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Stage Whispers

The Civic’s annual playwright contest winners

By Michael Summers

michael_summers@fortwaynereader.com

Fort Wayne Reader

2014-02-11


The Fort Wayne Civic Theater usually announces the winners of their annual Playwright Festival Contest at a press conference. These are usually pretty low-key affairs, though Your Humble always enjoys seeing the look on the faces of the winners finally receiving what most playwrights only dream of. Validation? Recognition? A fully-staged production? All good, true, but of course we’re talking about a check.

This year, though, bitter cold temperatures meant there was no press conference; it was cancelled the day before, and we had to make due with press materials.

First place this year went to Kris Bauke for her play Whispers to the Moon, about a forty-two- year affair between Marcia Mayfield and Charles D’Anjou, both married to other people. Their annual two-week get away — the only time they spend together — is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Marcia’s adult daughter, and Marcia and Charles have to make a decision.

Bauke is no novice when it comes to writing plays. She has been a finalist or winner in numerous competitions around the country since 2008 — including the 2010 & 2012 Great Plains Theatre Conference, Aurora Theatre’s GAP Festival of New Plays, and Big Arts of Sanibel, just to name a few — and her work has been produced many times.

The resume for second place winner Emily Farris isn’t quite as long, which is understandable since she’s still a student studying theater and writing at Anderson University. Though Ferris has written a dozen short plays for 24-hour Insomniac Theater, Tinfoil Memories — her contest entry — is her first full-length play.

And it has to be said that Tinfoil Memories sounds pretty darn interesting. Sam is concerned and puzzled about how his housemate Gina seems to know so much about him after they’ve only been living together for two weeks. So he makes a tinfoil hat in order to counter what he thinks are her psychic energies, leading to an unexpected conversations and some strange revelations from Gina.

Third place in the 5th Annual Playwright Festival goes to another stage veteran — Jack Peterson, who worked as a TV director-producer for a number of television stations across the U.S., including channels 15 and 21 in Fort Wayne. Peterson has had a number of his plays introduced as the result of playwriting competitions, and his plays “have been produced as far east as Boston and as far west as Salem.”

In Peterreson’s play The Teapot Collector, Owen Rose, an eighty-two year old white retired school teacher whose hobby is collecting teapots, one day finds a fourteen-year-old black girl named Neda James standing in his family room admiring his collection, and the two strike up a friendship.

Honorable mention in this year’s contest went to Respect the Rooster by Rachel S. Roberts, the story of 76 year-old John Sherrod learning that the old rooster weathervane on his barn is worth more than his farm. He calls his four adult children together, telling them he is considering selling the house, but really to gage their reaction to the sudden windfall.

Whispers to the Moon will have a full stage production as part of the 5th Annual Playright Festival on May 30 – June 1. Second and third place winners receive staged readings at the festival. Thom Hofrichter directs Tinfoil Memories while Steve Sarratore directs The Teapot Collector.

As we said above, The 5th Annual Playwright Festival will be held May 30 - June 1, 2014 at the Auer Center ArtsLab and the Arts United Center (on the Arts Campus at 300 & 303 Main Street). Special guest at the festival will be Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright Donald Margulies. Margulies’ award winning play Dinner With Friends is currently running on Broadway. On Saturday, May 31 Marguiles will be the Guest Speaker and will discuss his career as a playwright. In addition he will lead post show discussions following the two Saturday presentations of Whispers to the Moon.

More details on the festival will be forthcoming in a few months.

But, for more information on the festival, the playwrights and their work, and guidelines for next year’s contest, visit fwcivic.org.

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