PlayFest: From Locals Weekend to ‘Global Warming: A Comedy’ – Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — Life is a comedy, a tragedy, a developing story — and so is PlayFest, the theater festival about to unfold.
A showcase of new works by nationally known and local playwrights, the 23rd annual PlayFest runs for two weekends in downtown Port Townsend.
Key City Public Theatre is the presenter of numerous one-act productions, staged readings, open rehearsals, full performances and workshops with Jefferson County playwrights plus visiting artists Tira Palmquist of California and Henry Feldman of New York City.
Single tickets for plays and events range from free to $10 to $20, while the PlayFest pass allows the theatergoer to see as many as eight plays for $35. The $95 Writer’s Pass includes Palmquist’s intensive workshop.
Locals Weekend is up first. Today through Sunday, theatergoers have their first chance to see and discuss:
• “Karma Descending” by David Hundhausen, in which the kids are home for the weekend, Mom’s drinking and there’s a secret in the basement.
• “The Vortex,” Doug Given’s play about a couple attempting to get out of their rut.
• Deborah Wiese’s “The Cord,” about a grandmother and grandson whose bond of love just might prevent a tragedy.
• “Coffin Nails” by Christopher Clow, in which there will be casualties in a war of words.
• “Red Tide” by Kimberly Hinton, in which the tide’s coming, though you may not know when.
• “Stationary,” Lillie Moses’ tale of a train station, four strangers and one common thread.
After these short productions and staged readings, the audience is invited to partake in a discussion of what worked and what didn’t — an invigorating experience, Given said.
“There is always an interesting mix of pieces,” he said. “As a playwright, I love that there are talkback sessions after every performance so that audience members can give immediate feedback on the pieces they just saw.”
Hinton expects her “Red Tide” will change plenty as PlayFest goes on — though how it will develop, she can’t foretell.
“I have a lot of things to explore with it,” she said.
The playwright added that she’s grateful for the chance to hear actors bring her play alive — and to challenge herself in the process of reworking it all.
Another new play, “Hold Steady,” is the centerpiece of PlayFest’s evening with Palmquist next Friday, March 8. It introduces us to a group of friends celebrating their 10-year high school reunion. They’re packing debt, self-doubt and worry about the future. Will the company of old friends provide the comfort and inspiration they all yearn for?
After a performance of “Hold Steady,” the playwright and the audience will exchange ideas about this and other questions that come up. “It’s a privilege to see the pros revise and rewrite,” said Wiese, who’s had many of her original plays selected for performances during PlayFest.
Then Palmquist, whom actress Melissa Muguruza calls a “badass” who writes only the juiciest characters, will teach two workshops. First is one for writers of all levels titled “Possibilities and Potentials” on March 9; then comes an advanced intensive, “Negotiations, Seductions and Fights,” on March 10.
Feldman, meanwhile, is bringing his new work, “Global Warming: A Comedy” to Port Townsend.
“A real estate agent, his client, three climate researchers and a climate denier walk into a Miami bar,” the synopsis begins. But wait — you haven’t heard this joke before, Feldman promises. “There’s nothing funny about global warming, except this play” is his tag line.
The feedback Feldman and the rest receive during post-play discussions is an essential ingredient for them, said Wiese. For audience members, it’s just fun to give input on work that is making its debut here in Port Townsend.
Three more events round out the PlayFest experience: the Teen Lab discussion between Palmquist and local teen writers, the “Working Drafts” readings of local playwrights’ scripts in development, and the workshop staging of “Needles & Pins” by Port Townsend’s D.D. Wigley. All are March 9.
Starting with Locals Weekend, this festival “is a good time to get inspired by your neighbors,” said Hinton.
“The more chances we take to see and encourage and support one another, the more we open up the floodgate of creativity in our community.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.