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Playwrights emerge from new workshop

The Workbench New Play Workshop, held June 12-18, was created by Greg Paul with support from the Northern Light Opera Company, Region 2 Arts Council and private donors.

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Inspired by six commonplace items, six local writers crafted original 10-minute plays at the Workbench New Play Workshop. A public performance, followed by a Q&A with the playwrights, was held June 19 at the Armory Arts and Events Center.

Six local writers developed six original skits during a week-long, intensive playwriting workshop.

The Workbench New Play Workshop, held June 12-18, was created by Greg Paul with support from the Northern Light Opera Company, Region 2 Arts Council and private donors.

Paul and guest playwright/poet Melanie Goodreaux led participants through a series of writing exercises. Both live in New York City.

The workshop was free. It was open to any and all interested writers – no prior playwriting experience needed.

Paul said, "I was extremely pleased with and proud of the work our playwrights created. It was fascinating from the first day, when the writers had nothing at all, to watch them try and fail and try again until they had that story they wanted to share with the world. Melanie Goodreaux and I were just blown away and couldn't be happier."

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For inspiration, budding playwrights were given a commonplace object – either a mousetrap, lottery ticket, bracelet, fortune cookie, handcuffs or a pair of dice – to incorporate into their tale. They had four days to generate a rough draft.

Charlie Edwins, one of the participants, said he’d written shorter plays for 4-H competitions. It was on his bucket list to do some creative writing this summer. “If you’re forced to do it in a week, that would be a good way to get that done,” Edwins said.

His play, “Of Mouse and Man,” centers around a down-on-his-luck businessman who must confront harsh realities with the help of an unusual guide: a mouse.

In “If By Chance” by Adin Dove, rolling dice aids a young man in overcoming the negative influence of an abusive father.

Mara Hansel’s play, “Break a Leg,” involves a magical, healing bracelet.

A fortune cookie takes center stage in Kathryn Gonzalez’ “A Hidden Fortune,” while Jerry Mevissen’s play, “Stag,” takes place at a bachelor’s party.

Actors read through the scripts on Thursday, June 17 with director Juliann Kjenaas. The six-member cast involved Phil Bender, Kaelen Emerson, Frankie Jager, Lorri Jager, Aaron Kjenaas and Abby Sellnow.

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The six-member cast included Abby Sellnow.

Emerson said Juliann helped the actors quickly develop their characters.

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Kaelen Emerson and Frankie Jager portray a brother and sister in "The Legend of the Ramadog."

Mevissen praised the acting as well. “My word on that: I could have given those guys my grocery list and they would do great theatre,” he said.
“I think they had a great turnout of people. We all had a blast,” Juliann said.

The public performance was held Friday, June 18 at the Armory Arts and Event Center.

Paul said he plans to facilitate another workshop, "building on and improving what we have started. I hope to be able to bring in more creative people in the future, possibly even graphic novelists and filmmakers."

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Related Topics: THEATER
Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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