This spring the Covenant College Theatre Department will diverge from its traditional spring musical in order to put on a brand new event. Dubbed the “New Play Festival,” this event is a compilation of ten brand new ten-minute plays that deal with the topic “Returning Home,” which are written by students and staff of Covenant College. In an interview, theatre department head Deborah Kirby, the advent advisor, called the play festival a “celebration for the performing arts.” She explained the event’s focus, saying, “since the playwrights who submitted plays were not delegated just to the theatre department, we have an opportunity of seeing what abundant talent lies around our campus.”
Not only did students and staff write the plays, but students will also be spearheading the entire festival, which is scheduled for mid-April. Students of Covenant College will lead every aspect of the festival, including writing, directing, acting, and technical work. Senior Nina Brock is in charge of the festival, assisted by co-producer and junior Garrett Sisson. Kirby said about the team, “Nina and Garrett are essential to me and this project. They are going to be my hands, and feet, and organizers. Nina is also producing the festival for her SIP and so she will be learning and recording her experiences, which will be vital if we do this again. And Garrett has the passion and drive to be an excellent right-hand man to Nina so that her load won't be too heavy.”
While directors have already been selected, open auditions will be held in the coming weeks, in which anyone from the Covenant student body can try out for one of the ten plays. Brock explained that as a result of this being so new and involving so many students, she would define the event as successful if “any of the plays move the audience in some way, I would say that the festival was a success.” As part of her SIP, Brock is heavily involved in every aspect of the show, from reading and deciding the final plays to auditioning and organizing rehearsals; she has her hands full keeping the festival running. However, Brock explained that this is something that intrigues her, and as an actress “having the opportunity to try something new that will be valuable to my resume excites me greatly, and I look forward to journaling (a large part of her SIP assignment) every step of this journey.”
The process of creating this new event was neither quick nor easy. When asked about the formation of the New Play Festival Kirby explained, “the idea came about as a result of several different factors. We have an adjunct professor who comes to campus every spring to teach either playwriting or screenwriting but up till now hasn’t provided an avenue for students showcase their work.” Secondly, Kirby was part of a festival like this in Washington, DC and saw what a wonderful opportunity it was for so many people to participate in one singular event. Everyone from playwrights, to actors, directors, designers, stage managers, set building crew, backstage crew, and producers will be needed to pull this off.
The creation of the New Play Festival has been in the works for months, and when it was announced last year that the Theatre Department would not be putting on a Spring Musical, many were surprised and confused. However, as the festival became a reality, nerves were eased and interest began to pique. At the initial meeting, organized and led by Brock, over 30 students came for more information. While the numbers are promising, Kirby explains that more students are needed in order for the festival to be a success saying, “We still need more people, however, to get this event off the ground. In my estimation, we will need over 50 people - from actors to backstage crew to publicity folks - and all the jobs in between to do the inaugural event.” With that in mind, if you are looking to get involved with the New Play Festival in any capacity either performing or on the tech side, email Nina Brock at email@example.com. More information regarding performance dates and tickets will be available in the coming weeks.