Playwright Michael Hollinger on the eclecticism of Philadelphia’s emerging artists | Theatre Philadelphia
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Playwright Michael Hollinger on the eclecticism of Philadelphia’s emerging artists

Feb 8, 2017

As we get ready to celebrate over two decades of the Haas Award at our Haas Happy Hour on February 27, we’re sharing reflections from past recipients in this series.

Michael Hollinger, local playwright, moved to Philadelphia 12 years before he received the Haas Award in 1996. The night of the awards, he shares that “it was thrilling to feel supported by an entire community, and a real pleasure to be able to have the opportunity to thank some of the many people who were instrumental in advancing my work as an artist in this city.”

Who are some of those people? “Early on, Carol Rocamora at Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays, where my first plays received readings, followed by Sara Garonzik and Philadelphia Theatre Company. Most prominently, Terry Nolen and Arden Theatre Company, my artistic home for 23 years.The other Philadelphia theatres that have done readings and productions of my plays: Theatre Exile, 1812 Productions, InterAct, People’s Light, Act II Playhouse, and Walnut Street Theatre. Villanova University and its Theatre Department, which has helped keep me and my family in shoe leather for the last two decades. My wife, actor/director/teacher Megan Bellwoar. And of course Carole Haas Gravagno and the Haas Award.”

When Michael received the Haas award, he already felt “ensconced in Philly and its burgeoning theatre scene.” He continues: “ Philadelphia’s theatre community feels like one big resident ensemble to me. Naturally, there is competition for employment — our business is Darwinian — but people seem to understand that they’ll encounter and work with the same folks many times over the course of a career, so there is, I think, a larger sense of civility and karma.”

Who are the artists inspiring Michael today? “Too many to name! Having served on the Haas Award committee for three years, I was wowed by the diversity, energy, proficiency, social awareness, and eclecticism of this city’s emerging artists. Because of my involvement with The Foundry, the emerging playwright organization I co-founded with Jacqueline Goldfinger and Quinn Eli 5+ years ago (now a program of PlayPenn), I am most inspired by this city’s rising playwrights and the theatres who have invested in their current and future work.”

Join Theatre Philadelphia in celebration of the artists and supporters that comprise our community at the Haas Happy Hour on February 27.

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