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  • January 14, 2014 12:45 PM | Vanessa Lynn (Administrator)

    SPOTLIGHT ON UPU

    UPU Invades The Festival Circuit in 2013!

    By: Ronnie J. Johnson

    Since the start of 2013, Urban Playwrights United (UPU) theater members have been living in a season of open doors. This year, a few members took theater production to a new level by participating in numerous theater festivals across the country. UPU members: Tangie Brickhouse-Beaty & Donna Johnson (Columbia, SC); Teleah Scott-Williams (Owings Mills, MD); Richard A. Bass (Detroit, MI); Karen Jethroe (Belleville, IL); Nanette Marie Hodge (Columbus, OH); Eric Christopher Jones (Missouri City, TX); Jeanette Hill (Austin, TX); and Darrell Cador (Washington, D.C.) participated in various theater festivals. They took time out of their busy schedules to sit through interviews regarding their festival experiences.

    R.J.: Greetings playwrights! I want to thank you all for participating in this interview regarding your theater festival experience. Which theater festival event did you participate in and in what city was that event held?

    Donna: WOW Productions participated in The Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival in Atlanta.

    Tangie: The Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival in Atlanta.

    Darrell: Our production company participated in the Atlanta Black Theater Festival in Atlanta.

    Karen: I attended the Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival in Atlanta.

    Richard: I participated in the Atlanta Black Theater Festival in Atlanta.

    Eric: I participated in the Atlanta Black Theater in Atlanta.

    Jeanette: I participated in the D.C. Black Theater Festival in Washington, D.C., the Atlanta Black Theater Festival and the Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival in Atlanta.

    Teleah: I participated in the One-Act Battle Competition at the D.C. Black Theater Festival in Washington, D.C.

    Nanette: I participated in D.C. Black Theater Festival in Washington, D.C., The Ohio Black Theater Festival in Columbus, OH, The National Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, and The Atlanta Black Theater Festival in Atlanta.

    R.J.: Wow! There is such an array of talent being shown across the country by such great creative people. Out of all of your productions, which one did you submit to the festival events?

    Jeanette: I submitted The Best Lesson as staged reading for the D.C. Black Theater Festival and The Atlanta Black Theater Festival and also as a DVD showing at The Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival.

    Teleah: I submitted a short one-act play entitled The Healing Floor.

    Eric: I submitted my play Emancipation to the ABTF.

    Tangie/Donna: We submitted our stage play DVD Yesterday Is Still Gone to The Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival.

    Darrell: We performed a staged reading of Hands Made to Hold at the ABTF.

    Karen: My stage play DVD Where’s My Inheritance? was shown at The Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival.

    Richard: My stage play Entangled was performed at the Atlanta Black Theater Festival.

    Nanette: Mama’s Drama was performed at all four festivals. Additionally, my other play Suzette’s Saga was apart of the DCBTF.

    R.J. Excellent! I know that the audiences truly enjoyed every performance and viewing your shows. What attracted you or made you want to participate in the festival circuit?

    Donna: WOW Productions was attracted to the festival circuit because it was the first time the theater category was included in the film festival.

    Tangie:That’s true. We wanted to broaden our horizon with our production.

    Darrell: Our production team as a whole saw the ABTF as a grand opportunity to be amongst the best writers, directors and producers in urban theater. It was also the perfect chance to unveil Hands Made to Hold.

    Karen: Ms. Vanessa Lynn posted the information. At first, I didn’t think it was for me because of the quality of my DVD. However, she mentioned that they were looking at the storyline and not the quality of the DVD. I knew then that I should at least submit my DVD and I was very proud of my work.

    Richard: I was attracted to the festival circuit because I have never participated in a theater festival before. When I saw the opportunity, I felt led to jump and do it.

    Eric: I was excited to present a work that is a true hybrid of classical and urban theater.

    Jeanette: After last year’s UPU Conference, I decided that if I was going to be serious about my career, I needed to take steps to move to the next level. That meant getting feedback on my work on a national level. The festivals are an effective, immediate way to accomplish just that.

