Square Top Repertory Theatre’s New Works Festival ’09 plays this week

Local and visiting arts enthusiasts, take note: the festival is now underway.

Playwrights Joseph Frost of Jackson, Miss.; Joan Dunayer of Champaign, Ill.; and John Philpit of New York City, New York, flew into the Durango-La Plata Airport on Sunday to begin their time as playwrights-in-residence in Pagosa Springs, and by Sunday evening, following a quick meal at Kip’s Grill for a bit of local flavor, actors, directors, and playwrights were already hard at work reading and rehearsing the three new plays.

During their time in town, the three playwrights work alongside STRT directors Charlie Pepiton, Shane Fuller and Felicia Meyer and a diverse cast of local and regional talent to hone their plays for the stage.

The week culminates in three exciting evenings of world premier, staged reading performances of their work. Following each performance, talk-back sessions with the playwrights give audiences a chance to add their feedback and ask questions of the writers. It’s all a part of the play development process, and you won’t want to miss a moment of it. Mark your calendars and buy your tickets now for this unique, must-see event.

As a bonus for the week, the public is also invited to attend “From Stage to Page: A Conversation with Three Contemporary American Playwrights” as part of the Lifelong Learning Series at the Sisson Library on Saturday, March 21, at 3 p.m.

Tonight, March 19, see “Anathema” by Joseph Frost, directed by Shane Fuller and featuring local actors Dakota Jarvie, Jeff Reardon, and Dave and Lue Armbrecht. In this drama, 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. Shaun wants nothing to do with her, yet Alice continues to invade the family’s lives, eventually taking over Olive’s role as parent and art agent. Family secrets are revealed, and the need for redemption becomes clear. Anathema is heartwarming, startling, and definitely not to be missed.

On Friday night, March 20, see “Seeking Flight,” by Joan Dunayer, directed by Felicia Meyer and featuring local talents Emmi Greer and Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton. This comedy-drama takes place in a psychology laboratory at 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. “Wanna be parrot! Wanna be free!” Seeking Flight is as hilarious and sly as it is thought provoking and moving.

Finally, on Saturday night, March 21, join us for “Contrapositive,” by John Philpit, directed by Charlie Pepiton and featuring seasoned Durango actors Freddy MacDaniel and Wendy Ludgewait. This suspenseful 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. This is 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.

All shows begin at 7 p.m. at the performance space in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard and are rated PG to PG-13. Parents are encouraged to call for details. Tickets are $5 each or $12.50 for a weekend pass. For more information visit www.squaretoptheatre.com or call 264-0264.

Don’t miss your chance to be a part of this exciting and unique event right here in Pagosa Springs. Buy your tickets now.

Photo courtesy STRT
From left, Geoff Johnson, Mark Brown, Felicia Meyer, playwright Joan Dunayer and Emmi Greer rehearse the play “Seeking Flight” for the New Works Festival at Squaretop Repertory Theatre. The festival begins tonight..