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via Bob Winters

Athens to host showcase for playwrights' new works

ARTS/West will host the annual The Humble Play: New Play Festival of Appalachian Ohio, an event that is designed to showcase the playwriting process.    

The festival begins Thursday and continues through Saturday night. Each performance will feature three plays, which have been pre-selected by two panels of judges who read through 24 different scripts from throughout the country.     

The three plays selected for the festival are Flowers in the Desert by Donna Hoke, Dream of Perfect Sleep by Kevin Kautzman, and Empires of Eternal Void by Kenley Smith.

The plays will be performed to the audience as staged readings with the actors reading the scripts to the audience instead of having a full-stage production.

Kelly Lawrence, The Humble Play project director, said that this format allows the playwrights of each piece to witness their work in a new context.  


“The goal is to get the play produced. This gives them an opportunity to hear what the audience thinks,” Lawrence said. “We get an idea of new play development, how a play becomes a production over time.”    

After each reading, there will be a critique session given by the audience members and moderator Y. York, a playwright from Cincinnati. York will also give a lecture before the reading of Flowers in the Desert on Thursday night.

Kenley Smith and Kevin Kautzman, both playwrights who will be featured at the event, said they and the other playwrights are excited for the opportunity to have their work presented to and critiqued by an audience.     

“I want the audience to love it, but the thought is I want to listen to the play, pick up notes and see what their takes are,” Smith said.

Smith added that the cue an audience gives during a reading is important to see what works and what doesn’t with his play.

Kautzman stressed that even though this was a way for the different writers to receive advice from those in the crowd, it is primarily a program for entertainment.    

He said that the festival is a great way for people to share in an enjoyable, collective piece of art.

“Come as if you’re hearing a story read to you,” he said. “Only you get to dwell on the beauty of the language, and you get to visualize the story in your mind’s eye.”


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