    Teleah: In 2011, I served as a volunteer at The D.C. Black Theater festival. So this time around, I decided to participate as a playwright.

    Nanette: I wanted to see my work performed beyond my home town to get a feel as to how it would be received by national audiences.

    R.J.: These are such great inspirational reasons to have your works displayed nationally for those who are interested in participating in festivals. What did you set out to accomplish while participating in the festival(s)?

    Teleah: My team (myself and Dyone Mitchell) under the direction of Ronald Benson-El entered into the competition to battle for the championship title. We rehearsed and made the decision to use only a few props for our script. Our props consisted of a metal wash tub, a metal bucket, a wooden scrub brush, a sleeping mat and a toy truck. We competed against other teams in the categories of drama, comedy, adult theme and anything goes. My team entered into the drama category and we had 20 minutes to perform. All the teams were good and we had some tough competition!

    Eric: We wanted to present a Broadway-style production with a Judeo-Christian viewpoint.

    Tangie: Our goal was to get others to view our shows and get outside opinions.

    Donna: Our goal was to gain exposure and have our DVD viewed by professionals in the field. It also allowed us to be able to become better as directors, playwrights and producers.

    Darrell: Aside from the obvious, our goal was to grow our network of theatre professionals while solidifying some of our existing connections.

    Karen: My goal was to get personal exposure. I needed the personal exposure of just meeting playwrights and seeing other people’s work. In the area where I live, there are not a lot of stage plays. Since I joined UPU, I really wanted to meet some of the people (especially Ms. Lynn) who I only know through Facebook. I accomplished my goal.

    Nanette: My goals were three-fold. I was curious to find out if the juried festivals would accept my work. I wanted to provide my actors with national stage exposure. I also wanted to see how I could develop my work.

    Richard: My goal was to go into another city that I have never been before. I set a goal to gain more exposure in promotion for myself and my company.

    Jeanette: I had two main goals. My first goal was to have a professional presence at the festivals, and my second goal was to get out of my comfort zone (both geographically and professionally). I want to expose my work to a larger audience. Urban and blended playwrights need to become influencers in the industry and gain recognition and respect for our work.

    R.J.: Great answers by all! What were your triumphs and setbacks in participating in the festivals?

    Jeanette: My triumph was not only winning the awards, but learning how things were done on a festival level and how they impact the industry as a whole. I finally met some UPU family members face to face and created long-lasting relationships.

    Nanette: I felt triumphant just by being accepted into the festivals. The great performances by the actors and enjoyment by the audience was reward enough. Financial setbacks occurred; however, the exposure and feedback received was valuable to the development of my work. Most of the festivals were organized and accommodating.

    Darrell: Thank God that we had no setbacks! The triumph was that I had the distinct pleasure of sitting right next to our very own Jeanette Hill and her husband when her play The Best Lesson was announced as the winner in the Readers’ Theater category. Over the years, I’ve learned that if you surround yourself with blessed people, you soon become a blessed person. Sitting by Mrs. Hill that night means that my future is bright!

    Donna: The number of festival attendees was surprisingly low. That would be my main concern and possible setback. On the flip side, we were afforded the opportunity to view some amazing talent from around the United States in various genres.

    Karen: My triumph was to win Best Stage Play. My setback was because of the way the program was set up, I did not get a chance to either see every film or attend every workshop because they ran concurrently.

    Richard: My triumphs were pulling off the impossible by bringing my entire cast down to Atlanta to perform the show. My setbacks were not getting the crowd and the return on investment that I expected.

    Eric: As a triumph, we were able to assemble a first-rate cast from Houston to Atlanta through fundraising and prayer! As a result, we won the Short Play Competition.

    R.J.:Awesome! I see the majority of you just wanted to get out of your home base and try something new in a new area. How many of you won awards at the festivals and what were the awards?

    Teleah: My team won the championship title to the One-Act Battle Competition at the DCBTF. We were the 2013 grand prize winners!

    Eric: We won the Short Play Competition at the ABTF.

    Jeanette: I am both humbled and ecstatic! I won The Best Staged Reading Award at the ABTF. I also won the People’s Choice Award at the Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival.

