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PlaySmelter refining Sudbury's aspiring playwrights

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | May 08, 2014 - 2:09 PM |
Actors Val MacMenemey and Morgan St. Onge perform Karen Thistle's “The Intermediaries” at PlaySmelter May 7. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Actors Val MacMenemey and Morgan St. Onge perform Karen Thistle's “The Intermediaries” at PlaySmelter May 7. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Six plays being workshopped at this year's festival

Aspiring playwright Karen Thistle said she is at a loss for words a way to describe how incredible her experience with PlaySmelter has been.

PlaySmelter, which began May 6 and runs until May 10, is a series of workshops put on by Pat the Dog Theatre Creation to help novice playwrights such as Thistle refine their plays.

During this year's PlaySmelter, four plays were read by actors in front of a live audience, and two others in earlier stages of development were staged behind closed doors.

Other participating playwrights were Kristin Shepherd with her play “Hope Op,” Jenny Hazelton with “Dead Pan Land,” Jesse Brady with “Ballad of the Locked Out Gang,” Lara Bradley with “Sperm Wars” and Cora Eckert with “Conception.”


Thistle's play, “The Intermediaries,” examines the idea that there could be magical creatures living in Bell Park.

She came up with the idea while participating in Sudbury Theatre Centre's Playwrights' Junction — a program that teaches aspiring playwrights about the craft — in the fall of 2012 and the winter of 2013.

Thistle, the manager of development and communications at the Art Gallery of Sudbury, said she's always dabbled with creative writing.

She said she decided to try writing plays because she's always had a lot of dialogue in her short stories.

Since completing the Playwrights' Junction program, she's been meeting with a group of fellow playwrights called The Inklings, and was able to complete her play.

During PlaySmelter, Thistle worked with theatre professionals to improve the play.

 

Actors also read her piece in front of a live audience May 6, and audience members gave her feedback about what they liked and didn't like about it. 


“I already have rewrites and tweaking and edits to do,” Thistle said. “Ideally, I'm going to get it to a point where it's polished and ready and then look at getting it on a stage somewhere.”

Getting an audience's reaction to a new play is valuable, said PlaySmelter festival co-ordinator Matthew Heiti.

“I can remember back to the first play I had workshopped,” said Heiti, who has had two of his plays produced by Sudbury Theatre Centre.

“What I remember was giggling hysterically, as I heard the director and the actors and the audience discussing it, because for the first time it was a validation that what I was working on had some value outside of my own bedroom or office.”

Heiti was also the dramaturge — an editor that works with playwrights to refine their work — for Thistle's play.

“A really good dramaturge is somebody who asks all of the right questions, some of the wrong ones, but gives you none of the answers,” he said.

Heiti said it's his ultimate hope that the six plays workshopped at this year's event and the four from last year will end up on the stage.

Already, some of last year's PlaySmelter participants have met with success, including Bradley, whose play “Blind Nickel Pig” will be staged by Encore Theatre Company this fall.

To learn more about PlaySmelter, visit www.patthedog.org/category/sudbury.

Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer

@heidi_ulrichsen

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