Northwest Playwrights Earn Chance to Give Their Scripts a Trial Run

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), July 17, 2005 | Go to article overview

Northwest Playwrights Earn Chance to Give Their Scripts a Trial Run


Byline: Bob Keefer The Register-Guard

Paul Calandrino had never before written a play. He'd tried his hand at novels and short stories, none of which had exactly brought him fame and glory. He did manage to get a nonfiction book published, which you can still find on Amazon.com if you look deep enough.

OPENING THIS WEEK

Then the Eugene writer read an article in the New York Times about "suicide tourism" - terminally ill people traveling to countries with liberal assisted-suicide laws - and knew he wanted to write a play.

"The Final Leg," a dramatic comedy about a triple amputee who heads for Switzerland to end his misery, won a new-play competition earlier this year in Lake Oswego, where it was given a staged reading.

Now it's going to be performed in workshop format, as the Northwest Playwrights Festival returns to Eugene's Lord Leebrick Theatre after a hiatus of several years.

The festival, which opens Thursday, will showcase four new plays, including Calandrino's.

"The Final Leg" and one other new play will be done as workshop productions, meaning they are staged with minimal costumes, sets and rehearsal. Two other plays will be presented in staged readings, in which the actors are on stage but still work from a printed script.

"It is unbelievable," Calandrino said of his double success with a first play. "It is completely amazing. I have been a writer and a creative writer since high school. I have had some limited success with getting stories and poems published. I have written novels and have had agents trying to sell those, not successfully."

He did sell a nonfiction book, "Spirit of Courage: A Tribute to People With Disabilities," which was published in 1995.

You can find it for sale on the Web for 99 cents.

"None of that limited success can compare with writing a play and actually seeing professional or even amateur actors dedicated to the theater getting up there and reading the lines you have written," the 50-year-old writer said. "It is a real thrill."

The writer will have to keep his longtime day job as a tech writer, though; the cash award is $150.

The winning plays were chosen from about 40 submissions, said Lord Leebrick's managing artistic director Craig Willis.

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