As part of its yearlong 50th anniversary celebration, Mercer County Community College (MCCC) will host “Playfest 2017” next spring, the first New Jersey community college new play festival. The competition is open to all student playwrights and actors from the state’s 19 community colleges. Community college alumni are also invited to participate.
Both full-length and one-act plays will be considered, with the winning productions to be presented on stage at MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre the week of March 7- 12. In addition to a cash prize for the playwright’s school, the playwright who submits the overall winning script will be awarded a slot for his/her production in the 2017 Kelsey Theatre summer season, according to Kelsey Artistic Director M. Kitty Getlik.
Festival chairman LouJ Stalsworth explains that the productions will, of necessity, be bare bones, much as they are in fringe festivals. “Our focus will be on the written word, not production values. Load-in and load-out times will be limited, allowing for a maximum number of plays to be seen on stage,” he said.
Stalsworth is an MCCC adjunct faculty member who teaches playwriting and world theater, and is the artistic director for PinnWorth Productions, a community theater company that performs at Kelsey Theatre. As part of the MCCC Theatre Program, he directed two recent major student shows: “Romeo and Juliet” (2015) and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (2016). He is a former New Jersey State Fellow in Playwriting and a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellow. He has an MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts.
Submission and production of individual student plays will be coordinated through the community colleges; faculty members are asked to submit scripts through their theater or English departments. Submissions will open Oct. 1 and close Nov. 15, with scripts to be judged by a panel of theater professionals. Winning scripts will be announced in January.
Production of the plays will be the responsibility of the schools selected to compete. Each school will be allowed to submit one full-length play and up to two one-acts.
“Kelsey Theatre is centrally located and is home to a dozen community theater companies,” Getlik said. “We have the staff and facilities to make Playfest 2017 a success and are eager to host an event that will celebrate the rich diversity and talent of the state’s network of community colleges.”