I've just returned from an incredible week at Interlochen Center for the Arts in the lower peninsula (it felt pretty upper to me) in Michigan. I lived in a cabin for a week - no air conditioning, no internet, no phone - and I've never been happier.
Interlochen has an academy, or boarding school, for high school kids, and it has a summer arts program for students of all ages who are, to put it mildly, wildly talented. It's a center for the study of the arts that is second to none in the world, and the calibre of students and teachers is unbelievable. I've never been in a place where there is so much creativity swirling around.
To say nothing of the sheer beauty of the place.
The students in the high school theatre department are putting on one of my plays, Midsummer/Jersey, directed by J.W. Morrissette, and I joined them for a few days of rehearsals. No hyperbole, no exaggeration, they are some of the nicest, most talented kids I have ever met. The picture below shows a lot of them on the set of the show. It opens on this week and it's going to be fantastic.
While I was there, JW (who is one of the greatest theatre professors and directors in the country) was nice enough to have the kids do readings of a couple of my plays that are in progress. First they did a reading of a new play, which I've just started (I'm about a third of the way into it); then they read Baskerville, the play I'm directing at the Kennedy Center over Labor Day. The kids simply hit it out of the park both times. And we did comment sessions afterwards where the kids - both actors and audience - gave me their reactions. I came away with pages of notes for rewrites. Talk about process.
I also joined a couple of the playwriting classes in the writing division taught by a terrific teacher and writer named Jess Foster. The kids were fun and smart and full of ideas and questions. I simply felt lucky to be there.
I head back to the campus soon to see my guys perform Midsummer/Jersey, and I can't wait. (I'm also going to see the musical theatre division put on Children of Eden, which I hear is terrific.) They're all like my own kids at this point, and I love being among them. Was ever playwright so blessed? I don't think so.