The SUNY New Paltz Department of Theatre Arts will feature its own “New Play Festival” on campus for the first time.
The New Play Festival (NPF) was organized by a committee including Nancy Saklad, the SUNY Department of Theatre Arts faculty director; Robert Miller, a communications professor; Laurence Carr, a professor of English; Ken Goldstein, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre Arts; and the playwright John Patrick Bray.
The NPF is part of the official Mainstage Season being performed on campus. The project will feature 11 original plays written by members of the community and alumni from the Department of Theatre Arts. Students of the SUNY New Paltz Theatre Arts program will perform, direct and design the plays making the project an entirely student-run production.
Ally Farzetta, a second-year theatre arts major at SUNY New Paltz, will be acting in six of the plays being performed.
“I was very interested in involving myself with the project in some way after hearing about it,” said Farzetta. “As an actor, it is very exciting and humbling to originate a role and bring it to life for the first time.”
Carr, who pitched the idea for a collaborative play festival almost a year ago, believes it’s important for students, alumni, and members of the community to work together in this project and learn from each other.
“There aren’t a lot of things like this in the valley,” said Carr. “I’m an advocate of new works; I like to see them done and I think this project really expands that outlet.”
Carr received around 70 play submissions after writing to members of the Hudson Valley Writers group, alumni from the Theatre Arts Department, and enlisting help from professors in the English Department. He and the other members of the committee then read all of the plays and chose those that would be performed in the NPF.
“We set aside 11 plays that we thought had a wide variety of ideas, emotions and form,” said Carr. “Some of them are very realistic, while others are more dramatic and fantastical.”
“The pieces are all very different and very much belong to the writer,” said Saklad. “The festival allows [the writers] to see their work performed and I think their work can really grow from that.”
Farzetta, who thrives on working with original plays, agrees that the NPF is a great experience for all who participate in the project.
“This is an invaluable opportunity because we’re working with brand new plays that have only lived on the pages of the script,” said Farzetta. “Everyone involved, whether it be directors, actors, designers, or technicians, have the honor and the challenge of creating from scratch. That’s an awesome experience to walk away with.”
The plays are each 10 to 30 minutes in length and will be presented in an array of formats, some as a general reading of the play and others as a full performance with costumes and sets.
Eight of the plays, each about 10 minutes, will be presented on Friday, April 8 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 9 at 2 p.m. The remaining three plays which are longer in length will be presented on Saturday, April 9 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 10 at 2 p.m.
Admission is $5 and the audience is invited to stay after the performance for a talk-back.