Barton Theatre Director Dr. Rick Abel premiered the Original Play Series at Barton last year, and in light of its success, he is bringing it back as an annual theatre event. The Second Annual Original Play Series one-night performance is at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 26 in the Fine Arts Auditorium. Admission is free.
Four original plays were selected from the Barton Theatre Department’s Original Playwright Contest. The plays taking the stage are “All Things Small” and “You’re Never Alone in a Room” by Barton alumna Kara Grosfield, “Baby Buffering” by Robin Cain and “The Evil Scientist Parable” by sophomore Jose C. Flores.
“All Things Small” centers around a character who is remembering events from his life. While he was not excited about his life, he has learned to cope with it. “You’re Never Alone in a Room” is a story about two people stuck in a room and learning how to agree to disagree and becoming more civilized with each other. “Baby Buffering” is a comedy which features a young infant who talks, has ideas and continually wants more attention. Finally, “The Evil Scientist Parable” tells the story of a company which creates a new product and if it were to be a success, they will become multi-billionaires but soon discover it does not have the same effect on everyone.
Abel said he is excited about what the series brings to the community.
“I think my job is about making opportunities and helping people to be creative, whether they are art majors or accounting majors,” he said. “The series adds another cultural dimension to Great Bend, Barton County and the college itself; it provides another opportunity for people to be creative.”
Opportunity is what Abel believes makes Barton and his job great.
“What the college, and certainly the theater department, is all about is opportunity,” he said. “Jorden (Drimmel) has never directed before, but we gave him the opportunity to give it a try.”
With the chance to direct, Drimmel has garnered new respect for those who take on the role.
“I am surprised Dr. Abel does what he does,” he said. “Theater kids are not easy to coordinate; we are loud and obnoxious at times, almost all the time.”
Along with respect, Drimmel has had to pick up a few new skills.
“I have ideas, granted I cannot do all of them because we are limited with the set,” Drimmel said. “I also have to understand when I read the script it is different from when the actors read it, so I have to tweak my image a little that way it makes me happy but the actors happy as well.”
One of the actors Drimmel is working with is Karen Gore, a community member making her Barton stage debut in the role of a self-absorbed businesswoman who thinks highly of herself and her abilities in “You’re Never Alone in a Room.” Gore recently returned to theater after a long absence since she graduated from Fort Hays State University.
“Like everyone else, you get out of college and you have to find a job, then work comes up, you get married and have kids,” she said. “I have gotten a chance to go back to theatre and have been involved for the last couple of years.”
Gore’s co-star, Dwight Young, was also involved in theater, but he too became busy with work and family. After retiring, he returned to theatre about the same time Abel took over the department at Barton in 2016. Since then, he has become heavily involved once more.
Abel encourages the community to participate in next year’s Original Play Series, and for those who choose to try their hand at play writing, he recommends attending the Original Playwright Workshop to sharpen the skills necessary for a short production.
“Every playwright whose work was selected attended the Playwright Workshop led by local playwright Rob Munden,” Abel said.
For more information about the series or theater department, contact Abel at email@example.com or 620-792-9333.