by Dick Kerekes
Do you consider yourself an avid theatre fan? Then sometime in your theatre adventures you ought to experience a new play festival. When I started going to new play festivals 30 years ago, there were very few, but today you can find play festivals all over the country. They can get expensive to attend, especially if you have to fly to them.
Jacksonville theatre lovers are fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a new play festival, that is an easy drive from this city and inexpensive to boot.
Orlando Playfest 2010, The Harriet Lake Festival of New Plays is presented yearly and this year’s dates are April 2-11. This is a ten day event loaded with dynamic new plays and new play programming for anyone who loves great theatre. It features readings, workshops and a world premiere!
Each festival has a special guest. Last year it was Olympia Dukakis. This year it will be an evening with actor Philip Seymour Hoffman on Saturday April 10th. This is the most expensive event offered and ticket prices start at $ 50.
My preference each year is to attend the other events. The full production this year is John Biguenet’s Shotgun. The plot goes like this. It is 4 months after Katrina, a white man and his teenage son rent half a shotgun duplex apartment from an African American woman and her father. Seething racial tensions bubble to the surface when love begins to blood. Tickets to this show are $ 25.
Several readings are offered at $5, and one workshop is $10. There is no registration required; you can walk in a just go to $5 reading if you so choose. You can get a complete list,times, and description of all the shows at Orlandoshakes.org/playfest. You can call the box office at (407) 447-1700, or order tickets on line.
If you go down on the second weekend, you might be interested in a free event Sunday at noon; a playwright’s panel entitled “What is the role of actor in new play development?”
The playfest is held in the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 8112 E. Rollins Orlando Florida 32803. You don’t have to worry about all that theme park traffic as this is miles from that in the lovely Loch Haven Park right off I-4 in downtown Orlando. Motel rates have never been better, so this can be a wonderful yet inexpensive theatre adventure, just a few hours away. The Shakespeare Center has several theatres in the complex, a snack bar and a delightful gift shop. As a plus there are museums within a short walking distance, for you to enjoy.
Should you choose , you will have the opportunity to offer written comments on the various readings, and become a part of the play making process.
I have attended several Playfests and found them to be exciting and a definite must see each year. See you in Orlando.


april, 2022