Getting new plays to the stage

ArtWork Enterprises, producers of the annual Ashland New Plays Festival (ANPF), the Rogue Valley Ten-Minute Plays Festival (TMPF), and the Southern Oregon 24"&

162;7 Project, is looking for scripts and volunteers and will host a free workshop for anyone curious about what it takes to get a new play off the page and onto the stage.

Beginning this year, AWE will produce the 10-Minute Plays Festival as a benefit for a deserving local nonprofit group. AWE will use theater to highlight the mission and theme of its selected beneficiary. For 2008, AWE has chosen Friends of the Animal Shelter, a group that provides support services to the Jackson Country Animal Shelter, and thus is looking for short plays that touch on human-animal interactions.

The script should be 8 to 12 pages in length with a cast size of — to 5 characters.

Submissions are due July 15 (no submission fee) and the festival will take place in late August or early September. See Web site for details.

Organizations like AWE thrive on the energy of volunteers, most of whom were first introduced as audience members.

The group received submissions from about 500 playwrights over the course of 2007 and is on track to break that record in 2008.

AWE has opportunities for play-goers to become better acquainted with the art form and is seeking volunteers to work behind the scenes and way-behind the scenes helping select the plays and to organize aspects of the festivals.

AWE will hold "From Page to Stage: How to Read New Plays" from — to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 19, in the Gresham Room of the Ashland Branch Library, 410 Siskiyou Boulevard, Ashland.

The workshop is designed to help theatre-lovers evaluate new plays. AWE produces staged readings of new plays several times a year, using Ashland's pool of actors and directors. Its volunteer play readers sift through hundreds of works submitted from playwrights all around the world.

At most festivals, playwrights are lucky if more than one person evaluates a script. AWE guarantees at least three readings for each script in its ANPF, and the scripts in the final round will be evaluated by about 30 people. The group also provides written feedback to the playwrights, something else that is rare.

Maggie McClellan, professor of theatre at Southern Oregon University, is organizing the workshop. She will be choosing three to five 10-minute plays as guinea-pig scripts for the workshop. These represent the spectrum of plays AWE receives every year, from the sublime to the less-than-perfect.

Workshop participants should visit the AWE Web site and download the sample scripts, read them, then fill out a brief evaluation form.

See , or call 482-4357.

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