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Lander Players Festival Topples Expectations

The Lander Players show their enthusiasm during the One-Act Playwriting Festival.

The Lander Players recently proved they don't need picks, shovels, or sluice pans to strike gold.

In their first-ever One-Act Playwriting Festival, held Oct. 18-21 on the Lander campus, the student organization scored four sold-out shows and one full house - not only exceeding expectations, but creating a signature event for many future Lander actors.

"The total attendance for all five performances was close to 250," said Laura Dennin, staff advisor for the Lander Players, and administrative specialist with the College of Arts & Humanities. "All of the students involved with this production worked incredibly hard to present quality shows for each audience."

Of nine entries submitted by Lander students and Greenwood community members, five original scripts were chosen for the festival:

  • "Personal Demons" by junior Jacob Roten;
  • "Party Games" and "The Real Housewife of Athens County" by senior Keith Dumais;
  • "Stagnant" by Laura Dennin; and
  • "Date Night with Depression" by sophomore Lea Toby.

"It was amazing to see all of the hard work put in by our cast and crew," said Toby, a sophomore English Education major. "I am definitely looking forward to our next Playwriting Festival."

Three of the plays dealt with heavy issues, such as depression, suicide, and drug addiction - while the other two were geared toward making people laugh.

"We had such a great turnout in auditions, we added a fifth play to have a mix of three dramas and two comedies," said Dumais, who also directed the five-day production. "Plus, we knew that having a comedy follow a tragedy always helps to lighten the mood."

Judging from the audience's response, the only tragedy about the new festival is having to wait another full year before the next one. But Dennin said she expects all of the current Lander Players to use the time in planning for a second festival in 2019, with an eye to 2020.

"A big part of this festival was about the joy of our players getting to see their original scripts performed onstage," Dennin said. "And after selling out almost five shows, I hope we can secure a larger venue next time, and eventually reach out to regional and national playwrights, to submit scripts for future festivals."