    Nanette: Unfortunately, I did not win any awards at the festivals; however, being chosen to participate was extremely rewarding!

    Donna/Tangie: WOW Productions was honored to win the Best Director Award for a stage play at the Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival.

    Darrell: Seeing that we were in the same category as The Best Lesson, we didn’t win. But the experience was priceless just the same!

    Karen: I won Best Stage Play for Where’s My Inheritance? at the KCFF.

    Richard: Unfortunately, we didn’t win any awards.

    R.J.: Congrats to all award winners and to those who came close. What did you take away from the festivals and would you participate in the festival circuit again?

    Teleah: I learned that it takes a team to build a dream and that hard work pays off! Yes, overall it was a good first-time experience and I got to meet Pertri Hawkins-Byrd from Judge Judy!

    Jeanette: The most important thing I brought back with me was greater confidence in my abilities, especially when it comes to submitting and participating in festivals and contests outside of my local area and my comfort zone. Just as importantly, I realized that festival or not, it is still a business! I would absolutely participate in the festival circuit again! Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I was able to observe work of some very talented artists. I learned a lot, not only about the festivals, but also about myself personally and my abilities. I also had a chance to meet Pearl Cleage and Melba Moore, two people I really admire!

    Richard: The main thing that I took away from the festival is that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to pull this thing off. I would most definitely participate in the festival circuit again, but it will be in the distant future.

    Donna: An artist, whether they are a writer, producer, actor, or director, no matter the genre, must always look to improve and hone their craft. You are only as good as your last production. I am sure Tangie and I will attend many more festivals in the future, as it is afforded to us the opportunity to view the wonderful and amazing talent. WOW Productions will definitely have to step our game up!

    Nanette: I took away a great appreciation for all of the effort and talent it takes from everybody, beginning with the playwright and the actors, to the production team and finally to the audience to make our work and festivals successful. It was surreal to see the work that God had me create come to life onstage. The appreciation and understanding from those who were in the audience. The talk backs I was able to conduct were very engaging at the two festivals. Without question, I am a playwright, and I am walking in my purpose! I feel it is important to support black theatre festivals. In many cases, they are the only method for getting initial exposure. It feels more like family.

    Darrell: The more you know, the more you grow. Both can be obtained by participating in the ABTF. I will absolutely be a part of the festival circuit again!

    Karen: I came away with an expanded vision for my work. I realize now that there is a process to accomplishing your goal. But if you take it step by step, work diligently and persistently on it, it will happen. There is a myriad of people out there willing to help. It was a very good experience. I would definitely participate in the festival circuit again!

    Eric: We were able to perform for a live urban market in Atlanta. Most of our works are multi-cultural and it was a treat to see that the work was received very well by a large urban market! I will absolutely participate again!

    R.J.: Well fellow playwrights, our time has come to an end! This was truly an intriguing, insightful, interview with you all! Congrats to all of the winners and participants of the various festivals. I’m looking forward to hearing about your next production mounting at another festival event in 2014! 

  • September 25, 2013 12:47 AM | Vanessa Lynn (Administrator)
    Well Festival season is upon us and I am SOOOO excited that so many UPU members have been selected to either perform,or have their films/DVD screened next weekend. Next week in Atlanta is going to be a busy time. Two separate events are taking place; The Atlanta Black Theater Festival and The Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival and we need your support! Please purchase tickets and come to the many performances of UPU members and also support myself at one or more of the speaking engagements I have listed. Here is the schedule of OFFICIAL UPU members that are participating. Tickets and information are available on each festivals website (UPU does not handle ticketing for either event).  Please support, for many UPU members this is their first festival experience and they need to see your smiling faces!

    Kingdomwood Stage Play Screenings (www.kingdomwood.com)
    Crowne Plaza Ravinia, 4355 Ashford Dunwoody, Atlanta, GA
    OCTOBER 3
    Jeanette Hill - Best Lesson - 9am 
    Karen Jethroe - Where's My Inheritance - 10:40am
    Joyce Smith - Overdose - 2:40pm
    Tangie Brickhouse-Beaty - Yesterday Is Still Gone- 4:40pm
    Vanessa Lynn -Workshop- Beyond The Chitlin Circuit  - 6:50pm


    Atlanta Black Theater Festival - (www.atlantabtf.org)
    Porter Sanford Theater, 4131 Rainbow Dr, Decatur, GA

    October 3
    Vanessa Lynn - Opening Day Symposium Panelist -10am
    Jeanette Hill - Best Lesson -5pm 

    October 4 
    Vanessa Lynn -Workshop - "Beyond the Chitlin' Circuit" 12pm & 3pm
    Nanette Hodge - Mama's Drama -7pm 
    UPU Presents -Short Play Competition  9pm-11pm 

    October 5 
    RonSher Brooks -Give Me One Reason - 7pm
    Richard Bass -Entangled 10pm 


    Vanessa Lynn
    UPU Founder and Executive Director
  • April 09, 2013 1:19 AM | Vanessa Lynn (Administrator)

    You know, it's one thing when you put conferences and workshops together and people walk away with their lives and careers changed, but it's another thing to be a part of making someones dream come true and that's exactly what I witnessed this past weekend. For those that don't know, annually at our conference, we have a 30 Second Elevator Pitch Competition, where we stress to members the importance to be able to properly pitch yourself quickly should the opportunity arise. Well, let me tell you, I have received numerous calls already this year, where that training has come in handy! Back to the subject at hand! This year, our guest judge was none other than Angela Barrow-Dunlap, the countries leading female playwright for the past 20 years, and also among the top 3 playwrights on the urban touring scene period. If you don't know who she is, please do your research! Mrs. Dunlap was so impressed with the attendees this year that she picked not one but three winners of the competition. Their prize was 2 tickets to the hit national touring show "My Brother Marvin", a back stage tour, and a one on one with Mrs. Dunlap herself. For an aspiring playwright, this is a dream come true. Its very rare for someone coming up in the business to have hands on access to a major tour and the industry legends therein so we thank Mrs. Dunlap for this opportunity. Toran Kelton of Atlanta, was the first to experience it this weekend and the look on his face and the excitement that came from him was priceless. He literally cried when Mrs. Dunlap walked in the room. He got to be among the legendary stars of the show such as Lynn Whitfield, Clifton Powell, Tony Grant and more! He was able to witness the inner workings of a national tour. As happy as he was, I was even more so to be able to give someone this opportunity.

    I'm so excited about all that is happening with our members this year, we have many more announcements to come! Jeanette Hill of Austin, TX and John Marshall of Boston are the other winners and will claim their experience in the next few weeks as well, and I'm just excited that UPU was a part of making this happen for these deserving playwrights!

    God Bless,


    Vanessa
  • March 26, 2013 12:19 PM | Vanessa Lynn (Administrator)
    Can you believe it's been four years! Wow, it seems like just yesterday we were gathering in Orlando, Florida for our first two years of conferences, and then our third year in Myrtle Beach! Each year, after leaving the conference, we wonder how we can add more classes, more content, and how the upcoming conference can possibly be better than the next. WELL, after the life changing time in Myrtle Beach, this would prove to be a daunting task. But I truly believe that this years gathering is the answer to that! I pondered actually for months about this years theme. Each year our conferences have a purpose and a specific goal, and I have to look to the members and meet their needs.

    It's been apparent over the past few months that the needs of our members are to give information and direction not just for the stage, but beyond the stage. Thus, our theme this year "Branching out...going BEYOND the STAGE." I know this is a playwrights group and theater will always be our core and focus. But our members now are going beyond the urban and inspirational genres to film and tv production, books and e-books and various forms of theater like musical, youth and community. We want to talk this year about entrepreneurship and establishing your own offices and community theaters which many of our members have done just this year. We also want to address the growing popularity of the Festival circuits, the growing demand for stage play DVDs and so much more. Even more of a demand believe it or not, is to address the personal side of being in the entertainment world. How to balance, family life and marriage, or single-hood and dating with demanding careers. So we have added a special late night session for men and women separately and will bring on board those who successfully balanced the two to moderate these open air sessions! Also, of course our annual competitions, Elevator Pitch, Two Minute Play, and our Trailer Festival.

    If you have never experienced a conference, please know that our written agenda is just that! We have so many surprises, outings, give-a-ways, visits to shows and just night on the towns of fun that it is hard to encapsulate. You truly have to EXPERIENCE IT, TO BELIEVE IT! But most of all you will walk away with not just a connection of like minded individuals, but a FAMILY who will truly support you throughout the year, just not at conference time!

    So do not delay! We have payment plans that you can take advantage of until April 15, to make it easier to attend the conference. This is an INVESTMENT that will definitely change your life and career! Don't delay register for the 4th Annual Urban Playwrights United EXPERIENCE TODAY! December 5-8 in Atlanta, Georgia!
    2013 Conference


    See you in the A!


    Vanessa Lynn
    UPU Founder and Executive Director
  • February 15, 2013 8:12 AM | Vanessa Lynn (Administrator)
    MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT!!! Urban Playwrights United has secured national distribution deals for members Tangie Brickhouse-Beaty Playwright and Donna Johnson Producer-Playwright of Wow Productions in Columbia, SC for their stage play DVD "Yesterday is Still Gone" and Robyn L. Reaseof Stage Praise Productions in Johnston, RI for her stage play DVD "Beyond Grace" !! They will be the first members to have the UPU logo on their DVD packaging under our partnership with the distributor! GOD has opened a tremendous door whereby Executive Director Vanessa Lynn is able to  personally screen the DVD's for industry standard and to subsequently offer distribution to UPU members. THIS IS A MAJOR accomplishment for the entire organziation and we are blessed to be a part of introducing these awesome playwrights works to the country. We will keep you posted on release dates. Congratulations are in order for all involved on a JOB WELL DONE!



  • February 15, 2013 1:59 AM | Vanessa Lynn (Administrator)
    Exciting things are happening at UPU for our members as well as myself! There is no better time to INVEST in your craft! It's funny, I was actually told by a very high ranking theater professional that our membership fee's are WAY TOO LOW! That just goes to show the value of UPU membership even from a professional stand point!

    Never before have so many resources been at the fingertips of the urban playwright and producer. Between the UPU membership ($75 currently, price will increase March 1 to $100), my upcoming book Beyond the Chitlin' Circuit, The Ultimate Urban Playwrights Guide, and our annual conference (coming Dec 5-8 in Atlanta registration open soon), there is no excuse to not be able to go to the next level in this industry!!

    The time is NOW, major doors are open for our members and you must be prepared. A small investment gets you well on your way to an awesome career, just ask our members who have been thriving in various opportunities since our 2012 conference.

    TODAY take advantage of MEMBERSHIP and JOIN NOW, The UPU label and brand is growing and you need to be a part, take advantage of our introductory rate. REGISTER NOW at the UPU WEBSITE.

    If you are in the Atlanta area or even traveling to the monumental BOOK LAUNCH event on Saturday, March 2, 2013 you should reserve your space now. I am EXCITED about the first ever guide for the urban playwright specifically. EVERYTHING is in this book, every question, scenario/problem etc. From proper story structure to DVD production and all points in between! At the book launch event you will receive:
    • 1-Autographed copy of the book ($29.99 value)
    • 2 Hour Seminar
    • Q & A session
    • Light refreshments
    All for $65! SPACE IS EXTREMELY LIMITED this is an EXCLUSIVE EVENT and people are coming from out of state to be apart. RESERVE YOUR SPACE NOW BOOK LAUNCH EVENT!

    If you cannot attend the event, please PRE-ORDER your book now, shipments go out on March 1, and supplies are limited, you definitely want to be one of the fist to own this invaluable resource! RESERVE your copy TODAY! www.playwrightsbook.com .

    Listen friends, urban inspirational projects have EXPLODED on the market and in high demand, what's unfortunate is most playwrights don't have the tools and information to take their project to the next level...WELL that is about to change!

