Category: Abbey Fenbert
Abbey Fenbert’s Sickle has its first performance in a production by Chicago’s Red Theater tonight. The play runs through July 29. Congratulations!
Congratulations to Abbey Fenbert, whose new web series Beck & Clem debuts today!
Two of our Playwriting alums—Abbey Fenbert (Intentions) and Leo McGann (The Honey Trap)—are at the Great Plains Theatre Conference (GPTC) this week as part of PlayLab. Twenty-one PlayLabs are held throughout the Conference week with three staged readings running simultaneously. Playwrights receive feedback on their work from a panel of GPTC Guest Artists, as well as other local and national theatre artists and the general public.
Happy opening to Abbey Fenbert and Detroit's Matrix Theatre Company on this opening night of Intentions, which runs through Feb. 26!
We hope you'll join us! Sickle -- which opens tonight and runs through Feb. 22 -- is the third of five events in our @Play Festival of New Work, a season-long celebration of of the MFA Playwriting class of 2015, co-produced by Boston University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the College of Fine Arts School of Theatre in collaboration with Boston Playwrights' Theatre.
Abbey Fenbert's Sickle is a BU New Play Initiative production and the third of five events in the @Play Festival of New Work, a season-long celebration of the MFA Playwriting class of 2015, co-produced by Boston University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the College of Fine Arts School of Theatre in collaboration with Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.
We thought we'd take this opportunity to learn more about Abbey's play and find out what's next for this playwright...
Tell us a little about 'Sickle.'
Sickle tells the story of a band of Ukrainian village women fighting back against the Soviets during the Holodomor. The Holodomor, “death by hunger,” is the name given to a famine engineered by Stalin’s government in the early 1930s. The State confiscated the harvest of Ukrainian farmers in the name of ‘collectivization.’ Millions died, effectively crushing resistance to the Communist regime. That may be something of a spoiler. But Sickle is less a depiction of historical events and more a theatrical world inspired by historical violence. The surviving women have formed their own society, and its priorities are governed by fierce desperation.
There is also singing.
What makes you passionate about this idea?
I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine from 2008-2011, and fell in love with the country and its culture. The Holodomor may seem like a strange topic for the American stage, but I write for the same reasons I travel: to immerse myself in new worlds. And this long-obscured chapter of history is critical to understanding events in Ukraine today. Russia continues to deny the Holodomor and uses its version of history to justify attacks against Ukraine. I am interested in the place of art in a brutal world. It doesn’t replace political change, but maybe it can replace the lie that some lives matter less than others, and maybe it can chip at the walls that block empathy for stories not our own.
And there’s an all-female cast. I’m very passionate about women getting to speak in plays.
Does this production of 'Sickle' align with your original vision for the work, or did the play change shape as you went along?
I’m not sure I ever had an original vision, really – at least not a complete one. There’s been lots of groping in the dark, and each step has been a process of discovery. But I’m excited about the combination of visions that have gone into this production. Our team of collaborators (led by director Bryn Boice) has been very eager to travel to the world of the play, rather than impose any agenda upon it. I think the play is sort of pulling us all along and we’ll know where we end up sometime after opening night.
How would you describe your writing to people unfamiliar with your work?
My work is most informed by setting. I’m interested in how place creates language creates culture creates conflict. At the theater, I’m most satisfied when I’m laughing in the dark with a crowd of strangers, or utterly silent in the dark with a crowd of strangers. So I tend to write towards laughter and silence.
What’s the least likely thing you’ve gained inspiration from?
At the time I started imagining Sickle I could not have predicted that Ukraine was on the cusp of a revolution. The 2014 crisis and ongoing war in Donbass are obvious sources of inspiration, but neither seemed particularly likely when I first proposed a thesis play about the Holodomor.
What’s next for you?
Graduation! After which I might head west to seek my fortune. Other theater stuff: I have a one-act play, Tracks, that’s also about the history of the USSR and is currently a national semifinalist for the KCACTF John Cauble Award. It’ll be produced by the Know Theatre in Binghamton, NY this summer. And I’m writing a new piece with a large ensemble cast that’s about adoption, mythmaking and micro/macro definitions of family.
Read more about ‘Sickle’ and the @Play Festival of New Work. We hope you’ll join us!
Playwrights Cassie M. Seinuk (from Lesley University, who is also our BTM stage manager) and our own Abbey Fenbert are taking Hyannis by storm this week [sorry -- couldn't resist that one], at the KCACTF Region 1 Festival. Thanks for the photo, Cassie!
Current MFAs (and friends!) display their awards on the terrace of the Kennedy Center last weekend. L-R: Lesley University's Cassie M. Seinuk, NYU's Nick Carr, and our own Abbey Fenbert and Stephanie Brownell. Not pictured: Steven Barkhimer and Michael Parsons. Read more.
Congratulations, all! (And thanks for the photo, Steph!)
|KCACTF winners past and present at BPT for Peter M. Floyd's Absence. L-R: Stephanie Brownell, Abbey Fenbert, Peter M. Floyd, John Kuntz and Michael Parsons. (Thanks for the photo, Kate!)|
Great KCACTF news for current MFA students and alums: Abbey Fenbert's Intentions was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting; Michael Parsons' Sumner Falls won the Rosa Parks Playwriting Award; and Steven Barkhimer's Windowmen was a co-recipient of the David Mark Cohen Award. Stephanie Brownell's Eskimo Pie is a national finalist for the KCACTF Ten-Minute Play Award. All four will travel to D.C. next month for the national festival.
Also: Lesley University's Cassie M. Seinuk (our friend and sometime stage manager!) was a co-winner of the KCACTF Latino Playwriting Award for her play From the Deep!
Work by three of our current MFA playwrights will advance to the national-level award competitions at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in Washington, D.C.
Line Please by Will Carter and The Sand Beneath the City by Abbey Fenbert will compete for the John Cauble Award for Outstanding Short Play. Stephanie Brownell's Eskimo Pie and Abbey Fenbert's Geniuses are finalists for the KCACTF National Ten-Minute Play Award. Selected plays were announced at the KCACTF Region 1 competition at Cape Cod Community College earlier this month. The national festival will be held in April.