Metropolis celebrates play fest winners
New Play Festival
Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 West Campbell St., Arlington Heights
Readings: ‘The Principle of the Thing,’ 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20; ‘Shakespeare Restored,’ 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27; ‘Grin and Bear It’ and ‘Not Far from the Tree,’ 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3; ‘Griffiths,’ 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17
(847) 577-2121 or metropolisarts.com
Updated: January 16, 2013 11:46AM
Three judges reviewed 52 plays to select the winners in Metropolis Performing Arts Centre’s New Play Festival.
The five winning plays — three by adult playwrights and two by teenage authors — will receive staged readings by professional actors on Sundays, Jan. 20-Feb. 17.
“The plays were evaluated by the committee on a ranking of 1 to 10 looking at character development, plot development, dialogue versus monologue, character relationships, objectives, stageability, overall read and general layout,” said Robin Hughes, Metropolis’ artistic director and producer, who led the team.
Winners in the adult category were Norman Simon of Lincoln, Nebraska (first place), Scott Glander of Glenview (second place) and Chris Shaw Swanson of Westerville, Ohio (third place).
The top prize play is called “Griffiths.” “There are people who live in this unnamed town close to the border of New York State,” author Simon said. “Across the border is a town called Griffiths, New York. There’s a school there that certain students who graduate from high school are allowed to go to. One day a bus stops for you and you get on. Nobody who goes ever comes back.”
Simon, a retired astrophysics professor, began writing plays five years ago.
Glander’s play, “Shakespeare Restored,” is about “a couple of real-life 18th century editors of Shakespeare,” he said. “They had different views on how to edit Shakespeare. They had a very public feud in periodicals of the day. I’m not trying to recreate history but I’m bringing them together and letting them sort it out.”
The play’s title is also the name of a book “that one wrote criticizing the edition of Shakespeare that the other one wrote,” Glander noted.
The full-time writer was excited to be selected as a winner of the Metropolis competition because he grew up in Arlington Heights.
Swanson wrote “The Principle of the Thing,” but her husband suggested the description. “He told me I should tell you, ‘The play is very loosely based on a relationship I had prior to marrying the most wonderful guy in the world,’” Swanson joked.
The playwright further noted that it is about “a married couple’s journey — sometimes comic — through marriage counseling. This is a darker play than most I’ve written.”
Swanson, who pursued a career in advertising and public relations for 15 years, currently works as a substitute teacher to allow time for playwriting. Over 50 theater companies have produced her plays and she won a $5,000 individual arts award from the Ohio Arts Council.
The two teen winners were Buffalo Grove resident Naomi Rawitz and Buffalo Grove native Joey Lubelfeld.
Rawitz, a 19-year-old freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, wrote “Grin and Bear It.”
“My play is about three overage Girl Scouts that are going out for one last reunion campout,” said the author, noting that the “girls” are in their mid- to late 20s. “You find out that they’re not as good friends as you think they are. There’s a lot of kitschy camp hijinks. It’s a pretty dark comedy.”
The playwright was inspired by her own years at summer camp. “I always thought about how it would be funny if things got a lot darker on a campout,” she said.
Rawitz previously wrote plays for her school’s one-act festivals and 24-hour festivals. She took a playwriting class at college last semester. Her play, “To Whom it May Concern,” was published by Samuel French in “Dramatic Debuts Volume 4.”
Eighteen-year-old Lubelfeld, who is majoring in playwriting and fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago, has been writing “for as long as I can remember.” His winning entry is “Not Far from the Tree.”
“It is about an 18-year-old boy named Baker who is battling an eating disorder,” Lubelfeld said. His struggle becomes more difficult after the death of his girlfriend and when “his mom decides he’s not ready to go off to college.”
Lubelfeld began writing the play while he was preparing college applications. “I was thinking about going off to school and making sure I was prepared to be on my own and what it could be like for other people,” he said. The playwright also contemplated how going off to college “impacts not only the people leaving but the people that they are leaving.”