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School of Theater offers students a different type of fest for free

It’s not every day audiences can see shows about hearing aids, superheroes and Middle East conflicts in one place.

But this week, the Ohio University School of Theater’s MFA Playwriting Program’s 18th Annual Seabury Quinn, Jr. Playwriting Festival will feature all of these and more.

The spring festival will consist of two featured productions by second- and third-year playwriting students, as well as 10 play readings, each by first-year students in the playwriting program.

The first featured show, The Magnificent Masked Hearing Aid, by third-year graduate student Sarah Bowden, follows a girl rapidly losing her hearing before college. Her father attempts to persuade her to get a surgically inserted hearing aid, but she fights the process, imagining herself as a superhero.

Bowden said her inspiration came from a personal place.

“I’m actually hearing impaired, so last year I got a hearing aid and I had a digital model and it was so crazy,” she said. “I started hearing things and thought people were shouting. The story is based on what that meant to me and advances in technology.”

Another show also deals with a playwright’s personal experiences; Israeli Palestinian Resolution: A Very Extremely Important Play… in progress…by Samuel Goldmeyer, was written by Ira Gamerman. The show is about a boy who believes he can solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by writing a play.

Gamerman said that even though not everyone thinks they can solve world conflicts through theater, his show is relatable.

“It’s about reconciling with faith and figuring out religion and where you came from,” he said. “It’s really about what that means to you and I think that’s something everyone struggles with — what faith means, family means and how it conflicts with career and life choices.”

The two featured shows and play readings vastly differ from each other, said Rebecca Abaffy, the festival’s coordinator, which makes the festival appealing to a wide variety of audiences.

“One of the main-stage shows is more geek theater, where the other is very indie,” Abaffy said. “The readings are also very different; while one is very funny and ridiculous, another explores the subject of rape, so there are a lot of subjects to touch on.”

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