‘One Foot in the Gravy’ tops playwright fest bill

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“One Foot in the Gravy” will headline the eighth annual Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival, Saturday, March 18, at the Parkview Physicians Group ArtsLab Theatre, 300 E. Main St., Fort Wayne.

Janet Allen, executive artistic director of Indiana Repertory Theatre, will be the featured speaker for the 2017 festival, leading a workshop discussion about what it means to be a playwright in the United States and how to develop and advance new scripts. Allen will speak at 5:30 p.m., to be followed by the annual festival reception.

The first-place winning play – “One Foot In The Gravy” will premiere on the eve of the festival, at 8 p.m. Friday, March 17. Directed by Phillip H. Colglazier, “One Foot In The Gravy” will be presented as a part of the festival on Saturday, March 18 at 8 p.m., followed by a post discussion led by Allen. Additional performances of this production will be: Sunday, March 19, 2 p.m.; Friday, March 24, 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 25, 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 26, 2 p.m.

In Howard Kingkade’s play, Fergy, a cultured but jaded middle-aged woman, talks her lover, Ned, into disguising himself as a female nurse in order to care for her wealthy skinflint husband Frank, who is reportedly on death’s doorstep. Tired of waiting for Frank to die, Ned steps into action, which sets off a series of madcap events.

The second- and third-place plays will have stage readings followed by post discussions led Allen. “The Unpredictability of Fire” by Rebecca Cameron will be presented at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 18, directed by Thom Hofrichter. “My Dead Clown” by David Rousculp will be presented at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 18, directed by Craig Humphrey. Both play readings will be held at the ArtsLab Theatre.

The Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival was established to help nurture the creative writing talents of Indiana playwrights. A $40 festival package includes all events and is available through the ArtsTix Box Office at (260) 424-5220. Tickets for individual events can be purchased by phone or online at fwcivic.org.

A full festival brochure is available online at fwcivic.org.

In “My Dead Clown,” Bill is at the top of his game. He is the most admired funeral director in town. He lives above the funeral home and hopes to buy the place when the owner retires. This perfect world comes to a screeching halt when Bill’s wife tragically dies. Bill loses his faith and his will to live. With no hope in sight, and struggling to keep his job, a bizarre turn of events happen that brings a dead professional clown to life. Bill, thinking this is his “pink slip,” tries to get rid of the clown, but the clown is here to stay. This crazy clown is wound up and unpredictable. Ironically, it is up to this clown to save the day and Bill.

In “The Unpredictability of Fire,” firefighter/paramedic Allie Chapman is seeing to wounded policeman Jake Brecker. A spark between the couple grows and flares up as a conflict of interest when Officer Brecker applies for a position at the Fire Academy. The fire chief presses for recommendations, citing the “unpredictability of fire,” and the extreme danger that could arise from a firefighter who wasn’t 100 percent ready and prepared. A deadly fire leads to an investigation that consumes all involved.

Open to current or former residents of Indiana and to those in a 90-mile radius of Fort Wayne, scripts were submitted by playwrights throughout Indiana and from Colorado, South Carolina, Illinois and New York. These scripts were adjudicated by a committee of local and national theatre professionals who determined the winners.

The festival is sponsored by an Anonymous Donor. Fort Wayne Civic Theatre is a funded member of Arts United and receives support from Lincoln Financial Group, the Auer Foundation, Foellinger Foundation, English Bonter, Mitchell Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.