When the 6th biennial Clark University New Play Festival begins on Oct. 29, six budding playwrights will see their words come to life on the Little Center stage.
A co-production of the Clark University Players Society (CUPS) and the Visual and Performing Arts Department, the New Play Festival, or Playfest, is the University’s largest theatre arts endeavor. Each has its own production team and director — in most cases, a recent Clark graduate — as well as a student design staff and cast. (You can read interviews with the student casts on the CUPS website).
The plays are presented in repertory, two plays a week, with each getting a run of three performances.
“The playwrights in this group really push the envelope,” says Gino DiIorio, professor of theatre arts and festival director. “It gets more exciting each time. There are over 75 students involved, both onstage and backstage, and it’s a pleasure to watch the collaboration develop between actors, designers, and directors. Playfest is a lot of work — but it’s a lot of fun.”
An award-winning playwright himself, DiIorio says that while play readings are nice, a staged production is invaluable. “That’s where the playwright really learns.”
Clark is the only U.S. college that has anything like the New Play Festival, DiIorio says.
All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in Little Center’s Michelson Theater. Admission is $5 or free with college ID.
The New Play Festival plays are:
Nothing out of the Extraordinary
Written by Maria Connors ’20; directed by Samson Martin ’18
Colleen and Sam’s breakup seemed like it couldn’t get much worse — that is, until Sam finds herself responsible for summoning a (very outgoing) ghost into their apartment. With the help of their best friend Penny, a downstairs neighbor named Oliver and his eccentric aunt, Madame Zelda, Colleen and Sam set out to get each of their lives back to normal.
Written by Brett Iarrobino ’21; directed by Lyndsey Hawkes ’19
Alicia is a rancorous therapist who has been afflicted with a crippling allergy to electricity. Jimmy, her new patient, is a reclusive man-child with savant-like memory; insecure about his brain power, he has declared himself a living supercomputer. Facing pressure to find connections with the outside world once again, their worlds inevitably converge in unexpected ways. “Bad Connection” is a two-act play about love, companionship, and our fear of being alone in the modern world.’
Elements: A Short Plan Anthology
Written by Luke Pound ’22; Directed by Kim Carrell
Based upon each of Aristotle’s six elements of theatre, “Elements” examines the conventions of theatrical writing and performance by showcasing the extremities of these principles of playwriting.
Written by Riley Sternhagen ’20; directed by Toni Armstrong ’19
Veronica loves having the perfect family and will do anything in her power to keep it that way — including murder those who stand in her way. To keep track of her kills, and to relive them after the fact, Veronica writes her victims’ names on a list that she keeps tucked away in her favorite cookbook, and describes her endeavors to her baby, August, in lieu of bedtime stories.
In the Dark
Written by Lyndsey DeManbey ’22; directed by Lyndsey Hawkes ’19
Bobby is a lonely kid, struggling to fit in. One day he befriends a man who happens to live in his wall. “In the Dark” explores the strange reach of our anxieties and the terrors that lie below a college campus.
Written by Zoe DiPinto ’20; Directed by Samson Martin ’18
“Revolting CROTCH” tells the story of three middle-schoolers with diabolical plans to deconstruct the authoritative influences in their lives. In their revolution, they are forced not only to face parents and bullies, but also must navigate puberty, crushes, mental illness, poison ivy rashes, and what it means to be a revolting kid.