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We Don’t Need No Playwright

How Ensemble-Created Work is Changing L.A. Theatre

Artistic director Katharine Noonstarts with an idea, or set of ideas, and then runs her ensemble through a series of discussions and movement exercises based on research of those ideas, before cobbling together a text that she’ll direct.

“The piece we’re working on now, The Bargain and the Butterfly, started with the idea of creative genius and neurology,” Noon explains. “Then we found a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, ‘The Artist of the Beautiful.’ I did a lot of research, searching for images, interviews, articles, the source story, I do that by myself, then I bring all this to the ensemble — the point being to ask them, are you interested in this, too?”

In 2001, Noon cobbled together her own play, Clyt at Home, co-adapted by Christopher DeWanand heavily influenced by the feedback and acting strengths of her company. That play is a contemporary adaptation of the story of Agamemnon and the Greek warrior’s embittered wife, Clytemnestra. The company’s most recently staged effort, Ronnie Clark‘s Stranger Things (about a gay son’s homecoming to his family), was heavily influenced by the writings of Albert Camus and resident composer David O’s music.

In Ghost Road’s productions, the writers are largely at the service of the company, and of the larger idea that the company is investigating — even when the writer is the director.

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