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Senior theatre student creates play festival

Free festival features ten student-written plays Feb. 26-28

Group picture for 10 Minute Play Festival by Romi Barta

Senior theatre student Romi Barta (center, in pink) created a short play contest that gave other student writers (some of the winners are pictured) a chance to have their work staged by student directors and actors. The 10-Minute Play Festival runs Feb. 26-28.

Romi Barta does not just sit back and wait for things to happen.

The senior Northwestern University theatre major, who is also in the Creative Writing for the Media Program and is minoring in film and media studies, is a mover and a shaker.  Barta came up with the idea a year ago to develop a short play festival on campus — and sees her journey play out this weekend.

The 10 Minute Play Festival runs Friday, Feb. 26 through Sunday, Feb. 28 at the Struble Theater, 1949 Campus Drive, Evanston. The first set of plays will be shown Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. The second set goes up Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission is free; seating is first come, first served.

Barta wanted to create opportunities for her fellow student playwrights, directors, and actors.

"I wanted to create opportunities for people who want to be involved," Barta said.  "For people who haven't had a chance to be on stage, haven't had a chance to have their work produced… that's something I really believe in and think is really important at a school where there are (so many) theatre majors and writers… everyone wants to work and is really motivated, and it's sometimes hard to get yourself out there."

Working with theatre faculty like Henry Godinez, Rives Collins, Laura Schellhardt and Theatre and Interpretation Center managing director Barbara Butts, Barta created a fall-quarter playwriting submission process for writers, coordinated a judges' panel to read and select scripts, and planned a winter-quarter weekly independent study seminar in which the selected writers could workshop their plays and the directors could hold rehearsals.

Ten plays, including Barta's play Cold Coffee, were selected by judges over winter break.  Six of the writers were freshmen, so Barta helped them, as well as the other writers, to network with student directors who were interested in participating. The student directors cast their plays with student actors. Ultimately, more than 50 students have been involved in the festival, including writers, directors, designers, actors, publicity experts, and the production team.

Henry Godinez, artistic director of the Theatre and Interpretation Center and Barta's professor, applauds Barta's initiative.

"It's a really terrific thing," he said.  "It's completely indicative of the way our students are in the real world once they leave here, and even here, our students are so self motivated. It's just one possibility of what our students are capable of doing when they want to do something and we encourage it, and I love that we can support it – it's really important."

Complete list of plays:

Cupid's Troubles
Written by Katie Adams
Directed by James Graham

The Worst Thing in the World
Written by Jonathan Ayala
Directed by Zach Gray

Cold Coffee
Written by Romi Barta
Directed by James Butler

Concave Camel Humps and
Crustless Bread
Written by Emily Acker
Directed by Rachel Cali

Purple Belts and Pirouettes:
A Play In the Pantry
Written and directed by Ilana Peña

Love in the Fifth Grade
Written and directed by Emmy Blotnick

Written by Rachel Birnbaum
Directed by Ed Krystosek
AD: Chelsea Taylor

An Anniversary
Written by Rachel Shine
Directed by Maria Benson

Kiss The Baby
Written and directed by Tristan Powell

Save Charlie!
Written by Danielle Littman
Directed by Brendan Scannell