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Fifth annual New Works Festival opens Thurs., April 25

Published or Revised April 25, 2019

Pyro Playfest 2019

At top, Lucas Rolf is both an actor and a director for two pieces in the Pyro Playfest. Here he wears his director’s hat as he discusses the costume with Kennedi Rickman, who has the lead role in “My Summer as a Mermaid.” Below, PJC freshman Grace Marie Hignight has handled the role of costume designer for 30 performers, many in multiple roles.

With so many great entries for the “Fifth Annual New Works Festival -  Pyro Playfest: The Winds of Change,” the Paris Junior College Drama Department is offering two alternating repertories. Seating is limited to 65 for each show, so reservations are strongly encouraged. The festival showcases scripts performed for the first time, and opens Thursday, April 25.

“All the plays deal with some sort of change,” said PJC Drama Instructor and Festival Director Will Walker. “It might be social change, or change in characters or circumstances, and one story has actual wind. The New Works Festival is gaining notice, as well. One of the plays was written by a New Zealander, and another writer submitted 23 plays for consideration.”

The Green Repertory will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 28. The Gold Repertory will run at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27, and at 2:30 p.m. on April 28.

The plays offer many opportunities for PJC students, as well. Freshman Grace Marie Hignight is the costume designer for the festival.

“There are so many different styles that you have to pay attention to so the characters come across as real and authentic,” said Hignight. “I really want the best for the audience perspective for the shows. I dress 30 people across 12 shows and some are in two or three different shows. I’ve loved costuming for years; I did it in high school and there’s so much work that goes into one production. It’s very challenging at times, but eye-opening as well.”

Lucas Rolf, also a freshman, directs “My Summer as a Mermaid.”

“It’s my first time directing and it’s definitely a learning experience; it’s not as easy as it looks,” said Rolf. “This is going to be one of the lighter plays and it’s super interactive with the audience.”

Sophomore Raden Phillips directs “The Seven Deadly Sins - The Monologues,” a comedy featuring personalizations with a cabaret spin.

“It’s a colorful take on the sins,” said Phillips, “but they’re actually people you see in daily life. They’re exaggerated, but the audience will recognize them.”

This production has some minor adult themes and language. Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to reserve tickets, which are $15 general admission, $10 for senior citizens and students, $5 with donation of new children’s or teen’s book for local charities, or free for those with current PJC ID. Unclaimed tickets will be released 15 minutes prior to curtain time.

Plays with crew and casts in the Green Repertory include:

“Threatened Panda Fights Back” is a comedy by Rex McGregor. Two pandas, a male and female, are brought together and believe attention directed their way is about them, when in fact they are about to be ousted by DNA-resurrected dodo birds. Director Adam (Frederic) Doss; Assistant Director (AD) Will Walker; Assistant Stage Manager (ASM) Molly Law; Ling - Will Walker; Yan - Kathleen Hays; Mr. D. - Rayden Phillips; Mrs. D. - Lisa Martin.

“Letters from the Mona Lisa” is a touching drama by Dwayne Yancey, telling of a boy’s letter ot the Mona Lisa, asking her to come live with him as his sister has died. Director Christine Van Pay; AD/ASM Alexzander Sinclair; Mona Lisa - Cyan Burkhart; Claude - Adam Doss; Lenny - Savanna James; Ensemble - Amber Nelms;
Annabel Doss.

“The Seven Deadly Sins – The Monologues” is a comedy about the people embodying the sins by Yancy. Director Raden Phillips; ASM Bethany Matcham; Lust - Chaston Tomlin; Envy - Robbie Turner; Pride - Grace Marie Hignight; Wrath - Lucas Rolf; Sloth - Jimmie Sanders; Greed - Cameron Faires; Gluttony - Carlton Bell.

“Veronica’s Dolls” by Yancy is a “dramedy,” according to Director Lisa Martin, as toys come to life to save a girl who used to play with them, dealing with themes of depression and self-harm with a light touch. ASM Connor Bridges; Barbara - Grace Marie Hignight; Raggie - Bethany Matcham; Cathy - Savanna James; Bear - Carlton Bell.

