Thursday, March 10, 2005

Classroom transitions to theater as KU students' plays hit stage

By Ashley Bechard
Picture by Mike Yoder

Emily is tired of bringing Colin his breakfast. For once, she wants it brought to her. Kansas University junior Kendra Finney's play, "Breakfast," turns a typical exchange between a college coed and her boyfriend into a mini-study of the dynamics of male-female relationships.

And it's all told, of course, from a woman's point of view.

The same is true for all of the plays selected for the 2005 Women's Playwriting Festival produced by Kansas City-based Potluck Productions. Finney's script is one of three works written by Kansas University students that will be staged during the show, which features 10-minute plays written by 10 women from Kansas and Missouri.

For Finney, Libby Dean and Kristin Soper, the festival is a chance to see their plays make it to the stage, an opportunity they wouldn't get in the classroom. The women wrote the plays in KU English professor Paul Lim's playwriting class. Lim said he was always looking for venues for his students to get their plays produced.

"This festival is such a big deal, even by our local standards," Lim said. "For them to get exposure in Kansas City and to have Kansas City audiences see their plays is great."

This is the second year Dean has participated in the festival. She said last year was a positive experience and that she was excited to be involved again.

"Everyone that I was associated with last year, they just loved to do this," said Dean, a KU senior. "They are open to suggestions and you can go to rehearsals, work with the director, see what they're doing with the script."

Dean's play, "The Option," is about a woman and her teenage son. Because the boy's dad died, his mother decides to give her son advice and information about sex. She decides to use football metaphors that don't always come across quite right.

"The Option" was also chosen for a staged reading at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival earlier this year. Dean's play didn't make it to the national level of the competition, something she said was a blessing in disguise.

"Had I kept going in the festival, I wouldn't have been able to do the women's festival, so everything actually worked out really well," Dean said.

Soper graduated from KU in 2003 but continues to live in Lawrence. Her play, "Ketchup," is a tribute to her grandparents. The show follows a couple who met in the 1940s, married and raised a family. They disagreed on many things: He liked ketchup on his eggs, she didn't; she liked to dance, he didn't. But despite these differences, this long-term relationship brings great happiness to two people.

This Friday will be the first time Finney will get to see her work on stage. Her script evolved from discussions she had with her ex-boyfriend, who will be in town for the festival. Finney said all of her family and friends would be there and that she was a little nervous to see how everything was going to work out.

"It's going to be amazing to see something that I've actually created being done by other people," Finney said. "The director was really good about asking me if my vision was coming through and if he had read the script how I intended it, so I'm excited to see how everything comes together."

The writers are free to work with the directors and actors, but they don't actually get to cast the actors. Finney said it was strange to see the actors and how they contrasted with her mental image of her characters.

"My script describes Colin as a hockey player, so I had someone really big and athletic pictured in my head," she said. "But the female actor they chose is actually taller than the one who plays Colin."

Regardless of how the plays turn out, both Dean and Finney said the festival was a great experience to complement their work in the classroom.

"Seeing it on stage is the greatest compliment I can get for something I've written," Dean said.

Picture Caption:
KU students Libby Dean, left, and Kendra Finney had their plays selected to be part of the 2005 Women's Playwriting Festival in Kansas City, MO. Also selected was Kristin Soper, not pictured.

Original Story Located Here
Additional articles located at:
The Pitch
The University Daily Kansan

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