Urbanite Theatre's Modern Works Wish List

Arts & Culture

BY ANDREW FABIAN SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY OCT 11, 2019

As Urbanite Theatre’s 2nd annual Modern Works Festival closes in on its last three nights, Brendan Ragan, co-founder and co-artistic director, hopes to check three items off his Festival wish-list. The first wish is for “audiences to have a thrilling, entertaining time,” he says. Secondly, he would like for the three competition finalists to feel like they have garnered usable audience feedback to fine tune their scripts. The final and most ambitious wish is for at least one of the plays to emerge as a polished product ready for full production. By the Festival’s end on Sunday night, he may have all three.

The Festival began on Tuesday and features three plays selected from over 300 nationwide submissions by amateur and semi-professional playwrights. Throughout the six-day event, each finalist has their pieces workshopped three times with staged readings by professional directors and actors. At the end of the Festival, a combination of show-goers and panelists vote for a winning play and its author takes home 3000 smackaroos. 

“We have three exciting plays, all of them different,” says Ragan. One is a classic family drama about a daughter who must care for her aging father, another explores the peculiarities of small-town gossip surrounding a female newcomer, while the third uses elements of absurdism, horror and humor to illuminate the inner lives of little girls. The only common thread for all three plays is that they are all written by women and feature female protagonists— a deliberate part of Urbanite’s mission to infuse more gender equality into the world of theatre, a driving force in the Festival’s creation. “In the theatre world, 70% of playwrights are male,” says Ragan, “and Urbanite Theatre has always been committed to parity.” 

Audiences who have already missed out on the first half of the Festival can binge watch all three readings tomorrow, Saturday the 12th, beginning at 3 pm. On Sunday, audiences have an opportunity to discuss and debate the plays, and at this point, Ragan will have a pretty good idea if his wishes have come true. 

Photo by Jess Pope.

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