University of Massachusetts Boston students and alumni have an opportunity to join the likes of Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Wendy Wasserstein. The Performing Arts Department is asking current students and alumni to submit original, short plays for its first-ever Student Playwrights Festival.
Students and local alumni who have completed Playwriting I can submit up to two plays between 10 and 20 pages long. The best submissions will be staged this spring by theater arts students.
“Students who take acting and directing classes here have the opportunity to practice their craft in productions. It’s so important to give playwrights the same opportunity,” said performing arts lecturer Ginger Lazarus, who teaches Playwriting I.
And the authors’ work won’t end when they click “submit.” The winning playwright will be also be involved in the development and rehearsal of their work.
“Plays are not meant to stay on the page like other forms of literature. They need to live in front of an audience. I tell my students every semester that their real playwriting education will begin when they see their work staged – when they see how actors, directors, and designers bring their story to life and how the audience reacts,” said Lazarus, who is herself an award-winning playwright.
James Coyne, a senior American studies major, has been working on his play. Students enter their work in the festival are expected to remain anonymous, so Coyne isn’t sharing the name of his play. But he describes it as a “fictional snapshot of contemporary America revolving around the culture of work, class, and gender.”
“UMass Boston is a special place as far as institutions of higher learning go. The faculty here work so hard to present students with opportunities, like the Student Playwrights Festival, to explore and expand our potential. They are true educators, and we are lucky,” Coyne said.
The winning plays will be announced in late November. Performances are scheduled for March 6-9 in the McCormack Theatre, with performing arts lecturer Clifford Odle directing the student casts. Auditions will be announced at a later date.
“I hope the audience comes away delighted and startled by the voices that come through in these works. Every semester, I'm amazed by the diversity and intensity of my students' work: plays that are outrageously funny, or dark, or deeply personal, drawing on all kinds of experience. These folks have stories to tell, and those stories are worth hearing,” Lazarus said.