2018 WRITER TESTIMONIALS
We were thrilled to host these 19 writers summer 2018 who worked on 9 new musicals in 9 individual residencies for 9 weeks in a row. Many thanks to our donors who make it all possible!
Mindi Dickstein, Nolan Gasser, and Kirsten Guenther
Benny & Joon
“The chance to gather together for an extended period was unbelievably valuable. We started on Sunday with dinner and a long conversation about characters, scenes and songs, shared our private to-do lists, and then dug in, exhilarated and inspired. Even as early as Monday we were already making huge leaps at what seemed like lightning speed. The pace continued all week. Give a trio of writers plenty of food, a beautiful space, and a week of time alone, and what you get is hard work, breakthroughs, and joy. As Kirsten writes in the book of our musical, “Writing is rewriting”– and so we did. The whole show. In a week. Some of the rewrites will, of course, continue to evolve. But not a minute, a word, or a note will be wasted.”
- Mindi Dickstein, Kirsten Guenther, Nolan Gasser
Andrew R. Butler and Andrew Farmer
“We're a bi-coastal writing team, and the biggest obstacle to making headway on our projects is not being able to be in the same room while we work. Rhinebeck Writers Retreat gave us the thing we needed most- a place where we can work on the same thing, at the same time, in the same place. What might take a week to figure out apart, takes 30 minutes together.
The part of the writing process that no one seems to describe is the talking through the show, through each character, through the themes, through the influences, through the visions of a staged production, through the function of the music, through the wild ideas that just might work. Every show we make requires just as much verbal communication as it does writing- or maybe more. We were at a standstill before, and now we know where we're going and how to get there!”
- Andrew R. Butler and Andrew Farmer
Rebecca Aparicio and Stephen Anthony Elkins
"Rhinebeck saved our musical from an untimely death. We’d just finished a workshop production of our musical and had a severe case of post-show writer-blues. By giving us the space to explore our work without the pressure of a presentation—we were able to break through in ways we hadn’t been able to in the four years we’ve been working. We fell in love with our characters and our story again, which is invaluable. It’s also hard to articulate what it means to have someone else believe in your work, even as a writing team, writing can be a lonely journey and to have this opportunity not only replenished our work but ourselves too. Thank you so much, Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat!"
- Rebecca Aparicio and Stephen Anthony Elkins
"Rhinebeck Writers Retreat allowed me to dream bigger and create more ambitious work than I ever would have with my typical writing schedule. I filled the house with blues and rock and roll, and lived in the open, sunny music room, sketching out new tunes all week. There is at least one song that would certainly not exist without the retreat. The organization is so very generous, warmly asking from the outset, “How can we best support you in creating your new musical? This week was such a gift!”
- Britt Bonney
Chris Littler and Ellen Winter
“Imagine yourself in a large, sprawling house in the middle of the woods. You’re with your collaborator. You’ve just come up with an amazing idea for your musical that you can’t wait to try out on the piano. You glide across the room and take a seat at the digital baby grand. You write down some lyrics on a fresh legal pad that you found in a nearby cubby. You crack the song and you record it and then you go to bed, your mind brimming with ideas for the next day. And you get to do this for an entire week. That’s the beauty of Rhinebeck Writers Retreat. You have the time to dig in, to work out the kinks, to focus on the really hard stuff. This retreat will make your show better."
- Chris Littler and Ellen Winter
Erin Courtney, Max Vernon, and Ellie Heyman
The Tattooed Lady
“Musical Theater requires so many hours of brainstorming together. For The Tattooed Lady, Max Vernon and I had outlined the story, but the book was lagging behind. The first night in Rhinebeck, we realized that we needed to try a different organizing principle. We began to see how the musical is about women passing the torch of progress to each other. The scenes for the book now came flying out! We got three months of work done in six days...that’s the power of providing collaborative artists with a quiet place to work together in nature, surrounded by a generous organization that understands what building a musical requires.”
- Erin Courtney
“The last time I was at Rhinebeck, I was by myself for the majority of the week. While that experience provided the solitude necessary to write, I found that attending this time with a team of collaborators enhanced the residency even more. Being in the same living space created a hot-box creative environment, in which we were able to both generate a ton of material for our show and actually deepen on our bond as collaborators and friends. Also, the new house is a gorgeous and ideal location in which to write."
- Max Vernon
Lynne Shankel and Crystal Skillman
Postcard American Town
"Our piece is about sharing culture and stories through food, and in cooking for each other, we were experiencing that ourselves. With the nature surrounding us, through our jogs together, we found a new intimacy to our working relationship. I loved sitting at the piano with Lynne … I realized quickly these were memories as a bookwriter that would last with me forever."
- Crystal Skillman
“For Crystal and me, just being able to be in the same place for a week was something that we have never had before. And the amount of work we did was STUNNING. The house had everything we needed. We had enough room that we could each work in a separate space and then come together whenever we wanted to. We enjoyed full work days and also talked over nice meals we cooked together. All in all, a tremendous and invaluable experience!”
- Lynne Shankel
Scotty Arnold and Jenny Stafford
“The financial aspect of this residency was incredible—it really set it apart from other residencies that I’ve done. The travel stipend, having groceries paid for, getting the stipend for being there for the week—I have never felt so taken care of as a writer. We are often working long-distance, so to have a whole week was a real gift. And to be able to do it in such a beautiful, idyllic location was the icing on the cake. I can honestly say that our musical would not exist without Rhinebeck Writers Retreat.”
- Jenny Stafford
“The Rhinebeck Writers Retreat is an artistic paradise. They have engineered a week that is solely focused on writing. The financial support and the distance from NYC ensure that all distractions are at bay, and Jenny and I were able to turn our exciting-but-flawed draft into an entirely new beast that we’re both thrilled about. Everything from the bulletin board and index card to the fireflies at night supported and encouraged us to do really heavy lifting and get a Herculean amount of work done in a week’s time.”
- Scotty Arnold
Doug Katsaros and Amanda Yesnowitz
The Peculiar History of Dr. James Barry
“Different artists have different needs during the creation of a musical and this residency allows the artist to determine that game plan. The autonomy affords the freedom to play ‘what if’ which, for us, led to new song moments and some much needed character depth.”
- Amanda Yesnowitz
“The retreat will absolutely be one of the experiences of writing this show that made it a better show. We went from draft 1 basically through draft 2 to draft 3, with all the uninterrupted time we had to focus on the writing and structure, and the guidance from a first-rate dramaturg. Scenes were changed, characters expanded or cut or added, structure tightened, songs written and rewritten, logic followed in character and plot, if this show goes on to succeed, it will be in no small part due to our experience at Rhinebeck.”
- Doug Katsaros