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New Summer Festival Dedicated to Emerging Playwrights

photoPegasus PlayLab provides opportunities for students and audience members to watch experimental new works by the next generation of playwrights.

UCF is launching Pegasus PlayLab, a new summer theatre festival dedicated to developing new plays by emerging playwrights. The festival, which runs June 2-24 and Aug. 23-25 on the UCF campus, comprises three workshops and one fully mounted play.

Two years ago when Julia Listengarten became artistic director for UCF’s School of Performing Arts, her goals were to increase the theatre’s focus on contemporary works and to include students in as much of the creative process as possible. Since then, Theatre UCF has included more emerging plays during the academic year, striving for a balance between educational classics and experimental new works.

Listengarten worked with one of UCF’s partners, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, in designing the festival, which complements the Shakespeare troupe’s annual PlayFest.

“I collaborated closely with Cynthia White, director of new play development at Orlando Shakespeare Theater [and lecturer in directing at UCF] who has a lot of experience working with emerging playwrights,” Listengarten says. “After Human Error was workshopped as a staged reading at Orlando Shakes’ PlayFest last fall, the decision was made to mount a full production at UCF, and Pegasus PlayLab took flight.”

White will be directing two of the three workshop readings, Intuitive Men and Bathsheba’s Psalms. The third reading, He Did It, will be directed by Michael Wainstein, director of the UCF’s School of Performing Arts. The playwrights will be on campus for the duration of their play’s production, workshopping in real-time with the cast and crew. And for the Sunday performance of each, audience members are invited for conversations with the playwright, cast and crew.

Not only are the playwrights receiving valuable feedback and strengthening their work, workshopping plays in real time is a unique experience for the students involved. The process will include staged readings and script workshopping with the director, assistant director, dramaturg, sonographer, cast and crew.

“We feel it’s incredibly important for our students to understand the new play development process,” Listengarten says. “That’s something that our students have not really been exposed to.”

Most plays are unchangeable once they have been produced. “You have to make that text work,” Listengarten says. “But in this situation, there’s an opportunity for change. The playwright might bring a new draft to the next rehearsal, and it’s that fluidity that we’re really excited about embracing.”

The playwrights are emerging playwrights and recent MFA graduates from across the country. Next year, Listengarten hopes to have more submissions from the Central Florida community — perhaps even some from UCF.

Tickets for Pegasus PlayLab are available at theatre.ucf.edu and at the UCF School of Performing Arts box office on the main campus, open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. Call 407-823-1500 with questions. Individual tickets and packages are available.

About the Plays

Intuitive Men by Sofya Levitsky-Weitz This comedy follows two men who communicate through thoughts in an intuitive yoga class, increasingly questioning their own shame, self-worth and pride.

Directed by Cynthia White
Saturday, June 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 3 at 2 p.m.
Tickets $10 for readings

He Did It by Rachel Lynett A drama about weighing options, He Did Itfollows two friends, Ada and Lex, who know who raped their friend but need him for their dreams of success and fame to be realized. Ada and Lex must decide if they can alienate their friends for the sake of their careers, and if they can excuse a horrendous crime done by an artistic “genius.”

Directed by Michael Wainstein
Saturday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 10 at 2 p.m.
Tickets $10 for readings

Bathsheba’s Psalms (fully titled Bathsheba’s Psalms, Or A Woman of Unusual Beauty Taking A Bath) by April Ranger A raucous and wild retelling of the biblical myth of David and Bathsheba’s romance with Bathsheba’s voice front and center. Both hilarious and sensual, the play is an explosive journey through time, upending several genres and tropes on female beauty, power, consent and desire.

Directed by Cynthia White
Saturday, June 16 at 2 p.m.
Sunday, June 17 at 2 p.m.
Tickets $10 for readings

Human Error by Eric Pfeffinger After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, a couple is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now two very different couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships.

Directed by Belinda Boyd
June 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 at 7:30 p.m.
June 17 at 5 p.m.
June 24 at 2 p.m.
August 23, 24, 25 at 7:30 p.m.
August 26 at 2 p.m.
Tickets $20, $10 with UCF ID

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