Primary Stages ESPA
Primary Stages/ESPA is a multidisciplinary school with departments in acting, writing, and directing. Now in its sixth year, ESPA has refined the skills of actors who have been seen on and off-Broadway, developed writers whose work has won awards and received workshops and productions, and served as a professional and artistic home for emerging talent. ESPA is defined by its strong commitment to collaboration through programs such as Detention, a monthly series that partners ESPA writers, actors, directors, and a faculty advisor in the creation of highly original performances. Having provided a home to over 2,000 students, ESPA has become a leader in performing arts education through its excellence in training, collaboration and networking opportunities, and strong professional community. ESPA is open to all artists, in all stages of their careers.
Detention is a monthly series of new and original theater pieces that are written, directed, and performed by students at the Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA). Each month, writers are invited to submit short plays based on an imaginative assignment created by a prominent guest artist. A handful of plays are selected, staffed with a student director, and cast with student actors for a one-night-only production at Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village.
From inception to application, Detention exemplifies the collaborative, familial spirit that runs rampant in the ESPA halls. In commemoration of the 15 performances over the first two years of Detention (2011-12), we have published the plays. Well, there have actually only been 14 evenings in those years; Detention #5 has retained its number out of respect for the work, despite it having been cancelled).
You’ll find some collections are of stand-alone short plays; others are scenes that, when combined, make up a full-length; still others are two-minute monologues, and so on. Each collection has its own personality, and what’s most fun, each has an underlying theme, generated by the aforementioned writing assignment. The assignment is included in the Details portion of each collection. Do read them – some are absolutely hysterical (i.e. be sure to include a guy named Bob).
ESPA’s evolution from a handful of workshops to a multi-disciplinary arts institution where students are produced regularly for the public is an extraordinary and humbling trajectory that the ESPA staff does not take lightly. And in celebration, we’re sharing these plays with you. Enjoy!