Theater students at Dixie State University are witnessing their stories being brought to life through a student-led play festival.
Supported by the DSU theater program, the Student Playwrights Festival provides students with the opportunity to try their hand at writing, acting in or directing plays written by their peers. The festival runs from April 6-15 and includes plays from 15 different students.
Festival performances will take place in the Blackbox Theatre at the Dolores Doré Eccles Fine Arts Center. Doors open at 7 p.m. and performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. If you are interested in attending the festival, here are some of the plays that will be featured.
“When the Lonely Hearts Go”
Written by Joseph Carlisle, a sophomore criminal justice major from Hurricane, and directed by Brooklyn Reilley, “When the Lonely Hearts Go” follows Eden, a queer man who feels like an outsider in his midwestern town. In honor of his 22nd birthday, Eden is looking for something “or maybe even someone, great to happen to him.”
As the play draws to a close, he develops a better understanding of himself and where he belongs in the world. Inspired by their own experiences growing up as a queer person in a small town, Carlisle wanted to express how lonely that environment can be.
Carlisle said: “I also think that people need to hear that queer people are allowed to exist in places that aren’t cities. There aren’t places where queer people ought to be because the world itself is a queer space.”
Carlisle’s production is a full-length play, so it will be performed as a staged reading. The whole process for bringing “When the Lonely Hearts Go” to the stage involved Carlisle meeting with the director, talking about the content of the play and discussing their vision for the cast.
“When the Lonely Hearts Go” will be performed April 8 at 7:30 p.m.
“Piece by Piece”
Written by Sydney Burns, a senior theater major from Ivins, and directed by Brookelyne Peterson, “Piece by Piece” details the journey of a young man who loses his parents in a plane crash. Throughout the entirety of the play, audiences witness him experience all of the stages of grief.
While listening to “modern piano music,” the idea for this play came to Burns and she just started writing. The song she listened to while writing “Piece by Piece” was eventually incorporated into the show.
“I could feel the grief and healing through this song and I just sat and wrote,” Burns said.
Burns let Peterson, who is the director, take the reins of producing the show by giving her complete creative freedom to interpret the play however she saw fit. Burns said she has loved witnessing how excited the actors are for her to see the final product of all their hard work.
“Piece by Piece” will be performed April 14 and April 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Written by Courtnee Ramos, a junior theater major from Las Vegas, and directed by Krystal Dooley, “Alone” is a story centered around mental health awareness and the idea that even when we feel as though we are fighting our battles alone, there is always someone in our corner. Ramos said the play focuses on how difficult it can be to feel seen when it feels like “the weight of the world is crashing down on you.”
“Like all of us, you may struggle finding ways to fix your problems, emotions or fears, which can feel really lonely,” Ramos said.
Ramos’ favorite memory from this whole process was when she was outlining her play. Brandon Bruce, assistant professor of theatre arts, encouraged Ramos and her classmates to just go home and start outlining to see what ideas came up during the process.
“I started writing without editing, without any corrections, I just started going and I was able to write out a monologue that’s in the play,” Ramos said.
“Alone” is a 10 minute play that will be performed April 13 and April 15 at 7:30 p.m.
The Student Playwrights Festival serves as an inexpensive, entertaining event that provides students, faculty and community members with an opportunity to watch a brand new production every night.