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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Martyrs & Magicians Play Review by Ethan Fischer

CATF Continues: Martyrs & Magicians
by Ethan Fischer for The Shepherdstown Chronicle
c 2007
Darkness Before Delight --- Delmore Schwartz

CATF continues with cool, stunning performances. You have perhaps heard about “I Am Rachel Corrie” and the attendant controversy. Rachel Corrie was a bright young woman from Washington state, who was killed in Gaza trying to help Palestinian families. Her own writings have been adapted by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner to fashion a play.

After a run in England, a production of “I Am Rachel Corrie” was canceled in New York due to protests by big theater subscribers. Interpretations aside, young Rachel worked to the end as a peace activist, a non-violent resister. Naturally the story composed of her words presents the Palestinian perspective of an ongoing tragedy.

Since theater isn’t journalism, plays often give us just one side of history, past or present. The real English King Richard the Third differed from the sly monster Shakespeare makes him. In The Trojan Women, Euripides creates sympathy for the defeated of Troy and skirts the Greeks’ motives for a mythic war. Drama needn’t aim for some imagined news balance. Adroitly directed in the round by Ed Herendeen, and performed by the wonderful Anne Marie Nest, “I Am Rachel Corrie” becomes quite an experience. The Studio Theater audience witnesses a witty gradeschool girl growing up, with discoveries and contributions to make in the wider world. She’s full of mischief and fun at first. But as she engages the audience with her teen dreams, Rachel seems always to be packing, preparing to travel emotionally all over the map. Her parents have encouraged her to explore, so she tells them and us: “I’m sorry I scare you. But I want to write and I want to see. And what would I write about if I only stayed within the doll’s house, the flower-world I grew up in?”

Ms. Nest (poignantly real as the child in last year’s Mr. Marmalade) prowls the stage here with winsome, adolescent zeal. You cannot help loving Rachel’s half-baked brilliance and how she handles, with shy assertiveness, boys and authority figures. Later the grown Corrie, in danger, fends off pleas to come home from Palestine as she defers her desire for romance and family. She’s driven by a dream. First she must help humble people survive.

Inevitably, as with Greek Tragedy, the audience endures change as a fate foretold plays out. After the play the “The Peace Cafe,” held Under the Tent, moved us toward conversational catharsis.

Anne Marie Nest and her parents joined our sub-group. In a measure of this artist’s transformative powers, she had to identify herself as the actor just seen in I Am Rachel Corrie. Nest stressed the “heart connection” (over the political) in preparing her part. Soon various viewpoints mingled with love in the warm, unwounded air.

* * *

Another meditation on the Middle East occurs in Jason Grote’s play 1001, directed too by Herendeen. Historians say 1001 was an interesting year, but Grote’s script trades history for narrative entropy. Here The Arabian Nights and Scheherazade meet Jorge Luis Borges and Sue Grafton, among others. For chaotic completeness the playwright might have thrown into the melange Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav, famed for stories within stories within stories.

Yes, chapters of our lives can interweave, grow convoluted, but 1001’s script never gets traction on the road of reflection or reverie. Program notes say the playwright intended a “trunk show”--presumably something like close-up magic, not big stage illusions. But big stage illusions come, smoke and mirrors held up to the unnatural at Shepherd’s Frank Center. Most memorably, a genie (Ariel Shafir) rises upstage to grant wishes. We can only wish that Mr. Grote’s work to layer reality with mystery might have jelled. As it is, only sound and fury meld. But gorgeous brides lose their heads and an ancient Arab potentate (Jonathan C. Kaplan) becomes a Jewish gentleman before our eyes. Erotic plots abound and bellies dance. This magic carpet ride proves Grote a magic carpetsweeper.

There is no intermission and characters multiply.

Giving some moral grounding in varied roles (including Borges, author of
the classic “Garden of Forking Paths”) is solid actor Marc Damon Johnson. As
Scheherazade, Zabryna Guevara succeeds in seeming old and new, though her tales
give way to tech titillations by sound and lighting designers Sharath Patel
and D. M. Wood respectively. Margaret McKowen’s costumes stir wonder, confer a
timeless childhood.

Indeed 1001 works for something different, a Postmodern past, stereotypes reborn to enchantment.

