SCR, which sifts through hundreds of plays each year to select a small lineup for the annual festival.

"Rabbit Hole" debuted as a staged reading in 2005, and the next Pulitzer winner may be somewhere in the stacks that grow continuously on Kelly Miller's and John Glore's desks. Miller and Glore aren't the only SCR staffers who read new submissions — that might require more than 24 hours in a day — but as co-directors of the Pacific Playwrights Festival, they have significant clout in choosing each year's program.

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The annual festival combines two full productions with a series of staged readings, in which audiences get to see plays early in their creative process; in some cases, the author rewrites part of the work before the next performance. With the next festival set to kick off in April, Miller and Glore spoke with the Daily Pilot about their methods of choosing a lineup — and the plays that, in one way or another, got away. The following are excerpts from the conversation:

When you're reading a submission for the Pacific Playwrights Festival, how long does it take before you can decide whether it's a play you want to keep reading?

John: It depends completely on the play. Sometimes you know within a few pages that this isn't going to cut the mustard — for one reason or another. It isn't necessarily that it's not a decent play; sometimes it just doesn't feel right for us. But quite often, because the level of submissions we get is pretty high across the board — we're getting submissions from reputable agents and from writers that we happen to know and often have long-term relationships with — given that fact, it's quite often the case that we'll need to read all of a play in order to make a determination about what the disposition will be, to figure out whether it gets elevated for the final round of consideration.

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