Wednesday, May 26, 2010


We had a great time presenting the work of 12 new playwrights at the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival last Monday and Tuesday. Thank you to all of the actors, directors, crew and Kean TMPO staff who made this possible. And of course, congratulations again to the playwrights! Please continue to write and create.

The camera wasn't working too well during the tech rehearsals on May 17, but one of our actors is also a photographer, so I'm working with him to get some pictures ready for the site. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 2 - Blocking

Sunday was about becoming familiar with the newest edits from the high school playwrights. The casts also spent the day giving the scripts new life by staging the work. To say anything more would be redundant. Enjoy the pictures!
 Tempus Fugit by James Just.
 A Sister's Gift by Sheli Paige Frank.

Playwright Sheli Paige Frank and director Maryna Harrison during rehearsal.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 1 - Read-thrus

Yesterday was the first day of rehearsals for the Festival. We met first with the high school playwrights and read through and discussed their scripts. The afternoon was one of ideas, questions, and new discoveries of each play.

Cast 1 discusses their scripts, Final Draft by Steven Maier (pictured at center) and A Sister's Gift by Sheli Paige Frank (not pictured). Also in this photo are actors Dan Bartkewicz, Virginia Bosch, and director Maryna Harrison.

Director Jim Ligon (center) discusses Tempus Fugit by James Just (at left) with Cast 2. Also in this picture are actor/ASM Amalia Schiff (far left) and actor Victor Martinez (at right, back to camera). Why You by Justine DeSilva will also be performed by Cast 2.

The playwrights went home and worked on revisions to the plays well into the early hours of this morning. We look forward to getting these new drafts on their feet in Day 2.

Later in the afternoon, the cast for the reading of Junior HS and Elementary plays read through the eight scripts. We made a number of slight changes and edits - primarily to the stage directions - in an effort to streamline the way the play reads without the actions and scenery that the playwrights have envisioned. The challenge for us is to use the stage directions almost as narration or as a storyteller might. We're excited to see how that turns out on Monday morning at the Festival!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Anxiously awaiting tomorrow

Here is one of our rehearsal rooms waiting for the first read-through tomorrow.

We can't wait to get started!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last minute preparations

Today is the deadline for all things production - prop lists, program notes, etc. Since we present the Festival as a series of readings, production elements like scenery, costumes, and props are kept to a minimum. We find that this simplified way of producing a play really focuses attention to the story and characters that each playwright has created.

I'm directing the reading of Junior HS and Elementary school plays and need to do one last read of the scripts to finalize the small props and costume pieces that are necessary to the story. As a reading, the plays will be presented with the actors standing at music stands with scripts at the ready. This may sound easy with memorization and blocking not being major concerns; however, the performance relies heavily on the actors' interpretations. A few costume pieces or props (hats, glasses, wands, etc.) give just enough detail to further spark the audience's view of the story in their imagination.

The High School plays are done as staged readings, so there will be blocking and some technical elements in those presentations. Again, this is all very limited so that the playwrights' stories and the audience's imaginations have the focus.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Almost time!

Not counting today, there are only two days left until rehearsals begin for the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival! On Saturday, we will conduct the first table reading of each high school play with the playwrights present. In the afternoon, we shift to a reading of the 8 plays from the Junior HS and Elementary divisions. Unfortunately, time and space being what they are we are not able to host the Junior HS and Elementary playwrights for this event. Perhaps in the near future!

I will try to provide updates throughout the Festival process, so check back regularly... better yet, there are still seats available for both performances:
  • Junior HS/Elementary reading - Monday, May 17 @ 10:00 am
  • High School staged readings - Tuesday, May 18 @ 10:00 am
Admission is free, but reservations are required. If you are interested in attending on either, or both, of these days, please contact me at and I will add your name to the list.

Friday, May 7, 2010

NJ Young Playwright's success in Bakers Plays contest

We've been informed that Requiem by Samantha Berstler, a winning play in last year's NJ Young Playwrights Festival 2009 - High School division, was selected as a Finalist in the Baker's Plays Contest this year. Ms. Berstler has since rewritten this play into a 3-act full-length piece.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Casting complete; 12 days until first rehearsal

We're all set with our cast, which will be a great mix of actors from our theatre, actors who are new to us, and college theatre students from schools in New Jersey and New York.

Today marks two weeks before the first Festival performance - the reading of winning plays from the Junior HS and Elementary divisions - however, rehearsals start May 15, which is one week from this Saturday!

Stay tuned to the blog for updates over the next 12 days. I will also be posting throughout the Festival weekend.