Storytime by the fireside

Muhlenberg Theater Association hosts the New Play Reading Series

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Students performing "Gay for Saturday" by Julianne Lucas '24 // Photo by Keanna Peña '25

The New Play Reading Series (NPRS) was a two-day event that took place over the weekend, Feb. 19 and Feb. 20. The event showcased a multitude of student plays. This is an annual event held by the Muhlenberg Theatre Association (MTA) every spring semester. It serves as a workshop event for plays to be read out loud to an audience in order to hear how they function and work. Playwrights submitted an excerpt of their piece and eleven plays were selected. The coordinator of NPRS, Johnny Veglia ‘24 explained, “In order to showcase as many pieces as possible, we showcased each play for roughly twenty to twenty five minutes. If the play was longer than the allotted amount of time, then playwrights submitted an excerpt of their play to be read.”

As a whole, the event was a success. Veglia expressed, “It was a great time both Saturday and Sunday! We had a great turnout on both dates, especially Saturday, and it was so great to hear the audience responses. I think all the playwrights offered excellent plays and directors and performers did a wonderful job of having the words jump off the page. I also have to thank the lovely Hannah Verdun [‘24], the MTA production manager, who helped make sure the event went smoothly and helped me with any issues or problems. Gabi McCabe [‘24] was also a major help and Greg Wilson [‘24] with his wonderful projector and sheet. It was a blast and I hope audiences enjoyed the plays.”

“As someone who reads the texts multiple times throughout the process, it’s wonderful to see the works being performed and brought to life by the actors.”

– Gabi McCabe ’24

McCabe, the Inclucivity & Equity Coordinator for the MTA, read through the texts and created content warnings for the performances. She plays a crucial role in observing casting and play selection, and acts as a second opinion to see that things run smoothly. She commented that, “As someone who reads the texts multiple times throughout the process, it’s wonderful to see the works being performed and brought to life by the actors. NPRS is a great lower stakes opportunity that offers students a space to learn and share their talents with the Muhlenberg community.”

Julianne Lucas ‘24, the writer for “Gay for Saturday” (directed by Ava Pirie ‘23), explained that she wrote the piece last semester in a playwriting class. “All I had to do was dust it off and look it over again to submit it.” She commented how great the event was, and said, “It was amazing to get feedback based on the audience’s reactions. I was able to find out which jokes were landing, which were not and which lines unexpectedly made people laugh. I also got feedback from the actors on what felt natural to them and what felt forced.” 

An actor from “Gay for Saturday,” Arden McHugh ‘25, expressed that “NPRS is really fun because it’s so collaborative! We had a really short rehearsal process so when the cast, director and writer got together in a rehearsal space we all wanted to make as many creative choices as possible so we could narrow down what’s working and what wasn’t. Like rapid fire rehearsals. It was also really fun to have writers in the room because that’s so rare. We as a cast were able to give feedback and help them work out the kinks of the dialogue. It was really fun to work with texts that weren’t yet formed and solidified.”

“It was also really fun to have writers in the room because that’s so rare.”

– Arden McHugh ‘25

Amelie Parczany ‘25, actor in Kira Wiener’s ‘25 “Untitled,” also expressed how collaborative the process was. “Kira did a great job with presenting us her play and assisting us, but also asking for feedback and taking our feedback into consideration. She gave us some clarifications to how she envisioned her play and each character, but also allowed us to interpret the play as we wished, so it was a nice balance.” 

As a whole, the event was a success, and allowed writers and actors alike to get the chance to showcase their talents for a more intimate audience. Lucas said “I’m just very grateful to have had an opportunity for my work to be read in a lowkey setting, because it allows me to workshop it further in case I want to go on to do a larger production of it in the future.”

Keanna Peña '25 is an English and Creative Writing major with a minor in Dance. She is a managing editor for The Weekly and loves writing about student events on campus and sharing her poetry.

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