    INVEST IN YOUR CAREER TODAY!!! Join UPU, purchase the book or attend the launch event, either combination is a WIN WIN!

    See you at the Top!


    P.S.

    AFFAIRS DVD is now available at WALMART STORES nationwide, please support it this week as first week sales are CRITICAL!!!

    God Bless,


    Vanessa Lynn
    Executive Director
    Urban Playwrights United
  • January 28, 2013 7:10 PM | Vanessa Lynn (Administrator)


    Beyond the Chitlin Circuit…

    The Ultimate Urban Playwright’s Guide

    by Vanessa Lynn

    Finally! A tangible resource for the forgotten urban playwright! Commonly referred to as the “Chitlin' Circuit” (considered a negative connotation by many), urban theater is nothing more than a joke in some circles, but many urban playwrights are laughing all the way to the bank! The truth is, this little known phenomenon has recently caught the eye of the industry because of the success of urban playwrights such as Tyler Perry who made the transition from the stage to a multi-million dollar film and television empire.  But every weekend throughout the country from small church buildings to large arenas, scores of adoring fans pack out theaters to witness a rabble rousing gospel or urban play. And no, for the most part the urban playwright does not have a technical degree in theater, but they do have a dream often leading to less than desirable technical results, but at the same time a pleased an uplifted audience. Beyond the Chitlin' Circuit, the Ultimate Urban Playwright’s Guide is the first to tackle the wild beast of urban theater. At last, a resource to assist from the creative process, to the stage and beyond. A practical hands-on guide that can be a reference for nearly every real life scenario a playwright or producer could run into in this unpredictable world. And with demands high in major retailers for urban inspirational plays and films, this is the perfect time to perfect our craft and move beyond the “Chitlin' Circuit!” to the world’s stage!

    Official launch March 1, 2013
    Visit the website
    www.playwrightsbook.com
  • December 28, 2012 9:57 PM | Vanessa Lynn (Administrator)


    If you are not on the urban play circuit you may not be aware that our genre in general is not respected at all in the mainstream industry, even with the success of many multi-million dollar grossing tours and DVD's. Well, there has been a tremendous accomplishment to close this gap and bring recognition to our all too often looked over genre. The Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival www.kingdomwood.com the premiere, predominate film festival for christian and faith based films (all nationalities) has now OFFICIALLY added to their categories: BEST CHRISTIAN/INSPIRATIONAL STAGE PLAY! Most may not understand but this is huge, ground breaking news that a respected, established film festival will be recognizing the work of urban playwrights. That was the icing, now the cherry on top is that Urban Playwrights United is the OFFICIAL JUDGE of the STAGE PLAY ENTRIES, you heard me RIGHT...UPU will be JUDGING the stage play entries of the nationally known Kingdomwood Film Festival! We cannot be more ECSTATIC about this collaboration! We have also invited Kingdomwood to be a part of our national conference because many of our playwrights are interested in their works being developed for film! We will have much more information on the Festival, but in the meantime you can enter your film or play right now by downloading the submissions forms. The KWCFF takes place annually in Atlanta in October and UPU will be well represented!

    2013 Film Submission .pdf
    Submission Criteria -.pdf

  • December 28, 2012 9:07 AM | Vanessa Lynn (Administrator)
    The 4th Annual Urban Playwrights United conference will convene in....




    Atlanta, Georgia
    Playwrights, Producers, Directors...you cannot miss this premiere EXPERIENCE! We have changed the name from Conference to Experience because that is the only way to describe what transpires during these 3.5 life changing days!

    Mark your calendars, December 5-8, 2013, registration and itinerary coming soon. Registration will be exclusively open to UPU members (at a discount) first then to the general public. You CANNOT miss this event!

