The second edition of the Theater Masters' National MFA Playwright's Festival, which begins tonight in Aspen, builds on the success of its predecessor. "Last year was the pilot program, and it worked really well," says Pesha Rudnick, the fest's lead director. "We pulled off some really provocative theater and we're hoping to do it again."
The event's concept grew out of the Directors Project, founded by Drama League president Julia Hansen, in which young directors learn from professionals through working side by side with them. "Julia felt the need to create a similar program to nurture emerging writers," notes Rudnick, a Directors Project alumnus. To that end, nine writers from UCLA, NYU and other top colleges, joined by Glenwood Springs high-schooler Lance Tsosie, were chosen through a selection process overseen by actor John Lithgow. Winners team with three directors to develop one-acts that run the gamut from searing drama, like a piece about an Iraq-bound soldier, to broad comedy exemplified by Tsosie's offering, which revolves around a woman who falls into a manhole and spends most of the play upside down. After honing the presentations in Aspen, the participants will head to New York City in April for a full Equity production. "It's a phenomenal opportunity," Rudnick says.
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The curtains open on tonight's preview at 7:30 p.m. at Aspen High School, 235 High School Road. Tickets are $20, with passes for performances tomorrow and Tuesday going for $25. For directions and more information, phone 1-970-948-9484 or visit www.theatermasters.org.
Jan. 27-29, 2008