March 05, 2004

Students will showcase playwriting at festival

By Dave Nobles - Kansan staff writer
Photo by Amanda Kim Stairrett

Two University of Kansas students are scheduled to have their plays performed at a festival starting tonight.

The 2004 Women’s Playwrighting Festival, presented by Potluck Productions, will begin at 8 tonight and continue through March 14 at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City, Mo.

Caroline Dias da Silva, Rio de Janiero, Brazil, senior and Libby Dean, Louisburg junior, are the two KU students who had their plays chosen to be in the festival.

The two 10-minute plays are among the 13 that will be performed at each showing. Dias da Silva’s play, The Last Cigarette, focuses on a homosexual bartender coming on to a straight man who has fallen on hard times.

Dias da Silva said that the theme of the play was addiction and that it was buried in the story.

“It’s like an iceberg,” Dias da Silva said, “Seven eighths of it is under the surface.”

Dias da Silva said that her play was among the first that she had written.Dean’s work is about a young woman in a relationship who takes a pregnancy test. It was Dean’s first attempt at playwriting. The play, A Test of Will, is not based on Dean’s own experiences, she said.

“I was worried about it because my family’s going to see it,” Dean said. “I know they’re going to think it is.”

Both playwrights originally saw themselves as fiction writers, but wrote the plays as part of a playwriting class taught by Paul Lim, professor of English.Lim is the only playwriting professor at the University, as well as the head of the English Alternative Theatre.

Lim submitted the plays to the committee in charge of selection for the festival. More than 100 scripts were submitted for production. Dias da Silva was surprised when she received notification that her play was selected for the festival.

“I got this e-mail that said, ‘We’re going to produce your play,’” Dias da Silva said. “I was like, ‘What?!’”

Lim keeps a file of plays that he thought were interesting from his 15 years at the University, and, when a festival opportunity arises, he often submits a play that might fit the desired arena.

Dean said that Lim’s influence was important to his students’ writing style and exposure.

“He is so good about getting your plays out there,” Dean said.

Lim said that writing a 10-minute play was difficult and that he only offered his assurance to guide his students.

“Thankfully, these students just jump right in,” Lim said. “All I can do is sit back and help them shape it.”

The festival will run for two weeks, with tickets priced at $10. There will be four shows each week in which all the plays will be performed.

Normally, the festival showcases female playwrights from all over the country, but in this year it will only produce plays from writers in Kansas and Missouri, co-producer Joyce Slater said. The festival is in its tenth year.

A company of eight actors perform the plays and generally do two plays a piece, Slater said.

Slater, who also acts in the plays, said the festival was a celebration of female playwrights.

We promote and support the playwrights and get the plays on their feet, Slater said.

— Edited by Henry C. Jackson

Original Story Located Here

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