Dayton Playhouse announces FutureFest playwrights


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Dayton Playhouse announces FutureFest playwrights

How to Go:

What: FutureFest, the Dayton Playhouse festival of new plays

When: July 25-27, 2014

Where: The Dayton Playhouse, 1301 E. Siebethaler Ave, Dayton

Tickets: Weekend Passes for $95 (all six shows plus some refreshments) will go on sale May 19th. Individual show tickets ($18) will be available for purchase beginning June 30th.

Auditions: Those interested in performing in FutureFest plays can audition at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 1. There will be auditions for the fully-staged plays at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 2 and at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 3 for those plays that will be staged readings. Call-backs will be held on June 4.

Anyone interested in directing or serving as a member of the production staff is asked to contact Fran Pesch, FutureFest Program Director, by May 15th (

For more information:

The Dayton Playhouse has just announced the finalists for FutureFest 2014. The annual festival of new plays will take place July 25-27.

The idea behind FutureFest is to introduce and stage a group of new scripts and to provide the kind of helpful feedback to the playwrights that will aid them in taking their dramas to the next level. For the past 24 years, the mammoth undertaking — six shows in a weekend — has been accomplished by a dedicated group of more than 100 Playhouse volunteers who evaluate, select and stage the theatrical premieres.

This year’s finalists will travel to Dayton from New York, California, Michigan and Georgia.

And the winners are…

M.J. Feeley, who grew up in Washington Twp. and Centerville and attended Miami University, will be returning to FutureFest for the fifth time.

His play “Bookends” was a 2006 FutureFest finalist, his play “Night and Fog” won FutureFest in 2009, his plays “Roosevelt’s Ghost” and “On the Road to Kingdom Come,” were finalists in 2011 and 2013, respectively.

Two of his plays — “The Paymaster” and “Masterwork” — will be staged this summer. Since the inception of FutureFest, Feeley is only the third playwright to have two plays chosen for the final six.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be coming home again for the fifth time,” said Feeley, who lives in Los Angeles and says its always valuable for a playwright to see his work ‘on its feet.’

“Words on a page are words on a page until the playwright can hear them spoken by actors and see them on a stage,” he explained. “FutureFest is particularly valuable because of the quality of the work the folks at Dayton Playhouse do each year. I’ve always learned something new about my plays every time I’ve been there.”

Feeley says the inspiration for “The Paymaster” comes from his Irish heritage and an old family legend. In a sense, he adds, its also about immigration and becoming an American.

“Masterwork,” Feeley says, was suggested by his reaching a “certain age” and concerns a playwright who learns two things in the same day — the idea for his greatest play and that he has six months to live.

First timer

Playwright Jennifer Lynne Roberts will be coming to the festival for the first time. Her winning play is titled “The Killing Jar,”and centers around the relationship between a painter/curator and an artist she hopes to convince to have an exhibit at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

“When Fran Pesch (FutureFest’s program director) called to tell me the good news, it was all I could do to not hoot and holler,” Roberts said. “But I remained composed. Professional. Until I hung up. Then I let it out — loudly.”

Roberts said she was drawn to FutureFest in large part because of the group’s obvious love of playwrights and desire to support new plays.

“I’m eager to meet the other playwrights, see their work, talk with them, and get a feel for the diverse new work that’s happening across the country,” said Roberts, who grew up in Pennsylvania, lived in Columbus for three years, and now lives in California.

She says she’s also looking forward to being a member of an audience that loves theater and is clearly invested in seeing the work become what it’s meant to be.

At FutureFest the audience gets into the act — voicing opinions and interacting with playwrights and critics following each presentation.

“It’s invaluable because playwrights need to see their work on stage early and often,” Roberts said. “It’s how plays are made; it’s how they are developed; it’s how they become. Words on the page is the idea. Hearing the words informs the idea. Seeing it tells you everything else that listening to it couldn’t. Add audience, add feedback, and all the pieces start fitting together.”

OtherFutureFest finalists plays and playwrights will include: “The Humanist” by Kuros Charney, a previous FutureFest semi-finalist; “Sugarhill” by Linda Ramsay-Detherage; and “Wash, Dry, Fold” by Nedra Pezold Roberts, a previous semi-finalist

According to Pesch, 151 submissions were received this year. Half of this year’s selected playwrights are women.

Getting feedback

Helen Sneed, a popular FutureFest adjudicator over the past 20 years, has been confirmed as a judge and will return this year. Her own play, “Fix Me, Jesus,” that premiered Off-Broadway last fall will receive its regional premiere as part of the Dayton Playhouse 2014-15 season.

Sneed has been affiliated with Dramatists Play Service, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre and Walt Disney Theatricals, and has said she’s learned more about the American theater in Dayton, Ohio, than in New York.

“Each festival is unique, thrilling, unpredictable, grueling, hilarious and thought-provoking,” Sneed told us last year. “Some plays and productions are of such high quality they could be lifted up and placed in New York. Regional theater is the bedrock of our national theater — The Playhouse and FutureFest are living, growing, thrilling proof. “

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