The Contemporary American Theater Festival, now in its 17th season, does enchant and spin off artistic riches (like Goose Route Dance) across Shepherdstown through July 29th. Next year perhaps local playwrights may appear. CATF is on the map whose cutting edges etch vast themes--through lives playing out in a our places.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ragdoll Angel signing in Bridgeport

On Saturday, July 28th, WV Writers' own Terry McNemar will be signing his novella Ragdoll Angel at Borders Express in the Meadowbrook Mall, Bridgeport, WV. Stop by with your copy or pick one up while you’re there. (The Potter stampede should be over by then.)

If you can’t make it to the signing, ask for “Ragdoll Angel” at your local bookseller or, Barnes & Noble, or Booklocker .

Conflict of Interest writing contest

(This news courtesy the Cynthia Sterling Market News, posted to the WV Writers Roundtable via Fay Thompson)

Harlequin Super Romance is sponsoring a Conflict of Interest writing contest. They're looking for stories with "heightened emotional conflict that raises the stakes -- and the sexual tension -- for your hero and heroine."

Submit the scene or moment that best illustrates the conflict between the hero and heroine, along with the first chapter and a synopsis of no more than ten pages. The contest is open to both published and unpublished writers.

Prizes include a critique by a Superromance editor, a one-year's subscription to Harlequin Superromance (72 books) and the possibility of publication. Deadline to enter is October 31, 2007. For contest rules, see

Cats Curious seeking submissions

(This news courtesy the Cynthia Sterling Market News, posted to the WV Writers Roundtable via Fay Thompson)

Cats Curious Press ( is currently accepting gothic-style (preferably gothic romance) stories for an upcoming anthology. Stories may be submitted in two categories: 7500-17500 word stories selected for the anthology will receive payment of $250 while stories of 4500-7499 words will be paid $125.

All the details are available at the above website. Deadline for submissions is July 31

Broken Pencil seeking submissions

(This news courtesy the Cynthia Sterling Market News, posted to the WV Writers Roundtable via Fay Thompson)

Broken Pencil is a Canadian alternative magazine that publishes three times a year. The editors are interested in short fiction from 50 to 3000 words. Payment is from $30 to $300 "depending on our finances."

For more information, see their guidelines at

Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction contest accepting entries

(This news courtesy the Cynthia Sterling Market News, posted to the WV Writers Roundtable via Fay Thompson)

Entries for Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction contest are being accepted through July 31st. There is no fee to enter and the first place story wins $1200. Second and third place garner $500 and $300 respectively.

Stories should be no more than 3000 words.

For details, visit

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference will be held on October 13, 2007, on the campus o f Montgomery College, in Rockville, Maryland.

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference is a full day of workshops, discussions, panels and salons for writers. This year's workshop leaders include Margaret Blair (young adult), Susan Coll (fiction), Alix Ohlin (short story), Carly Sachs (poetry), Donna Andrews (mystery) - to name only a few.

This year, the conference will honor William Kennedy for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature.

The Conference is Oct. 13, 2007, from 8:45am-8:30pm, and is held at Montgomery College's Theatre Arts Center, in Rockville, MD. The cost is $85 with several levels of discounts available (early registration, student, senior etc).

Enrollment fills quickly. If interested, please register early.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Granny Sue's Storytelling Schedule

(This news courtesy of WV Writers own Granny Sue Holstein's blog.)

July 18: Stories at the River's Edge storytelling, Mason WV and Middleport, OH
July 20: Pipestem, WV: Storytelling at Pipestem Resort
July 25-July 31: storytelling for nine libraries in eastern West Virginia for the Summer Reading Program
July 28: Fauquier County, VA: storytelling at Warrenton and Marshall libraries
July 28: Storytelling at Lost River State Park, Mathias, WV
July 30: Fauquier County, VA: storytelling at Bealeton Library
July 30: Storytelling at Cacapon Resort, Berkeley Springs, WV
August 3: Caldwell, WV: Storytelling at Greenbrier State Forest
August 4: Bluefield, WV: Storytelling for private event
August 11-12: Pittsburgh, PA: Three Rivers Storytelling Festival, MC and general go-fer
August 18: Grafton, WV: Storytelling at Tygart Lake State Park
August 21: Thomas, WV: storytelling at Blackwater Falls State Park
September 8: Ripley, WV: Family Storytelling with Adele Browne at the Alpine Theatre
October 3-4: Weston, WV: West Virginia State Storytelling Festival, Jackson's Mill Conference Center
October 12: Charleston, WV: WV Reading Association Conference performance
October 13-14: Charleston, WV: WV Book Festival

Friday, July 13, 2007

Riverside Theatre Announces Deadline


Iowa City, IA – July 1, 2007 - Riverside Theatre invites playwrights to submit monologues for performance in Walking the Wire: Monologues at Riverside. This ninth annual evening of original work features monologues of ten minutes or less by both established and up-and-coming playwrights. The focus for this season’s monologues is The Midwest: Beyond the Corn. Submissions must be postmarked September 1, 2007; final selections will be announced no later than October 29. The monologues will be performed February 29-March 2 at Riverside Theatre.