“The Ferryman and the Thief” by Yancy is a modern treatment of Greek drama as a boy tries to cross the River Styx to return his father to the land of the living. Director Austen Naron; AD Bethany Matcham; ASM Kennedi Rickman; Ferryman - Will Walker; Boy - Chaston Tomlin; Father - Adam Doss; Chorus - Annabel Doss, Dana Stowell, Brenna Mills.

“My Summer As A Mermaid” is a comedy by Yancy in which a young woman believes she has a job as a waitress, only to find she’ll work instead as a mermaid at Captain Jack’s Seafood Wonderland. Director Lucas Rolf; ASM Alexzander Sinclair; Ashley - Kennedi Rickman; Officer - Kathleen Hays; Pirate - Hannah England; Waitress - Lisa Martin; Drunk Young Man - Jimmie Sanders; Manager - Austen Naron.

Plays with crew and casts from the Gold Repertory will include:

“Deanna Dupes the Devil” is a comedy by Yancy in which the Devil sends a minion to take a young women’s soul and she tricks him with various “soles,” then rewrites the contract. Director Gisselle Benitez; ASM Chaston Tomlin; Deanna - Molly Law; Minion - Carton Bell; Devil - Robyn Huizinga.

“Vincent’s Ear” is a period drama by Donna Hoke of a night the artist Van Gogh spends with a prostitute, who tells him an abusive relationship was not his fault and is gifted with his ear. Director Will Walker; ASM Molly Law; Vincent - Lucas Rolf; Rachel - Gisselle Benitez.

“The Boy on the Beach” is a drama by Matthew Weaver in which nameless people reminisce about a boy lying asleep on a beach. Director Amber Nelms; AD Will Walker; ASM Connor Bridges; A - Kennedi Rickman; B - Kathleen Hays; C - Savanna James; Boy - Robbie Turner; Voice - Annabel Doss.

“The Quarreling Dead” is a comedy by Brad Nies, who has had plays in all five Pyro Playfests; it also features several PJC faculty and alumni. A pregnant daughter has spent nearly 25 years babysitting her zombie parents and tells them it’s time to move out of the house and go to their graves. Director Will Walker; ASM Lucas Rolf; Ashley - John Presley Wright; Lucille - Lisa Martin; Edie - Robyn Huizinga.

“Colour Without Sight” is Greek play by Micha O’Nolan, a former PJC student. This Greek play tells of a general returning to reunite with his daughter and grandson from a war that lost her two husbands.  Director John Presley Wright; AD/ASM Hannah England; Old Man - Adam Doss; Son - Robbie Turner; Mother - Inga Hodge.

“All the Way Back” was written by Donna Latham during Hurricane Harvey. Set during the hurricane, five very different people take shelter in a food truck. Director Robyn R. Huizinga; AD Annabel Doss; ASM Raden Phillips; Angelina - Cyan Burkhart; Yari - Gisselle Benitez; Wes - Hunter Smith; Dougie - Chaston Tomlin; Big Don - Carolyn Bell; Ensemble - Will Wohlford, Sydnee Hawkins, Brenna Mills, Amber Nelms, Chasidy Trantham.

Set, Sound, and Projections Designers: Robyn Huizinga and Will Walker; Lighting Designers; Gisselle Benitez and Hannah England; Makeup Designer: Hunter Smith; Costume Designer: Grace Marie Hignight; Props Designer: Molly Law.

Production Crew: Sound Board Operator Udanti Rendsland; “Letters from Mona Lisa” Make Up Design - Sierra Herndon; Make Up Assistant to Hunter Smith - Chloe Allen; Light Board Op - Gold - Hannah England; Light Board Op - Green - Gisellen Benitez; Follow Spot Op Alexzander Sinclair; “All the Way Back” Dialogue Coach - Heather Collins; “Threatened Panda Fights Back” Specialty Prop Design - Andrea Doss.

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