New Works Playwright Competition Winner Workshop Comes to OCTA

New Works Playwright Competition Winner Workshop Comes to OCTA

Olathe Civic Theatre Association holds the Winner Workshop for their second New Works Playwright Competition. With this initiative, OCTA invited local playwrights to submit teasers of never before seen scripts and the top five were performed script-in-hand during the March semi-finals. Now, the winning playwright, Jessie Salsbury, gets a two-night workshop event of her play ADOPTION OF GRIEF, July 13 and 14.

Playwright Jessie Salsbury and director Jo Bledsoe Collins bring together the following local artists: Denise Saylor (Amanda), Peter Leondedis (Ronald), Rochelle Petway (Myreen), Ted Collins (Ward), Yasmeen Wilcox (Desiree), Sheridan Mirador (Chad), and Jeannie Blau (Stage Directions)

Looking back on the competition, playwright Andrew Joseph Brown reflects on his involvement: "Our second year of going through this process showed us that there is even more local talent to find. We got to see teasers of edgy plays, our first musical, historically influenced stories, and family-centered stories. Each was strong, and I can't wait to see what happens next for the characters in the Winner Workshop."

Jessie was drawn to OCTA's competition through her friend, Michelle Tyrene Johnson, also last year's winner. Of her play, ADOPTION OF GRIEF, she says, "My son asked questions about his history, so I took those 'what-ifs', and tensions around interracial adoption, and built a story." Additionally, Jessie is thrilled OCTA supports new works and features a play next season of Michelle Tyrene Johnson, who she calls a future Pulitzer Prize winner. "Playwriting is this magical thing where you write the drafts by yourself but you absolutely cannot finish it without help. Questions the actors, director and audience ask, or their reactions, help the play build to the next draft." Jessie further comments how "Theatre is an art that you can NEVER do alone, which why it's my favorite art form."

Speaking about her work in ADOPTION OF GRIEF, Jessie explains that all her plays purposely have women protagonists, but this one deals with interracial adoption. The March teaser left audiences wondering about the death of Desiree's sister, Cherise, which reveals the shocking news that she secretly gave up her son for adoption to a woman named Amanda. It is interesting, Jessie divulges, because "now she leaves notes that she wants Amanda to take her other two children. Desiree confronts Amanda at Amanda's home about her nephew and nieces, and Cherise's dying wishes for her to take all the children. Desiree is further grieved because her family and nieces are black, and Amanda's family is white. Chad, the nephew adopted in secret years before, is biracial."

Currently, Jessie is writing a full length version of ROUTE 84 HOUSE FIRE, which comes slowly as it is based on childhood experiences, as well as THE TATTOED QUILT, which is a full length play about a tattoo parlor that removes neo-nazi tattoos in an alternative time period where any sign of racism is a severely punishable crime. It certainly sounds like audiences can expect great things from Jessie Salsbury.

To attend the New Works Playwright Competition Winner Workshop, check out OCTA either Friday, July 13, or Saturday, July 14 at 8pm. Ticket information can be found at Regular ticket price is $10 and season ticket holders can attend for $5.

Olathe Civic Theatre Association is a 501c3 organization producing theatre in Olathe since 1974. Performing in the Buddy Rogers Family Playhouse, OCTA produces five high-quality, engaging, and thought-provoking theatre productions a year. Through the generosity of volunteers, season ticket holders, donors, and the City of Olathe, OCTA has grown into one of the most progressive community theaters in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Receive daily updates by 'liking' OCTA's Facebook page at follow OCTA on Twitter at @OCTATheatre.

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