New Play Festival April 1-3: Some Authors Share their Stories

The plays by 11 ACTC students will premier this weekend. Performance of the New Play Festival are at 7:00 p.m. April 1 and 2, and 2:30 p.m. April 3 in the College Drive Campus Theatre. The writers were students in a playwriting class taught last fall by Jonathan Joy, Assistant English Professor and the Festival Producer.

In the past three years, the New Play Fest has had a big impact on the Humanities at ACTC and the community, said Joy. Over sixty different actors and technicians from all over the River Cities worked to bring twenty three student written plays to the stage for their world premieres in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, 12 more short plays will find an audience for the first time.

This years crop of playwriting students is as diverse and engaging as the plays they are composing, and they add considerably to an already accomplished group of dramatists from the previous two years, Joy said.

Our plays this year include powerful, dramatic stories of past relationships, love in the face of illness, and funny tales of a deceased man whose soul may have moved on to a dog, and an absurdist look at motherhood. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The student writers will be introduced at the Friday night performance. Some of the writers have agreed to share a little bit about their play inspirations and their writing experience.

Ashley G. Hacker

Ashley Hacker, an education major who plans to become a high school English teacher, wrote two plays that are being produced for the New Play Festival.

Footnote is about a lost boy finding his way in life and meeting his first trial in the form of a young woman. Their meeting is therapeutic for the both of them, but doesn't work out how they thought it would, she said. Her second play, Don't Ask Questions, is about a couple searching for an apartment and a secret being spilled.

Having my own plays being out on stage is a surreal and slightly unnerving experience, Hacker said One play is rather personal to me, so it's going to be wonderful to see.

Hacker graduated from Greenup County High School in 2012. My advisor at ACTC said that playwriting was a course that I could take for one of my degree requirements, and I decided to take it. With my background in writing and theater, I figured that this class would be amazing -- and I was absolutely right.

In addition to being a first time playwright, Hacker is also a first time director. She is directing Goodbye, Love, a play written by fellow student Tiffany Triplett. I plan to minor in theater education, so directing has been a great experience for me she said. It's amazing to work with my cast, Tessa Jacobs and Dawson Clark, who are both Fairview High School students.

Joey M. McCleese

Street Walker is a kind of timeless love story told from the prospective of a retired mill worker whose love for his ailing wife leads him to despair and a life choice that will have you wondering, what would I do? said playwright Joey McCleese.

The story is a compilation of many feelings and situations I have observed throughout life, and I was intrigued by the prospect of having my work acted out on stage, Joey said. My life has had a lot of ups and downs, with an emphasis on the downs but Ive been able to turn my life around.

He graduated from ACTC in December and is now a Psychology major at Morehead State University. My goal is to obtain a doctorate of psychology so I can help other parents and families with special needs children and those who suffer from the disease of addiction.

Writing is a way of dealing with life as well as communicating with others. Ive written for a long time on my own, first poems and then songs, so I jumped at the chance to have a creative writing class in my last semester, Joey said. I thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Joys playwriting class and his way of nurturing the story, he said.

My classmates were extremely talented writers who expressed boundless creativity as well as limitless writing prowess, Joey added. I can assure the audience that they will be every bit as captivated by their work as I have been.

Dylan R. Mullins

"In my play Devils Due, a young gun robs a train with the devil's Hog Leg (that's a six-gun amigo, yee haw!)," said Dylan Mullins, a physics/engineering major from Ashland.

"The story was something that was rattling in my brain for a while," Dylan said. "I just had an excuse to put pen to paper, or fingers to keys in this case. The play came from my love of dark fantasy and Westerns, particularly the Spaghetti ones like A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."

"I am planning on majoring in electrical engineering. Physics doesn't have the jobs I'd like to have. But having a bachelors in physics won't hurt. I'm going to Morehead State University, and they offer a duel degree for Physics/Engineering."

"How does writing fit into engineering? Making a generator that runs at 20% efficiency, or better if someone already beat me to it, would be cool," Dylan said. "But my real dream is to write Sci-Fi novels, the hard science kind. But, if worst comes to worst. I'll still be able to make my generator. I don't expect much of my writing career, everyone needs a hobby."

"The playwriting class was a lot of fun," added Dylan. "The biggest thing I learned was that you have to let the actors do the play. If you want a story to be told on stage, leave some wiggle room for the stagehands and actors to make it their own."

Kyle M. Lowe

"A Tale of Misfortune is a brief monologue tapping into people's natural paranoia and fear," said playwright Kyle M. Lowe. "Are you afraid of the dark? If so, sitting through this play may give you one more reason to look for the thing you've glimpsed out of the corner of your eye during your late nightly routine."

"The process of seeing an idea develop from just an idea to a functional rough draft to a completed work is something hard to really describe," Kyle said. "It's great to see the bare bones of a concept grow into a worthwhile vision."

"Overall, I'm glad I took the class," Kyle added. "I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing a career in writing in films, books, plays, or anything else along those lines."

Kyle graduated from Fairview High School in 2012 and is undecided about a major. "I've always had the idea of trying to be a writer or something along those lines, so this is something I will be considering in the future."

Audrey B. Wallace

Through His Eyes is a short play about a man reminiscing on the time spent with his wife before his death, said playwright Audrey Wallace. As he is reminded of their early years of marriage by a young couple bickering in the store, he hopes to convey an important message to the couple - that nothing is more important, or more dear, than the time you have together.

"The inspiration for my play was my own husband," Audrey said. "We very recently got married and I can only hope that our marriage is full of moments that we can look back on and appreciate, not moments filled with senseless bickering."

A Catlettsburg resident and home-schooled student who graduated in 2014, she is an education major and hopes to teach middle school students.

"I really enjoyed my creative writing class," Audrey added. "I was a little hesitant at first because it was a play writing class, but I quickly got the hang of things and enjoyed the class very much." 

NOTE: Tickets for the New Plays Festival are $5 and may be purchased in the ACTC Bookstore or at the door before each performance. Admission on Sunday is $5 or 2 cans of food for Safe Harbor.