U theatre arts unveils First Stage workshop for U student playwrights

Anne Preller

The University theatre arts department showcased its newest creation Friday. First Stage, a six-week writing workshop, allows young writers to take their scripts through the writing process and put them on stage.

When introducing the plays at the Stoll Thrust Theatre in Rarig Center, Kent Stevens outlined the idea behind the workshop, which combines playwright instruction with professional development.

To sit and watch your play, Steven said, “It’s an absolute key part of the growth.”

Stevens initiated this writing workshop, which offers a unique opportunity for young playwrights.

After watching the one-act, rough version of “Crossbones” come alive, Dawn Brodey, the playwright, was thrilled.

“It was a minimalist version, but it was a really good example of where I am at,” Brodey said after seeing the read-through of one act of her play. Brodey graduated June 4 and said she hopes to find a producer for her play.

Brodey spent six weeks with five other students, bringing her play – based on pirate history and a female pirate’s life – from rough draft to completion.

Angie Haigh, who graduated from the University in 2000 with a degree in theatre arts, spent two weeks rehearsing her role of Kyria, the genteel-lady-turned-pirate in “Crossbones.”

“It was the first reading I’ve ever done,” Haigh said. The two weeks of rehearsals were a learning experience for her, she added.

The actors who performed in any of the six First Stage productions were volunteers, there to be part of the process.

“It’s all for the good of the playwrights,” Noah Bremer said. Bremer, also a University graduate, is working as an actor and performed in three of the First Stage plays.

Kira Obolensky, a Kesselring Prize-winning playwright, instructed the workshop.

“It really is exciting,” Obolensky said of the six weeks spent developing the advanced writers’ work.

First Stage will be offered again next summer.

Aspiring playwrights need to submit 20 pages of a play or a script idea as part of the application process. Applicants applied early in spring semester. The theatre department notified them by e-mail of their acceptance.

“If I wouldn’t have taken this workshop I wouldn’t have known how to get through the roadblocks in playwriting,” Brodey said.


Anne Preller covers student life and welcomes comments at [email protected]