The Texas retreat is housed at a beautiful, quiet, extremely remote family compound in the Hill Country, two and a half hours outside San Antonio. Each writer has a private stone cabin, roomy and comfortable but very basic. Cement floors, simple bunk beds, stone walls. Shower/toilet facilities are shared. It’s kind of a “camp” setting. There is also a river, a swimming hole, armadillos, stars.
We eat together in silence, and everyone has a few chores (generally one half hour task every other day, like washing up or sweeping) to make it all run smoothly. Food is mainly vegetarian (and fully vegetarian for any so inclined). There is internet, only for very urgent usage. There is no cell service at the ranch though there is a land line for emergencies. This retreat is fully funded but writers are responsible for travel in and out of San Antonio.
The Stillwright retreats are intensives in which artists gather in silence and make a piece of work entirely from scratch. The retreats are structured by Erik Ehn, who leads the group in regular sessions of writing exercises that punctuate the days.
Unlike other retreats or residencies, this is very much geared toward the generation of new work; it doesn't work well for writers who want to revise an existing play, or even write a play they already have in mind. Some playwrights have come away from these retreats with plays they were later able to produce, others have left with work which interested them, but which they didn't want to put forward for a further life, and both groups have found the retreat equally valuable. The real goal of the retreat is to have a chance to work in a thoroughly absorbed and uninterrupted fashion and to perhaps work in a new and entirely idiosyncratic way. The silence is part of the challenge, and part of the unusual level of concentration the retreat creates.