Dawn Youngs as Olga in Breaking String’s production of Three, or the Sound of the Great Existential Nothingness by Timothy Braun.
Dawn has had a long career in the performing arts. In the early 80s, Dawn began training in theater at the Youth Theater Program of the Beck Center for the Arts, a program she would return to run many years later. She went on to earn a BA in Performing Arts from American University in Washington DC and after a few years of working in various capacities in theaters across the country, she went on to earn her MFA in Acting and Directing from the Professional Actor Training Program at the University of Missouri in Kansas City (UMKC).
Dawn spent a semester of her undergraduate career doing an intensive on theater criticism in London UK. She was awarded internships with the Ensemble Theater of Cincinnati (acting)and The Lookingglass Theater of Chicago (directing). She has also been awarded multiple grants for research to deepen her work, including a grant to travel to Europe for extended exploration of the physical history of the Holocaust for her role in Playing for Time at the Coterie Theater in Kansas City.
Pandora Robertson as one of the three witches in a production of MacBeth adapted and directed by Dawn Youngs and produced by the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival.
Dawn has worked at theaters and festivals across the country including Door Shakespeare Festival (WI), Creede Repertory Theater (CO) , The Utah Shakespeare Festival (UT), Independence Park Theater (LA), the Great Lakes Theater Festival (OH), The Cleveland Shakespeare Festival (OH), the Cleveland Public Theater (OH) and Breaking String (TX).
She is also proud of her work to support and promote new play development including the commissioning of new work for children while Associate Director of Theater Education at the Beck Center for the Arts, work as both an actor and director for the WordBridge Playwright’s Laboratory, creating a retreat and workshop program called Nurturing New Ideas on her Texas Hill Country ranch, and working with new play festivals such as Loaded Gun Theory’s 24 Hour Playwrighting Festival and groundswell’s playwrights conference.
Since 1995, the Rude Mechanicals have been a dynamic force in the Austin theater landscape, truly emphasizing an ensemble-based company committed to the collaborative creation of brave new works for the stage. Their work and their process run counter to the established structure of the American Theater, a structure that is not built for taking artistic risks.
New Russian drama is the name taken by a group of playwrights who rose to international prominence as the first generation of theater artists to come of age in post-Soviet Russia. Graham Schmidt, the artistic director of the Breaking String Theater, has been fascinated with Russia, and the story of its theater tradition, for over a decade.
In March, Spooky Action Ranch will host its very first artist in residence as part of the Nurturing New Ideas Series. The series has the goal of bringing artists and creators from all genres together to build support and provide a fertile haven for the development of new work in art, philosophy, and human experience.
What makes a community? How can we turn back the clock to unlock the future? What scares you? Dawn Youngs takes a moment away from casting; venue and travel arrangements; and publicity to answer a few questions about bringing Last Chance: tales from a broken heartland to Austin, Texas as part of Spooky Action Ranch’s Nurturing New Ideas Series.
What makes a community? How can we turn back the clock to unlock the future? What scares you? Dawn Youngs takes a moment away from casting; venue and travel arrangements; and publicity to answer a few questions about bringing Last Chance: tales from a broken heartland to Austin, Texas as part of Spooky Action Ranch’s Nurturing New Ideas Series. 1) Why bring plays about the Ozark Mountains to Austin? Well, first off, I am not sure that I would describe these plays as plays about the Ozarks. They take place in a fictional town in the Ozark region, and there is no doubt that there are themes running through the plays that get at the root of that rural American life, but I also think these are universal themes that run through the lives of people around the country. Most of all, I think these are plays about community and interconnection, and the struggle to find a place for self or to define self. Austin is a booming town, but part of what that means is that the unique community and small town feel of the place has been rapidly consumed by the rabid growth. Individual neighborhoods, and I think the city as a whole, are grappling with issues of identity. Struggling with how to maintain the older connected ways of life while money and technology flood in. There is a clash between the folks working to keep Austin weird, the trailer parks and honky-tonks, and chicken coops and urban farms of Austin are clashing with the condos and developers. And on a broader sweep, this is happening all over. My generation, raised in the 70s and 80s were raised as little consumers: pushed to believe that constant growth and consumption was not only necessary for the success of our nation, but also really good for us. I see people questioning this idea all around me. I think they are waking up to the lies and wondering, what are all of these material goods really worth? What do we lose when we become one huge homogenized consumer culture? These plays tap into that awareness and I think that Austinites are ripe for exploring these ideas. In fact, I think they are poised to be the leaders in a new movement and shift in American values. Austin is not only ready to hear the questions raised by this work, but ready to grapple and search for real answers too. 2) What form do you imagine this series of plays or this project taking? Many of the plays have extremely different tones and settings, how do you navigate that? There are a lot of ideas floating around in my head on this one, but I think they all are linked and related. I know that we call this the great recession, but that’s just a silly idea made up by the media corporations to put a safe term on whatever it is that is happen to the nation economically. I think the reality is that we are facing a whole new paradigm. The twentieth century was something amazing, but it wasn’t sustainable or even necessarily particularly beneficial for humans as a race or the planet as a whole. On one hand, I see our country trying to push forward on the trajectory...
