Theater of the First Amendment Announces First Light Winners

Posted: May 12, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Theater of the First Amendment (TFA), Mason’s professional theater company in residence, will present the Eighth Annual First Light Discovery Program of new play readings during the inaugural Mason Festival of the Arts on the Fairfax Campus in June.

First Light, TFA’s play development process, provides playwrights with professional directors, dramaturgs and actors in order to create new work. A week of development and rehearsal culminates in two days of staged readings for an audience.

First Light is open to professional playwrights and, for the fourth year in a row, TFA offered a Playwriting and Mentorship Program for Fairfax County high school students and Mason student playwrights. Participating students received several months of mentorship by a theater professional, during which the students completed plays for submission to the competition.

John Tuohy was selected as the Mason student winner of the competition with his play “” Sarah Congress was the winner of the First Light Discovery Program Playwriting Competition at the high school level, with her play “Boxes.”

Congress’s “Boxes” will be performed on Saturday, June 14, at 11 a.m., and Tuohy’s “” will be performed at 4:30 p.m., both in Black Box Theater in the Performing Arts Building on the Fairfax Campus.

Tuohy’s “” is based on his real-life experiences and misadventures with online dating. The play is a bittersweet story exploring the lives of six ordinary people in search of romance, friendship and love, and how they find these in extraordinary ways.

Tuohy is a full-time student in the Mason theater program and is the author of a nonfiction work focusing on the history of the prohibition era in Chicago.

Congress, a student at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Va., wrote “Boxes” after helping family friends pack for a move last summer. The play consists of vignettes on life experiences, personalities and love, all in some way correlating to the idea of boxes.

Professional playwrights Kerry Gildea and D.W. Gregory were selected to have their plays performed as well.

Gildea’s “Death of the Fourth Estate” will be performed on Saturday, June 21, at 10 a.m., and Gregory’s “Dirty Pictures” will be performed at 4:30 p.m., both in Black Box Theater. After each reading on June 21, there will be a post-play discussion with the playwright and the director.

“Death of the Fourth Estate” is about a veteran journalist who is haunted by the source of his old stories and forced to revisit a past he has refused to talk about for more than 30 years.

Gildea, a former journalist who covered Congress and the Pentagon, has written a number of plays that have received staged readings at Theatre J in Washington, D.C. Her one-act “Neighborhoods” was produced in Colorado Springs in 2007, and her short play “Slow Ride” will be podcast this spring and summer as part of Cynthia Taylor Productions’ “Play Noir” series.

In “Dirty Pictures,” Gregory draws on her working-class roots, presenting a tale of thwarted lust in a small-town bar. Gregory often sets her plays in small-town or rural America, exploring the disconnect between the dream and reality of the American experience.

A resident playwright at New Jersey Repertory Co., Gregory is also a member of Playground, the playwrights’ unit of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co., in Washington D.C. She was formerly a national core member of the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis.

Dramatic Publishing has published her plays, and she has received numerous awards and nominations for her work, including a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her play “The Good Daughter.” Gregory also works as a theater critic for the Washington Post.

All performances are free.

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