IU Theatre Presents Four New Plays in the 10th Annual At First Sight Festival of New Plays


2022 At First Sight Festival of New Plays Art by Reuben Lucas and Laura Judson

IU Theatre & Dance will present new works from our graduate and undergraduate playwrights in the upcoming 10th annual At First Sight Festival of New Plays. This year’s festival will feature two productions of new plays in repertoire by third year MFA playwright Jayne Deely and visiting professor of playwriting Diana Grisanti. The festival will also showcase staged readings of new plays by MFA playwriting candidates, Annalise Cain and David Davila, several panels with esteemed guests, and Undergrad Shorts, an evening of short plays written by undergraduate playwrights. 

Jayne Deely’s Uncle Play, which serves as their thesis, is a vaudevillian journey of love, grief, and community through time. A titanic debate of queerness within multiple generations of the same family that asks ‘how do we both honor the work of those on whose shoulders we stand while also taking ownership of our moment?’ Witness Uncle and Niece, desperate to make the time they have left matter, ask the big questions that the language of theatre was made to answer. The production is directed by guest director Andrew Borthwick-Leslie with lighting design by Lee Anne Meeks, costume design by Nicole Hiemenz, and scenic design by Chyna Mayer, and features actor Robert Gerard Anderson as Uncle. 

In Diana Grisanti’s Bowling for Beginners, they train, they bowl, they attend class, they climb Jacob’s Ladder, and then they do it all again the next day. Bowling for Beginners is a theatrical exploration of a world inhabited by championship female athletes in a sport with few spectators. But once you understand the game, you'll learn what it takes to win. This production is directed by professor Jenny McKnight with lighting design by Corey Goulden-Naitove, costume design by Zephany Allen, and scenic design by Maggie Jackson. 

In second year MFA playwriting candidate Annalise Cain’s Crises of Abundance, the Green New Deal is here! We're strengthening ecosystems, we're protecting the coastline, and . . . wait a minute, is everyone in this secluded wetland . . . queer? How will we maintain any professionalism? What do we do with this sapphic paradise? How does one sit in a chair??  Jordan Flores Schwartz, second year MFA dramaturg candidate, directs this workshop presentation. 

In first year MFA playwriting candidate David Davila’s The Mesquite Tree: an American Tragedy, all a single mother needs is a little bit of masa and some left over meat to make enough tamales to feed her family for an entire month; but Blanca wants more for her granddaughter than to be pregnant at fifteen and stuck in a small house in South Texas with five generations of her abuelas. Can she change her family’s destiny before there’s another mouth to feed? Lauren Diesch, first year MFA directing candidate, directs this workshop presentation. 

Undergrad Shorts, is a presentation of outstanding short plays by undergraduate playwrights. This year’s presentation includes new works by Gabriel Armstrong, Ben Ballmer, Paully Crumpacker, Nick Johnson, Hannah Keeler, Amia Korman, Sahir Mir, and Allie Turner, directed by Ballmer, Korman, and River Epperson.

The festival will culminate in an industry weekend with the Katy Bigge Kestner Festival Guest Artists Beth Blickers, Literary Agent at APA; Polly Hubbard, director of new play development at Steppenwolf Theatre; and Ken-Matt Martin, Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Theatre. 

WHAT: At First Sight Festival of New Plays, featuring:
Uncle Play by Jayne Deely
Bowling for Beginners by Diana Grisanti
Crises of Abundance by Annalise Cain
The Mesquite Tree: an American Tragedy by David Davila
Undergrad Shorts by our undergraduate playwrights

WHEN: March 3–12
Making New Plays Work: a conversation about theaterMarch 3 at 5pm (in the Studio Theatre)
Uncle Play – March 5 at 2pm and March 5, 9, & 11 at 7:30pm (in the Wells-Metz Theatre)
Theatre in Bloom: getting to know our communityMarch 5 at 6pm (in the Lee Norvelle Theatre Lobby)
Undergrad Shorts – March 5 at 9:30pm (in the Studio Theatre)
Bowling for Beginners – March 8 & 10 at 7:30pm and March 12 at 2pm (in the Wells-Metz Theatre)
Crises of Abundance – March 11 at 10am (in the Studio Theatre)
The Mesquite Tree: an American Tragedy – March 11 at 2:30pm (in the Studio Theatre)

WHERE: Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N Eagleson Avenue

TICKETS: Uncle Play and Bowling for Beginners: regular admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students. The panels, Undergrad Shorts, Crises of Abundance, and The Mesquite Tree: an American Tragedy staged readings are free of charge.

To contact the box office, call 812.855.1103 or email theatre.indiana.edu. For more info and interview requests, please email Madison Colquette at mcolquet@indiana.edu.