The Department of Theatre, Film & Dance at Humboldt State University presents the Margaret T. Kelso Short Play Festival, which opens Thursday, Nov. 29 in Gist Hall Theatre and runs for four performances. The production will include the premieres of six original plays written, performed, and directed by HSU students.
As a playwright, having your work produced is a challenge, especially if you are a young or unknown writer. (The word “playwright” refers to a person who has wrought words, just as “wheelwright” refers to a person who has wrought wheels.) In the United States, new play development began to emerge as a phenomenon in the 1980’s. Many regional theaters have hired dramaturges and literary managers in an effort to showcase various festivals for new work or bring in playwrights for residencies. Funding through national organizations, such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Theatre Communications Group, has encouraged the partnerships of professional theater companies and emerging playwrights.
The Margaret T. Kelso Short Play Festival is an opportunity for student playwrights to have their work produced in front of an audience. This production also offers theater students the opportunity to direct a main stage production.
The festival will include six original plays, each varied in content and style: Black Sheep written by Dominic Christenson and directed by Robert Williams; Contrary by Amelia Resendez and directed by Sammi Stowe; Boisterous Bitties by Tzveta Stoimenova and directed by Grady Moore; Pigma Dogma by Ben Ghitterman and directed by Liz Whittemore; Injection by Elizabeth Locher and directed by Zackary Tucker; and Adjustments written and directed by Merrick Yra.
The Festival was created to thank and to honor HSU Professor Emeritus Margaret Kelso for her many years of teaching, service, and leadership in the writing program. A playwright and former chair of the Department of Theatre, Film & Dance, Kelso won a playwriting contest at the University of Virginia in 1982 and then earned an MFA in Playwriting from Carnegie Mellon University. She began teaching in 1983 and took over the Dramatic Writing Program at HSU in 1996. Kelso advises young playwrights to “write about things that move them. For me, new plays are the most exciting of anything we can see in theater. I always wrote about people or circumstances that were unfamiliar to me — I tried to give the voiceless a voice, so I wrote about an emergency room nurse, a transgender person, and families of prisoners.”
The short play production features fifteen actors, all students at HSU: Micah Scheff, Isaiah Alexander, Rosemary Allison-Brown, Victor D. Para, Maude Jaeb, Drea Carillo, Taiquira Williams, Ezra Moreno, Madison Glee, Brianna Fergus, Madison Kiser, Katie Lem, Cosette McCave, Amy Beltran and Savannah Baez. Robert Williams will act as stage manager.
The Margaret T. Kelso Short Play Festival runs Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. There will be one matinee performance at 2:00 p.m. on Dec. 2. General admission is $10.00. Student and Senior tickets are $8.00. Not intended for children. Lot parking is free on weekends. For tickets, please call 707-826-3928 or go online at centerarts.humboldt.edu/Online. For more information, call 707-826-3566.