News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Young playwright gets her big ‘moment’
BY FRANCES WOMBLE
FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
Most college freshmen busy themselves with trying to avoid the dreaded “freshman 15” while juggling an active social life with demanding classes. Claire Winkler wanted to add writing a play to the mix. She then decided to send the final product, a one-act play called “In a Single Moment,” to the fifth annual One Act Festival by Stage Door Productions Inc.
According to festival director Charlotte Fields, Stage Door Productions received 393 entries. Of those entries, seven were chosen to be performed at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in downtown Fredericksburg.
‘“In a Single Moment” is one of the seven.
“I’ve always wanted to submit a play,” said Winkler, who is finishing up her freshman year at the University of Mary Washington. “But it was really hard. I’ve never written for an audience or for a deadline, but it was a great learning process.”
The 20-minute one-act is about two 17-year-old strangers who meet at a subway station.
“It’s how you can meet a stranger and think what you say to them is meaningless, when in reality it can be very important in the future,” Winkler said.
But after she sent the play, she didn’t think much about it.
“I didn’t think anything of it because I didn’t hear back right away. I knew there were a lot of playwrights, and I knew I was probably one of the youngest.”
However, Fields said the judges do blind readings, so they don’t know who the playwrights are, where they are from or how old they are.
Since the competition received so many entries, the reading process was lengthy.
“It takes hours and hours,” Fields said.
She reads the plays first and eliminates ones with elaborate sets or extensive character lists.
“They may be wonderful plays, but unfortunately we’re just not able to perform them in an evening of seven plays,” she said.
If the play receives Fields’ approval, it is then sent on to additional readers.
Winkler learned “In a Single Moment” was accepted in February.
“I was ecstatic,” she said. “Nothing could top it.”
According to Winkler, she originally wrote the two characters in her play based on two people she knew from high school. Ironically, Meredith Jackson and Danny Dobyns, the two people Winkler had in mind, will be playing these roles.
“I can see the similarities between the characters and us,” said Jackson, a junior at Massaponax High School. “It’s a really powerful part. I’ve been able to develop my character really well, and I hope that’s conveyed.”
In addition to Winkler, Jackson also thought of Dobyns for the other role. She said the two of them have worked together in other plays.
“I wanted Danny to audition with me, so people could see our dynamic,” she said.
Her request didn’t fall on deaf years.
“I was planning on auditioning, but I don’t plan things well and kept forgetting,” said Dobyns, a senior at Massaponax. “Meredith kept calling me the day of the audition.
By the time I got there, I thought I had missed everything. I was able to audition for two plays, but this is the one I really wanted. I kind of got the idea that Meredith had already been picked. She’s really fun to work with, and I think we bring out the best in each other.”
According to Fields, the festival received about 100 more entries this year than last year. Playwrights from Iran, Switzerland and Indonesia as well as across the U.S. sent in plays.
“People come down to see their plays performed,” she said. “They are spreading the word that this is a good company to send your work to.”
The entire show will last about two hours, and individual plays range from four to about 25 minutes.
What: Fifth annual One Act Play Festival, presented by State Door Productions Inc.
Where: Central Rappahannock Regional Library, 1201 Caroline St., Fredericksburg
When: 7:30 p.m. April 27–28, May 4–5; 2 p.m. matinée April 29
Tickets: $15; purchased at the door or online at brownpapertickets.com/event/240932
Info: 540/898-2673, stagedoorproductions.org
Frances Womble is a student at University of Mary Washington and a freelance writer.