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Feven Getachew
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Amateurs produce quality plays

Main Lounge was filled with amateur actors, writers and directors Thursday evening as the Grinnell Independent Theater (GIT) held its first Playwright’s Festival in seven years. Four more performances will be held tonight at 7:30 in Main Lounge.

Jacob Goldsmith '13 lays down dead during the GIT production of "The Mystery of the Seventeen Pilot Fish" in Main Lounge on Thursday night. Photograph taken by Daniel Penny.

The Playwright’s Festival offers student writers the opportunity to submit their work to GIT in the hopes of seeing it performed on campus by fellow students. Playwrights are limited to one-act plays under 30 pages. GIT coordinators Emma O’Polka’12 and Lexy Leuszler’12 chose to put on seven of this semester’s submissions.

“We just wanted to provide an informal outlet to just get the work out there,” O’Polka said. “Get some actors looking at the scripts, reading it, so people can see what they’ve written, hear what they’ve written.”

The performances are staged readings, designed to introduce inexperienced participants to the theater world without intimidating them. New playwrights get to see their work performed and new actors and directors get a taste of another side of theater.

“GIT is really about involving the students more than the Theater Department, not just isolating it to the majors,” Leuszler said.

Even the location of the performances plays a role in this effort to reach out to the campus. Main Lounge was chosen for its informal feel and to make GIT more accessible to the students who don’t frequent Bucksbaum.

“We chose a campus location deeper within the campus community so more students would come and be encouraged and not be intimidated by the average theater setting,” Leuszler said.

The flexibility given to directors, playwrights and actors allowed the inexperienced among them to enjoy the gifts of theatre without the weight of a full stage—the readings don’t require extensive sets or blocking.

“It’s really just letting the playwrights and the cast use their imagination in terms of illustrating to the audience,” Leuszler said.

With the focus entirely on what the playwright has written, the Festival naturally developed into an intensive workshop for the writers.

“We’ve told the playwrights that their scripts are sort of like these living, breathing organisms that can keep changing throughout this process,” Leuszler said.

GIT seems to have achieved this goal of greater campus involvement as most of the participants are not theater majors. Of the five students involved in the production of Benjamin Zeledon ’14’s play “Fairytale,” only one is a potential theater major.

“A lot of the actors came from friends asking friends, word of mouth,” said director Grace Carroll ’12.

The one-act plays are a small time commitment, making them an ideal venue for those who just want to get their feet wet in the world of theater. For example, potential history and Russian double major Jacob Goldsmith ’13 enjoyed his recent foray into acting.

“I like it. I’m also in another play,” he said. “It makes no sense but I really like it.”

Each group is responsible for their own rehearsals and the informality of the Festival filters into the brief practices. The “Fairytale” cast enjoys snacks, brief stretching exercises and tongue twisters before diving into rehearsal.

“I brought snacks,” Carroll said. “It’s probably the most important thing I’ve done as a director.”

“Fairytale” will be the last of the four staged readings tonight, Friday, April 29.

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