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Festival Fosters New Talent

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Photo credit: Elise Ramel

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Written by: Colby ShoupMarch 01, 2017

The Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival will feature three new plays by up-and-coming writers at the Parkview Physicians Group ArtsLab Theatre March 18.

The scripts for the plays are the three winners of Fort Wayne Civic Theatre’s annual playwriting competition and will be staged by local directors and performers.

One of these performers is Brock Eastom, junior communications major. Eastom will star in a fully staged production of “One Foot In the Gravy” by Howard Kingkade, which placed first in the contest.

“There’s so many playwrights out there that people don’t know about, and this festival gives them the opportunity to have their play produced,” Eastom said. “It’s a great opportunity for the actors as well because the script for this show is so funny and the characters are so well-rounded and unique.”

In “Gravy,” Eastom plays Ned, a man who disguises himself as a female nurse in order to hasten the death of his lover’s rich, elderly husband. The show pays tribute to screwball comedy films of the 1940s, a genre Kingkade said he has loved his whole life.

“My main impetus for writing the play though was to get people to laugh, and hopefully people will come to see the play and tell me if I’ve succeeded,” Kingkade said in a video on Civic’s website.

“My Dead Clown,” the second place winner, also has a lot in common with screwball comedies, said Reuben Albaugh, IPFW alumnus and box office supervisor.

The play focuses on a grieving funeral director who crosses paths with Dingy, the crazy ghost of a dead clown. Albaugh plays Dingy in a reading of the show directed by Craig Humphries, associate professor of theatre.

“I tend to approach things in terms of physicality,” Albaugh said. “So, the fact that this is a play reading and not a staged production I think might make it harder for me to portray him through just my vocal energy and not through physicality. It will be interesting finding the character with those limitations.”

This is Albaugh’s second year participating in the festival. He said he wanted to come back because he loves the thrill of bringing new characters and stories to Fort Wayne.

“I love going to the theater period, but I would rather see a new play than see a production that has been done 100 times,” Albaugh said. “I want to see a new play that is exciting and people haven’t seen before, and I think other people want that too.”

The Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival will begin with a reading of third place winner “The Unpredictability of Fire” at 10 a.m. followed by a reading of “My Dead Clown” at 2 p.m. and a performance of “One Foot In The Gravy” at 8 p.m.

Tickets to the readings cost $10 each. Tickets to “One Foot In the Gravy” are $20. Additional performances of “Gravy” will run March 17-26.