Playwrights' Forum Festival Returns to Civic

Spokane Civic Theatre’s 26th Playwrights’ Forum Festival is this weekend, June 6 and 7 in the Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre.

The Forum is returning after a five-year hiatus, and features six original plays by playwrights from around the Pacific Northwest.

26th Playwrights’ Forum Line Up

Featured original one-act plays this year are:

    • Fresh Hell by Merridawn Duckler of Portland, Oregon
    • Stopgap by Fred Tonge of Ashland, Oregon
    • Office Hours (non-competitive piece) by Civic’s Playwright-in-Residence Bryan Harnetiaux of Spokane, Washington
    • This Almost Joy by Barbara Lindsay of Shoreline, Washington
    • Lost and Found by Keith McGregor of Monroe, Washington
    • The Girl Wore Red Licorice by Matthew Weaver of Spokane, Washington

Five of the six productions are in competition to receive two awards:

    • “Adjudicator’s Choice Award”: given to the playwright with the best script.
    • “Audience Choice Award”:  viewers vote to determine the recipient.

A Bit About the Playwrights’ Forum Festival

Today, we have a guest voice on the blog: Civic’s Playwright-in-Residence, Bryan Harnetiaux! We asked Bryan to tell us a little bit about what the Forum is, how it began, and what you can expect:

2014: The 26th Playwrights’ Forum Festival

This Spring, Civic revived its Playwrights’ Forum Festival, for the first time since 2008. The PFF ran for 25 consecutive years between 1984 and 2008, customarily producing original works two weekends in June.

For most of the first 25 years of the Playwrights’ Forum Festival, there was also a Youth Division, for playwrights 18 years or younger.

Types of Works

The idea has always been to promote the art of playwriting and provide playwrights with that rare opportunity to work collaboratively in bringing their play to life.

Historically, the Festival has sought one-act plays 30 minutes or less in length, with no requirement that they be unproduced.

The Aim

Throughout its existence, the Playwrights’ Forum Festival has offered an opportunity to see a fully-produced version of each play, typically with minimal set requirements. The idea is to allow the play to stand on its own, with the focus on the playwright’s words and the dramatic action.

Launching Point

Over the years the Playwrights’ Forum Festival has featured a number of notable writers, and original works that went on to be published:

    • A play by celebrated novelist, Ursella Hegge, was featured in one of the early festivals (SOMETIMES A CARDINAL).
    • Spokane actor/playwright Tim Behrens had three plays in the Festival one year (and was surprised that his fourth play wasn’t chosen, too).
    • Seattle playwright and theatre critic Bret Fetzer was produced in several festivals.
    • Lee Howard and Greg Gamble plays, LAST TOUCHY-FEELY DRAMA OF THE AMERICAN STAGE and BELIEVE US NOT! (or BIRTH, WHERE IS THY STING?) were each produced in the PFF, and later published by The Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Illinois.
    • Brooklyn playwright, Trish Harnetiaux, (yes, my daughter) had her first play produced in the Youth Division of the festival, entitled SEE YOU IN THE MAJORS. Trish is now an accomplished professional playwright and her new short play, OH HOW HE LOVED BAKALAVA will be featured this summer in the Samuel French Off Off Broadway New Works Festival in NYC. This will be the second time Trish has been featured in that festival.
    • And, I was fortunate enough to have my 2008 PFF offering, ANTIPASTO, produced in the 2010 Samuel French Festival.

Looking Forward

This year’s Festival is a slightly scaled-down version of prior festivals:

    • Civic accepted submissions from Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alaska, rather than nationally.
    • Youth Division remains on hiatus this year
    • Festival is only for one weekend, rather than two.

A more traditional 2-week run of the Festival is back 2015, and are considering the restoring of the Youth Division. See you there!

Why Go?

The wonderful thing about the Playwrights’ Forum Festival is the opportunity for audiences to give first hand reactions to new works, and participate in helping the playwright fully develop his or her script.

Curtain time is at 7:30pm each night, and is followed by moderated discussion of the plays.

Anyone who loves theatre should support this endeavor!

We would like to thank Bryan for his time and for providing some background about the Playwrights Forum Festival.

Each of the six one-act plays runs both nights, and we still have a few seats available Friday, June 6, 2014 at 7:30pm, but our Saturday, June 7th show is already completely sold out. See our website for more information.

The playwrights are so excited to share these original works with you!