Three student-written plays, performed by students as a script-in-hand
production, will be presented this weekend at the Andrew J and Georgia
Neese Gray Theatre in the Garvey Fine Arts Center.
“Open Book: Three original plays to wrap your mind around” features
“Petrol” by Cal Phoenix, “Stick Winter,” by Kerry Wright and “Choices”
by Austin Swisher.
Director Penelope Weiner said these three plays were chosen because they
“felt compelling and close to ready for me.” Each was written – or
became a play – in the playwriting class Weiner teaches.
The actors performing these plays will have scripts in hand. They’ve had
a limited number of rehearsals – just three weeks from first rehearsal
to opening night.
“We’ve got suggested blocking and set, but kept it to a minimum,
focusing on a character, relationship and some sense of ‘the world’ of
the play,” Weiner explained.
“Petrol” will be presented first, followed by “Stick Winter” and
finally, “Choices.” The production is expected to last about 90 minutes,
including an intermission. There is a bit of adult language and activity.
“The Actors have really worked to understand and give these scripts
their full attention and energy,” Weiner said. The actors want the work
of their fellow students to be presented well.
Phoenix is an English major from Topeka who expects to graduate in 2015.
“Petrol” began as a short fiction that she abandoned in high school and
brought back to life through the playwriting class. “It gave them a new
voice,” she said of the characters, two girls in a London train station
who realize they need to mature.
She’s looking forward to seeing the interpretation of her work on stage.
“Once you let go of your art, it’s up to the audience to develop their
own impressions of it,” Phoenix said.
Kerry Wright is an English major who has lived in Topeka for several
years. She expects to graduate in May. “Stick Winter” began as a short
story and was “re-appropriated into a play” for her class, Wright said.
The characters, a man and woman in their late 20s, are both experiencing
“It’s strange. I didn’t think anything would come of the play at all,”
Wright said. “It was a bad little story, so I’m glad I was able to
re-appropriate it into something else.”
Austin Swisher is originally from Council Grove, Kansas. He’s a theatre
major who will graduate in May. He said “Choices” is about young people
at the point of early adulthood “where a lot of big choices are being
made and they’re ungraceful at handling them.”
He began working on the play two years ago and said he’s not even
certain it’s finished. Swisher was an actor in the Washburn Theatre
production of “Our Country’s Good” and has performed with Ad Astra
The performances – Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
– are free for all visitors but a donation to Washburn Players is
suggested. Washburn Players, a student group, will use the funds to
travel to see a play. Last year, the group saw “War Horse” in Kansas