Looking for the chance to flex your creative muscles? Pegasus PlayLab’s 2023 festival welcomes your input in shaping the direction of the next great American play. From June 2 through the 17th at UCF, audiences will experience two staged readings of scripts by emerging playwrights and a fully staged production of new work. This year’s festival will also support the creation of a newly devised play through an inclusive collaboration between students with and without intellectual disabilities (IDD).
Pegasus PlayLab provides more than an interactive experience for audiences; it offers professional development for students, says Julia Listengarten, professor and artistic director at Theatre UCF.
“You have the playwrights in the room, so the text becomes fluid,” Listengarten said. “Student actors, directors, assistant directors, designers and dramaturgs all contribute to the process of developing a new text. The plays at Pegasus PlayLab have the potential to change directions, and both the students and audience get to be part of that journey.”
This year’s Pegasus PlayLab festival will feature workshops of two pieces selected from over 900 scripts submitted by playwrights nationwide. At these workshops, actors will bring the new work to life with scripts in-hand and minimal staging. Audiences can then discuss what they saw and heard with the playwright, director, cast and the rest of the creative team, playing a crucial role in the work’s development with their feedback.
Summertime (an interlude), being workshopped from June 2 through 3, follows a community’s plight to hunt down a murderer and the secrets revealed along the way through belly laughs, cold beer and blunt smoke. Go Like Saints, being workshopped from June 16 through 17, follows a screenwriter in 1951 Hollywood during the height of the Red Scare, and how her life turns upside down after being called to testify before the House on Un-American Activities Committee.
A full developmental production of Bite Me, directed by guest artist and Theatre UCF alumnus Edmarie Montes, will be performed from June 14 through 17. The production was previously workshopped 2022 Orlando Shakes PlayFest and is ready for a fully staged production with a set, costumes, lighting and a full rehearsal schedule. However, the script is still not in its final form; after developmental productions, the playwright will use feedback from the audience to continue revisions.
Bite Me follows the unexpected friendship between two misfits; an academically overachieving Black girl in an all-white suburban high school and a white boy with a juvenile drug habit. Their bond transforms and shatters them both, leaving them to pick up the pieces at their high school reunion 10 years later.
Corryn Kennedy, Theatre for Young Audiences MFA candidate and artistic associate at Theatre UCF, says that while the festival does not have a set theme, each play reflects important social issues of today through multiple perspectives.
“What I love about this year’s festival is that each of our selected plays are so uniquely different from each other,” Kennedy said. “Each one is set in a different geographic region and a different time period, and there is a diverse range of cast sizes and identities that we are uplifting through these stories.”
The inclusivity represented in the themes of the works extends to the inclusive community that will be created by the festival’s first devised play, Building a Shared Home. The project will be developed and workshopped for the first time at the festival in partnership with UCF’s College of Community Innovation and Education and Best Buddies of Florida. This collaboration brings together young adults with and without IDD to devise a theatrical piece around the theme of “home,” based on the group’s creative ideas and experiences.
This new program is possible thanks to the 2022 Pabst Steinmetz Foundation Arts and Wellness Innovation Awards which awarded $25,000 to two projects focusing on collaboration with organizations and diverse communities to strengthen our sense of place through arts and wellness.
According to Listengarten, this project will offer both UCF students and participants to create an inclusive environment on campus – and open opportunities for future collaborations.
“This program will build a collaborative artistic community that participants and facilitators can call home,” Listengarten said. “By partnering with Best Buddies and engaging the IDD community, our project will offer a model for inclusive creative practices on the UCF campus, raise community awareness about disabilities, and empower participants to build self-esteem and confidence.”
Tickets and registration for Pegasus PlayLab 2023 will be available soon. See the full schedule and learn more at arts.ucf.edu.
summertime (an interlude)
By Aniello Fontano | Directed by John Gardiner
June 2 & 3, 2023 | Workshop | PAC Studio 1
$15, $10 student
The hottest day of summer is interrupted when a community leader is rushed to the hospital. As Red fights for his life, the neighborhood bands together to hunt down his wannabe executioner. Through belly laughs, cold beer and blunt smoke, the truth about the shooting at “Red’s Deli” bleeds out. Relationships are tested, lies are told, questions are answered, confessions are made — and before sundown, the neighborhood loses a piece of its heart forever.
Building A Shared Home
June 9 & 10, 2023 | Workshop | PAC Studio 1
$15, $10 student
Funded by the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation, the project is a partnership between Pegasus PlayLab, UCF’s College of Community Innovation and Education, and Best Buddies of Florida. This collaboration brings together young adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to devise a theatrical piece around the theme of “home,” based on the group’s creative ideas and experiences.
Go Like Saints
By Skye Robinson Hills | Directed by Chloe Edmonson
June 16 & 17, 2023 | Workshop | PAC Studio 1
$15, $10 student
In 1951 Hollywood, at the height of the second Red Scare, a group of friends grapple with the fear and anxiety that sets in when your entire livelihood could be snatched away at any moment. When noted screenwriter Eliza Everett is called before the House on Un-American Committee to testify, her response to questioning sends shockwaves through the industry, including the people closest to her. As she negotiates how to move forward, she must decide what’s most important – her career or her family.
By Eliana Pipes | Directed by Edmarie Montes (Guest Artist)
June 14 – 17, 2023 | Full Production | Black Box
$25, $10 student
Melody is a Black girl at an all-white suburban high school, overachieving academically and privately struggling to battle the isolation. Nathan is a misfit of another kind, a white boy in her grade with a juvenile drug habit and unceasing angst. They collide in a storage closet and form an unexpected bond that transforms and shatters them both, leaving them to pick up the pieces at their high school reunion 10 years later.