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The 2016 Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival
2016 edition offers a diverse, eclectic playbill
By Eddie Torres
Fort Wayne Reader
The Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival always yields some interesting productions, but the 2016 edition of the annual event — which happens Saturday, March 19 at the Parkview Physician’s Group ArtsLab Theatre at 300 E. Main Street — boasts an especially eclectic selection of styles. The winners include a pure comedy, a modern “morality” play, and an historical drama based on a real-life story.
Now in its seventh year, the Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival is open to current or former residents of Indiana and to those in a 90-mile radius of Fort Wayne. This year, scripts were submitted by 23 playwrights from throughout Indiana and from Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Illinois and Ohio. The scripts were adjudicated by a committee of local and national theatre professionals who determined the winners.
First place this year went to Daniel Hart for his comedy The Tales of Charlotte Wilson, PI. According to his bio, Hart is a 19-year-old college student studying accounting at Ivy Tech, but he’s been involved in performing and comedy since he was eight. Hart and his older sister wrote and produced hundreds of short films and sketches, many of which can be found on their YouTube channel Xavious Pictures — they’ve amassed over 700 subscribers and more than 160,000 views. Before moving to Fort Wayne in 2011, he lived in Eugene, OR where he participated in a local youth film festival for three consecutive years, earning a total five awards for his original comedy videos, including a first place in 2010. He also earned second place in Ivy Tech Northeast’s 2014 ‘Show Me The Scholarship!’ contest, as well as co-writing curriculum videos for Wallen Baptist’s 2014 Vacation Bible School.
Joseph Collins won second place for The Last Stand. Collins is a video producer and writer living in Fort Wayne. Earlier in his life, he acted and sang in various theater productions in the area and worked for 15 years at a local television station. He has a background in theatrical performance and last appeared in Fort Wayne Civic Theatre’s 1994 production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Third place went to Jim Henry for his play Sir Lancelot Jones, an historical drama based on the life of Lancelot Jones, one of the founders of the Biscayne National Park system in the Florida Keys. An actor and writer in the Chicagoland area, Henry boasts probably the lengthiest professional resume among this year’s winners. His play 7th Monarch recently had a three month run off-Broadway at the Acorn Theatre and is the winner of the three playwriting awards: Plays for the 21st Century (Dallas, TX); DramaRama 2000 (San Francisco, CA), and The Panowski Award (Marquette, MI). His first play, The Angels of Lemnos had its world-premier at Chicago Dramatists (where Henry is a Resident Playwright) and he won Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work. Angels ran for five months in Los Angeles, receiving an L.A. Times Critic’s Choice and a Robby Award for Best New Play. His other plays include Backwards in High Heels; Brother of All; Crashing with Flamingos, and most recently Jellofish, which won the AACT New Play Fest.
As always, first place winner The Tales of Charlotte Wilson, PI will be presented as a full production with several shows scheduled. The second and third place honors — The Last Stand and Sir Lancelot Jones — will be presented as stage readings during the festival.
Special guest speaker this year is Douglas Post. He’ll be delivering a talk entitled “A Conversation on the Art of Adaptations.”
All the details for the festival events are below.
FIRST PLACE WINNER (staged production)
The Tales of Charlotte Wilson, P.I.
By Daniel Hart
In Daniel Hart’s lighthearted comedy, a rare and valuable map has been stolen from the Bakersville museum. The thieves have been apprehended by the police, but the stolen map is nowhere to be found. The museum owner hires Charlotte, a quirky but brilliant private investigator, to find the map. A high-profile case like this is sure to bring new life to Charlotte’s business. However, a new detective by the name of Cillian Calhoun has recently moved to Bakersville, and he’s looking to solve this case as well. Not only will Charlotte need to find the map, but she’ll need to do it before Calhoun if she wants to save her career.
Directed by Phillip H. Colglazier
The Tales of Charlotte Wilson, PI debuts on Friday, March 18 at 8:00pm.
It will be presented as a part of the festival on Saturday, March 19 at 8:00pm (followed by a post discussion led by Guest Speaker Douglas Post).
Additional performances on
Sunday, March 20 at 2:00pm
Friday, March 25 at 8:00pm
Saturday March 26 at 2:00pm and at 8:00pm.
SECOND PLACE WINNER (staged reading)
The Last Stand
By Joseph Collins
Ben is a pastor of a medium-sized conservative Christian church. As he nears retirement, he is faced with challenges not only to the direction and future of the church, but to his belief system. A lesbian couple, Sam and Deb, seek to be married in his church. How can he show love to humanity and not lose his personal convictions? The Last Stand provides an interesting perspective on how traditional churches and their clergy face contemporary issues.
Directed by Jay Duffer
Staged reading of The Last Stand will be presented at 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 19, followed by a post discussion lead by Guest Speaker Douglas Post.
THIRD PLACE WINNER (staged reading)
Sir Lancelot Jones
By Jim Henry
As a hurricane approaches, baby Lance comes screaming into the world in a row boat in the middle of Biscayne Bay, Florida. His father is a freed slave and his mother, a poor Bahamian immigrant. Sir Lancelot Jones and his brother, King Arthur Jones, were the first African-Americans to be born in the Upper Keys. Their unique names were given to them by their father, who reveled at stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. They were born in the late 1800s, when slavery was outlawed but discrimination was alive and well in the South.
Based on true events, Sir Lancelot Jones lived to be 99 years old and was a key player in the formation of the Biscayne National Park system in the Florida Keys. He fought wealthy land owners, oil tycoons, and the political system to save these small islands and keys from commercialization.
Directed by Steve Sarratore
Staged reading of Sir Lancelot Jones will be presented at 10:00 am on Saturday, March 19, followed by a post discussion lead by Guest Speaker Douglas Post.
Saturday, March 19 at 5:30pm at the ArtsLab Theatre, followed by the annual festival reception
“Conversation on the Art of Adaptations”
Guest Speaker Douglas Post
The Guest Speaker of the 2016 Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival, playwright Douglas Post has numerous adaptations to his credit. Post’s adaptation of The Wind In the Willows — a musical version of Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic — has had over 250 productions around the world. Other work includes God and Country, a rock opera based on the play Antigone by Sophocles, which was produced at Victory Gardens Theater; and The Kingdom of Grimm, a musical based on three stories by the Brothers Grimm, which was the winner of the first Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre. He’s currently working on The Prizefighter and the Playwright, a play based on the book by Jay Tunney.
The 7th Annual Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival
All festival events are held at the Parkview Physicians Group ArtsLab
300 E. Main Street – Downtown Fort Wayne
Tickets online at fwcivic.org_Or call (260) 424-5220
ArtsTix Box Office
In the Front of the Arts United Center
300 E. Main Street
Open Monday – Friday from noon to 6pm; Saturday from noon to 4pm