48th Season Selection Committee

A note from the Hippodrome’s Artistic Director, Stephanie Lynge.

One of the questions I’m always asked is “How do you choose the plays at the Hippodrome?” I thought it would be fun to let you look behind the scenes to see how it works.

I have always believed that the Hippodrome is a community and I thought “What better way to have a diverse, thought-provoking, and inclusive season than to have members of that community help read and winnow down the massive amount of plays we read each year?” So, in December, I reached out to the Hippodrome Company Members to join our inaugural Season Selection Team.

Twelve wonderful volunteers joined me on a three-month long play reading extravaganza. From all over the country, they read plays on subways, planes, backstage during shows, and probably when they were supposed to be working their office jobs (thanks guys!).

As a team, we read over 150 plays — each one had two different readers so you can imagine the time that took! In early February, we met to discuss the plays we had “passed through.” We met in person and on line (Facetime is a wonderful invention).

Company member Kelly Atkins described the process best:

“Our job was to narrow down which stories would be serviced the best by the unique venue and talents that make up the Hippodrome. The task was not easy, but with a great deal of consideration amongst the committee, some strong front runners became clear.”

Kelly Atkins, Clint Thornton, and Stephanie Lynge at a meeting in the rehearsal room.

Ryan George also explained the experience:

“We all come from different backgrounds and life experiences so being able to openly talk about which plays moved us, challenged us, and would be best for the community of Gainesville couldn’t have been more rewarding.

The team narrowed down the field to 22 plays (plus Christmas shows), and we met again two weeks later to bring the final number of possible shows to 10 (ok, it was 11 – I couldn’t help myself).

Gregg Jones shared his insights:

“It was a joy to be involved with the other committee members, some of whom are fellow actors, in making choices that would provide powerful storytelling for our audience and community. The bonus was getting to read some VERY well-written plays that are stretching the boundaries of what we know as dramatic literature. “

Now, the staff and production team at the Hippodrome are busy reading the final group of plays. The designers will weigh in from their technical perspectives, the house managers will share their opinions gleaned from talking to our patrons over the years, and our magnificent marketing department will tell us how best to share these amazing stories with the Gainesville area.

Marissa Toogood and Nichole Hamilton joining a committee meeting via Facetime.

We know you are excited to hear what the new season will hold, and you will know soon. On March 30th we will publicly announce the 2019-20 Hippodrome Season, so stay tuned.

I will leave you with the words of one of the Hippodrome founders, Bruce Cornwell, who was kind enough to join our selection team:

“As one of the founders of the Hippodrome who has not been directly involved with the acting company for quite a few years, I felt honored and excited to be invited onto the Season Selection Team this year. The experience has been rewarding in so many ways. But the real gift of this process has been discussing the scripts with members of the Hipp’s acting company who were on the selection team. That’s when I got to witness firsthand what a knowledgeable, insightful group of actors comprise this theatre’s company! The discussions were spirited and intelligent. The different points of view and the life experience each member brought to the discussion provided challenge and heartfelt perspective. I can’t wait to see what Stephanie announces as the 2019-2020 season!”

Me too Bruce. Me too.