Emerging playwrights brought to life new plays in the heart of downtown Kalamazoo this weekend. The 5th Annual Theatre Kalamazoo New Play Festival was an intimate affair, as friends and family came to support those who took to the stage.
This year’s festival featured special guest Dipika Guha from the Gwen Frosting reading series and 11 local playwrights. Among the plays chosen were those from Jane Huffman ’15 and alumna Brittany Worthington ’13.
Titled Where the Bee Sucks, Huffman’s play centers on a family trying to deal with alcoholism and addiction. A mother and her two children gather in their old home and try to deal with the older sister’s escape from rehab.
A nuanced and complex portrait of a family in the face of addiction, Where the Bee Sucks is the second play written by Jane to be chosen at the festival. The first was a ten minute written in Professor Ed Menta’s Playwriting class.
The New Play Fest is about giving new playwrights the chance to showcase their work and revise it up until the final performance on stage. This means the writer has the opportunity to modify the script as the actors are rehearsing it.
“It’s kind of like two processes working at the same time,” said Huffman regarding the playwriting process. “Everyone has their own job. It’s not my job to dictate how the play’s going to look and it’s not the director’s job to suggest how I revise it. It’s really the director’s job to stage the show in the best way he possibly can and using what I see, I go back and revise the play.”
“The idea is to highlight the playwright and to be as faithful to the playwright’s language and structure as possible,” said Zac Clark ’14. Clark is the director for When Socially Awkward People Marry, a ten minute play staged at the play fest starring K senior Sam Linstrom and sophomore Kate Ballew.
It is about revision for the playwrights and it is a very involved process. As Huffman said, “the actors and directors are there to serve the text and my job as the playwright is to be developing it as the festival continues.”