SFA festival features new works by top playwrights
Jack Heifner Ted Swindley Staci Sweeden
March 27, 2014—Robbie Goodrich
NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS—East Texans can be among the first to hear the newest works by three acclaimed playwrights during the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre’s 2014 Festival of New American Plays Tuesday through Saturday, April 8 through 12, on the SFA campus.
This biennial event showcases the work of some of the best playwrights in the nation in a five-day festival during which each selected play is presented twice in staged readings by SFA theatre students, according to Jack Heifner, SFA School of Theatre’s playwright-in-residence, director of the festival and one of the featured authors.
“From 1998 until now, we have brought playwrights to our campus to see their new works,” Heifner said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our audiences to view ‘theatre in the making.’”
This year’s festival features Heifner’s play “Entropy,” along with “A Southern Belle Primer (Or Why Princess Margaret Could Never Be a Kappa Kappa Gamma)” by Ted Swindley, adapted from the book by Maryln Schwartz, and “Full Buck Moon” by Staci Swedeen. “Entropy” and “Full Buck Moon” are recommended for mature audiences. Full synopses of the plays can be viewed at theatre.sfasu.edu.
“The Festival of New American Plays is one of the most distinctive and exciting aspects of our programming, and we’re so grateful to Jack Heifner for creating it at SFA,” said Scott Shattuck, director of the School of Theatre. “We always look forward to welcoming world-renowned writers and seeing our students participate in the development of their next major plays.”
The festival will open with Heifner’s play “Entropy,” which will be read at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, and Friday, April 11. Swindley’s “A Southern Belle Primer” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, and at 2 p.m. Saturday. Swedeen’s “Full Buck Moon” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 10, and Saturday, April 12.
“Entropy” is a funny and touching romance about a couple whose lives are changed when they learn they are having a child.
Heifner is best known for his play Vanities, which ran for five years in New York and became one of the longest running plays in off-Broadway history. He is also the author of “Patio/Porch,” “Natural Disasters,” “Running on Empty,” “Bargains,” “Boys’ Play,” “Home Fires,” “Heartbreak,” “Comfort and Joy” and more than 30 other plays produced in New York, Los Angeles and theatres around the world. Heifner has written the book to six musicals, including “Leader of the Pack” on Broadway and “Vanities – A New Musical,” which opened in New York in 2009. He has also written for television and film.
Since 1997, Heifner has been playwright-in-residence at SFA where he teaches play, screen and television writing one semester each academic year. At SFA, he has directed “Home Fires,” “The Seagull,” “The Member of the Wedding,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Stage Door.”
Swindley’s “A Southern Belle Primer” is the hilarious play that tells all about how being a southern belle is “a cradle-to-grave commitment,” Heifner said, and presents Schwartz’ cult classic and best-selling book in a stage adaptation.
For more than 25 years, Swindley has directed and/or produced more than 200 plays. He is nationally known for creating the hit musical “Always … Patsy Cline,” which opened in New York in June 1997 and continues to play throughout the world. Some of his outstanding directorial credits include world premieres, classics and musicals, including “Carnal Knowledge,” “Pacific Overtures,” “Follies” and “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,” and rotating repertory projects, such as Thornton Wilder's “Our Town” and “The Skin of Our Teeth” and “Dangerous Liasons” with “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
Swedeen’s “Full Buck Moon” is the story of a couple that find themselves dealing with funny and frightening consequences when their car hits a deer on their honeymoon.
Swedeen’s plays have been read or produced in theatres across the nation. She was awarded a 2014 Individual Fellowship in Playwriting from the Tennessee Arts Council and the Arts and Letters Award in Drama. She has been commissioned by the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Sloan Foundation, and awarded a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts. A Core Lark Theatre Fellow, she was also a Dramatist Guild Fellow. "The Sleep Seeker," a film she wrote and produced, won “Best Short Film” in the Westchester Film Festival and was the “Audience Choice Award” at the Valleyfest Film Festival. As an actor, she most recently performed her one-woman show “Pardon Me For Living: A Biting Comedy” at the 2013 Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., and she continues to be involved in readings of new work for numerous theatres.
All performances of the festival will be in the Downstage Theatre of the Griffith Fine Arts Building, 2222 Alunni Drive. The festival is sponsored in part by Tipton-Ford-Lincoln.
The festival is part of the SFA School of Theatre’s Mainstage Series. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7.50 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu