In the heart of West Campus, a few steps from Agganis Arena, is the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. The small venue right on BU’s campus gives playwrights the opportunity to workshop their shows and perfect them.
In 1981 Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott founded the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University. Now, 38 years later, the theatre is gearing up for yet another season with all three of its plays produced by BU alumni.
The first play of the season, “The Book Club Play” written by Karen Zacarías, a BU alumni who earned her Master’s in creative writing, premiered Thursday. The other two plays are set to debut in November and February 2020, respectively.
The play is about a book club that becomes the centre of a documentary film where their private discussions become public in front of the unavoidable cameras, according to a description on the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre website.
The Boston Playwrights’ Theatre website describes the show as “A delightful play about life, love, literature, and the side-splitting results when friends start reading between the lines.”
The first and last play of the season, “The Book Club Play” and “Deal Me Out” will be directed by Shana Gozansky, who said “The Book Club Play” was a tricky play to work with.
“Sometimes it feels like a drama, and then sometimes it almost feel like a comedy,” Gozansky said. “So we’re trying to find … the right tonal touch to tell the story as best we can.”
When it came to choosing plays this season, Kate Snodgrass, artistic director of the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, said she took multiple factors into consideration. Notably, she wanted to honor some of BU’s Master of Fine Arts alumni who are doing very well at the moment, such as Zacarías.
“She was one of the fifth most produced playwrights in the nation last year, and she continues to be well produced all over the country,” Snodgrass said. “I chose a play that she wrote a few years ago but did not have a Boston premier.” So this is the Boston premiere of ‘The Book Club Play,’” Snodgrass said. “So I chose a play that she wrote … but has not had a Boston premiere.”
After “The Book Club Play” wraps up their set on Oct.13, the theatre will continue its season with “The Smuggler,” a one man show by Ronan Noone, an adjunct assistant of playwriting at BU.
“Not only was it cheaper than a play with six actors, it is also a play written in verse,” Snodgrass said. “Our founder, Derek Walcott, wrote in verse all the time. All of his plays are in verse, and so I wanted to celebrate that as well.”
“Deal Me Out,” the last play of the season, is being produced for the first time at BU. Snodgrass said he wanted to support the writer, MJ Halberstadt, after hearing the reading of his play last summer.
“I wanted to give him the chance to work with professional actors, and directors and to rewrite,” Snodgrass said.
Kira Rockwell, a recent graduate of the MFA program at BU, produced her own play last year and helped run auditions for this season’s plays at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.
“What tends to happen [when trying to produce a show] is you have the first production and then you can’t really find a second production and you can’t find the third,” Rockwell said.
The Boston Playwrights’ Theatre is a valuable resource for those looking to get their shows produced because it takes away the stresses of a giant premiere and allows for workshopping, Rockwell said.
“I really think the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre is really making a splash,” Rockwell said, “not just in Boston but in places like the national theatre scene.”