The Future(Fest) is Here

FutureFest '09 - CARVE - The Dayton PlayhouseFutureFest 2010


One of the biggest theatre weekends of the year is about to descend upon the Dayton-region, and 2010 marks an important milestone.  FutureFest, the annual new works festival at The Dayton Playhouse is celebrating it’s twentieth year and festival organizers can’t be more excited!

Every year writers from across the country, and from several other countries as well, submit their previously unproduced scripts for consideration.  This year over 390 new works  were submitted in hopes of being one of the famed “top six” to be presented at FutureFest 2010 from July 23rd to the 25th.
FutureFest 2009 - AdjudicationFor those who are new to FutureFest, it’s almost an unbelievable experience.  In one weekend the Dayton Playhouse mounts six different productions.  Each with a different director, cast, scenery, and technical aspects.  Following each show a panel of professional theatre folk, flown in from across the country, take to the stage with the author, director, and cast to adjudicate the show right in front of the audience.  They give the author feedback about their script and direct them in ways to make improvements that will get them closer to being published.
Several scripts from the Dayton Playhouse’s FutureFest have made it on to be published.
One has even appeared on Broadway and is now being made into a movie starring Jake Gyllenhall.
This year’s FutureFest productions are:
  • An Uncommon Language by Evan Guilford-Blake
  • Dancing Backwards by John Fiorillo
  • How It Works by Cary Pepper
  • The Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt by Rich Amada
  • Refuge by Marc Kornblatt
  • Short Story Long by Joel Fishbane
(synopsis for each play can be found at the end of this article)
Tickets are still available for this weekends FutureFest and may be purchased by calling the Dayton Playhouse Box Office at 937-424-8477 or online at

Peter Filichia - A Personal History of the American Theater

Peter Filichia

A Personal History of the American Theatre

by Peter Filichia at THE DAYTON PLAYHOUSE

So, what’s it like to be a theater critic? Is it really fun to attend the theater night after night after night after night? Ask Peter Filichia, who has been attending theater consistently for the last half-century and has been a reviewer for more than half that time.

Filichia has seen theater in 42 states and 14 foreign countries and has managed to see as many as 365 stage shows in a single year. He will, God willing, soon see his 10,000th stage show.

One of those was Spaulding Gray’s one-man show, A PERSONAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN THEATER. Gray simply sat at a table and held a bunch of oversized index cards. He pulled out a card at random and would tell a story based on the title of the show printed on that card.

Gray died in 2004. Filichia reasoned that the show should not go with him – but should go on. And so, he’s created his own version of A PERSONAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN THEATER. He’s got quite a few index cards from which to choose.

Each performance of A PERSONAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN THEATER is, of course, different. An audience might hear about Filichia’s adventures with a nice celebrity (Jerry Orbach), a not-so-nice one (Mary Tyler Moore), or one who turned out to be a little sneaky (Steve Allen). What’s it like to face Ben Vereen shortly after you’ve written a negative review about his performance? How did Filichia feel after he put his foot in his mouth when dealing with James Earl Jones?

There are stories about memorable audience members, ranging from Richard Rodgers’ daughter Mary to the black man and old white woman who buttressed Filichia at The Wiz. Filichia also goes back to when he began theatergoing as a teen, and how many a play changed his life, be it as serious as A Raisin in the Sun or even as frivolous as Damn Yankees. There’s a poignant story about the time Filichia took Yugoslavians to a musical, as well as funny ones involving community theater disasters.

It’s all in the cards – and the story-telling. Filichia has performed A PERSONAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN THEATER in points north (New York State), south (Miami), east (Boston), and west (Aspen, Colorado). Because of the very nature of the show, it can be as long or as short as a presenting house demands. Afterwards, Filichia is glad to take questions from the audience.

For more Information & Tickets, visit:

FutureFest (July 23-25) visit (937) 424-8477 (tickets are availble for each individual play…see below for a synopsis of each play)

A Personal History of the American Theater by Peter Filichia (July 22) visit (937) 424-8477

Would you like to submit theater news for Dayton Most Metro’s onStageDayton features?  Email Shane & Dave at

FutureFest 2010 Plays

Dancing Backwards – John Fiorillo (Fully Staged) – 8pm Fri. 07/23

This is a story about the choices we make between loyalty and ambition or independence and accepting help.  Victor Belkin, a famous dancer, is worried about his friend Robert, an elderly Yankee widower. He asks Robert to share his home, although his lifestyle and Robert’s couldn’t be more different. Robert rejects Viktor’s offer. He has a secret, as well as a plan to escape. However, the situation gets out of hand as it turns from amusing to life threatening.

How It Works – Cary Pepper (Staged Reading) – 10am Sat. 07/24

HOW IT WORKS explores the issues of success, power, fame, recognition, compromise, integrity and personal satisfaction in the world of art.  How do you handle The Struggle? How do you maintain personal integrity as a person and an artist? What happens when you’re given one of the most prestigious awards in the world, but you yearn for a “smaller” award the public knows nothing about?

An Uncommon Language – Evan Guilford-Blake (Staged Reading) – 3pm Sat. 07/24

An Uncommon Language examines the repression of women and the nature of madness. Set in England in 1906, the play explores the life of HÉLOISE LACASSE, an untrained but passionate and talented sculptor, who chooses to subjugate her prowess to benefit JOHN BATISTE, her lover, the self-described enfant terrible of English sculpture.  Silently, she crafts heads for his statuary. Héloise has a history of free-spirited behavior, which, ultimately, John interprets as madness and has her institutionalized — where she is forbidden access to her sculpture.

Refuge – Marc Kornblatt (Fully Staged) – 8pm Sat. 07/24

Two men meet on a secluded boardwalk along a marsh in a bird sanctuary in the Midwest.  Jim brings a notepad and a gun.  Laz brings a pile of pills and a six-pack of beer.  By the end of their first encounter, the pills are consumed and the gun goes off.  Both men live.  Jim and Laz meet again and again in the same place to argue, cajole, circle and embrace in a somber and funny dance of death that also draws Jim’s burdened wife and Laz’s yearning girlfriend to the marsh to find refuge and renewal.

The Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt – Rich Amada (Staged Reading) – 10am Sun. 07/25

Based on true events, the play follows the story of Mary Surratt, the first woman judicially executed by the U.S. government.  It was Mrs. Surratt’s boardinghouse where John Wilkes Booth and others are said to have plotted the assassination of President Lincoln.  By charging her, the government hoped to flush out her fugitive son, an alleged key conspirator.  On trial, Mrs. Surratt faced the gallows in what was 19th Century America’s trial of the century.

Short Story Long – Joel Fishbane (Fully Staged) – 3pm Sun. 07/25

After famed author Lincoln Kennedy dies, he bequeaths his money to his wife and his writing to his former girlfriend.  His wife, Julianne, refuses to obey her husband’s wishes until she can determine the reasons behind them.  Amalthea is equally confused, she has not seen Lincoln in years.  Together, the women work to unravel the mystery, slowly forging a tentative peace that is threatened once Lincoln’s true motivations are finally revealed.

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