ArtsBeat

Seven Devils conference nurtures new theater and playwrights

If you love theater, here's a chance to experience and nurture the art form. Each year McCall's Id Theater puts on the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference that brings emerging and established playwrights, dramaturges and actors together to develop new work for American theater in the shadow of the Seven Devils Mountains in McCall. It was the setting that inspired co-founders Jeni Mahoney and Shelia McDevitt to create the festival in 2000. This year's conference runs June 9-21. All the readings and workshops are free and open to the public. 

This conference is having an increasing impact on theater across the country as it has given birth to several new playwrights that have gone on to bigger stages.

Eric Coble's "Velocity of Autumn" was given its first staged reading at Seven Devils in 2010. It received its world premiere at Boise Contemporary Theater in 2011, and this year it's on Broadway starring the legendary Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella. Parsons is nominated for a Tony for this performance.

Also, past Seven Devils guest artist and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan's latest play "All The Way" is a huge hit. The play about President Lyndon Johnson received two Tony Awards for Best New Play and Best Actor in a Play for its star, "Breaking Bad's" Bryan Cranston, and leads the pack at the Drama Desk Awards with five nominations.

It also helped launch Idaho playwright Samuel D. Hunter, who is one of the most commissioned playwrights of the past five years. He's been at the festival several times to work with new writers and hone his own work.

This year's featured playwrights are New York filmmaker and playwright Barbara Hammond, Korean playwright Hansol Jung, Chicago playwright and actress Jennifer Rumberger, and New York playwright and director Greg Paul. Each of these writers will receive workshops and a staged reading for their newest plays.

Boise playwright Heidi Kraay and New Yorker Christopher G. Ulloth will be involved in playwright intensives and will be mentored by the more established playwrights.

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