William Shakespeare…Tennessee Williams…Amy Gijsbers van Wijk?
While her name may not be as simple to pronounce, Gijsbers van Wijk (Brooklyn ’14) is a rising playwright. She was recently awarded the Rosen Fellowship at Brooklyn College, which funds “out-of-classroom experiences,” ranging from study abroad and internships to scientific research and artistic expression. She will be using her grant to produce an original play entitled Second Skin.
“Second Skin is about a married couple – a man who is a plastic surgeon and a regular surgeon, and his wife, who gets into a head-on car accident. He operates to save her life,” said Gijsbers van Wijk. “The play is about their relationship before and after the accident, and how it affects the way they view the world.”
She had written the play during an apprenticeship with the Wide Eyed Theater Productions in New York City. After sending in a sample of her work and being invited to an hour-and-a-half interview with then-artistic director Tim Butterfield, Gijsbers van Wijk joined three other apprentices. The apprenticeship involved writing her play and meeting with others to read through it and receive feedback. Once the play was completed, she was assigned a director and cast it, to prepare for a reading.
Second Skin received positive feedback from the reading, with the opening reading receiving an audience of fifty people. With the Rosen Fellowship, she will be producing Second Skin at American Theatre for the Actor in Manhattan. The play will run in October to November, doing a six-show run within a week. If possible, she plans to extend the run of the show to two weeks. She is co-producing the show with a Brooklyn College BFA Acting alumna, Vera Khodasevich. Her creative team includes several BC students and an alum: Chris Cancel Pomales (Set and Lighting Designer) and Sarah Johnstone (Production Manager).
A Pasadena, Texas native, Gijsbers van Wijk is enrolled in the CUNY Baccalaureate program, studying Theatrical Authorship studies and Arts Administration. She’s an active member of the Macaulay Theater Group and Macaulay Scholars Council.
She stressed the difficulties of securing a space for the production, noting both the financial burden as well as the learning curve she faces during her first time as a theatre producer.
“While I think I can say that I have a grasp of what makes good theater and playwriting, I don’t know how to write a contract,” she said. “This will teach me the business side of the industry.”
Gijsbers van Wijk plans to set up an Kickstarter campaign to cover all additional costs of the production, including hiring actors and securing space for a longer run of the show. She anticipates needing approximately $3,200.
Despite the challenges, Gijsbers van Wijk remains optimistic about her production plans. Because she hopes to earn an MFA in Playwriting after graduating from college, she believes this will only benefit her educational and professional goals.
“Brooklyn College has been very supportive,” she said. “As I start to progress as a playwright, it’s very helpful to have a community to encourage me going forward.”
Featured image: Photo by Meagan McLendon; model Catherine Marchand. Text by Grant Schaefer.