My name is Lisa Soland and I am a regional, published playwright, currently teaching in the theatre department at Maryville College in Eastern Tennessee. We need help with the production of my new world premiere play The Sniper's Nest. The cast and crew and I are trying to raise $5,000 and we must do it by November 29.
These funds will enable us to invite the writer of the book that the play was based on, to attend our production in Maryville. Also, these four Maryville theatre students and I plan to take the play to New York City for a staged reading sponsored by the Dramatists Guild.
To give you a little history on myself, my first play The Name Game starred Richard Hatch from Battlestar Galactica and was subsequently published by Samuel French. Last year my comedy Thread Count was produced at Pellissippi State College and received international publication by Applause Books and is a part of this anthology, The Best American Short Plays 2010/2011. These two publications bookend my playwriting career and add to over 35 publications by such publishers as Samuel French, Smith & Kraus, Applause Books and Dramatic Publishing.
In August of 2006, I was asked to head up the MFA playwriting program at Florida State University, so I drove from Los Angeles to Tallahassee, Florida, and while passing through Dallas, I had the opportunity to tour the 6th Floor of the School Book Depository at Dealey Plaza. I stood in what is now referred to as "The Sniper’s Nest" and decided then to write a one-man show on the life of Lee Harvey Oswald, who reportedly killed John F. Kennedy.
I ordered several books for my research, one of these being Judyth Vary Baker’s autobiographical book Me and Lee and I found the new information compelling beyond words. It completely altered the way I viewed, not only this particular moment in history, the assassination of a president, but current events as well. Not only did Ms. Baker give me permission to use the book to write the play, but she also made herself completely available to me, answering any questions that I might have.
The mysteries surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy is history’s most controversial event and has left many of us wondering if we would ever know the truth. Several government organizations, including the Dallas Police Department, the FBI and the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald did in fact act alone.
In 1991, Oliver Stone re-examined these events in his political thriller film JFK, but at the time, Mr. Stone did not have access to Judyth Vary Baker’s story, a significant missing piece of the puzzle, which was only recently published in her book, Me and Lee.
My play The Sniper’s Nest is the story of the real-life love affair between CIA agent Lee Harvey Oswald and young scientist Judyth Vary Baker. During the summer of 1963 they worked together in New Orleans to develop a biological weapon to kill Fidel Castro. This is a true tale of espionage, still, to this day, kept secret from the public for reasons much more sinister than just covering up an assassination of a president.
The Sniper’s Nest will be presented at The Clayton Center for the Arts, in the Haslam Family Flex Theatre and will open November 29. I will be directing the play as well as writing, with Walker Snow Harrison playing the role of Lee Harvey Oswald and Caitlin Campbell, playing the young scientist Judyth Baker.
Ms. Baker will be on a 12-city book tour in California and Canada in November, and much to our delight, has agreed to attend our production. Part of the funds raised from Kickstarter.com will go toward helping Judy attend the play and aid the cast and me in the ongoing developmental process of adapting a book into a live stage production.
We will also be taking The Sniper's Nest to New York City for a stage reading, sponsored by the Dramatist Guild. I hope to take four Maryville College theatre students with me. They will participate and produce the reading, as well as meet with theatre professionals who live and work in the Manhattan area. This is the first time that I have used Kickstarter.com to raise funds for any of my productions.
And this is where you come in. Gifts can range anywhere from the amount of $5, all the way up to the entire amount of $5,000. To thank you for a gift of $30 or more, you will be sent a signed program from the show and for a gift in the amount of $100 or more, an 8 x 10 autographed photo of the cast and crew with Judy Baker, signed by the cast and crew. For a gift of $1000 or more, you will be invited to attend a rehearsal of The Sniper's Nest and two free tickets to the production at The Clayton Center for the Arts. (This particular contribution must be made by November 15 in order to schedule your attending.)
I know that money is tight these days but you will be contributing to a great experience for these young people as they learn, first hand, what it's like to develop a new work for the stage.
Any contribution will help! But act now. Don't hesitate! Our goal is to raise $5,000 by opening night -- November 29, 2012. But if we don’t reach our goal of $5,000 in the time left, then we don’t get any of the money.
If we’re blessed, however, to reach our goal, don’t feel as though you can’t contribute. We will be using the extra funds to take the play to Los Angeles in the summer of 2013 during the 50th anniversary year of the JFK assassination, so this team of four Maryville College students can experience working and meeting with show business professionals in that region of the country as well. Thank you so much for helping finance this endeavor. We really appreciate your support.
Risks and challenges
Please keep in mind that live theatre is a living breathing thing. As much as one prepares, things can and do go wrong. The plan is for Ms. Baker to attend the show but she will be flying in from her west coast book tour and on a tight schedule. Due to the collaborative nature of show business, and the focus in college theatre placed on the "process," the production quality might not be as we had hoped. Also, the play reading in New York City on December 14 is sponsored by the Dramatists Guild, which means they are providing the space. And weather does weight into travel plans much more today than it seemed to in the past. So please be patient and know that we will do everything we can to coordinate these events. We appreciate your support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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