This past October, The 5th presented NextFest, its second annual Festival for New Works. Eleven new projects were introduced during the three week festival, at varying levels of evolution, from cold table reads and writing intensives to week-long workshops complete with writers, actors and creative members working together to revise and improve new musicals.
Three of the works at NextFest (The Long Game, The Rumble Within and Anybody Can Do Anything) emerged from another new works initiative, our inaugural Seattle Writers Group, which is a two-year program providing six writers the opportunity to attend bi-weekly meetings to share and discuss their work in progress.
NextFest also featured a writing intensive and table read of a new commission for The 5th’s education program, Adventure Musical Theater Touring Company (AMT). Free Boy, based on the book by Seattle historians Lorraine McConaghy and Judy Bentley, tells the true story of Charles Mitchell’s harrowing escape from Washington Territory in 1860 through the Canadian Underground Railroad. In a more immediate sense, the work completed on Free Boy during NextFest will be seen in spring 2017 when it is performed by AMT in elementary and middle schools throughout Washington State.
“The 5th is committed to making sure that future generations will be able to enjoy relevant and compelling musical theater,” said Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry. “This year’s festival celebrates the richness and breadth of storytelling that is possible in musical theater.” For The 5th, the development and initial support of new works is just as important as the end product. Without the support and freedom to fully investigate and intensively examine these new works throughout the entirety of the creation process, they would never progress to the point of being ready to present on a stage.
It’s also imperative to engage and instruct the next generation of writers and artists in all stages of musical development, which is why The 5th was proud to present the result of the inaugural 10-Minute Musical Project, a new education program. Designed for students ages 14 to 19, the program aims to empower local teens and support their future achievement by introducing them to the crafts and skills associated with songwriting, book writing, directing and the workshop process. Students participated as book writers, composers, lyricists, directors, music directors, stage managers, actors, marketing administrators and photographers/videographers. Following several months of work during the summer, these students culminated their program with a presentation of four original works at NextFest. To read more about the 10-Minute Musical Project, please visit: www.5thavenue.org/10-minute-musical-project.
NextFest is not currently open to the general public. Festival passes are a benefit of an Artist’s Circle Membership, offering access to behind-the-scenes interviews with writers, sneak peeks, special concerts, cocktail events and panels. To learn more about Membership before next year’s NextFest, please contact Development at (206) 625-1418.
To learn more about these and other musicals, please visit: www.5thavenue.org/nextfest.