So, you’re an aspiring playwright. You’ve managed to translate the vision in your head to words on a page. Now what? If you live in the greater Baltimore area, you’re in luck. There is an excellent venue that just might give you a shot at seeing your art come to life, in front of an audience, with real actors, lights, sets and all. It’s the Baltimore Playwrights Festival (BPF). The competition is fierce, but the process is fair. You submit your work, it’s read by an average of 20 or so readers who then give their assessment of the piece and 1) recommend it for a reading; 2) recommend it with reservations; or 3) not recommended (you want to try to avoid that distinction).

The BPF receives upwards of 75 plays every year. Of those, less than a quarter or so get the go-ahead for a staged reading. And fewer still of those lucky few get an actual production. That’s important because it’s why the plays that make it to that point really deserve to be seen.

This year, three exceptionally talented writers will be sharing their work with the Baltimore theatre community, all budding Baltimore area bards. With subject matters ranging from the Holocaust, to the life of R&B singer Sam Cooke, to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, they represent a broad spectrum of talented writers that we have the unique opportunity to support. Who knows? Maybe one of them will be the next Yasmine Reza or Tennessee Williams.

The Soulman’s Soul by Joycelyn Walls, is based on the life of Gospel, Pop & Soul Singer, Sam Cooke. Set in 1950s & ‘60s Chicago, it follows the life of a popular, young black man who attains extreme celebrity singing Gospel, while desiring to cross over to pop music. It runs July 25–August 10 at Notre Dame of Maryland University Leclerc Hall.

Under the Poplar Trees by Rosemary Frisino Toohey, tells the tale of a Holocaust survivor who, years later, is still dealing with the death of his best friend while they were in a concentration camp. Catch this one August 14–31 at Fells Point Corner Theatre.

Fourteen Days In July, by Lewis Schrager, chronicles the historic Camp David talks between the Clinton administration and the leaderships of both the Palestinian and Israeli governments. It’s a unique glimpse into the strategy and psychology of the key players in the negotiations, performed August 15–31 at Notre Dame of Maryland University Leclerc Hall.

Miriam Bezinsky, Vice Chair of the BPF, has her hands in virtually every aspect of the Festival. Aptly handling the many details to keep the Festival going year to year, assisting the Chair and the Board, she is also directing one of the productions this year. She wrangles readers, reaches out to theatre heads, calms nervous writers and directors, and commits to all of it year after year. This festival provides an opportunity for Baltimore theatre goers to see original, home-grown productions by our local artists. It behooves us to support the efforts of folks like Miriam and organizations like the Baltimore Playwrights Festival. It’s a win for all of us.

Gay Life August 2014

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