New School News

Drama Takes the Samuel French Play Festival

Samuel French winner Claire Kiechel. Photo by Brad Raimondo.

Congratulations to Drama playwright Claire Kiechel, whoseWolf Play was one of the six winners of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival.

Kiechel’s play will be published in a collection and licensed by Samuel French, Inc. In addition the play will have the opportunity for a performance or reading with French’s partner theatres, including City Theatre in Miami, Florida and Fusion Theatre Company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She will also receive an invitation to attend the 2013 Citywrights conference in Miami, hosted by City Theatre.

In preparation for the festival, Kiechel’s play underwent a long development process. “It went from getting feedback from [playwriting teacher] Michael Weller and my classmates, to impromptu readings with Drama school actors, to rewarding rehearsals with my director and cast,” she explains.  “All of the people along the way helped write the play, so I’m very much indebted to them.”

The final performance of the play was unfortunately canceled due to Hurricane Sandy, but she hopes to get the opportunity to have the play performed sometime again soon.

Of the 900 plays submitted this year for consideration, 40 were selected to advance to the finals to be judged by panels consisting of New York theatrical agents, Samuel French playwrights, and prominent artistic directors.  Including in this year’s finalists was also Drama playwriting alum Charlotte Rahn-Lee (’08), whose play Private Moments of (Re)Creation was directed by Drama directing alum Samantha Shechtman (’08).

The Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival started in 1975 and is Manhattan’s oldest, continuous short play festival.  The Festival has given emerging playwrights the opportunity to have their work produced with the support of such theaters as The Public Theater, The Royal Court, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Flea Theatre, The Living Theatre and Naked Angels. In many cases, Festival participation has sparked agent contracts for the finalists and many have gone on to win major playwriting awards and honors, as well as have major theatrical productions of their works staged.

The New School for Drama has been well represented in past Samuel French festivals, having many entries selected as semi-finalists and finalists. Past honorees include two-time winner Bekah Brunstetter (’07), Josh Beerman (‘11), E.J.C Calvert (’10), Matthew Kelty (’02), Kitt Lavoie (’01), Gabe McKinley (’09), Janine Nabers (’08),Ted Nusbaum (’06), and Daniel Pearle (’12).  Drama has had such a strong showing that The New School for Drama and Samuel French have instituted an annual staged reading series for the industry that honors and supports the work of our emerging alumni playwrights.

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