The Bitterroot Lab
Montana Rep is committed to supporting new voices in American Theatre. Three times a year, The Rep brings nationally known playwrights and directors to Missoula for new play residencies. These residencies allow a playwright to work on a new play without the pressure of production. The workshop process is open to students at the University of Montana and guest playwrights and directors also teach master classes. Public readings are held at the end of the workshop residency.
What Participants are Saying
Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, playwright
The new play development lab at Montana Repertory Theatre was an invaluable experience for me. Michael and the entire team at MRT was so welcoming, supportive, and wonderful. They arranged a group of incredible collaborators who were smart, funny, and perceptive—their feedback was so helpful throughout. There is also clearly a warm and invested community surrounding Montana Repertory Theater. Plus Missoula and its facilities are idyllic. I was able to fit in a few hikes and take in the landscapes, which were stunning. My time in Montana was instrumental to the rewriting of my play, and I’m so grateful to have had such a beautiful and productive time there.
Ben Park, MFA Acting Student
As a graduate student in the theatre department, I have been afforded a number of opportunities, even in this first year, that have changed the way I think about my career. The workshops these past two weeks have been the most formative piece of my education so far in my time at Montana. Both as an actor and audience member, being able to witness such a high level of work done by such nice, professional people has helped me hone my taste as an artist, my ability as an actor and director, and reminded me to always be specific in my work. This experience has become a cornerstone of my education.
Martyna Majok, playwright and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Three stitches on my shin. Luggage lost for three days. A violent hailstorm and a flight-impeding haboob (look it up) both within 24 hours of each other. And still I jump at the chance to work with Michael Legg. For whatever reason, it seems that some mild misfortune has befallen me each time we've worked together. And yet I cherish my time with Michael—and always hope he'll have me back. Because not only is Michael Legg an incredibly smart, kind, and nurturing director of new plays and actors; he’s also crafted a brilliant model of sharing the new play development process with students, local playwrights, and art-lovers of the community. I wish I had access to something like what Michael has created when I first began my career as a playwright. He’s de-rarifying the theatre. He’s creating an ideal version of theatre—one that connects us. And I feel very fortunate to have been invited into that. Thank you, Michael, and thank you, Montana Rep, for welcoming me to your beautiful part of the world and for gifting me with the resources to work and commune.
Aimee Paxton, MFA Acting Student
The whole process was such a growing experience for me! From the playwriting process, being present for the discovery of character, plot, and themes, and from a professional standpoint. Getting to know other artists participating as part of the workshop and hearing their experiences in the business of theatre all over the country. From their biggest successes to their biggest 'failures', it was such a refreshing and educational experience.
Jadd Davis, MFA Directing Student
The opportunity to be at the table for the creation of a new piece of theatre is one of the unique joys of the art form. Wherever a play is on its journey to full production—whether it's a first draft or tenth—the magic of being part of its creative gestation is second-to-none. Little jokes, nuances, sometimes even whole characters are written and re-written because of the idiosyncrasies of the roomful of artists working toward a common goal: the play. It's literally art in action. Theatre—more than any other art form—is collaborative, and the chance to observe and participate in a sacred part of the collaborative journey is something I cherish. Kudos to the Rep for its commitment to new works and new perspectives. What a gift to be able to connect with world-class luminaries in our beautiful community!
Aline Dufflocq, graduating senior BFA student
Being a part of the workshop for Martyna Majok's Sanctuary City at the Montana Repertory Theatre was the most rewarding experience of my three years at the University of Montana. I never thought I would get to be a part of this kind of work and tell this kind of story while living here in Montana and through it made connections I would not have found otherwise with people who I would not have met otherwise. Getting to collaborate and sit at the table with such high-caliber creative professionals such as Martyna Majok, Sarah Lunnie and Michael Legg, who all not only have brilliant minds but a sense of joy and humor in relation to their work, pushed me to be at my best everyday and acted as evidence of how important it is to be both a hard worker and a warm presence. I am now headed to New York City to pursue acting professionally and have the beginnings of a community to fall back on and reach out to who have provided me insight, connections and guidance in the professional and daily landscape of life in the big city. I feel incredibly humbled and grateful beyond words to have been given the chance to partake in this process as a fresh-out-of-college, baby theatre-maker who isn't sure of a whole lot. But if there is one thing I am sure of is that I am a better, smarter, more capable person and artist because of the chance I was given.