BWW Previews: NEW VOICE PLAY FESTIVAL at Old Opera House

You can have the chance to be a theater critic this weekend as the Old Opera House presents the New Voice Play Festival.

The New Voice Play Festival presents four original, never before performed plays written by playwrights from all over the country. After watching all four plays, the audience votes to decide their favorite play and the winning play is announced at the end of the festival. The four plays performed this year are As Time Goes By, Closings, Lovehack and That Time at Black Lake.

"The festival itself is a celebration of playwrights, emerging playwrights, from all around the country. Just being a part of that is very special. From a performer's view point, doing a new play means creating a character from scratch" said Mitchell Wajda, who plays Charles in That Time at Black Lake.

"I love that the play is untouched. There is no comparison or expectation from the audience. My cast gets to be the first group to really make it come alive" said Allyna Wilson who plays Zoe Cohen in Closings.

"It is like breaking new ground, where you can set an exciting precedent for how the character is portrayed" said Shari Shrewsberry Martin, who plays Jackie Moskowitz in Closings.

"My cast and I had several in depth conversations about each characters' past, present, and future. I think the best part of directing a new play is that there is no reference point. No one else has set a precedent. The director and the actors truly get to use your their imagination in character development. Through the rehearsal process we answered each question and truly developed each character from a one sentence description to real living person" said Erin Brackett, who directs That Time at Black Lake.

In addition to bringing new characters and shows to life, the cast also had a shorter time to rehearse.

"The most challenging aspect about performing in the New Voice Play Festival is the shortage of time to rehearse. Instead of working for a few months to really perfect the play and become the character, the process is sped up to a time frame of just one month" said Wilson.

"It's liberating building a new character from scratch, given it's a new play. But it's terrifying all at the same time. You don't have guidance of past performances or past interpretations of the character. From an actor's point of view, that can be scary" said Wajda.

The cast is eager to share the new plays with an audience this weekend.

"By having four small, one act plays, there is something for everyone" said Martin.

"People should come out to see the New Voice Play Festival because they are seeing four different shows in the time that it usually takes to just see one show! Just when you think you get attached to one play or group of people, the atmosphere is transformed into something new to invest your attention into" said Wilson.

"This is an opportunity for an audience to witness something never-before explored. These are pages and characters and plots that are brand new" said Wajda.

"These plays are completely new and never seen before. Almost one hundred playwrights submitted their work in hopes to have their piece performed on stage. I think this is a fantastic opportunity for people to come out and enjoy live theatre they may never get to see again" said Brackett

The New Voice Play Festival includes As Time Goes By by John L. Martins III, which features Gail Famer as Joy, Zac Gilbert as Bob, Kevin Tester as Bob and Sabrina Zillinger as Joy. Closings by Marcia R. Ruden features Sandra M. DeRocha as Agnes Wenham Bernstein, Donna Hamstead as Betty Bernstein, Julie Smith as Natalie Cohen, Richard Hamstead as David Cohen and Elizabeth Ricketts as Fran Moskowitz. Lovehack by Sander Gusinow features Kevin Howard as David, Markita Hosby as Molly and Elizabeth Egan as Researcher. That Time at Black Lake by Vicki Riba Koestler features Melissa A. Powell as Amanda and Ellie Jones as Betsy

The New Voice Play Festival runs Friday, June 23 at 8:00 PM, Saturday, June 24 at 8:00 PM and Sunday, June 25 at 2:30 PM at the Old Opera House, 204 North George Street, Charles Town, WV, 25414. Adult Tickets are $15.00 and Student and Children Tickets are $12.00. For more info, please visit

Photo Credit: The Old Opera House

Related Articles

West Virginia THEATER Stories | Shows

From This Author Johnna Leary

Johnna Leary Johnna Leary recently graduated with a B.A. in Musical Theater from Shepherd University. She previously worked as the Arts and Styles Section Editor of the (read more...)

  • BWW Review: LEND ME A TENOR at Old Opera House
  • BWW Previews: LEND ME A TENOR at Old Opera House
  • BWW Previews: SEUSSICAL at Old Opera House
  • Before you go...