Gulfshore Playhouse Gears Up for Third New Works Festival

Grab a front-row seat starting this Thursday.

BY September 22, 2015



Talk about audience participation.

Gulfshore Playhouse opens its third annual New Works Festival Thursday night, giving theatergoers a chance to hear a playwright’s manuscript in its early form and the opportunity to help shape it, polish it and prepare it for full production.

The theater company accepted four manuscripts out of 125 submissions to be read by professional actors Thursday through Sunday. The actors perform on a bare stage, scripts propped on music stands.

Founder and producing artistic director Kristen Coury introduced the festival as a way to support playwrights in the otherwise solitary writing process.

“If we aren’t contributing to the cannon of American theater, who is?” she said earlier this week before dashing off to rehearsals. (Coury is directing two of the plays.) “It could be that the playwrights have never even heard their work read out loud before.”

At the play’s conclusion, audience members will be asked to pose questions and offer feedback on elements such as dialogue, plot and character development. The actors and directors, too, contributed to the process during the 14.5 hours of rehearsals they spent with playwrights earlier this week.

Gulfshore Playhouse makes no promises to participating playwrights, but last season it did stage a full production of The Butcher, a play introduced during the first New Works Festival.

“You never know what will end up on this stage,” Coury says.

The plays are:


Embalmed, Buried, Gone by Ashlin Halfnight

A young man kills himself under unusual and upsetting circumstances, and his sisters immediately return to their childhood home in Michigan to honor his memory. When the town denies his body a proper burial, and even a funeral looks unlikely, the family members battle fiercely amongst themselves to claim his legacy, and come to terms with his life and death.

Thursday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m.


Ariadne on the Island by Kato McNickle

This play begins on an island of refuge during a mechanized war zone and tells the story of a hard-fought conflict from four perspectives: Peter, the hero; Via, the comrade in arms; Dante, former leader of the resistance; and Ana, daughter of an enemy commandant. With a story with which our audiences will connect, but that also borrows beautifully from our theatrical and historical past, Ariadne on the Island asks the timely and important questions: What are the effects of war on varied peoples? How do we re-create ourselves, and our social structure in destruction's wake? And can we ever truly love our enemy?

Friday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m.


Other Than Honorable by Jamie Pachino

Other Than Honorable is the story of Grace Rattigan, a former military officer who resigned her commission under sealed terms and now works in a high-profile D.C. law firm. A new client arrives at her office—AWOL after stabbing her immediate superior—reopening Grace's old wounds. As Grace pursues the new client's case, the layers of her own experience with the base's commanding officer leave Grace at a crossroads. She can come forward and tell the truth about her past, or stay away from that part of her life. Touching on hot-button issues in the news right now, Other Than Honorable is the story of one woman confronting the real meaning of the military's codes of honor, courage and loyalty.

Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m.


White by James Ijames

Gus wants to be a famous painter. Vanessa wants to be a famous actor. When these two artistic dreamers cross paths, both of their assumptions about being an artist and making art are dismantled. Gus' desire to be acquired by a major contemporary art museum looking for "new perspectives" inspires him to "sculpt" a woman to claim his work as her own. This modern take on the Frankenstein tale spins out of control as it explores issues of race, gender, sexuality and art.

Sunday, Sept. 27, 3 p.m.


Performances are held at The Norris Center, 755 Eighth Ave. S. in downtown Naples. For tickets and other information, visit


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