Jacob’s Eye On…Project Playwright

Project Playwright is one of the most interesting theater based challenges that playwrights can tackle in Kansas City. (Logo property of Project Playwright)

By: Jacob Elyachar

Imagine if you have 22 hours to write a play from idea to performance.

For many people who are non-playwrights, it would be completely nerve-wracking.   However, for those brave souls who tackle this monstrous assignment, there is a program that is slowly gaining ground in Kansas City, Mo. called Project Playwright.

“Project Playwright is a competition where five emerging writers are going to compete in four rounds,” said Davie Hanson, the show’s Executive Producer and Moderator.   “Three writers per round for two weekends to name one winner.”

Near the end of the competition, the top three playwrights from each round will tackle one final play.  At stake is a $500 cash prize.  For Hanson, he wanted to work on this project, so he could return the favor and help people in the similar position he was in years ago.

“Over the course of my life, a lot of people have produced my work and so I got to a point where I wanted to give back and produce work for other folks and give them the same support that I got.” Hanson said.

In order for playwrights to succeed in this competition, each of them had the opportunity to work with a cast of actors and a director where they had 12-hours to bring a story to life.   So how does it work? It all starts out a 60-second scene challenge, where the playwright has six minutes to write a one to two page scene.   After the actors act out all three scenes, the judge will determine which playwright wins an advantage in the next challenge.    The advantage could include choosing their own director or cast.    Some of the actors, including local actress Nicole Santorella, state that the enthused playwrights bring a level of energy that inspires them to perform better.

“If they (the playwrights) can write a play in 10 hours, then truly I can memorize this (the material) in one day,” Santorella said. “It’s a lot of stress but it pushes you to dive into your character and bring it to life.”

After their rehearsal time is over, the actors performed their 10-minute play that incorporated a overall theme that contained a theatrical twist.   Recently, during the third semi-final, playwrights had to write a office comedy that featured a supernatural element as the theatrical twist.  That supernatural twist involved a ghost who haunted their old office and either helped or harmed job seekers with their interview with Human Resources.

That play’s winner: Michael Ruth, who wrote about an old Sprint employee haunting their old office, won the third semi-final and was set to take on two previous winners: Bryan Colley and Vicki Vodrey in the finals.

To find out who won the $500 prize and to learn more about Project Playwright, visit the group’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ProjectPlaywright

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Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar