WEEKEND: Port Townsend Festival of New Plays enters final weekend
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Eligius Wolodkewitsch/Key City Public Theatre
Things take an unexpected turn in “It's Just Coffee,” a play about Internet dating starring Michelle Hensel and David Natale. “Coffee” is one of many offerings this weekend at Port Townsend's Key City Playhouse.

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND-BASED PLAYWRIGHT Kim Hinton has penned comedies — “Shrink Island,” about psychologists stranded, was her latest — as well as a Christmas play and a musical. But her new work is a dark one, and a topic she could not turn away from.

During this final weekend of the Port Townsend Festival of New Plays, Hinton will have two staged readings of this play-in-progress: “Atrocity,” a story of soldiers in Afghanistan. The readings are set for 2 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Key City Playhouse, 419 Washington St.

This is one challenging work, Hinton said: It was inspired by her son, who showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from the war in Iraq.

“I began a pretty deep investigation,” the playwright said in an interview this week. “I read a lot of books and did a lot of research . . . that's how I came up with the idea. Then the characters kind of led me through.”

Hinton's hope is that her play will help people understand the horrors soldiers have endured in both Iraq and Afghanistan — to foster forgiveness, not judgment.

Hinton went into the project “with a full hippie attitude,” she acknowledges.

“Wars should never be fought. I still feel that way.”

Yet researching and writing “Atrocity” has changed her mind and heart.

“I came away with less judgment,” Hinton said.

“Atrocity” has “hard material,” she added.

Yet the play “has a huge heart beating in the middle of it.”

Hinton will also participate in a panel discussion, “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Playwriting As a Tool for Healing,” at 6 p.m. Saturday at the playhouse. Admission is free.

As for her son, who went to war at age 20, “he is starting to get back on his feet.

“He has suffered a lot.

“I have a different son,” said Hinton, “than the one who went to Iraq.”

— Diane Urbani de la Paz Peninsula Daily News
NOTE: “Today” and “tonight” refer to Friday, March 14.



PORT TOWNSEND — Key City Public Theatre's Festival of New Plays has reached its climactic weekend, which means spice and variety are to fill two compact downtown venues.

Between now and Sunday, “it is possible to see nine plays,” said Mara Lathrop, PlayFest's dramaturg.

Many productions

There are one-acts, staged readings of plays in progress, two writing workshops and even a discussion of playwriting as healing.

“It's Just Coffee,” a one-act play premiering at the festival, is not just about coffee. Henry Feldman's piece looks at honesty between a man and woman who “met” on the Internet. It's also based on Feldman's own story: He and his wife Nadine met at a coffee shop.

“It's Just Coffee” stars Michelle Hensel and David Natale as Susan and Richard, online daters navigating unexpected events at the cafe.

Get them laughing

“Richard is extremely honest. He says exactly what his plan is,” Feldman noted. Susan, on the other hand, says she's not looking for anything serious.

The message in “Coffee,” Feldman supposes, is that honesty pays off.

“I sometimes can be very depressed,” the playwright added. “I worry about global warming. I worry about the state of politics.

“But sometimes, I think it's OK to get people to laugh.

“It's Just Coffee” will be a success, Feldman says, “if people are laughing.”

The rest of PlayFest's activities cover the gamut of drama and comedy, fiction and nonfiction. Among the highlights are today and Saturday's “Here, There and Everywhere,” a set of monologues by female playwrights from around the world, and the two writing workshops with guest artist Richard Dresser on Saturday and Sunday.

Some events are free, while others have ticket prices from $10 to $20. A PlayFest pass, at $35 for all performances, is an option too, as is the $95 Writer's Pass, which includes Sunday's playwriting intensive with Dresser and all other festival events.

Most performances are at the Key City Playhouse, 419 Washington St., while some are three blocks away at the Pope Marine Building, 603 Water St.

Much more information awaits at www.KeyCityPublicTheatre.org and at the Key City box office, 360-385-KCPT (5278).

Here's the schedule of activities.

Today

■ 10 a.m. — Staged reading of full-length play-in-progress: “Fata Morgana” by Jeni Mahoney, Key City Playhouse.

■ Noon — Open rehearsal of full-length play-in-progress: “Atrocity” by Kim Hinton, at Pope Marine Building.

■ 1:30 p.m. — Three one-act productions: “Somebodies & Sylvia” by Deborah Daline, “It's Just Coffee” by Henry Feldman and “Field Guide” by D.D. Wigley, Key City Playhouse.

■ 4:30 p.m. — “Here, There & Everywhere,” readings of women playwrights from around the world, Key City Playhouse.

■ 6 p.m. — Readings of three one-act plays by local playwrights: “Night of Intrigue” by David Hundhausen, “People Small” by Jack O'Connor and “Funeral Home: The Musical” by Deborah Wiese, will be staged, Pope Marine Building.

■ 7:30 p.m. — A Special Evening with Richard Dresser and his play, “100 Years,” at Key City Playhouse; reception afterward.

Saturday

■ 10 a.m.-1 p.m. — Free PlayFest playwriting workshop taught by Richard Dresser, Pope Marine Building; RSVP to 360-379-0195.

■ 11 a.m. — “Here, There & Everywhere,” Key City Playhouse.

■ 1:30 p.m. — InstaPlay, a writing-prompt exercise for playwrights, improv actors and audience, Pope Marine Building.

■ 2 p.m. — Staged reading of “Atrocity” by Kim Hinton, Key City Playhouse.

■ 3:30 p.m. — Open rehearsal of “Fata Morgana” by Jeni Mahoney, Pope Marine Building.

■ 6 p.m. — Panel discussion on “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Playwriting As a Tool for Healing,” with playwrights Richard Dresser and Kim Hinton, Key City Playhouse.

■ 7:30 p.m. — One-act productions of “Somebodies & Sylvia,” “It's Just Coffee” and “Field Guide,” Key City Playhouse.

Sunday

■ 10 a.m.-2 p.m. — Playwriting intensive taught by Richard Dresser, at Pope Marine Building, $75 or included in $95 Writer's Pass to festival with RSVP to 360-379-0195.

■ 1 p.m. — Staged reading of “Fata Morgana” by Jeni Mahoney, Key City Playhouse.

■ 3 p.m. — Readings of three one-act plays “Night of Intrigue,” “People Small” and “Funeral Home:The Musical,” Pope Marine Building.

■ 5 p.m. — Staged reading of “Atrocity,” Key City Playhouse.

■ 7:30 p.m. — Staged reading of play-in-progress: “100 Years,” by Richard Dresser, Key City Playhouse.

Last modified: March 13. 2014 4:30PM
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