Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA festival features works by top playwrights

April 10, 2012 - Sylvia Bierschenk
NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - East Texans can be among the first to hear the newest works by three acclaimed playwrights during the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre's 2012 Festival of New American Plays Tuesday, April 24, through Saturday, April 28.

"Every two years, we invite some of the best playwrights in the nation to participate in our biennial event," said Scott Shattuck, director of the SFA School of Theatre.

"This year we are honored to have with us John Cariani, author of 'Almost, Maine,' one of the most frequently produced plays in the United States; Constance Congdon, who has had more than 200 productions world-wide; and Jack Heifner, our own playwright-in-residence and author of 'Vanities,'" Shattuck continued.

Nacogdoches audiences have been exposed recently to the work of all three artists. "Almost, Maine" was produced in the SFA School of Theatre's 2010 Mainstage Series, and Congdon's version of "Beauty and the Beast" set box office records in SFA's 2010 Summer Repertory Season. Heifner most recently directed the SFA production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

During the course of the five-day festival, each playwright's work will be presented twice, as a staged reading by SFA theatre students.

The festival will open at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, with two one-acts by Heifner. The story line of "Brilliants" centers on the writer and director of the longest-running show off-Broadway who comes to SFA to try to present a new play, and "Hate Mail" tells the story of a 50-year-old exchange between two people who can't stop writing viscious things to one another.

Heifner's plays will be presented for the second time at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 27.

Cariani's "Love/Sick" is a series of eight short plays that closely examine life, love, relationships and mental health in suburbia, said Heifner. "Each presents a slightly twisted love story and asks the questions, 'How sick are we?' 'How well are we?' 'Are we better off alone or coupled' and 'Who's to say?'"

Cariani's work will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, and again at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 28.

Congdon's "Take me to the River" explores the devastating impact on a small farming community in Colorado when water rights are lost to the government.

"Congdon makes a global issue both intimate and personal, as two families struggle to survive the ordeal with humor, anger and wisdom," Heifner said.

The play will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26, and at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 28.

Following the 5 p.m. Saturday performance, all three playwrights will participate in a talk-back session.

All performances of the festival will be in the Downstage Theatre of the Griffith Fine Arts Building, 2210 Alumni Drive. Due to adult language and themes, all plays are recommended for mature audiences.

The festival is sponsored in part by Tipton Ford-Lincoln of Nacogdoches.

Tickets for each performance are $12 for adults and $6 for students.
For tickets or more information, please go to www.finearts.sfasu.edu or call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS.