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‘Love in Unexpected Places’ Brings Local Playwrights to the Main Stage

February has come. Punxsutawney Phil purports that Spring is coming.  And, most importantly, love is in the air as we count down the days towards Valentine’s Day. We at the Majestic will be celebrating this month of love the only way we know how; by sharing the theatre’s love with the unseen local stars of the stage. This time out, we’re giving our love to the playwrights.

Over Valentine’s Day weekend, the work of local playwrights is coming to the main stage with Love in Unexpected Places. With showings at 7:30 pm on Feb. 12th and 13th, and a special Valentine’s Day afternoon showing at 2:30 pm, Love in Unexpected Places is a showcase of six short plays based on “love” sourced entirely from the Majestic’s Playwright’s Lab.

The Majestic Playwrights Lab was established in May 2015 under the tutelage of local playwrights John Byrne and Cristina White. Its goals mirror the Majestic Theatre’s perfectly, as Theatre Supervisor Jimbo Ivy explained when we talked about the show.

“The mission of the Majestic is to provide space, support, and encouragement for local arts and culture communities and the Playwright’s Lab is a great example of how a community can flourish with just a little space and support,” explained Ivy. “When we began, we had two or three playwrights and a few actors. Now we have ten to fifteen folks regularly attending and over a dozen plays have taken that first crucial step from private work to a public, living thing.”

With the Playwright’s Lab growing and thriving, the formation of a show like Love in Unexpected Places was only a matter of time. This six play showcase features music-filled sci-fi adventures in Sven’s Song, God and their archangels watching March Madness in Holy Impulse, a disgruntled weather man’s revenge attempt in Weather Man, Shakespearean shenanigans in As You Like It or Whatever, a battle over public seating in Park Bench, and a duo looking to overcome their fear of heights with Fear Camp. Each show explores love in some capacity, but that’s where the similarities end. The variety should leave every single theatregoer satisfied by the end of the night.

Jeannette Miller, writer of Fear Camp and director of Sven’s Song, reinforced the thread of love that carries through each show.

“[The show is about] people who have been in love, have lost love, have been passionate about something in their life, and those who have pined for love,” explained Miller. “These stories are funny, poignant, sweet, and romantic.”

Cherie Gullerud, writer of Sven’s Song and director of Fear Camp and As You Like It or Whatever, compared the selection of shows to a fantastic buffet of food.

“Any playgoer will have a wonderful time watching all the shows,” said Gullerud. “You don’t have to have a Valentine to enjoy them, and they are not all dripping with love. There is good humor and pathos and ideas to ponder. Who doesn’t enjoy a buffet filled with choices and surprises?”

And while Love in Unexpected Places should surely be a night of excitement and fun for the audience, the playwrights themselves will probably be the most excited to see their works come to life on stage.

We spoke with various members of the Love in Unexpected Places crew about how it felt to bring their works out from the lab and onto the main stage, under the bright lights.

Miller explained how crucial it is for a writer of any kind to get their work out in front of an audience.

“To have local playwrights have work on stage is vital to the playwriting process,” said Miller. “It is crucial for playwrights to get their thoughts and words off the page and onto the stage in order to really bring those characters and stories to life. Without an audience, we are all just people writing stories for own enjoyment. With an audience, we are true playwrights bringing characters and stories to life. To see local playwrights as well as local actors and directors involved in community theatre gives other people the idea and dream of auditioning or submitting work.”

“Collaboration is crucial for theatre,” Ivy said. “Giving local playwrights the chance to see their work move from idea to work-shopped piece to fully produced show is something that doesn’t usually happen in a smaller community. We’re very proud to help it be a reality at The Majestic.”

Cristina White, co-director of the Playwright’s Lab, writer of Park Bench and Weather Guy, and director of Holy Impulse, spoke about the importance of theatre in this media-driven world and how establishing local talent keeps theatre alive.

“It’s important to have this base of local talent because we live in a world dominated by media, and most of our focus is on the talent “out there” on screens big and small,” said White. “The theatre remains at the core of our shared human experience, the place where we physically come together to see and hear our stories—our joys, sorrows, and absurdities. Our local theatre strengthens the bonds of the community, gives local artists a place to contribute their work, and lets all of us take pride in our own friends and families.”

White followed up her love of the stage by calling the Majestic hub of creativity in our community, where a person off the street could find their work celebrated.

“Without the Majestic, there would be no spotlight on these new works; I’m grateful for the theatre and its fine staff, and Jimbo Ivy’s leadership in providing a home for the talent in this community,” said White. “The Majestic is a place where we can explore, experiment, grow, and sometimes, shine.”

Love in Unexpected Places is filled with an unbridled passion from top to bottom and this night of local celebration is sure to find a place in the hearts of audience members of all sorts. Come fall in love with local playwrights and support the arts all at once!

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