Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Want to Discover the Next Shakespeare?

Orlando Shakes is proud to present our 13th season of PlayFest! (November 5th through the 8th.)

You may be having these following thoughts: What is a “playfest”? Do you have to dress up? Is it similar to L.A.R.P.I.N.G or a renaissance fair? It’s at the Shakespeare Theater so maybe we’re going back to the Elizabethan age? 

Orlando Shakes is a member of the National New Play Network (NNPN), which is an alliance of nonprofit theaters across the country who promote in the development, production, and continued life of new plays.

At PlayFest, we discover new plays and exhibit them to the public. We have a submission play-tops-playfestpage on our website and as long as the writers follow the guidelines, we allow anyone to submit a play for our consideration. Our Director of New Play Development, Cynthia White and Artistic Director Jim Helsinger, dig through the good and the bad to unearth seven fantastic plays to be presented over the four-day event.

Ginger Lee McDermott in Play Fest's Dancing Lessons.

Ginger Lee McDermott in PlayFest’s Dancing Lessons.

Each of the seven plays is presented as a staged reading at one of our stages. What’s a staged reading? Unlike a full-blown production, no costumes or sets are used during a staged reading. The pieces have directors and actors, and they read from a script. It is an introduction to the work rather than a developed production. Patrons get the chance to sample a wide variety of new works in an intimate, interactive setting.

Over the 13 seasons, we have presented over 125 new plays. Many of the plays shown at PlayFest go on to become full-scale productions. Steven Sachs’s Bakersfield Mist was originally a PlayFest favorite, and went on to be presented on the West End in London and is currently being performed at the Shakes! Then in January, we open another PlayFest gem, Mark St. Germain’s (Relativity, Best of Enemies) Dancing Lessons!

Ellen McLaughlin

Ellen McLaughlin

Award-winning playwright, Ellen McLaughlin, was chosen to translate Shakespeare’s Pericles into modern verse for Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s new project PlayOn, in which they will “translate” Shakespeare’s entire theatrical cannon. McLaughlin’s translation, The Adventures of Pericles, will be part of our season as a full production from February 24th to March 26th, 2016. McLaughlin will be hosting a free keynote speech on Saturday, February 7th at 7:30 p.m.

We will have a free playwright’s panel on Sunday, November 8th at 3:30 p.m., where we will talk about diversity in the theater. Four out of our seven playwrights are females; females are often underrepresented in theater. The chosen plays explore relationships and navigate through tough topics such as drug addiction, loss, death, and moving on.

While you are not parading around in breeches and cassocks, you’ll still have many laughs and great fun!  This is a great opportunity to get the “insider’s scoop” on new plays and playwrights.  You may even find you are inspired to dabble in writing one yourself!  

We hope you discover the next Shakespeare! (Or at least a talented playwright that moves you.) This program is an excellent way to find new playwrights and give voice to their work. These fresh plays could end up being produced at the Shakes, or even on Broadway!  Imagine how different our world would be if Shakespeare had never had a chance to preview his work!

So come and support a new generation of talented playwrights at PlayFest! Tickets are only $8!

This blog post was written by Marketing Intern Cassie Moorhead.


One response

  1. Jacqueline Du Puis

    I would like to purchase a ticket for tonights Disney Play please email me as to how I can do this.

    November 21, 2015 at 8:02 pm

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