Submission Guidelines

Riverside Theatre is seeking submissions from writers with a Midwestern experience/perspective; non-Midwestern writers with an informed perspective about the Midwest are welcome to submit.

Up to two submissions per author of original, unpublished and unproduced monologues (may be dramatic character or personal memoir) less than ten minutes length may be submitted. Please read it aloud to be certain and include the approximate performance time on your submission; all lengths of up to ten minutes will be considered, with the objective of choosing monologues of varying lengths). The copy must be easy to read: double spaced in a minimum 12 pt. font, and should include the playwright's name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.
Simple is best. Since "Walking the Wire" typically includes a large number of monologues, it is important that each one require as little production as possible; set-pieces, props, or effects needing set-up, strike, or special technical support may disqualify an otherwise excellent submission.

The POSTMARK deadline for submissions is Saturday, September 1, 2007. Playwrights selected for Walking the Wire will be notified no later than October 29, and also posted on Riverside Theatre’s website,

Writers will be credited in all marketing and playbill materials; no royalties will be paid for performance. Monologues will be independently rehearsed until the week of the performance when the show will rehearse at Riverside Theatre. Area playwrights may perform their own work, or include the name of an actor interested in performing the monologue, although neither is required. Walking the Wire will be produced February 29-March 2, 2008.

Submissions should be mailed to:
Riverside Theatre
John M. Baker, Literary Associate
Walking the Wire submission
213 N. Gilbert Street
Iowa City, IA 52245

For more information, contact Hillary Foster, Marketing Director, at 319-887-1360, For guideline questions, please contact Jody Hovland, Managing Artistic Director,

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Poetry Reading at Tamarack

Poetry Reading: Lake Effect by Laura Treacy Bentley

Date: Saturday - July 21, 2007

Location and Times: Tamarack Book Department - 11:30AM and 1:30PM.

Poet Laura Treacy Bentley will share some selections and sign her newest book Lake Effect.

Visit Tamarack's website for more details:

Greenbrier Valley's "Appalachian Journal" accepting submissions

The Appalachian Journal, a monthly tabloid format paper that celebrates Appalachian culture, specifically in the Greenbrier Valley area, is looking to expand its pool of freelance writers.

If you're local to the valley and would like to contribute, contact Sarah Elkins, courtesy of the Mountain Messenger, at (304) 647-5724 ext. 113.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Morgantown New Playwright Project

(This news courtesy George Lies)

New play development is one of the cornerstones of M. T. Pockets Theatre Company and the basis for the Morgantown New Playwright Project a collaboration between the M. T. Pockets Theatre and the Metropolitan Theatre Board. Providing dramaturgical support for both women and men playwrights and nurturing scripts from rough first drafts through final production is a specialized, time-consuming and necessary labor of love. M.T. Pockets has shepherded projects by local playwrights Don Fidler, Jeremiah Munsey and Dan Stewart, and national and international playwrights.

The project seeks to bring together emerging and established playwrights with local directors and actors. Deadline: First of each month, 3 months prior to desired reading. Submit Scripts to: M. T. Pockets Theatre c/o Don Fidler; 1117 University Avenue - Unit 505; Morgantown, WV 26505. Email PDF file to: Questions, call Vicki Trickett: 304.216.2895

• Phase One: M. T. Pockets Explorations
Readings of new scripts - selected from submitted scripts as part of a monthly series. Talkback sessions will follow each reading to allow audience feedback. Playwrights will receive written comments from review panel.

• Phase Two:
One to two of the plays will move from readings to Bare Bones productions the following season. Bare Bones is a fully rehearsed public presentation of a play in development, and it will have one weekend run on stage.

• Phase Three:
The two productions will have a two to three day, fully-produced run at the Morgantown Metropolitan Theatre.

