Salisbury Post
September 1, 2014

Local playwrights debut work in Old Courthouse festival

08/15/2013 12:01 AM


By Sarah Campbell

CONCORD - The writing talent of five Rowan County residents will be on display during Old Courthouse Theatre’s inaugural 10 minute play festival next week.

Savannah Deal, Connie Dinkler, Cale Evans, Bill Greene and Chuck Thurston are among the seven playwrights accepted into the festival, which is the first of its kind in Concord.

Evans and Greene, both of Salisbury, have previously had their work selected for Lee Street Theatre’s 10 minute play festival.

Dinkler, a fellow Salisbury resident, said three of her 10 minute plays have been performed in New York, one by Thespian Productions last June and the other two by F.A.C.T. Theatre during the Wine and Words Series.

Deal, a senior at Carson High School, said she’s only written one other play, but it won third place in the North Carolina Playworks Playwriting competition last year.

“It is going to be produced by a high school in Durham this year, as well as at Carson as their winter play,” she said.

But play writing is a totally different animal for Thurston, who used to write web pages for IBM and currently submits columns to the Post.

“It’s a new experience for me” said Thurston, a Kannapolis resident. “I’m very, very interested to see what else is staged.”

Here’s a closer look at the playwrights and their plays.

Savannah Deal

Deal’s play “The Headline Today” takes place in a 1940’s Hollywood movie studio that is being forced to close after its last picture flopped.

“The idea came among a string of brainstorms I did after I learned the theme of the contest and the restrictions,” she said. “It just kind of kept flowing from there.”

The festival’s theme is Eat Your Heart Out.

Deal said it only took a few hours to get it down on paper.

“ I’ve written a lot of different styled pieces, but I really think I’ve found my niche in playwriting,” she said. “It combines my two loves of theatre and writing.”

Deal, who starred as Eliza Doolittle in Carson’s production of “Pygmalion” last spring, said being part of the festival has given her a boost.

“I’m considering a career as a playwright, so this contest gave me another opportunity to craft a piece for the stage,” she said.

Connie Dinkler

Dinkler said it took a few days to pen her play “The Anniversary Party,” which she previously entered into a 10 minute play contest at a different theatre.

“‘The Anniversary Party’ is a comedy about an angry, bitter woman who throws a party to celebrate the anniversary of her divorce,” she said. “As she is preparing for the party her ex-husband shows up uninvited.

“The prompt was ‘anniversary’ and I liked the irony of a divorce anniversary celebration.”

Dinkler said she’s written a few serious pieces over the years, but she typically opts to keep it light and this play fits that bill.

“I prefer writing comedies because I feel life has enough drama already,” she said.

Dinkler’s writing background includes a full length play as well as short stories and poems, two of which have won awards in Rowan and Davidson counties.

“Anytime I see any kind of writing contest I enter it,” she said. “I love writing and I feel that life is too short to let opportunities pass me by.”

Cale Evans

Evans said his play titled “A Change of Heart” sounds serious, but it’s actually a comedy.

“It’s about a man whose wife passes away and she donates her heart to someone else,” he said. “The man goes to visit the home of the person who now has her heart and finds the guy to be a bit of a loser and unworthy, so he decides he’s going to take it back.”

Evans, who is part of the improv group Now are the Foxes, said he had a little help dreaming up his play.

“As I was writing, I took my ideas to one of our rehearsals and gave them the scenario I was thinking about,” he said. “Some of the lines that I really like came out of that.”

Evans said he typically sticks to the stage, performing improv and participating in plays with Piedmont Players Theatre.

“I wouldn’t really call myself a writer. “I’ve actually written for a couple of other festivals, but never submitted, I was just writing for myself.”

Bill Greene

Greene has no doubt his play “The Little Red-Haired Woman” will make people chuckle.

“I’ll be honest with you, people who come to see it are going to laugh,” he said.

The play is based on the Peanuts characters and shows Charlie Brown and Linus meeting up after several decades to catch up.

“I was trying to write something fun and different,” Greene said.

Three of Greene’s 10 minute plays have been performed by Lee Street and he wrote the theatre group’s “Scrooge’s Christmas Trolley Tour” last year.

Writing 10 minute plays works well with Greene’s busy lifestyle.

“I have a short attention span, but I enjoy writing and it keep me sharp,” he said. “I’m a strange writer; I basically compose it all in my head and write it down in one sitting.”

Chuck Thurston

Thurston ended up writing three plays for the contest, but it was “The World’s Best Dog” that earned him a spot in the festival.

“I sketched out the storyline in about 5 minutes and wrote the first draft in maybe 20,” he said. “The first draft is the easy part, I probably put at least three more hours into polishing it up.

“You’re never really finished, every time I read it, I think I could change a word here or there.”

The play focuses on a middle-aged every man who goes to a psychiatrist for help kicking a smoking habit that he took up years after quitting.

“During their first meeting, he starts talking about the characteristics of this really remarkable dog he’s recently gotten,” Thurston said.

Thurston said when the man and his wife became empty nesters they decide to get rid of their dog, despite having canine companions their entire life.

“They thought ‘No more boarding fees or vet ills, we’re free to come and go,’ but they start missing the dogs so they hunt around a little bit and find a new one,” he said.

By the end of the play, Thurston said the psychiatrist is bordering on hysteria.

“His story is so wacky, she’s beginning to think smoking is the least of his problems,” he said.

Thurston said he and his wife, Heidi, were active in the theater scene before moving down south, so he already had a connection to the stage.

“I’ve do like dialogue, it just jumps off the page,” he said.

Thurston said the play should stroke the funny bone.

“I hope people fall on the floor laughing, but you never know,” he said. “That’s the thing about this, you wonder if the audience is going to laugh at the places you though were funny.”