The California retreat will take place
The Stillwright retreats are intensives in which playwrights gather in silence and write a play entirely from scratch. The retreats are structured by Erik, who leads the group in regular sessions of writing exercises that punctuate the days.
The California retreat takes place at the San Francisco Zen Center at Green Gulch Farm near Muir Woods. Writers have their own rooms and share bathroom/shower facilities. The (very good, very simple) food is vegetarian, with vegan and gluten-free options. We share our meals in silence in a side room of the dining area. (There are people around who are not in silence—staff, day-visitors—but our silence is respected, and it all works out.) Stillwright participants are welcome to attend meditation sessions in the Zendo. Muir Beach is a 20-minute walk away; there are also hiking trails in the hills, and nearer gardens to stroll through. There’s no cell service and limited internet. This retreat is fully funded but writers are responsible for travel in and out of San Francisco.
Unlike other retreats or residencies, this is very much geared around the generation of new work; it doesn't work well for writers who want to revise an existing play, or even write a play they already have in mind. Some playwrights have come away from these retreats with plays they were later able to produce, others have left with work which interested them, but which they didn't want to put forward for a further life, and both groups have found the retreat equally valuable. The real goal of the retreat is to have a chance to work in a thoroughly absorbed and uninterrupted fashion and to perhaps work in a new and entirely idiosyncratic way The silence is part of the challenge, and part of the unusual level of concentration the retreat creates.
Here is the 2015 American Theatre magazine article about the retreats.
If You’re Coming
You’ll be fully confirmed once you have sent us your flight information (or let us know your alternate travel arrangements). We’ll let you know the deadline for that.
WHAT TO BRING
Wrist watch and/or travel clock
A notebook or pad of paper, and pens, for the sessions with Erik
Any personal first aid items (aspirin, bandaids, Neosporin, moleskin, etc.)
Sun block in case we get lucky with sunshine
Toiletries, including soap; they supply linens/towels
Optional but Perhaps Handy
Fave snack. We will have lots of snacks, but if you have a particular something you really like to be assured of having, bring it.
A personal water bottle
Books. Erik’s advice is to bring reading that isn't particularly taxing—this isn’t the time to bring that serious book you've been waiting to for an opportunity to concentrate on.
Footwear that’s easy to slip off and on, and socks; most of the indoor spaces have a shoes-off policy
Sturdy shoes or sneakers for walk/hikes
It’s usually cool and foggy there, so warm sweaters and jackets, a scarf and hat, etc.
It can get sunny and warm during the days, so some lighter clothes, and a brimmed hat for walking. Basically, check the forecast before you pack, and think layers.
We'll be doing warm ups so bring something you can move around in easily.
FYI for packing: there is no laundry on site.
There is little-to-no cell service at the Center. There is an emergency number for night time that you can give people; it’s a staff person’s personal cell number, so it’s for very genuine emergencies only. During the day, messages can be left for you at the office, and if you really for some reason need to break silence and make a call out you can do that on an office phone.
The retreat is meant to be internet-free; it’s a good idea to use an outgoing vacation message on your email account. However, although there is no internet in our writing space; there is internet in the living quarters which you can access if you truly need to. The idea is to refrain as much as possible though, and certainly not to let anyone else know if you’re using it. You might find you benefit most by bidding your nearest and dearest farewell for the few days that you’ll be on retreat.