  • December 27, 2012 3:16 AM | Vanessa Lynn (Administrator)
    Words cannot describe what transpired on December 6-9, 2012 during the 3rd Annual Urban Playwrights United conference in beautiful Myrtle Beach, SC. However, I knew something was going to be different about this one even before the conference when I was contacted by a UPU board member who wanted to help a new playwright attend the conference by paying half of their registration fee. What an awesome gesture! We put out the call on our Facebook page and of course someone took advantage of this generous offer. To my surprise, other UPU members and veteran playwrights began to ask if they could also sponsor a new playwright and before you knew it, there were a total of six new playwrights, one of which was paid in full, that was able to attend the conference because of these generous donations. This is UNHEARD OF in the entertainment world and a totally unselfish act.

    As wonderful as those acts were, it seems as though we were up against many oppositions even until the last minute, many of our core members were not sure if they could attend, we had cancellations, set backs, and although we finally made it to the hotel, there was a water main break in the area, and some people could not SHOWER the first few hours! Geez! Nevertheless the first day got underway and suddenly a man came from around the corner with a camera? Who is this guy, I thought! It was Channel 15 News of Myrtle Beach, filming us for the 6 o'clock evening news. Yes UPU was featured on the evening news in Myrtle Beach!

    Our first day was off to an awesome start and consisted of myself teaching the Basic Training class to new attendees, and boy, was it jam packed with information! That night, we had our Annual Opening Night Gala, where we came dressed up, networked...enjoyed food and entertainment. This year's theme was "White Party" and we looked great! The food was awesome and the entertainment...let's just say it ended up being a roast for me! We closed the night out early to watch everyone's guilty pleasure "Scandal," we put on our p.j.'s and piled up in my room for commentary and a long night of conversation and bonding, it was great!

    The second day was a day of intense classes, the highlight of which was a surprise field trip to the Coastal Carolina theater, where we attended a master class with 30+ year veteran of lighting and scenic design and our session was ended by our own Professor Ursula Robinson (South Carolina State University) who taught us "Directing Techniques" and lets' just say, we were blown away, she received a standing ovation in her class, hey, they never gave me one of those lol! But it was awesome!

    We then headed to a local cafe for some lunch and fellowship and we were right back for an afternoon of classes, and we ended the day by attending a traditional theater show at the Atlantic Stages Theater of "Holiday Memories', that's the great thing about UPU, we expose our members to all theatrical arts, not just those of the urban/inspirational genre.

    Our third day, our members were in for the surprise of their life, as three invited guests, unbeknownst to them, would be in attendance and literally change our lives! In attendance were the Vice President of Marketing and Acquisitions of a major independent movie distributor, an executive from two major cable networks, and a world renown national playwright who judged our Elevator Pitch Competition. What can I say to describe this day other than absolutely life changing. The in depth information these guests poured into us about how to take our plays to national distribution, cable networks and even touring was invaluable. We also got a chance to dine, cry and laugh with our guests and they enjoyed themselves as much as we enjoyed them!

    The end of the day was our Two Minute Play Competition that we hold annually. This was a hoot! The group was divided into six teams and they had less than 24 hours to write, produce, market and cast a Two Minute play based on the scenario we gave them. This was so much fun and we will be posting the winning performance soon.

    The final day of the conference turned out to be a "trailer festival" of sorts. We viewed a few playwrights' trailers for their plays and films, before long everyone in the room had shown theirs! It was great though, we were able to look and view others works, give critique etc. The day ended with our annual graduation ceremony where all the participants received a certificate of completion, but not before I was kicked out of the room, only to return to the conference attendees giving me a financial blessing which was totally unexpected, I was blown away!

    Also throughout the weekend, attendees won career changing prizes from our generous sponsors such as professional bios, press releases, websites, graphic design services, writing software and more!

    Over the course of the weekend, we cried, laughed, prayed, were revived, renewed and motivated, most of all we became connected to a new group of friends, something rare in this industry. What has come out of the conference is simply amazing. So many collaborations with major companies and ground breaking events. UPU is definitely headed for the stratosphere in 2013 and we are just so excited about the EXPERIENCE of the 3rd Annual Conference!

    Vanessa Lynn
    Executive Director


    White Party Gala                          UPU at Coastal Carolina University     Master Class Instructors

    UPU hanging out at lunch!        Panelists Mrs. West & Ms. MacKenzie     Directing Techniques Class
 


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