PORT TOWNSEND — Six new stories, straight from the minds of local playwrights, are about to spill onto the stage of the Key City Public Theatre.
It’s Locals Weekend, the first bloc of the 24th annual PlayFest showcase of brand-new works: Key City Public Theatre’s two week-event starting this Friday with the free kickoff happy hour at 6:30 p.m. At the playhouse at 419 Washington St., the six winners of the Port Townsend Arts Commission’s annual one-act playwriting competition will see their scripts given full productions and staged readings.
“This is the first time ever, in the world, that these plays and these characters are coming alive,” said KCPT Artistic Associate Brendan Chambers. Together, the writers — from around Jefferson County — and the actors will shape the plays together.
Four one-act productions form the first showcase at 7:30 p.m. Friday: “Adults” by Angela Gyurko, “Geointerfering Inc. Bored’s Eye View” by Leonard D. Goodisman, “First Mountain” by D.D. Wigley and “Tea” by Doug Given.
“Adults” is about the drama that is high school, said Gyurko, the Port Townsend playwright whose play “Triangles” was part of the 2018 PlayFest. This new one’s title is inspired, she said, by the idea that it’s sometimes hard to tell who the true adults are.
In addition to the one-act productions, two more short plays, “Oh, My! God?” by Jim Gormly and “Timeless” by Wynne Stevens, will have their first onstage readings Saturday and Sunday.
The professional directors and actors who are cast and crew of these plays stage them on simple sets; emphasis is on the script, said Denise Winter, KCPT’s artistic director who has been evolving PlayFest for 10 years now.
Locals Weekend provides a gateway to the rest of the festival. Two full-length plays arrive next week: “Upon This Rock” by Chris Hawley of Port Townsend, and a tale with the working title “Blue Velvet” by featured playwright A.P. Andrews of Los Angeles. Andrews, now a television screenwriter busy in Hollywood, is author of the “Nebraska Cycle” and “Seaside Cycle” series of plays, and has had his works produced from London to New York and from Idaho to North Carolina. The prolific writer will lead two workshops in Port Townsend: the playwriting class free and open to all March 14 and the playwriting intensive March 15.
While single tickets range from $10 to $20, festival passes may appeal to those who want to attend three or more events, Winter noted.
“You can see everything for $35,” she said, adding that this all-access ticket aims to bring in good-sized audiences, which make a big difference in the performances of the new plays.
“You can come back and see them again,” Winter said of the one-acts and full-length productions, which are staged both this weekend and next. These plays change over the course of the festival, as actors, audiences and writers experience the material on stage.
A Writer’s Pass, which includes all plays plus March 15’s three-hour intensive class, is also available for $95. Those who participate in PlayFest may become the writers of future offerings at KCPT, Winter said; the annual One-Act Playwriting Competition takes entries in late summer, with information posted on www.keycitypublictheatre.org. The Port Townsend Arts Commission has sponsored the contest — open to strictly Jefferson County residents — for many years, “a big win for the community,” she said.
In these days of revivals and sequels, PlayFest is all about newness, added Chambers.
“It’s so important to create new work.”
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.