New works take center stage with “At First Sight” festival

By Peter Gil-Sheridan

Peter Gil-Sheridan, Head of IU’s Playwriting MFA program

Whether it’s on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, our young people are raising their voices and speaking truth to power. They are asking for equity, for greater representation, for justice, for safety. While those voices are important on social media, it is as important for our young writers to be contributing to the conversation that is happening all across the country on the American stage. The theatre is our seeing place, where we go to see ourselves reflected back, to contemplate, to change, and deepen. While seeing the great classics of our form is important, it’s vital to remember that those works wouldn’t be known to us if those writers hadn’t been supported by teachers, audiences, and resources. This year, we offer a program of new works that offer you fresh perspectives on what it means to be an American.

Playwright Aaron Ricciardi

Aaron Ricciardi, our 2nd year MFA Playwright, has been working on his brand new play Nice Nails since he arrived in Bloomington in the Summer of 2016. Aaron has worked and reworked this script, a workplace comedy about a nail salon owned by a Korean-American family, intensively. As playwrights, we are all in the business of writing people who come from very different experiences than we do. The challenge of creating fully-formed characters that are funny and full and true is our work. So we take our risks. We succeed. We fail. We offend. We rewrite. We grow. While new work seeks to deepen its audience, it especially deepens our storytellers. For Aaron, Nice Nails has opened his eyes to a world he didn’t know much about and through it, he has found a way to ask his audience whether the best of intentions have a cost to those struggling most.

Playwright Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin

On April 7, we will be treated to reading of a new play, Well-Tempered Clavier, by our first year MFA Playwright Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin. In her play, we come to know a Chinese-American family as they move through milestone weddings and one funeral, expanding and contracting, loving, fighting, falling apart, and coming back together again. At the heart of her play, Elaine, the family’s powerful matriarch, maintains the traditions she grew up with while raising a very American family that is growing by the scene. It’s a bold, funny and moving play that is so reflective of the spirit that Kaela has brought to this community. As a dramatist, Kaela is deeply interested in focusing our attention on stories not often told. Her characters are not onstage in service of a white or male narrative but to establish and explore their own narratives as they intersect with a mercifully intercultural world.

Our undergraduate writers will also be represented for the second time in our At First Sight Festival. All year long, Aaron, Kaela and I work with our talented undergraduates to give them a space to express their hearts and minds. I’m certain you’ll be as dazzled and delighted by their work as much as I am.

My heart is full of admiration and pride for IU’s writers. I thank you for your continued support of our efforts. And hey, who knows? You may well be the first to witness the classics of tomorrow.

“At First Sight”, IU’s annual festival of new plays, culminates April 7th with full day of new works written and directed by IU graduate students and undergraduates. A schedule will be posted on our website as soon as the information is available. If you would like the schedule sent to you, please contact us and let us know!

About IU Theatre Department

Welcome to the 7th & Jordan blog. This blog is a peek behind the curtain at the productions and people at Indiana University's Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.
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