Hartford Public Library Continues “Feeding the Dragon” with Screening of New Documentary About the Play – Hartford Courant

“Feeding the Dragon,” a play that helped forge a stronger bond between Hartford Stage and the Hartford Public Library five years ago, has inspired a new documentary that is showing locally.

When Sharon Washington’s play “Feeding the Dragon” premiered at Hartford Stage in 2017, it fostered a new relationship between theater and library. The Hartford Public Library began holding book exhibits in the Hartford Stage Lobby, books that explored the themes of the plays performed there. The library also started a program where tickets for the Hartford Stage could be “borrowed” for free with a library card.

The solo piece is based on Washington’s own childhood experiences growing up in a library where his father was the on-site caretaker who shoveled coal into the building’s furnace. “Feeding the Dragon” had premiered a year earlier in Pittsburgh but had been extensively reworked for its Hartford broadcast. After Hartford Stage, the show shifted to an off-Broadway run and was made into an audio play for the Audible Originals series.

Now “Feeding the Dragon” has led to a documentary, “When My Sleeping Dragon Woke.” The film is directed and produced by Washington’s husband, Chuck Schultz, and covers both the life stories that inspired the play and the play’s journey from workshops and regional runs to success in New York and beyond. of the.

“When My Sleeping Dragon Woke” gets a local screening Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Cinestudios on the campus of Trinity College in Hartford. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Washington and Schultz. Also on the agenda: Hartford Public Library CEO Bridget E. Quinn and Hartford Stage Artistic Director Melia Bensussen. The library and the theater are co-sponsors of the screening with CT Humanities.



Our picks of activities and places to visit this weekend

Hartford’s screening takes place just a day after the film’s world premiere at the Heartland International Film Festival in Indianapolis.

The documentary mixes footage of Washington at some of the locations discussed in the play with black-and-white photos of her parents and other loved ones, as well as animated illustrations of her as a child exploring the library. Long sections of the script are recited.

“When My Sleeping Dragon Awakes” shows Washington reading an early draft of his play to staffers at the Public Theater in New York. It has both Washington and Schultz commenting on the differences between acting and writing. Washington explains how the City Theater of Pittsburgh — then run by Tracy Brigden, a former associate artistic director of Hartford Stage who also ran TheaterWorks and other Connecticut theaters — accepted the play for production even before the playwright had written his end.

There are long sections of the film showing discussions of the play with City Theater staff members as well as Maria Mileaf, who directed the play in its Pittsburgh, Hartford and New York incarnations. During the rehearsal process, Washington is so anxious about the project that she nearly cancels it. With timely advice and guidance from a few theater friends, she perseveres. “When My Sleeping Dragon Woke” ends with snapshots of Washington as she took her play to Hartford and New York and some updates on her mom and dad, key characters in the drama.

“Sharon and I are thrilled to return to Hartford, which originally launched us on this creative journey with ‘Feeding The Dragon,'” Schultz said in a statement promoting the screening. “It’s important that we bring ‘When My Sleeping Dragon Woke “and its message of belief and perseverance to communities, organizations, and educational institutions where it can have the greatest impact.”

“When My Sleeping Dragon Woke” will screen Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Cinestudio, on the campus of Trinity College at 300 Summit St., Hartford. An exchange follows the screening. Free. cinestudio.org.

Christopher Arnott can be reached at [email protected].