NEOMFA Playwrights Festival Airs New Student Works

Thu 2/13-Sat 2/22 @ 8PM

Well-known titles may get all of the press, but the lifeblood of theater is new works. That’s why for the last nine years, Tremont’s convergence-continuum theater has been hosting the Playwrights Festival in collaboration with the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts’ (NEOMFA) creative writing program.

“NEOMFA in creative writing is a program that includes four universities — Cleveland State, Kent State, University of Akron and Youngstown State,” convergence-continuum artistic director Clyde Simon said. “Grad students can take courses in that program at the different campuses.

“One thing that’s unique about their program is that grad students who enroll in playwriting have the opportunity to have their plays given a professional production by professional theater rather than a student production at the university. So it’s exposing playwrights to the process, but it’s not a competition.”

That’s where convergence-continuum comes into play. The Tremont-based company hosts the 2020 Playwrights Festival, which runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays February 13-22 at c-c’s Liminis Theater.

“We’re giving the students a production with our directors, actors, designers,” Clyde said. “Also, we’ve got our regular clientele from the theater who come to watch these plays. We have a talk back right afterwards to give feedback to the playwrights. Throughout the whole process playwrights are observing and working with the directors mainly, so they get an immersive professional experience of what happens to their play after they write it.”

This year’s Playwrights Festival includes four Cleveland State University students with Week 1 (Feb. 13-15) featuring the full-length play A Shape to This Ache by Morgan Elswick.

For Week 2 (Feb. 20-22), there’s one-act play “The Purple Queen” by Ralph Myers and two ten-minute plays, “First to Die Wins” by Justin Lazor and “Autopoiesis” by Oana Leuce.

“We have packed houses every year,” Simon said. “A lot of the people are regular subscribers. Our regular audience has come to know it and expect it. Tickets are really cheap — only $10. We do get a lot of students coming in as well for only $5 for tickets.”

Invariably, it’s no surprise convergence-continuum has found an audience for its Playwrights Festival considering it fits squarely into the company’s motif.

“In our regular season we produce work from living playwrights and new playwrights that are a little bit more edgy and somewhat obscure, so audiences are excited and interested to see what these new playwrights are doing as well,” Simon said.

[Written by John Benson]

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