Since 2012, the main mechanism for selecting plays and projects for production at Halcyon is through prototyping them. We evaluate projects on a one-on-one basis for production. Season selection then is about packaging the projects that are ready for production that have the best opportunity to be great.
We look at the project's potential, artist availability, budgetary needs, state of readiness, communities represented and more when linking projects into a season. In addition to our prototyping process, the artistic director may also select projects for production if projects from the company are not yet ready for full production, or if other projects compliment what is ready for production to complete a season.
If a play is a poem standing up, it's better to evaluate an example of what a project can be than reading a pile of scripts. (Though we also do that.) For most, it's easier to evaluate a 3-D work living on its feet than words on a page, and prototyping transfers the gates of opportunity from a few to all of the artists we work with. By putting together an early example of what an artist loves about a project on it's feet, others can also fall in love with it. Instead of a Reading Committee selecting scripts first, our artists are encouraged to prototype the projects they are curious about.
Instead of saying Yes or No to 2 or 3 scripts a year, everyone in our ensemble is able to to pick a project they love and build it. Workshop it, develop it, bring it to life. Get their team together, and do it. Get it on its feet and work on it. It may need minimal props, minimal tech, but with fully realized acting and staging.
Once they are ready, project selection should be about amplifying great work, not saying no. Artists will grow by building their dream projects and breathing life into them. Our work will be better from the added time and testing, so tech is just turning on the lights and spacing a show that is already ready to go.
If a project is passed on for full production at our theatre, we can find other ways to give it life, re-tool it, or work towards next steps. If it's not a good fit for us, we help artists pitch it to other theatres that might be a better fit.
What We Look For in Works
Rough guidelines to keep in mind are:
- Our first criterion is that it fits our mission, values and culture.
- The second is it is a great story.
- No one work or artist can fully represent our communities, we look for projects that can connect artists and audience members from across our communities.
- We look for plays that lend themselves to learning and exploring forms of storytelling from differing cultures and how they can coexist and strengthen each other.
- We try to tell stories that have a mythic, epic quality, big stories that have a heart and are entertaining.
- We strive to be remarkable, not just good. Things that are simply good get lost in the shuffle.
- Stylistically we look for plays can fit within our aesthetic.
- We do not want to produce a play that has been produced in Chicago in the last three years.
Here is a guide for our process for prototyping works and projects. Not every project will require the same exact steps. Our new play programs run in tandem with prototyping of extant texts and devising works through the prototyping process.