BAT_PlaywrightsFestival2015-009 From left to right, Sam Goldstein (Randall Brammer) and John Kelly (Byron Patten) passionately discuss sports versus academics in the comedy-drama “The Study Group,” which explores friendship among very different personalities and issues of sexual ethics. The show is one of four plays in the Burien Actors Theatre Playwrights Festival running through May 24.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_85579" align="aligncenter" width="490"]BAT_PlaywrightsFestival2015-019 Jerry Hansen (Kirk Larsen) gives a speech during his campaign for Congress in “The Skilled Use of Blunt Objects,” a tale of what even good people will do to get elected. The show is one of four plays in the Burien Actors Theatre Playwrights Festival running through May 24.[/caption] Review by Alexandra Novotny Photos by Mike Wilson Attending a production at Burien Actors Theatre is always a delight. Upon entering the doors, I am greeted with the smiles and warm hugs that only a theatre family can give. The group of jovial volunteers, from the box office to the concessions lounge, is a regular fixture on the scene. Another pleasure to see and hear for the first time is the live preshow music performed by the band, Festival 4 Minus 2. This relentless innovativeness makes it easy to see why the Bill and Peggy Hunt Playwrights Festival is still thriving 16 years after its inception. €The mission of the Bill and Peggy Hunt Playwrights Festival is twofold: to encourage Washington State playwrights to pursue their craft and to showcase previously unproduced plays written by Washingtonians. Playwrights are invited to submit their scripts, which are evaluated by a panel of judges who select the winners. Burien Actors Theatre (BAT) produces the winning plays in the festival. Top winners in the one-act and full-length script categories are produced as fully staged performances on BAT‒s main stage. The Festival was named to honor Bill and Peggy Hunt€’™s dedicated service to theater and their devotion to and involvement with BAT. Peggy Hunt joined Burien’s theater scene in 1960. Over the next 35 years both Bill and Peggy appeared in and directed plays, designed and built sets, served on BAT’s Board of Directors, and were involved in some aspect of every theater project. BAT officially launched the Bill and Peggy Hunt Playwrights Festival in 1999. This year, BAT has chosen four playwrights to be honored with awards. Over the next four weeks, you will get to experience four world premieres! May 1-10 features the one-act The Study Group, written by Stephan Feldman, and the full-length The Skilled Use of Blunt Objects by Thomas Pierce. Stephan Feldman’€™s The Study Group is organically directed by Brad Walker and features three fresh faces on the Burien Actors Theatre stage. Lights up on a minimalistic college dorm room with med student John Kelly (Byron Patten) and Mimi (Savana Smith) lounging as their mate Sam Goldstein (Randall Brammer) energetically bursts onto the scene with charisma only a rising college baseball star could project. The sexual innuendos fly as the doc and the jock bring up an interesting point to ponder: Is baseball more important than medical science and curing cancer? With all the millions of dollars spent on sports, scientists have to €œbust their butt to cure diseases. As an uptight society, are we fixated on achievement rather than enjoying the process of living? The Buddhist philosophical balance that Asian American Mimi brought to her counterparts was refreshing. The show is humorous and propels forward with unpredictable plot developments involving hormonal angst, pranks, and the question of sexual ethics. With the focus on the script, the enjoyment also comes in listening to the soundtrack rock the scene changes and the costumes defining the characters precisely. In the full-length play The Skilled Use of Blunt Objects by Thomas Pierce, we are invited into the questionable world of politics. Jerry Hansen (Kirk Larsen) is an economics teacher running for political office. His opponent Neil Buck (Damien Charbonneau) is a former pop music star and drug addict adulterer turned Christian. As if that isn’t enough to pull you into the story…Jerry’s French wife, Gabi Chenot (Patty Bonnell), is a brain surgeon on sabbatical. She is hounded by reporters played by the director of this piece, Rochelle Flynn. Why is Gabi being hounded? Her husband’s opponent is questioning her reputation and accusing her of murdering one of her patients. Damien Charbonneau’s portrayal of an arrogant man of faith is forthright and highlights the sensationalized world we live in today. One conversation encompasses the question: How does God know if something is right or wrong? What lengths do politicians go to win their seat? In the midst of all this chaos is Jerry’€™s campaign manager with the level head, Henry Donovan (Mark Gladding). This story has thought-provoking twists and turns and is driven by patriotic rock anthems between scenes. Aside from some awkward sound and lighting cues, the use of multi-media has a strong impact. After the shows, you are invited to participate in a talk-back. Ask the playwright and director questions. Give your honest feedback. This is the perfect platform to discuss these new works, stimulate discussion and honor differing perspectives. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. located at Burien Actors Theatre, 14501 4th Ave. SW, Burien. Tickets are just $10 at the door and include TWO plays. Tickets are available online: www.burienactorstheatre.org – and don’t forget our special $3 off coupon: [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="490"]REVIEW: Playwrights Fest kicks off with collegiate innuendos & political clash 1 Click image to print coupon.[/caption] The shows are recommended for those aged 13 years and older due to language or mature subject matter. During intermission, check out the concessions/bar and enjoy two themed cocktails: Hemmingway’s Choice & Writers Unblock! May 1 and May 15 are opening nights and include refreshments and champagne toast after the shows! Dinner and a Show Package: This package includes a two-course meal at the Mark Restaurant & Bar plus a ticket to the show; cost is $25 per person. Contact the Mark at 206-241-6275. Next up in the Festival: May 15, 16, 17 and May 22, 23, 24: “Dr. Kritzinger’s 12 O’Clock,” a drama, by Jim Snowden – One-act study in evil about the 1942 meeting in which Nazi and German officials set in motion the “Final Solution.” “Four Gone Conclusions,” a comedy, by Kevin Boze – Full Length comedy that offers an absurdist look at life, the afterlife, whales, aliens and more. Festival sponsors include the Mark Restaurant & Bar, 4Culture King County Lodging Tax and the City of Burien. Web-art-fest]]>