Phillips’ Mill™ Presents Six Short Plays, Promotes Community Theater
3rd Annual Emerging Playwright Competition Online Reading Set for June 12, 2021
New Hope, Pa., May 25, 2021—What happens when a drunken sports writer wakes up alone, and a little beaten up, in a dive bar in the 1970s? He recounts some of the messier details of his life, engaging in an agitated yet charmingly witty and woozy dialogue with himself. This is the premise of a short play by J.B. Heaps titled “Go Gently Into the Night,” one of six that will be presented online by the Phillips’ Mill Community Association on June 12, at 7 p.m.
For the third year, Phillips’ Mill will be recognizing the work of area playwrights by presenting six short plays selected from its juried Emerging Playwright Competition. “After much deliberation about the lingering pandemic restrictions on live performances, the decision was made to present this year’s winning works as a virtual reading and talkback with the playwrights and a moderator,” explains Valerie Eastburn, chair of the Drama Committee at Phillips’ Mill. “We look forward to being back in the Mill as early as this summer when our summer youth drama program goes forward as an in-person workshop and performance.”
For more than 100 years, plays have been staged at the Phillips’ Mill, a former 18th-century grist mill on a winding section of River Road just north of New Hope, Pa. It’s a perfect setting for community theater—both intimate and welcoming.
“Community theater not only enriches the lives and potentially boosts the careers of those who participate in it, but it makes the arts accessible to people who might not otherwise ever see a live play or musical,” notes Eastburn.
Phillips’ Mill Drama presents a variety of quality entertainment, including cabarets, short plays and poetry readings, but also supports the aspirations of emerging writers, actors, musicians and other artists.
J.B. Heaps may be “emerging” as a playwright, but he has had an impressive career that includes winning five Emmy Awards as the executive producer for Showtime Sports. His entertainment “debut” came at a very early age, as an actor in a bit role in the 1963 film adaptation of the novel “Lord of the Flies.”
“I quickly learned that acting wasn’t for me,” he jokes. He was always more interested in developing characters through the written word than bringing them to life on stage or screen. “Once a play is on the stage, the work belongs to the actor. I pretend not to get nervous (when I see my work performed), but of course I am totally invested. I am looking forward to seeing all the plays performed on June 12th.”
Each of the winning playwrights lives within a 100-mile radius of the Phillips’ Mill. This year’s winners include Nick DeSimone, New York, N.Y., for “Close Your Eyes”; Adam Richter, of West Reading, Pa., for “Eye Contact”; Jeff Stolzer, New York, N.Y., for “The New Abnormal”; J.B. Heaps, New York, N.Y., for “Go Gently Into the Night”; Jim Moss, Branchburg, N.J., for “Far from Providence”; and Kimberly Kalaja, New York, N.Y., for “Acts Without Words.”
For more information, visit phillipsmill.org/drama/phillips-mill-drama.