Stories of Power: ATGR holds local playwriting festival

Actors’ Theatre’s Living on the Edge playwriting festival is wrapping up this month with a final showcase of the top five scripts, written by local playwrights here in West Michigan. Each play, once fully staged, will last 8-15 minutes and they’re all written under one theme: (un)breakable.

On top of the five winners, a sixth play commissioned by ATGR will be performed.

“Truly, we hope to discover a group of scripts that are all different stories with common threads,” said Executive Director Kyle Los. “One of the beautiful things about it is reading a story that you wouldn't naturally dream up and feeling connected to it. The performances, although separate pieces, end up making one stunning show when put together.”

Some of the themes that came in this year included discovering oneself post-divorce, facing fears and finding one’s voice and using it to empower others.

“The hope, certainly, is that plays end up emphasizing our mission as an organization to be producing thought-provoking works,” Los said.

Kristin Hirsch, local playwright and member of Funny Girls, wrote her play Blue Renewal for this festival and was pleased to make it to the final round after not making it last year.

“Blue Renewal is a story of sadness, secrets and redemption,” Hirsch said. “As two sisters, Meg and Erin, work to clean out their recently deceased Grandma’s attic, a revelation is discovered that allows Erin to find a new perspective, as well as the courage to embrace her own truths and move forward.”

Hirsch said her play is based on some personal experiences and stories of people in her life.

“I’m excited for the audience to hear this story because the ultimate message is one of hope and family, specifically the love of a family that connects us through generations,” Hirsch said. “My background in comedy writing allowed me to inject enough humor for levity to balance out the seriousness of the characters’ situations and create an overall feel-good story that hopefully the audience will be able to relate to in their own way.”

Los said there will be at least one show that each audience member can relate to, and every show will send a different message under the same theme. The total program will move quickly, taking about 90 minutes.

Community members are invited to come experience some of the best performers and playwrights in town for a night of fun, local productions.

Living on the Edge
Actor's Theatre Grand Rapids
Spectrum Theater Black Box
160 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids
June 6-9, $10