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New River Dramatists is looking for writers, not works to produce. The writers need to be receptive to feedback and willing to contribute their responses to their colleagues. In addition, the Artistic Director assures cultural and artistic diversity. New River Dramatistsí sessions include emerging and established writers from all over the world, roughly equal numbers of men and women notable for their extraordinary talent.

Writers are selected through solicitation or discovery. There is no application form. There are no fees. Actors are selected on the strength of their ability to effectively engage in cold readings, to participate in a high level of discourse and to inhabit a wide range of characters. Facilitators are chosen with particular regard for their sensibility, sensitivity and gift for synthesis.

Each group of participants consists of a dosen artists at the table, usually five writers (including a Facilitator) and seven actors. Daily sessions last aproximately five hours. The writers bring in freshly written or re-written work each day. The Facilitator casts the work on the spot, which is then read. The Facilitator may change actors from one act, or even one scene, to another. This enables the writers to hear various voices and discover more about their plays.

Unlike many other writing colonies and centers, New River Dramatists does not present public readings at the end of its sessions. The writers are liberated from the pressure to complete an unrealized work. They focus exclusively on exploring their own work to its greatest depth.

The writers are constantly encouraged. Although the discussion sessions that follow each reading can be intense, probing, and often exhaustive, all criticism is required to be constructive. Every comment has to address the work being written, not the one you might have preferred. All remarks must address what needs to be clarified in the work. With these ground rules in place and respected, the comments at the table help the writer understand what is and is not working.

There is a process to the comments. The Facilitator solicits comments during which time the writer listens but does not respond. This technique helps the writer to avoid becoming prematurely defensive about the work. They listen to what the professionals around the table believe they heard. The Facilitator solicits questions and further comments; during this second section of the discussion, the writer is welcome to speak about any point or to ask their own questions of the actors and writers. While the process is demanding, it is also remarkaby informative and naturally leads to the kind of synthesis at the end of discussion that is critical for the writers to leave the room with a clear vision of how to improve their work.