Nick Zotos | Ads Manager
This past month, amateur theater groups from across the city of Pittsburgh once again participated in the New Works Festival. The festival, which has been producing new and innovative plays for the past 30 years, has become an annual tradition hosted at Duquesne University’s Genesius Theater.
The festival provides students and staff of Duquesne, as well as local thespians, the unique opportunity to view up-and-coming playwrights that have never been produced before.
“This festival brings together local community theater groups while also reaching out worldwide. This year we had over 330 different playwright submissions from both the States and other countries,” said Amy Joseph, president of the festival.
Of the multiple submissions each year, 14 unique plays are selected to be produced and performed over a series of five weeks. Different acting groups from across the city are tasked to showcase each of the scripts.
The first play on the docket last week, “Thing, or the Rothko,” featured a compelling story about two women struggling through cancer together, simultaneously forming a unique bond. The play featured moments of humor, common struggle and resiliency through friendship.
“This story is organic and hits many different themes. I think that it will resonate with individuals in the audience, and they will be able to experience the bitter sweetness of the story line,” said Claire Ivy Stoller, stage manager of the production.
“Resume,” the second play of the night, was also unique in its portrayal of work-life balance.
“Our play is light with a comedic outlook toward the workforce. Perhaps the best way to explain it is a mix of the episodes featured in ‘The Office’ with more age groups being represented,” Louisa Pastorius, actress in “Resume,” said.
The plays that are produced in the New Works Festival also allow for play writers from across the country to see their plays first hand.
“As someone who loves theater, I think it’s really cool that some of these playwrights get to see their plays performed. Most times it means the world to them, and they get to experience their story come to life,” Stoller said.
While these plays were performed by acting groups from across Pittsburgh, individuals did not need to be full-time actors to participate in the productions.
“These plays are open to any local talent, specifically, amateur acting for Pittsburgh residents,” said actor Kevin Bass. “I am an engineer, and I love being able to use the other side of my brain. Instead of working on only numbers, I have the chance to act and do something creative. It’s an outlet I enjoy, and I would recommend it to anyone who also shares a passion for acting.”
Both plays last weekend featured a diverse cast of different age groups and occupations. Individuals from the business sector, retail and academia all came together to perform their respective works.
Individuals who are interested in attending these plays before the New Works Festival ends can visit the Genesius Theater this weekend, both Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. Two different plays will be showcased each with a different group of actors.
“These plays provide an opportunity for the community to resonate with theater. It also provides inter collaboration between local theater communities. I think it’s a great opportunity for the students here at the university to experience these plays and witness a diverse set of original productions,” Joseph said.