Monday, 27 June 2022

16th annual Festival of New Plays at Mendocino College returns

The annual Mendocino College New Play Festival is a homegrown feast of local talent. Photo courtesy of Mendocino College.
NORTH COAST, Calif. — After a two-year hiatus, the Mendocino College Theatre Arts Department will present the 16th Annual Festival of New Plays on Thursday, April 7, through Saturday, April 9.

The performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Center Theatre at the Ukiah campus.

This festival marks the return of a beloved Ukiah theater tradition, which was put on hold due to the COVID pandemic.

This year's festival features eight new plays by local playwrights. Each play is approximately 10 minutes long and will be presented at each performance.

The plays were selected from among over 80 scripts submitted by writers from throughout Mendocino and other nearby counties.

The play directors are students in the Mendocino College theatrical directing class taught by Professor Reid Edelman.

Festival actors include students in the college’s conservatory cohort group, as well as other local students and community members.

The short plays cover a wide range of topics and performance styles. The festival also features original set designs, lighting and technical support by students under the direction of college Technical Director Steve Decker.

In particular, student Jordan Wegner, a student in the college’s new Technical Theatre certificate program, is designing lights for the full production. Music and sound effects edited by Theatre Technician David Wolf will help sustain the high-energy spirit of the production.

“This annual festival is one of the college theater program’s most exciting projects, and we are delighted to be able to bring the event back to life once again,” Edelman said.

This year’s festival opens with Logan Silva’s stylized comedy "All Power to the McSoviet" in which Vladimir Lenin spars with an American capitalist in a fast-food restaurant, raising questions about whether any ideology can ever really benefit real people. The director is college theater major Alexander Marsh; the cast includes conservatory cohort students Ari Sunbeam and Dakota Laiwa McKay as well as Julayne Ringstrom and Madison McDonald.

Next, “Little Book of Fears” by David Burton explores the layers of a troubled marital relationship. The cast includes Andrea McCullough and Pat Nunes under the direction of conservatory cohort student Gwendolen van Wyk.

Kyle Whitrock’s play “Match Made” evokes the feeling of a classic black and white Christmas movie as two angels come back to earth to arrange a romance for their surviving boyfriend and brother respectively. The cast includes Dakota Laiwa McKay, Brisa Yepez and Ari Sunbeam. Christian Avalos is the director.

Phaedra Kincaid Swearengin is directing Michael Riedell’s play “Crazier Train Fundraiser” in which a young man hides out in a tax office after the jewelry heist to fund his musical pursuits goes wrong. The cast features Matt McClelland, Maria Monti, Pat Nunes and Gwendolen van Wyk.

“Mari,” by Shannon Sawyer, powerfully and personally confronts the issue of mental illness and its impact on a relationship. The cast includes Joni Marie McLeod and Jasmine Norris. The director is Brittani McKemy.

In Natasha Yim’s comedic play “Salsa Dancing” three generations of characters confront relationships and the enjoyment of life and love at different stages of maturity. Dakota Laiwa McKay directs actors Rosemary Eddy, Megan Regan, and Les Clow.

“Making It” by Chris Douthit and directed by Kelly Alvarez, is a touching drama about two lovers’ final days together as one faces the end stage of a terminal illness. Their shared love and imminent loss is reflected in the food they have been creating together from a special recipe book. The cast includes Jordan Wegner, Todd Hale and Janet Denninger.

Finally, the evening ends with a magical celebration of all who have died before us.

Jessica Lee’s “Amma’s Dance Party” takes place in a kitchen in which food, music and dance unite a family and celebrate the spirits of those who have passed. John Pegan directs a cast which includes Brittani McKemy, Rickie Emilie Farah and Gwendolen van Wyk.

Tickets are available in Ukiah at the Mendocino Book Co. and online at www.ArtsMendocino.org, and at the door as available. This production is recommended for ages 12 and up. Admission is $10. Audience members are encouraged to purchase tickets early. For more information, call Reid Edelman at 707-468-3172.​

Please note regarding the Mendocino College Covid Safety Policy: Mendocino College has adopted a vaccine mandate for indoor events. All guests must show proof of full vaccination (two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) in order to enter the theater. Masks are recommended, but not required.

Each audience member will need to present proof of vaccination upon entry. This can include: screenshot of a valid CA digital vaccine card or QR code, physical CDC vaccination card, or a screenshot or photo of a CDC vaccination card on a phone. Photo ID or an accompanying roster for children who do not have identification must accompany all health documents.

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