By Hilary Kraus
Special to the Guide
A little tweaking here, some trimming there and a whole lot of constructive feedback will be the foundation of a unique weekend at South Carolina Repertory Co. on Aug. 26-28.
The theater company’s New Play Festival, which is in its second year, gives theatergoers the chance to voice opinions as a way to help young playwrights shape their works. Three original staged readings will be performed each night of the festival, with talkback sessions to follow.
“It was a big hit last year” said Katie Rasor, co-director of New Play development. “The audience members gave a lot of interesting feedback.”
The testing ground proved to be exceptionally productive to playwright James Rasheed during the inaugural event. His play, “The Baristas,” was selected as part of the repertory company’s 2011-12 season.
Rasor, who lives in Boston, said about 50 playwrights submitted works this year. She and Nick Newell, a staff member and co-director of the festival, read all the plays and submitted their top choices to Pat Haskell, artistic director of South Carolina Repertory Co.; Blake White, associate producer; and Hank Haskell, business manager.
Rasor said the festival’s objective is to get different voices by both men and women who represent an assortment of regions in the U.S. The actors include out-of-towners as well as local names, Peggy Trecker White, Blake White, Harry Culpepper Jr. and Jenny Zmarzly.
This year’s selections are:
• 8 p.m. Aug. 26: “O Walter, My Walter,” an absurdist comedy by Elena Zucker, starring nine actors. Zucker is a Brooklyn-based writer, director and performer who received her master of fine arts in playwriting from New York University. Jim Stark, company staff member, is directing.
• 8 p.m. Aug. 27: “Beckett in Jackson,” a Southern comedy in one act by Marshall Botvinick, starring five actors. Botvinick is a North Carolina-native with degrees from Duke University and the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. He lives in Raleigh. Chip Egan, company staff member, is directing.
• 8 p.m. Aug. 28: “Urban Rabbit Chronicles,” A comedy/drama in two acts by Steve Harper, starring five actors.
Harper holds degrees from Yale University, the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University and The Juilliard School. He lives in Los Angeles, where he has worked on televisions shows, “The Young and the Restless,” “Law & Order” and “Rescue Me.” Nick Newell is directing.