ORCHARD PROJECT PROGRAMS OVERVIEW
The OP empowers creators of dramatic stories through its Lab programs, providing support in flexible, collaborative environments that empower artists to create new works. During the 10-day-long residencies, companies and artists are provided room and board, staff support, and technical resources including lighting and sound equipment, musical instruments, and access to local performance spaces. The program hosts eight to 12 projects at any given time, supporting up to 40 projects every summer. Participants range from playwrights working alone on drafts to full ensembles working in large rehearsal spaces.
Our labs have expanded and shifted in response to the ongoing challenges facing performing artists nationally and worldwide. During a time of industry transformation, reckoning, and instability, OP took steps to do even more to support the most inventive artists and diverse voices, helping creators to explore, create, and share their work in new ways given the current absence of in-person collaboration. To make our programs more equitable, we made several changes to the application processes in 2021. There is now a common, simplified application for all residency programs, and applications are read by a diverse panel of 30+ readers. These changes have proved successful, with applications growing from 766 in 2020 to 1,482 in 2021. Our full rubric, and explanation of evaluation criteria for our process, has been posted online in order to be as transparent as possible. You can view it here: https://orchardproject.com/understanding-the-op-application-process/
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, OP successfully pivoted all labs normally held in Saratoga Springs or OP’s New York City office to digital platforms, supporting 30 projects in summer 2020, 49 projects in summer 2021, and 47 projects in 2022.
Below is a short summary of our labs and programs. For more detailed information, we encourage you to visit each specific program’s page.
The Orchard Project Performance Lab, our longest running program, is a self-directed summer lab for theatermakers, writers, composers, teams, companies, and ensembles looking for support on projects in development. Small cohorts of makers across theatrical disciplines convene for weekly meetings to review progress, share work, and interrogate questions common to the development process. Lab members are provided with support and resources to advance their project in a self-directed manner. We also provide exclusive panels, webinars, and classes specifically for lab members, tailored to the unique needs of the cohort. While all labs are virtual for July/August 2021, we plan to return to in-person labs in 2022, where participants will be invited to Saratoga Springs, NY for overlapping residencies, including free rehearsal space, room and board, and in-person support from fellow artists.
The Orchard Project Adaptation Lab, newly launched in 2022, is a self directed lab for makers of all types to find support on projects in development that look to adapt source material in one form into another. “Adaptation,” in our minds, is flexible, and can include both looking back at classics or discovering the dramatic form within non-typical texts. The Orchard Project also believes that the dramatic canon is in ongoing rejuvenation, and while many brand new works have emanated out of our various labs, we believe that the interrogation of classic and other recent texts provide a rich foundation for our community to challenge the staid implications of adaptation on the whole. As we have learned by supporting adaptations in all our various labs (Performance, Episodic, 2020 Liveness Lab, Greenhouse, and Audio), the adaptive act includes unique and ripe opportunities for artists to explore processes and questions alongside one another.
The Orchard Project Greenhouse Program is a year-long NYC-based accelerator for directors, writers, composers, choreographers, designers, and other artists to seed ambitious and unexpected new work, and form artistic relationships. The Greenhouse Program provides a supportive and collaborative environment where artists can play, discover, and create, and is geared towards individuals who are excited to build new work in a community of like-minded peers. Over the course of the core year, members meet twice a month to participate in four creative “sprints”. Each sprint is focused on a different dramatic form (e.g. TV, musicals, audio, digital) to push participants to expand their creative thinking and diversify their art-making experience. Members can collaborate with other members during sprints; work on multiple ideas simultaneously; or simply act as a sounding board and provide feedback to others. The goal is that the cohort supports each other through a development process that has been a tent-pole of the OP both before and during COVID.
The Orchard Project Episodic Lab, now entering its sixth year, allows a cohort of writers the time and resources to collaborate with one another, and interact with industry guests, to advance the development of their television pilots. The objective of this summer lab is to “bridge the gap” for artists of promise, and to use the unique support of the OP to expand and articulate their personal voice/vision as they hone the writing and world of their pilot. Participants with a curiosity for feedback and desire to interrogate both the form and current trends engage in a pilot-and-project-centered lab with the final goal of creating a more vibrant and impactful draft of their episodic pilot. Participants meet three days a week over the course of five weeks in July/August, for two and a half hours per meeting. Working with the extended OP network of episodic professionals, writers engage in both group and professional critique, a mock writers’ room, and table reads. Previous industry advisors include Beau Willimon (Creator and Showrunner, “House of Cards”), David Mandel (Showrunner, “Veep”), and Theresa Rebeck (Creator and Showrunner, “Smash”). Participants also have access to all OP community learning panels outside of the lab, a valuable resource that has proven to be central to successful episodic storytelling development.
The Orchard Project Audio Lab, now in entering its third official year, expands our ecosystem of support to dramatic audio storytelling. Over the course of six weeks, the Audio Lab offers a select group of writers and teams an opportunity to develop content in a setting where they can accelerate an unproduced project, receive high level support and feedback from leading voices in the field, and network with each other and other industry leaders. This lab is intended to give any writer who has an interest and idea for an audio project the space and support to cultivate their work. Participants meet once a week for group work, attend additional panels with industry professionals working in the audio field, and have access to OP staff office hours. The weekly meetings take on a writers’ room format, where group feedback and comments are encouraged.
OP Open Process is a new free series of conversations and workshops for storytellers, curious practitioners, and artists of all types and experience levels. Running in parallel with the OP’s usual lab offerings, OP Open Process aims to inspire making and provide tangible skills for working artists at all levels, in collaboration with those who have been at the forefront of creation.
The new program offers conversations around the ethics of making; business tools and advice for artists; TV and digital making; and creative prompts that allow makers, thinkers, and the broader community to engage in today’s state of performance. These workshops and discussions will embrace the shifts we’ve seen in the storytelling community from the pandemic by exploring our current questions as makers: How can one expand their inspirational toolset as a creator? What is the future of performance? How do we engage with storytelling in more equitable ways? By providing a space for a multi-layered discussion to anyone interested, we aim to broaden our community and spark thought and inspiration.
OP Open Process is an effort to serve, deepen, and widen the rich artistic community around the OP during the pandemic. Harnessing the connectedness of the internet and accessibility of Zoom to remove barriers, OP Open Process embraces the creative and curious practitioner and welcomes them into our extended network. Responding to the reflection “What are both the opportunities and responsibilities of the artist today?”, OP Open Process looks chiefly to inspire while at the same time embedding all of its offerings with interrogations of justice, healing, and making in an ever-changing cultural landscape.