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Seven student-written plays to premiere in NYC
Senior Melissa Peters said writing her eight to 10 minute play was like a roller coaster. But on Feb. 14 it will all be worth it.
Peters is one of seven Quinnipiac student playwrights whose plays will be performed in New York City for the university’s second annual New Play Festival on Feb. 14. The plays are between eight to 10 minutes long and will be premiered to an audience of 100 people at the June Havoc Theatre.
“I can’t really put the feeling into words,” Peters said.
This year’s plays were written under the theme “The Cost of Living” and contain a variety of comedic and dramatic subject matter, including relationship difficulties, family ties and assault victims.
In addition to being student-written, each play is directed, performed and stage managed entirely by students, according to Kevin Daly, the director of the university theater program.
“It’s such a unique experience,” Daly said. “To write a play and have it produced in the same year in New York is almost unheard of. Even the most elite playwrights in this country don’t really have that opportunity, so it’s really incredible for these students.”
Peters agreed, saying that this is her first time writing and submitting a play.
“I am just very proud of what I have been able to accomplish and so grateful to Quinnipiac’s theater department and Abingdon Theatre for giving me a platform to share it,” she said.
Sophomore playwright Maggie Pinnow says that having her play produced is “one of the coolest things [she’s] ever done.”
“It’s as terrifying as it is amazing,” she said. “ I never thought I’d get the opportunity to direct and have my own script performed – I’m very lucky.”
Preparation for the festival began last semester, when interested students met with professionals from the NYC-based Abingdon Theatre Company to learn about directing, writing and developing new theatrical productions.
Students then write their own plays and submit them to the company. This year there were between 25 and 30 submissions.
Pinnow said that the editing process was “long and terrifying” but rewarding.
“Seeing your work being performed is one of the most thrilling things for any playwright,” she said. “[The cast of my play] had a table read a week ago, and it was my first time hearing the actors read their roles. By the end, I was close to tears. Nothing compares to hearing characters speak to you for real, when you’d only heard them in your head until that very moment.”
Daly is pleased with the development of this year’s festival and said it has improved from last year.
“Last year students were only playwrights, directors, stage managers and actors,” Daly said. “But this year we’ve [added] positions for box office workers, house managers, costume coordinators, props coordinators, and hair and makeup specialists. We now have more than 50 participating students.”
Freshman actor Brad Strauss, a newcomer to the theater program, said he was welcomed into the Festival team with open arms.
“I can’t think of anything I’m not looking forward to,” Strauss said. “This is my first time performing in New York; it’s like a step into the real world. I’m working with some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. If any students want to get involved, even if you’re not a theater major, I would say absolutely do it – you can definitely find something in the New Play Festival that you’ll genuinely have fun doing.”
Senior Samantha Chasse, a participant in both Festivals, is working hard to ensure that this year’s Festival is as successful as last year’s.
“I think we’re faced with a little more of a challenge this year because expectations are so much higher,” she said. “When something goes really well the first time, you have to be careful to make sure the second round gets equal attention and is just as polished.”
*Students can purchase tickets to this year’s festival at www.quinnipiac.edu/theater-tickets. Tickets are free for anyone taking a drama class, $10 with student ID, and $15 for regular admission. Showtimes are at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.at the June Havoc Theatre in New York City and run for approximately 70 minutes.