Students prepare for Short Play Festival

By John Lewis | Posted: Monday September 2, 2019

Jacobean farce, comic murder mystery, and the intersection of technology and romantic love.

Passing University of Otago students may have been a little confused about what was going on in the middle of campus at the weekend, as theatre studies students rehearsed scenes from plays they will perform next week in the Unesco Cities of Literature Short Play Festival in Dunedin.

About 30 plays will be performed at the international event at Allen Hall, which will showcase Dunedin plays as well as works from Unesco Cities of Literature around the world, including Melbourne, Baghdad, Iowa City, Heidelberg, Seattle and Edinburgh.

Otago Theatre Studies programme head Prof Stuart Young said Otago students would act in, direct, and produce most of the programme under the guidance of theatre professionals, but some would be performed by overseas actors.

"The festival offers senior students the chance to gain valuable real world experience in helping to organise an international arts event," he said.

All of the plays will be open to the public during the festival, which runs from September 13-20.

In addition to the performances, there will be rehearsed readings, a variety of workshops and forums, and keynote speeches by Goodman Theatre (Chicago) new play development producer/director Tanya Palmer, University of London Goldsmiths College MA in Dramaturgy and Writing for Performance director Dr Fiona Graham, and Wellington-based playwright and former Burns Fellow Victor Rodger.

Prof Young said the festival underscored Dunedin's status as a cultural hub.

"Dunedin has a long and strong theatre tradition, and we are proud that Theatre Studies at Otago has both benefited from, and made an enormous contribution to this.

"We've no doubt our students will benefit greatly from the experience, as will the visiting theatre professionals, and the public."

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