The Boston Theatre Marathon holds its 20th Anniversary on Sunday, May 6, continuing its long history of bringing together the Boston theatre community to celebrate new plays. Every year, the Marathon presents 50 ten-minute plays over 10 hours, each produced by a local theatre company, from fringe and mid-size groups to large companies and universities. Hundreds of plays are submitted by New England writers every year, with 50 finalists selected by the Boston Playwrights’ Theater, which produces the charity event to benefit the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund, an organization which helps area theatre artists and companies in crisis.
For the third year in a row, Northeastern’s Department of Theatre takes its place alongside Boston’s best known theatre companies, including the Huntington Theatre Company, American Repertory Theater, Company One Theatre, Lyric Stage Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, and too many more to name. Playwrights represented in this year’s Marathon include Melinda Lopez, Ronan Noone, Kirsten Greenidge, and Robert Brustein.
Darren Evans directs Northeastern’s production, Play Title, by NU alumnus Duke Harten, which takes the audience on a “meta” journey of dialogue comprised entirely of subtext and actions. Instead of speaking lines of real-world dialogue, the characters speak only in what actions they are taking, like a script analysis in reverse. The audience fills in the story based on the actions and inflections the characters present.
Playwright Duke Harten says: “Joyce [van Dyke’s Playwriting] class at Northeastern was my first formal exposure to playwriting. Until that point, I’d been more interested in prose. I enjoyed her assignments and she recommended I submit something to the BTM. I’d written a handful of scripts for my own amusement, so I selected two of my favorites and did rewrites. One of those was the ten-minute play I’d written for Joyce’s class. I think I did three or four drafts before submitting, but its spine is more or less the same as when I wrote it at Northeastern.”
Senior Kira Topalian and sophomore Adrian Bauer are taking on the task of how to act believably without the anchor of real dialogue. After two weeks of rehearsal at Northeastern, they’ll perform as part of the full day festival at the Wimberly Theatre, the largest space in the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts.
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