Original plays to premiere at Barton Community College

April 20 2017
Story by Micah Oelze
Photos by Micah Oelze and Irina Connell

Four original plays selected from the Barton Theatre Department’s Original Playwright Contest will take the stage in a one-night performance at 7:30 p.m. April 27. Admission is free. This is the first year Barton Theatre Department has presented this series.

The four selected plays taking the stage are “In My Time of Need” by freshman Jose Flores, “Check-mate” by co-authors Lee Miller, Director of Fort Leavenworth Learning Services, and Crystal Buck, Fort Leavenworth Adjunct Professor, “Why Love is so Hard to Find” by sophomore Kara Grosfield and “Coffee Can” by John O’Connor.

“In My Time of Need” by Jose Flores

“In My Time of Need” is about a young man in financial troubles who robs a rich family’s home and finds love and understanding from the family, values he didn’t expect.

Flores has been an active part of the theatre department, having starred in “Our Town”, served as the technical director for the student production and now as the author and director of “In My Time of Need”. The diversity of his involvement is by design.

“I am trying my best to try all aspects of theatre so I can become more well-rounded and useful,” he said.

Flores feels prepared and has learned from his past mistakes having experience directing in high school.

“If I would have had more experience when I first directed, I would have been more relaxed and not as tight with my cast,” he said.

“Check-mate” by Lee Miller and Crystal Buck

“Check-mate” features two competitors who learn to respect and maybe even love each other through their mutual love of chess.

Miller was a literature instructor at the Fort Leavenworth campus before taking a director position. Buck also has a love for theatre and has both been on stage and directed shows. She is working on two doctoral degrees: a PHD in Musicology and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Opera.

“I love theatre and have always wanted to see something I wrote actually performed; that would just be amazing,” Miller said. “When this came up I knew I had to jump at it.”

Miller and Buck decided to use their talents together in hopes of bringing this story to the stage. While Miller generated the concept and wrote the story, Buck formalized the story into a theatre format and assisted in creative additions and problem solving.

Miller wanted something that would work with the one-act format but also provide depth in the content while trying to avoid any idea that was too trite. Buck said they worked a lot to not take the easy path of being just another dull love story.

“One word you can associate with this play is timelessness,” she said. “This game, of love, of finding yourself, is something that has happened and will happen through the ages. It may take on different forms and disguises but in the end, it is the same thing.”

“Why Love is so Hard to Find” by Kara Grosfield

“Why Love is so Hard to Find” is a comedy about two individuals looking for love, but can’t seem to find it even when it is right in front of them.

“If I were to use a phrase to describe my show it would be that ‘love is blind’,” Grosfield said. “I want the audience to leave in a good mood since it is a comedy, but in the back of their mind I want them to wonder if that is what they are doing.”

When Grosfield was walking around campus on her first day at Barton she noticed a sign about the Theatre Department and thought that was an extracurricular activity she might enjoy and has been involved with theatre ever since.

“When I saw they were having this playwright series I thought I would try but never imagined they would select my play,” she said.

Grosfield not only wrote “Why Love is so Hard to Find” but will be directing and performing in the play as well.

“It took a lot of work to get where I am, but I am just really glad that I got to do it with such good people.”

Grosfield hopes to go into psychology with a minor in art so she can pursue art or theatre therapy. Grosfield commented how the idea of theatre therapy wouldn’t have crossed her mind if she had not become involved with the Barton Theatre Department.

“Coffee Can” by John O’Connor

“Coffee Can” is about a variety of people contacting a radio show called “Buy, Sell and Trade”. Relationships soon begin to develop between call-ins and the radio host.

From left: Crystal Buck and Lee Miller pose for their portrait.
From left: Crystal Buck and Lee Miller pose for their portrait.