Becky Hellyer, who formerly ran the new play competition at Richard Hugo House and cofounded Golden Fish Theatre (may it rest in peace), is the driving force behind Seattle Dramatists, a new organization for playwrights.

What prompted the creation of Seattle Dramatists?

I thought what I would really like to do is work with new, local playwrights. Local because having playwrights there... just the physical presence of people seems important. Minneapolis has the Playwrights Center, New York has New Dramatists; but when I looked at Chicago Dramatists, if I could have articulated everything I had in my head, that was it. They have an emphasis on local playwrights who haven't just had productions, but who are writing and producing right now. It's not about an exciting resumé.

What does SD actually do?

Playwrights need reduced copying rates, they need space to hold readings, and they need stipends for actors. Most playwrights ask their friends to read, but at some point you need somebody who might be perfect but you can't ask them to do it for free. There are secondary things--the icky word "community" and all that--but those are the big three. Every year we'll have 5 to 12 local, working playwrights as Principal Playwrights. We'll help them with play development, promoting their work locally (and over time nationally), and underwriting future productions. Our general membership gets use of the space, including our library, and the opportunity for feedback on their work from the Principal Playwrights.

Are you going to sneak yourself into the ranks of Principal Playwrights?

I don't have the credentials. I think I can benefit from SD without taking a slot from somebody. The initial impact of running this organization is that I have no time for playwriting.

Why will SD succeed where others, like Northwest Playwrights Guild and Seattle Playwrights Alliance, have floundered?

At the start of any nonprofit, there has to be some money backing it up, and that requires a strong board. Another thing is a paid staff member; I don't normally admit this to theater people, but I have an MBA--so I have this weird mix of a strong business background, a love for theater, and a drive towards community service. And we have an office [in the north wing of Hugo House]. Having regular open hours gives us something those other organizations didn't have.

(Bret Fetzer--along with Scot Augustson, Keri Healey, Elizabeth Heffron, and Wayne Rawley--is one of the first five Principal Playwrights.)

Brendan Kiley is on vacation. He'll be back in three weeks.

The Stranger is looking for a performance intern to work 10 hours a week with a three-month commitment. To apply for this unpaid internship, please send an e-mail with your resumé, a short writing sample, and your availability to annie@thestranger.com.

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