New works, workshops at 21st PlayFest

Katie Kowalski,
Posted 2/28/17

“Write, write, write.”

That’s how Port Townsend playwright D.D. Wigley begins the process of writing a play.

“You have a story that no one else can tell; you just have to let that wild …

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New works, workshops at 21st PlayFest


“Write, write, write.”

That’s how Port Townsend playwright D.D. Wigley begins the process of writing a play.

“You have a story that no one else can tell; you just have to let that wild rumpus begin – so get on with it.”

Wigley, whose work is to be featured in this year’s PlayFest for the seventh year, also recommends writers put their draft aside before editing, read other scripts, watch other plays for inspiration and only let people they trust read their work.

“No naysayers allowed,” she said.

Would-be playwrights looking for more guidance could also attend one of PlayFest’s play-writing workshops, which are just a slice of the numerous opportunities Key City Public Theatre’s 21st annual “theater lovers’ feast” offers over the next two weeks.

PlayFest features performances and readings of six one-act plays by local writers like Wigley, three full-length plays by regional playwrights, discussion panels, interactive events, parties, workshops and more.

The festival, which runs March 2-12, is a chance for the community to become closely involved in the creative processes of writing plays, from script to stage.


Every summer, Port Townsend Arts Commission holds a one-act play competition open to the public, during which a handful of plays are selected through an anonymous process to be featured in PlayFest, along with full-length, in-progress plays by regional and national playwrights.

This year, along with Wigley, the winners are Hewitt Brooks, Doug Given, Mark Rose, Deborah Wiese and Michael Cavett.

Cavett is a first-time winner who has appeared as an actor on the PlayFest stage almost every year since its inception.

“I’m a little sad to break that streak, but the playwright journey has been very exciting,” said Cavett, who’s been wanting to submit a play for several years and finally went for it.

His play “Peach Cobbler Justice” takes place in the backwoods in the early 1940s and tackles the subject of rape in a culture that seeks to blame the victim rather than bring the perpetrator to justice, he said.

Cavett said he hasn’t changed his play much since he submitted it. “We have a great director in Connor Zaft and a very talented cast,” he said. “They are taking it as it is and making it come to life.”

In addition to watching plays written by six local playwrights, the community can also catch full-length works in progress by special guests. The 2017 featured playwright is Wendy MacLeod, whose “Women in Jeopardy” was part of the theater’s season last year. She is leading a workshop focused on a new play, and is joined by regional playwrights Jeni Mahoney and Duncan Frost, both of whom have worked extensively with the theater in the past.


Wigley recalls the first time her play came to life on the PlayFest stage. “My entire perception shifted 90 degrees,” she said. “To witness a half-formed idea in my mind become a script, which is transformed into a story told by actors and lights and set and props and music, and performed for my community – it is truly mind-blowing.”

Her 2017 play “Red Bikini Red” spans 50 years in the life of a family, and includes scenes in Port Townsend. “To me, this story has the elements of a fugue,” she said, referring to the musical composition that introduces and develops a melody. “Feelings – love, guilt, resentment, rage, bitterness – come to the fore, then recede, then manifest again, twisting and transforming into flaws and failings.”

Over the years, Wigley has watched many actors and directors interpret her work. She enjoys the collaborative challenge. Sometimes interpretations don’t quite resonate with what she’d imagined, while others have pleasantly surprised her, and at times even exceeded her “wildest imagination.”

“I have wept seeing my work reflected back to me so articulately, so creatively, so beautifully,” she said.

In addition to seeing her works come to life on stage, another reason she loves PlayFest is meeting other playwrights and actors from across the country, she said, and learning about their play-writing experience.

“To watch, and sometimes participate in, the writing process of those with far more learning, experience and knowledge than mine is icing on an already delicious cake,” she said.

PlayFest 21 is sponsored by John L. Scott Real Estate and funded by the Dramatist Guild Fund and the Port Townsend Arts Commission. Key City Public Theatre’s season sponsors are Alchemy Bistro and Wine Bar, and SOS Printing.


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