New World Theatre is taking over Hatbox

It’s going to be a long couple of weeks for the folks at New World Theatre.

Not only did they just move into the space at Hatbox Theatre this past weekend to prepare for a two-week run of It’s Academic, a collection of four short plays which opens Friday, but they’re also hosting a play writing masterclass on Saturday with a performance of the eight plays featured at the masterclass on Aug. 1-2 (both also at Hatbox Theatre). We told you it was going to be busy.

At the end of 2016, a couple of the playwrights involved with New World Theatre submitted plays they had been working on. Both William Ivers’s An Unexamined Life and An Ordinary Day with Bullets by Walter Freeman had an academic flavor to them. Since both were short, but had a similar theme, New World Managing Director Donald Tongue put out a call for more works related – even loosely – to academics.

“We wanted to see what people had and got a lot of interesting submissions,” Tongue said.

And after pitching the selected collection of four works as one show to the folks at Hatbox Theatre, It’s Academic was selected for this year’s schedule and will make its debut on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. In addition to Ivers and Freeman’s plays, the show will feature Ideologues by Jack Neary and Easter at the Entreé Gold by John Minigan.

An Unexamined Life tells the tale of a college philosophy professor who’s being pushed out of his job and is forced to reexamine his life. An Ordinary Day with Bullets hits upon a topic that unfortunately dominates headlines all too often these days centered around an active shooter scenario at a high school. Ideologues features a pair of middle school students who share a box of Milk Duds while discussing the current political climate. And Easter at the Entreé Gold is set in a hotel suite where a teacher is confronted by another teacher about certain misdeeds with a student.

Three of the plays are in the neighborhood of 35 minutes, while the fourth is much shorter at just around 10 minutes. There are two directing teams, each handling two shows.

“There will be a bit of change over between pieces and an intermission after the first two,” Tongue said.

It’s Academic will be performed Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Aug. 5. Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for students, seniors and members, and $12 for senior members. And due to adult themes and language, this show is recommended for mature audiences only.

“Hatbox is definitely the ideal venue for this,” Tongue said.

The play writing masterclass features eight playwrights from as far away as California and Canada, who have each prepared short works for the culmination of New World’s playwright fellowship. Led by Stuart Spencer, author of The Playwright’s Guidebook, the eight playwrights will have their work read and analyzed during an all-day workshop. Spencer will even spend the final part of the day talking about his own creative process.

Cost is $30 to observe the workshop, which runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you can’t make the workshop, don’t fret because each of the short plays will be performed during a two-night only showcase Aug. 1-2.

While the plays are still works in progress, they will each be put on display for any and all to see.

“The ink hasn’t even dried on the scripts yet,” Tongue said.

They won’t be full productions, but a little bit more meat than just a stage reading because there will be some props and costumes. These works will be published in a new play anthology by New World Theatre Publishing.

Those tickets are the same price as a typical Hatbox show.

“We’re definitely packing a lot into two weeks,” Tongue said.

For more info, visit

Author: Tim Goodwin

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