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New Visions, New Voices: Student Playwrights Offer Fresh Comedies, Dramas

19th annual series combines student playwrights with local theatre directors

The annual “New Visions, New Voices” theatrical series offers a smorgasbord of original works by student playwrights, each presented as a stage reading and directed by professionals from the local theatre community.

This year’s crop includes seven comedies and dramas, all free to the public and presented April 3-7 in the Greer Garson Theatre.

For more information, call the SMU Meadows Ticket Office at 214-768-2787.

PUN, A PLAY ON WORDS
by Jeff Colangelo, directed by Josh Kumler
Wednesday, April 3, 8 p.m.

This energetic, meta-theatrical comedy follows the desperate final rehearsal of a new play’s staged reading in the minutes before its only public performance. As the clock ticks down, the director's sanity shatters in a maelstrom of hilarious despair and the actors find themselves caught in an epic battle of wills between two unstoppable forces.
Josh Kumler is a junior in the Theatre Studies program of the Division of Theatre at SMU; this is his first year as a director in the festival.


HELLO, MY NAME IS… by Samantha Rios, directed by Alia Tavakolian
Thursday, April 4, 8 p.m.

Yours Truly is a man whose psychic visions safeguard his fellow citizens in the oddball small town of Marmalade. Yet he never gets recognition for anything he does – which makes him dangerous. The shaky geography between ego and self-esteem, spirit and body is explored in this wicked and eccentric dark comedy.
Alia Tavakolian is a 2012 graduate of the B.F.A. program at SMU and works locally in Dallas as a director. This is her second year as a director in New Visions, New Voices.


IMAGENATION by Miranda Parham, directed by Michael C. Federico
Friday, April 5, 8 p.m.

This drama foretells the future of America by following the journey of a conservative father and his unconventional son. In the New Republic of Texas, Jacob McCormick is a rising politician; meanwhile, his son Benji dreams of becoming a famous entertainer and finding his estranged mother. Once Jacob and Benji establish two highly contradictory public images, can they ever be family again?
Michael Federico is a 1998 graduate of the B.F.A. program in Theatre/SMU, as well as a ’98 playwright in New Visions, New Voices. He is a recent graduate of the M.A. program at University of Texas at Dallas and a company member at Kitchen Dog Theatre.


A MASK OF MIRRORS by Justin Amos, directed by Tim Johnson
Saturday, April 6, 2 p.m.

After being paroled, Gralin returns to the town where he used to live with the single-minded goal of establishing a “normal” life. He is assisted in this by George, his therapist, and Ashlee, his lover. Though Gralin makes progress, he continually finds himself shackled to his damning past.
Tim Johnson has been a company member with Kitchen Dog Theatre since 1997. He graduated from SMU with a B.F.A. in Theatre and Naropa University with an M.F.A. in Contemporary Performance. This is his second year directing for New Visions, New Voices.


WHAT A SLINKY KNOWS by Janielle Kastner, directed by Gretchen Smith
Saturday, April 6, 8 p.m.

Four teenagers with behavioral problems are “re-directed” to the local senior center, where they are assigned probationary service with four seniors. As each junior and senior pair becomes acquainted, everyone’s lives are changed dramatically.
Five of our sophomores from the Division of Theatre will be joined by Professor Charley Helfert and three other senior actors in this production.

HI, SOCIETY
by Meredith Oden, directed by Gretchen Smith
Sunday, April 7, 2 p.m.

This charming Southern comedy of manners follows Fiona Bright and her friends Valerie and Pearl as the trio journeys into the world of Mississippi debutantes. As each girl prepares for their impending debut, obstacles loom in the forms of oafish escorts, preoccupied parents, baffling etiquette, vodka-spiked punch and pristine white gowns. In the end, however, it is simply the question of friendship that matters.
Gretchen Smith is an associate professor in the Division of Theatre. She is a playwright and theatre historian focusing in French theatre, gender studies and American dramatic literature. This is her 17th year of producing New Visions, New Voices.


A SLICE OF A NORMAL AMERICAN LIFE by Marissa Romer, directed by Sara Romersberger
Sunday, April 7, 7:30 p.m.

This tragic love story focuses on Harold and Sally, an apparently happy couple. But Harold may not be the average man he seems. As Paul, a celebrity host, interviews him live on camera, digging up secrets and truths, Harold finally exposes his past. The future for Harold and Sally rests on two questions: How far can love stretch, and can it exceed even the most shocking situation?
Sara Romersberger is an associate professor in the Division of Theatre and an internationally known expert and practitioner in movement and clowning. This is her second year of directing in New Visions, New Voices.

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