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Playwrights raise curtain on 3rd Pride Theatre Fest

The third annual Pittsburgh Pride Theatre Festival will spotlight the talents of local directors and actors as it features eight one-act plays by local playwrights on GLBT themes.

        The two programs of four plays each will run in alternating repertory from June 15 through June 26.

        According to Theatre Festival organizers, audience attendance doubled from the first year to the second, and members are optimistic that the numbers will be even higher this season. Judging from the increased number of plays submitted, organizers believe the festival is becoming more significant as a medium for new and aspiring playwrights and actors.

        In noting an increase in local talent in this year’s festival, playwright Bridget Harris, one of the founders of the festival and a member of its steering committee, says the festival committee aims to be “inclusive rather than exclusive” and insists that diversity is important to the success of the event.

        Pittsburgh native Brian Barefoot, a 1996 graduate of Point Park College, spent the last eight years in New York City, where he worked as an actor and production director. Barefoot will serve as the festival’s production manager.

        Harris says she is “delighted to have Brian on board for all of the experience that he brings to this year’s project. He is knowledgeable, experienced and professional.”

        Barefoot stresses the importance of producing the play festival in Pittsburgh and attracting a varied population as its audience.

        “Because I have found some of my experiences in Pittsburgh to be more intolerant, more so than on the national level, I feel that there are two options: One is to hide and the other is to represent,” he says. “This [festival] is a way for the community to be out, to put a face on it. We cannot be marginalized.”

        Barefoot, who took over from original festival production manager Ted Hoover, will be assisted by James Wong and Cory Tammler.

        The Pittsburgh Pride Theatre Festival’s third season includes eight one-act productions:

        ·The festival opens with Getting Better/Could Be Worse, written by Michael Schwartz and directed by Tiffany Hickman. It’s the story of a gay couple who are preparing a video on the special circumstances involved in the adoption process.

        ·The Burning Half by playwright Harris was previously produced by Pittsburgh Queer Theater in the early 1990s. It tells the story of a woman in a failed marriage and an exciting lesbian affair who must deal with the conflict and disappointments of the gay scene. Lori Oxenreiter directs.

        ·Manly Men Doing Manly Things by Scott Sickles and director Tara Adelizzi is about a NASCAR driver and the lover who jilted him a year before.

        ·Postcards From a Dead Dog, written by F.J. Hartland and directed by Melissa Hill Grande, features a dysfunctional clan that begins to communicate only after the death of the family dog.

        ·In Common is by Gayle Pazerski, whose play Break Room was produced by the festival last year and was well received. In Common takes a glimpse into the reunion of Janey and Ben, one-time friends until Janey’s fiancé left her for Ben. The play is directed by Michelle Zinger.

        ·Rain by John Reoli is the story of Ray, Joe and Tony, who attempt to put aside feelings of jealousy and their dislike of each other as they gather for a family fishing trip. Daniel Kirk directs.

        ·Is That a Gun in Your Pocket is by Carol Mullen, the only playwright to have a production in all three festivals. The play is directed by Mark Chaitin.

        ·Gunther Kusior also works with the festival again, this year to direct Reunion, written by Allison J.

        This marks the second year the festival will be presented at the Jackman Building, located downtown at 542 Penn Ave. across from Heinz Hall. The theater space is in the parking garage at Sixth Street and Penn Avenue.

        Volunteers are still needed to act as ushers, to run the concession stand and to work behind the scenes as part of the technical or stage crew. To volunteer, send e-mail to PittsburghPrideTheaterFestival@yahoo.com with the subject line “volunteer” or call (412) 521-7101.

        Tickets for each program of four one-act plays, which will be performed in two alternating groups, are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Tickets are available at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre at 542 Penn Ave., downtown; the theater entrance is located between Starbucks Coffee and the Subway sandwich shop. Call (412) 288-0358 for more information.