Playwrights Ink was founded in 1992 by Amy Azen, who coined its name. She directed the group from 1992 to 1994 and was elected first president in February 1994. That year featured three staged readings of original plays at the Brave Hearts Theatre. By 9/9/94, we had 32 members and five ex-officio members.
In 1989, Amy attended Dale Wasserman’s playwriting class at Rhinelander SOA. After class ended, she met with fellow members Bob Morgan, Dick Logan, and Terri Kuskowski at Dick Logan’s house. The group met irregularly and infrequently and petered out.
In early 1992, Amy decided to create a permanent group of playwrights in the city of Madison, WI. It would be located in a public place and would meet every month to critique plays. The fact that there was no playwrights’ group in a city this size by 1992 should have given her pause!
She contacted Harv Thompson at UW about her plans to create this new group. She asked if he could provide a permanent place to meet. He was very positive. He would provide a space in Lowell Hall if Amy could locate people willing to join Playwrights Ink.
Amy checked out writing groups in Madison. Those she contacted referred her to known playwrights who then referred her to other playwrights. She compiled a list and began calling people.
The first meeting was held in Amy’s home in March, 1992 to explain and discuss her concept. Three people showed up: Terri Kuskowski, Star Olderman, and Clarence Despain. The numbers were not good, but the meeting was memorable.
The next meeting was held at Star Olderman’s home on 4/9/92. Amy phoned those on her list again to say we were actually starting. The following people attended the event: Holly Walter Kerby, Marc Kornblatt, Clarence Despain, Terri Kuskowski, Star and Ray Olderman and Amy Azen. Bob Curry presented his play, Georgica Beach; the actors were Sam White and Celia Klehr. A lively discussion followed. Thank you Star.
The first meeting at Lowell Hall was held on 5/14/92. Most of the people who had been at Star’s home attended. Bob Morgan arrived at this meeting or shortly thereafter. Subsequently, the late Jack Curtis attended. Later on, Jean and the late Paul Duesler, Colin Cameron, Jim Moc, Richard Swanson, and Mary Conroy joined us. Dick Logan came. Bob Morgan invited Josh Burton. John Schweitzer came, Rogers Keene, Betty Diamond, Jennifer Selk, etc. The meetings continued at Lowell Hall until 7/8/93 when we started meeting at Edgewood College, courtesy of Jewell Fitzgerald. Eventually, the group returned to the UW.
We had a problem: the group was like a sieve. Early on, people flowed in and out like water! No one knew about us. These losses were depressing. Amy contacted members, encouraged them to come and invite others. Although she had always been in close contact with members, things were now critical.
There were meetings when only five people showed up, and it looked like the end. Or meetings where nobody had a play to offer. Amy then turned to the late Jack Curtis, who had, it appeared, a trunkful of ten-minute plays to present. This gave others time to write. Not one month was missed.
There were no elections in 1992 and 1993 since Amy was forming/directing the group. In 1994, as elected president, she contacted Madison Theatre Guild (Robert Kimbrough) about providing insurance coverage for our staged readings. They did so without charge and presented our plays. Also that year, Amy was contacted by the Capital Times about Playwrights Ink. We were being noticed.
Somewhere in the latter part of 1993, a marvelous thing happened. The group was on fire. Excitement was in the air. Every person understood that we could make Playwrights Ink into something big. We created an Executive Committee consisting of a president plus seven officers. We hammered out By-Laws. The group wanted to be incorporated and to seek non-profit status. We were fortunate, at this critical juncture to have an attorney, John Schweitzer in our midst. John guided us, prepared government papers and submitted them. Thank you John. And thank you Jean Duesler for hosting us.
February 12, 2004