In March, Spooky Action Ranch will host its very first artist in residence as part of the Nurturing New Ideas Series. The series has the goal of bringing artists and creators from all genres together to build support and provide a fertile haven for the development of new work in art, philosophy, and human experience. Our very first Artist in Residence will be Dr. David M White. David grew up in the hills of Southwest Missouri. He received a B.A. from New College of Florida before returning to his home state to earn a M.A. from the University of Missouri – Kansas City, and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri – Columbia. In 2004, he helped found the Generous Theater Company (then Immanent Eye Theater) which took one of the Last Chance plays, Trash, to the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival. Last week I had the opportunity to chat with playwright Dave White about his work and his upcoming workshops of Last Chance – Tales from a Broken Heartland. Last Chance is an ambitious project, can you tell me a little about the origins of the concept? For years before Kevin Spacey identified people’s desire to gorge themselves on viewing a television series, I have participated in “binge-viewing” of my favorite shows (Twin Peaks, Firefly, Slings and Arrows, The Wire) consuming whole VHS tapes or DVDs at a time rather than bite size portions. In 2002, as I was writing Ain’t Nothin’ Quik ‘n Easy and Watersheds, the second and third plays I wrote in the series, I started wondering why I wasn’t finding this same joy in the theatre. Wouldn’t theatre audiences enjoy the longer story arcs and deeper character development that I was seeing in television programs? What if a theatre series focused on a community as a hero rather than a character, would audiences invest/see more deeply into their own communities? If a series of plays was able to gather an audience to see two or three episodes a week, that would create a new community of people, but in life, not just through virtual mediums sharing thoughts and reactions. The theatre serial seemed to combat the consumable and disposable nature of theatre: arrive early to say hello and be seen, watch a show, leave after and perhaps discuss it, but more likely go home and go to be, it’s late after all. I want audience members to invest because they know there’s more to the story to be discovered. What is, in your estimation, the purpose of art? How do you strive to meet this purpose in your own work? I don’t know that art has a purpose, perhaps the artist has a purpose and the viewer has a need and the art is where those two desires have the opportunity to intersect. For me, though, what art achieves, at its very best, is to begin conversations: conversations within myself, conversations among those who have or have not seen the art, and a conversation between the artist and the viewer. Art helps me articulate similarity and difference, complex ideas, and journeys that I have taken or hope to take. In my work, I don’t know that I’m striving to meet this purpose. As a playwright, my job is to provide a window through which other artists can see...
Inspired by the generous and creative energy of WordBridge Playwright’s Laboratory, the Nurturing New Ideas Series intends to open a space where artists and thinkers from all disciplines can come together to explore, challenge and create in a supportive and nurturing environment. For the first residency in the series, playwright David M. White will be visiting Spooky Action Ranch for a week of retreat and workshops including open rehearsals, in-depth dissection of the play series, private time to write and contemplate, as well as two evenings of public readings with discussion and talk back intended to illuminate the play and encourage the playwright on his personal explorations. We hope you will join us for the variety of events sourounding the Nurturting New Ideas Series. Find our more about what is going on at Spooky Action Rnach at our Facebook Page. We look forward to you becoming a part of the...