Script Submission Guidelines: Please submit the following: 1) A full script or work-in-progress; 2) Project description including a synopsis, a brief outline of your plans for development, and what you want to achieve at M. T. Pockets, and why; 3) Your resume, and 4) Any other resumes, bios, or applicable information. M. T. Pockets Theatre is 501(c)(3) organization and is supported in part by a grant from the Greater Morgantown Community Trust.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Writers 24-Hour Short Story Contest

(This news courtesy WVW 2nd VP T.W. McNemar)

The Summer 24-Hour Short Story Contest is now open for entrants. Start time for the Summer 2007 24-Hour Short Story Contest will be at 12:00 p.m. (noon) central time on Saturday, July 28, 2006! Participation is limited to 500 entrants. Contests usually fill up, so don't delay if you want to participate! You can see the list of prizes (first prize is $300, second is $250 and third is $200 - plus 82 other prizes!) and sign up here:

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hidden Poet-Neighbors & Writers Class

It's not too late to enroll in a Poetry Writing class this July at Shepherd. Led by Prof. Ethan Fischer, editor of Antietam Review & author of Beached in the Hourglass, English 472 will meet Monday through Thursday, 10:20 to 12:25 in Knutti Hall, Room 203. The class will explore what words can do to embody experience--travel with emotion or song. (This 4 week creative writing course will cost Senior Citizens a mere $45.)

You can enroll the first day, Monday 7/2 after class or even Tuesday. Write poems this summer--students and others welcome! Come join us for this journey into how your play of language works. "A good poem can stop a tank or a bulldozer."

For more info phone Ethan Fischer at 535-2624.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Allegheny Echoes Report

(This report from Granny Sue Holstein, as posted to the WV Writers Roundtable)

I've posted photos and notes from the Allegheny Echoes workshops in Marlinton, WV on my blog.

It was a fantastic week! I had a professional development grant that paid for half of the cost, and it was almost like being paid to party! I learned a lot, met many wonderful people, reconnected with old friends, and stayed up way too late every night to listen to the many old-time and bluegrass music jams--not to mention tasting a little 'shine too.

I was very surprised to run into Columbus area storyteller Larry Staats (who is a native of Sandyville, WV, where I live). His photo is on the blog, doing a great square-dance step. This year's liars contest winner is also in a photo on the
blog--Karen McKay from just down the road in Silverton, WV. She is one wild lady.

If you can find a way, this is the week for anyone into old-time music, Appalachian culture or creative writing. (I may be leading a storytelling week there next year--stay tuned for that.) The experience is hard to describe--it's like finding your family in the mountains. Not the place for self-promotion, but a place to connect, learn and immerse yourself in oldtime ways.

Read the blog for lots of photos!

Granny Sue
Stories from the Mountains and Beyond

Sunday, July 01, 2007

New Works of Merit Playwriting Contest extends deadline

(This news courtesy 2nd VP T.W. McNemar)

Due to computer transition problems with Vista, submission post-mark deadline has been extended to July 15, 2007.

New Works of Merit Playwriting Contest - an international contest whose mission is to seek out extraordinary, socially conscious scripts from around the world - is accepting scripts postmarked through July 15, 2007.

First Prize: $300 and a reading in an established New York City theatre.
Second Prize: a reading in an established New York City theatre.
Third Prize: a reading in an established New York City theatre.
For Submission Guidelines and Application Form:
As a direct result of prior New Works of Merit Playwriting Contests:

2004 winning script , “Conversation with a KleagleĆ¢?” by Rudy Gray, was produced in NYC February 16, 2006 - April 7, 2006; 2006:

2003 third place script, “Interview” by Valerie Killigrew, was produced in NYC November 2 - December 2, 2006.

2003 co-winning script, “Ruby's Story” by Ron Osborne was produced in NYC May 13 - July 3, 2004.
2004: 2003 honorable mention script, “Cry Wolf” by Deborah Mulhall was produced in NYC October 7 - November 27, 2004.

2003 honorable mention script, “Shade” by Paula J. Caplan received a free development workshop June 28-July 2, 2004 and a reading on July 11,2004.
2004 contest winner, Rudy Gray: in 2006, Mr. Gray became Resident Playwright of 13th Street Repertory Company-NYC Six scripts that were not finalists received a free reading.
Since January 2002, Sandra Nordgren, the founder of the contest, has been responsible for the offering of over 150 readings, 35 productions, 15 development workshops, and two theater playwriting residencies, all in New YorkCity at no cost to the playwright.

As writers, we have been given a precious gift. Let us use that gift to create powerful, heartfelt new works that not only entertain, but also educate, enlighten and uplift humanity.

We look forward to receiving your script!

The Literary Staff
New Works of Merit Playwriting Contest

Thanks Joe McCabe