Alumnus debuts at festival

Correction appended

A young writer looks out over the New York skyline, pen in hand. As he thinks back on the defining relationships in his life, he writes not of life but of death as he considers what to say in his suicide note.

The young writer is the protagonist of alumnus Nate Wolfson’s one-act play, “Voices on Edge,” which features the trials of a young man intent on killing himself, in this weekend’s New Plays Festival.

The GW Department of Theatre and Dance’s MainStage will present the fourth annual festival to showcase Wolfson and two other student-written one-act plays this weekend and next at the Betts Theatre.

Wolfson, who graduated in 2010, wrote “Voices on Edge” and will see it performed for the first time alongside Conor McCaffrey’s “Spumoni,” about a motley trio of college roommates who despise one another, and Julie Braunschweiger’s “Luvolution,” which explores the personal development of a man looking for love.

Kanter, the director of the dramatic literature program – an interdisciplinary program in the English and theater departments – will direct the New Plays Festival this year.

Kanter says that GW is one of the only colleges or universities in the area that has an annual showcase of student-written plays.

“There may be places where student plays get performed, but it’s particularly unusual for student plays to get a spot in the season of the department,” Kanter said.

As an undergraduate at GW, Wolfson performed in student theater groups and had always wanted to be a writer, but never considered writing as a realistic option until this experience.

“It’s pretty surreal seeing people memorizing the lines you wrote,” Wolfson said.

The student-written plays have undergone a thorough revision process since October. Wolfson and the other student playwrights met with professors in the department to make their plays stage-ready and submitted multiple rewrites before auditions took place. Rehearsals were held during the process to reflect the changes made to the one-acts.

“I hope that people sort of just enjoy and recognize the hard work the playwrights put in,” said Steve Isaac, a senior theater minor who’s acting in Wolfson’s play as well as another for the showcase.

Isaac, like Wolfson, had previously been involved in student theater and found that the process as a whole “runs a lot smoother” because the actors can focus solely on acting since there are other people involved who work specifically on the other aspects of the showcase.

Caitlin Simpson, a freshman Presidential Scholar in the Arts performing in “Voices on Edge,” said that working with Wolfson has been an inspiring process.

“We’ve had the chance to work with Nate and really work with the characters and change things,” Simpson said. “The people are so dedicated and so talented and it’s so far from what I did in high school.”

Other student plays will be showcased in a roundtable read-through format on the second weekend.

“I think my favorite part is watching the plays grow over the course of the process and I think this year we’ve taken that part of the experience really seriously and the student playwrights have taken it really seriously so I think these plays, all three of them, have really been revised and rewritten and really in all three cases have been strengthened by going through the development process,” Kanter said.

The festival will be taking place March 25-27 and April 1-3. Tickets are $10.

This article was updated April 10, 2011 to reflect the following changes:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Wolfson’s play, “Voices on Edge,” was written in Jodi Kanter’s dramatic literature course. The play was written in another course.

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