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Western gets ready for Purple Shorts
By Maggie Wrobel
Ever write something so good you wanted to share it with others?
Purple Shorts, Western's brand-new one-act play festival, is giving
Western student playwrights exactly that – the much-coveted opportunity to
stage their work.
"Students are always writing and there is rarely a venue for their work,"
said Michelle Witen, Theatre Western commissioner and festival founder and
co-producer. "I'm just so happy to be a part of this pilot project that
allows people's work to be seen."
The festival, which began its run on Wednesday and continues tonight and
tomorrow at Talbot Theatre, features seven plays entirely written,
directed and performed by Western students.
A call for submissions by Witen and her co-producer Derritt Mason earlier
this year brought forth approximately 15 hopefuls for the festival, of
which a selection committee chose the seven plays featured.
English professor Allan Pero, a member of the selection committee, said he
was impressed by the quality of submissions.
"I was absolutely taken aback in the best sense of the word," he said.
"The plays are smart, funny, witty and thoughtful – a good cross-section
The seven plays featured at the festival are a diverse mix, including
satiric comedies and sombre dramas. The topics covered range from feminism
to religion to time travel.
According to Witen, diversity was an important consideration. "Before this
idea came together, theatre at Western consisted largely of musicals and
operettas and didn't really include drama," she said. "I wanted to give
people exposure to all sorts of different works."
Student playwrights like Claire McCague are grateful for the opportunity
to have their work featured.
"I'm glad to see Theatre Western jump in, launching the work of seven
student playwrights [and] giving them a chance to see their work brought
into the light," McCague said. Her play, Intersection, is one of the
selections being staged at the festival.
Pero agreed that the presence of theatre is important on campus. "Watching
something live onstage gives us a sense of community and immediacy that
can't be duplicated by watching TV," he said.
Tonight's show starts at 8 p.m. and the line-up includes McCague's
Intersection, as well as Timeplay by Michael Tipping and A Wake Before
Rising by Kat Evans.
Saturday's shows include matinee performances at 2 p.m. of Oedipus Rex? as
adapted by Genevieve Kwant, The Wait by Isabelle Ortega and Payne in the
Neck by Kayt Lackie, as well as evening performances of Evans' A Wake,
Tipping's Timeplay and Diamonds by Luke Maynard.
The $8 ticket to the festival includes three plays, while a two-night
ticket is $14 and includes six shows. Tickets are available at the USC
Front or at the door prior to showtime.