Street | Theater

Playwrights' Festival debuts original student works

Theatre Intime will present three original plays written by current Princeton undergraduates as part of its annual Student Playwrights Festival this weekend. The three works were selected out of about 20 submissions in the beginning of February, according to Intime’s original projects director Jack Moore ’15, and will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the Hamilton Murray Theater at 8 p.m.

For many young playwrights on campus, the festival is one of their first opportunities to see their own pieces performed onstage — an experience which two of this year’s participants described as an invaluable step in the process of revising a play.

“I’m not sure I consider this finished. This isn’t the first play I have submitted to the Student Playwrights Festival, but this is the first time I’ll see a play I’ve written produced outside of a classroom setting,” Philip Rosen ’14 said of the upcoming production of his piece, “Joint.” “I think it’s going to be sort of a more revealing experience about what I actually manage to put on paper. To some extent, I believe it will give me a much better picture of how things actually work on a stage.”

The transition of a play from the writer’s words on the page to the director’s translation of the work onto the stage often exposes certain weaknesses or failures of communication in the written work, according to Rosen.

Annika Bennett ’15 — who wrote “Variations on the Trojan War,” another of the three plays Intime has chosen to produce this weekend — also spoke to the illuminating process of working with a separate director as a playwright.

“It’s so helpful; it’s everything to me. That’s why I would never direct my own play,” Bennett explained. “I don’t think as a writer, you should be the one in charge of it. You gain so much from having another person interpret your work.”

In anticipation of seeing her play performed on stage, Bennett said, “I hope it will give me a sense of what works and what doesn’t. You can’t predict an audience response, especially through a workshop process. My hope is to see what’s funny and what’s not.”

Rosen noted the importance of receiving a larger range of reactions in revising a piece of original work, citing the difference in size between a full-scale production and a smaller classroom setting as one benefit to playwrights seeing their work performed.

Both playwrights listed Theatre Intime as one of the best forums for other student dramatists to showcase their work on campus, along with resources offered through the theater program in the Lewis Center for the Arts. However, Bennett, who has served on Intime’s board, noted that even Intime doesn’t completely fill the niche needed to fully meet the needs of writers.

The student-run community theater frequently features original productions written by University students as one of the full-length productions they present during their regular season. To further support playwrights on campus, the current board plans to start a writer’s group that meets regularly, according to Moore.

“The Student Playwrights Festival is a great, low-stress way for our writers to see how their work is translated onto the stage,” Moore said. “There are always challenges in making words on a page into a production, but SPF is an incredible opportunity for playwrights to understand the transition.”

Maeli Goren ’15 and Mark Watter ’14, who wrote “Johnny,” the third play Intime will feature in the festival, did not respond to requests for interview.

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