New Plays Festival showcases student collaboration at its best

Wheaton’s 14th annual New Plays Festival began on February 27 at 1 p.m. with shows performed periodically throughout the weekend. The festival showcases long plays written by students in Professor of English Charlotte Meehan’s Advanced Playwriting class. These plays are then performed by students in the Theatre Department.

Meehan first started the New Plays Festival at Wheaton in 2003, and it has since become one of the most prominent displays of student collaboration. Students both write and perform the works, making it a very uniquely student-oriented experience. “Each festival brings an extraordinary range of voices and styles, and I’m always amazed at the themes my students cover in their plays,” Meehan said.

This year, the content in some of the plays was particularly unique and diverse. “[It] included works dealing with the aftermath of war; a post-apocalyptic survival camp; assimilation to a new culture that turns out to have some very dark secrets; and dreams gone wrong, to name a few,” said Meehan.

In addition to the content, the themes of the plays were very moving for the audience. Meehan’s teaching assistant Adara Meyers ’08 said, “The Festival’s plays told hard-hitting stories of social inequality and violence, corporate America, war, empathy and love—themes that audiences passionately responded to with questions and emotional reactions.”

Meyers, a playwright and editor, who has had her work featured in newspapers such as The Boston Globe, said she felt inspired by the performances. “I can only imagine viewers will continue thinking about how plays have the power to spark meaningful dialogue about the vital issues and crises of our time, both on campus and around the world,” Meyers said.

Meehan was especially proud that many of the plays helped address current social problems. “Our playwriting students demonstrate, time and again, that the most exciting plays deal with social issues as well as creative self-expression,” said Meehan. “This year was no exception in terms of bringing up current social issues that need to be addressed.”