Ashland Community and Technical College Theatre will present the 3rd annual New Play Festival Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 3, at 2:30 p.m. in the J. B. Sowards Theater at the College Drive Campus.
The 12 scenes, monologues, short plays and one-act productions were written by ACTC students in a playwriting class taught last fall by Jonathan Joy, ACTC Assistant Professor of English and New Play Festival Coordinator. “This year’s group of playwriting students is as diverse and engaging as the plays they are composing, and they add considerably to an already accomplished group of dramatists from the previous two years,” he said.
The plays include powerful, dramatic stories of past relationships, love in the face of illness, funny tales of a deceased man whose soul may have moved on to a dog, and an absurdist look at motherhood.
Plays by students from Ashland are “A Monologue” from Devils Due by Dylan R. Mullins, A Monologue by Elizabeth J. Allen, How I Ended Up Here Is a Funny Story: The Ballad of Jake Neilson by Valerie S. Biggs, A Tale of Misfortune by Kyle M. Lowe and Admired by Megan R. Banks.
Plays by students from other cities are Through His Eyes by Audrey B. Wallace from Catlettsburg, Don’t Ask Questions and Footnote by Ashley G. Hacker from Argillite, Goodbye Love by Tiffany N. Triplett from Louisa, Emma’s Monologue by Amanda R. Sargent from Olive Hill, Untitled Absurdist Play by Sammie M. Copley from Worthington and Streetwalker by Joey McCleese from Morehead.
Over 50 ACTC students, faculty, staff, and members of the community from all over the Tri-State worked together this spring to bring this festival to life. “I was thrilled to see such a large turnout this year,” said Joy.
“When the festival began in 2014, roughly 30 people were involved as writers, actors, directors and stage hands. In 2015, more than 40 men and women were involved in the theatre production, and we added the Art Showcase to involve more people in the arts.”
The plays are performed by a cast of nearly 30 students and adults that includes ACTC students John Chapman from Catlettsburg, Julian Thigpen from Ashland, and Sammie Copley from Worthington as well as ACTC alumni Alana Dawn Mullins from Ashland and Jeffry Brian Duty now at Morehead State University. High school actors include Emily Hanners, Sera Boatman and Raegan Williams from Paul G. Blazer and Carly Newsome, Tessa Jacobs, Dawson Clark and Cristen Brockett from Fairview Independent.
Play directors are Joy and other ACTC faculty, staff and students who are involved with the arts.
Joy is a prolific writer with more than 25 plays to his credit. His plays have been published by Brooklyn Published, Smith and Kraus, One Act Play Depo and ProPlay and are included in three theatre books. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Southern Theatre and Insight for Playwrights magazine.
Director Sarah Diamond Burroway is ACTC director of grants and contracts. She has been accepted into the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University, where she will begin work this fall on a Master of Fine Art in Writing degree. Last year, her short plays and monologues were produced in five states.
Director Mary Shortridge, ACTC Humanities Professor, has co-authored a collection of Christmas romance stories titled “I Believe: Christmas Anthology 2010” under the pen name Elizabeth Chalkey.
ACTC students Ashley Hacker, one of this year’s playwrights, and Alicia “Trish” Maynard, one of last year’s playwrights, are getting their feet wet as directors.
“Directing has definitely been an amazing experience, and I loved the playwriting class,” said Hacker, a 2012 Greenup County High School graduate who wrote two of the plays being produced. “I plan to minor in theater education, so this has all been a wonderful experience for me.”
General admission tickets are $5, and tickets may be reserved through the ACTC Bookstore, 606-326-2014. Tickets at the door will be available for cash or check (with photo ID) payment only. On Sunday, April 3, admission will be free to those who bring two cans of food for Safe Harbor.