Last fall, Square Top Repertory Theatre conducted its first national search for new plays.
We sent out word to all corners of the country and, by November, playwrights responded from as far away as Nova Scotia, Florida and LA. There were historical romances and absurdist comedies; political thrillers and techno-dramas; imaginative theatre for youth and sophisticated bio-plays, but after three hard rounds of review, the top three scripts for the New Works Festival 2009 were selected.
They are: “Anathema,” by Mississippi playwright Joseph Frost; “Seeking Flight,” by Illinois playwright Joan Dunayer; and “Contrapositive,” by New York playwright John Philpit.
You won’t want to miss a moment of the New Works Festival, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, March 19-21.
On Thursday night, see the staged-reading of “Anathema,” by Joseph Frost.
This drama is set in a small Irish home, an elderly working class couple, Olive and George, support their son, Shaun, and his artwork. One day, Olive brings home a young girl, Alice, for her son, but Shaun wants nothing to do with her. However, George takes an interest in the girl, and teaches her to make eggs for breakfast, which finally catches Shaun’s interest. Alice continues to invade the simple dynamics of the family’s relationships, eventually taking over Olive’s role as parent and art agent, leading to an uncovering of the family secrets and the need for redemption. “Anathema” is heartwarming, startling, and definitely not to be missed. Joseph Frost, is an award-winning playwright and currently serves as assistant professor and chair of the Theatre Department at Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss. His plays have been presented around the country, including a short play, “van Gogh,” at an exhibit of the artist’s work at the Chrysler Museum of Art, and two works, “The Great Play” and “DisEase,” performed at the 2003 CITA North American Conference. Joseph is a member of Christians in the Theatre Arts (CITA) and the Dramatists Guild of America, a participant in the annual Art Within Symposium for writers of faith, and the founding artistic director of the Floodlight Theatre Company.
On Friday night, see “Seeking Flight,” by Joan Dunayer. This comedy-drama is loosely based on actual experiments, conducted by Irene Pepperberg, with the African gray parrot Alex. The play takes place in the present, in a psychology laboratory of a U.S. university. The main characters, Monty and Enzi, are African gray parrots. Experimenter Sandra Barstow tests the parrots’ ability to understand and speak English, name, count and classify objects. However, Monty and Enzi already know enough English to understand what Sandra says, but she has no idea of the parrots’ own form of communication. The parrots continually comment, converse and compose poetry. “Wanna be parrot! Wanna be free!”
“Seeking Flight” is as hilarious and sly as it is thought provoking and moving. A professional writer-editor, Joan Dunayer is the author of articles and essays published in magazines, journals, and anthologies; the commentaries for new editions of nineteen literary classics; two nonfiction books; and, since 2007, five plays. Her short play “Time to Go” was produced by Heartland Theatre Company (Normal, Ill.) and Love Creek Productions (New York). Dunayer’s full-length drama “Apes on Display,” too, has received a BPF public reading. A graduate of Princeton University, Dunayer has master’s degrees in English education, English literature, and psychology. She currently resides in Champaign, Ill.
Finally, on Saturday night, join us for “Contrapositive,” by John Philpit. This suspense thriller focuses on Father Joseph, a Dean at a Roman Catholic college and Martha, a partner at a think tank in Washington, DC. The two seriously considered marriage before he decided to attend seminary. When Martha mysteriously shows up 20 years later at his office, their mutual affection immediately resurfaces. The tone soon takes a sinister turn when Martha reveals that she has stolen the only publicly available copies of his dissertation from Harvard Library and the Library of Congress. In fact, she plans to eradicate all knowledge of the writing. It’s a play of murder, conspiracy, faith and betrayal. “Contrapositive” will surely keep you on the edge of your seat and have you talking for days. John Philpit has been writing plays for over 15 years in New York City. At first, it was in addition to his day job as a software designer, but more recently playwriting has become his main creative outlet. Early productions include the one act play “One Rose Among Us” and the full-length comedy “Model Son.” In 2000, his play about the difficulty of finding romance with a superhero, called “Super Eros,” played at the New York Fringe Festival.
Also, plan to join us for a special hour-long conversation with the playwrights on Saturday, March 21, at 3 p.m. at the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library. The conversation appears as part of the Lifelong Learning series at the library.
Make your plans now to attend the New Works Festival at Square Top Repertory Theatre. It is sure to be a unique weekend of cutting edge plays. From drama to thought-provoking comedy, to a suspense filled thriller, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.
All performances will be held at the Performance Space in the Pagosa Springs Community Center. All single tickets are $5. Weekend passes are available for $12.50. Tickets are available by calling (970) 264-0264, or order online at www.squaretoptheatre.com.