This spring, the MU Department of Theatre performed 26 brand new plays written by students and community playwrights to get live audience feedback during the Mizzou New Play Series.
The plays were conducted in a concert-style, cold reading in front of an audience. The plays were first read at the Missouri Playwrights Workshop before being performed at The Mizzou New Play Series.
The actors, having not seen the script beforehand, performed the plays as a first read. When the play finished, the director and playwright sat with the audience and discussed what needed to be improved and what they liked. Director David Crespy enjoys the fact that these new playwrights and directors are able to get this direct feedback.
“It’s very important for the students because a lot of them have never had their play performed in front of a live audience before,” Crespy said. “They’ve never had a play rehearsed, and each play has a director or a dramaturg.”
This experience allows these playwrights and directors to show their vision with an audience who has never seen these plays before while also receiving feedback.
Dramaturg and playwright Cat Priamos wrote a play called “Speechless,” which was inspired by her younger brother. It is a play about her brother’s experiences with cerebral palsy and his struggles of not being heard.
“I wrote ‘Speechless’ because it’s based on my little brother who has cerebral palsy and is mute, and he’s always struggled that there’s never been a character like him ever on TV that he’s seen and he’s never had a character sound like him and look like him,” Priamos said. “I wanted to create a way for him to live on stage and see that his story is out there and needs to be told.”
There are many actors involved in the series, many of who are just getting started in acting. Through participating in the Mizzou New Play Series, the new actors have been able to bond with the cast and crew. Junior Juan Carlos Martinez Jr. has been involved in the Mizzou New Play Series for two years now.
“The first time [I ever did] this before was back when I first changed my major to theatre,” Martinez said. “One of my friends was like, ‘Hey you should try to audition for this play thing where you act,’ and I said, ‘I’m really introverted, I don’t know about that.’ He said, ‘No it’s fine. There’s no costumes, no scenery. There’s just you talking to the audience.’ So I gave it a try and now I’m here.”
Being a part of the Mizzou New Play Series is a learning experience for everyone involved. It is especially important to the students who have never written a play or worked with a director and crew before. With the discussion at the end of the play, the playwright and director are able to ask and answer questions, which helps all who are involved develop their skills and take this learning experience with them in the future.
Edited by Sophie Stephens | email@example.com