Most of the time I write about myself in this space, but I thought it might be a good idea to introduce a few places and people you may not have heard about. After all, I can’t very well complain about WV writers not getting enough notoriety if I’m not willing to promote them myself. So without further ado, here are some awesome people, mostly from WV, whom I’ve been fortunate enough to meet during my adventures. And please forgive my overuse of superlatives. They’re just great, awesome, wonderful, amazing people.
Jeremy F. Richter: Talented playwright and composer living in Wheeling. His play “Future, Now” was recently published and presented at the 2017 National Thespians Conference.
Jason Half: Man of mystery and a writer of mystery, too. That is, obviously, in addition to being one of the kindest people you’re likely to ever meet.
Jonathan Joy: A Huntington resident whose plays have been widely read and produced. We were fortunate enough to read one of his works last year at TOTL, and it was absolutely hysterical.
Catherine Bush: Resident playwright at Barter Theatre, in beautiful Abingdon, VA. Her work and resume speaks for itself, but I’m gonna go ahead and mention her anyway, because she’s a huge supporter of Appalachian plays and playwrights. You can see her work being produced at Barter’s and numerous colleges and venues across the country every year.
Eric Fritzius: Playwright, author, and monster lover. I mean, lover of monsters. Or no, that’s not right... He writes about monsters. He’s also a wonderful director, who graciously directed a production of “People at the Edge of Town” last spring at the Marlington Opera House.
Kelly McBurnette-Andronicos: Indiana playwright and all around awesome lady. I had the good fortune to be a part of Barter’s Festival of Appalachian Plays and Playwrights with her in 2016.
Others Totally Worth Knowing (in no particular order): Buzz McLaughlin, Kate Clark, Russell Davis, Karen Sunde, Sarah Lawrence Riehm, Hadasa Mercado, Kara Emily Krantz, Jared Eberline, Jennifer Potts, Tracey Lee, Ben Bartolone, and Owen Robertson. Some of these writers have been my mentors and have had long careers in writing. Some are colleagues and NHIA alumni who are just trying to get going, much like me. But almost all of them can be found on the New Play Exchange or with a ten second Google search.
Theaters & Companies
Theatre on the Lake: What? You thought I wouldn’t plug our own company? Pshaw! Our 2018 schedule will be out soon, and I’m very, very excited about what’s coming.
The Bluestone Project: From the mind of my friend and fellow playwright Ben Bartolone, The Bluestone Project seeks to bring more empathy to the world and to theatre. If there’s a more noble cause out there, I don’t know what it is. Bluestone will be featuring a reading of Hadasa Mercado’s work on February 15th in NYC. Hadasa is an incredibly kind playwright from Puerto Rico, and I’m so glad her work is getting a wider audience. More details on the website.
Lab Theater Projects: Another brainchild from an NHIA playwriting alumni. Lab Theater was started by the incredibly hard working Owen Robertson two years ago, and it has now blossomed to the point where Lab was just named the best new theatre in Tampa for 2017. Owen’s dedication to new work and new playwrights is beyond inspiring. Truly. And he’s an even better friend.
Vintage Theatre Company (VTC): Vintage began in Clarksburg in 2012, and has now grown to become the de facto Shakespearean theatre troupe in the state. Jason Young and his band of tireless performers and comedians have put in long hours touring around WV’s country roads bringing comedy and the Bard’s words to every hollow and nook. VTC also recently launched the state’s first theatrical publishing establishment!
Others: M.T. Pockets in Morgantown, Our Town Theatre in Oakland, MD, and the Preston Community Arts Center (The Petersons have been bringing theatre and music to Kingwood for two decades, and are still going strong.)
My apologies if I missed you. I know there are more. Many, many more. These were just the people and places that popped into my head. Perhaps I’ll do another round on my next update. I figure the more the better.
Oh, and in terms of my own writing, my short play, The Spider Test, will be produced on March 4th at Try It Out Theatre in Baltimore, MD. I also have a few other production announcements coming, but I’m going to keep those cats in their bags a little longer.
So, till next time! And in the meanwhile, should you find yourself with a spare evening or night, I would ask that you perhaps consider reading a new play script, going to see a new show, or volunteering at your local theater. I'm going to try and do the same. And hopefully a few boats will rise. I figure it's worth a shot.