Hays playwright chosen for Denver reading



Set in the Hays area, a play selected for February's New Play Summit by Denver Center Theatre Company was written by local playwright Catherine Trieschmann.

The play, "The Most Deserving," satirizes the friction that can ensue when the arts collide with politics, self-interest, taste, relationships, egos and gossip.

"It's really a comedy about how we choose what is good art," Trieschmann said. "How we make those determinations.

"And sort of the ridiculous politics behind the scenes when it comes to patronage."

An up-and-coming playwright, Trieshmann, a Georgia native, has lived in Hays six years. Married to Carl Miller, Fort Hays State University assistant professor of philosophy, the couple has two young daughters.

Treischmann credits the Inge Theatre Festival in Independence with helping her make the connection that led to her play being selected for the new play summit. She received the Otis Guerney New Voices Playwriting Award from the Inge Theatre Festival in May.

"I feel so supported by the Inge Center in Kansas," she said. "Peter Ellenstein (Inge Festival artistic director) has been a great champion and nominated my work for a lot of awards.

"I've just really appreciated that."

As part of the festival, which honors William Inge, a famous Kansas playwright from Independence, there was a reading of "The Most Deserving." Trieschmann was asked by Ellenstein who she would like to direct the reading of her new play. Her reply, she said, came without hesitation.

"I immediately said Kent Thompson, because he runs the Denver Theatre Center and is someone that I really wanted to get to know because the Denver Theatre Center puts considerable resources and production time to new playwrights," Trieschmann said. "Kent agreed to come out and direct the workshop of 'The Most Deserving,' which was fantastic.

"We had a great time working together."

Thompson brought the play to his staff in Denver, and it later was selected for the new play summit. In addition, Trieschmann has been commissioned by the DCTC to write a new play.

"The Most Deserving," written by Trieschmann in 2012, is one of five works slated for stage reading at the eighth annual new play summit. During the summit, the play will be revised during workshops in an effort to "improve the script," Trieschmann said.

"It's a glimpse of the play's potential, so that hopefully either Denver Theatre Center or another theater that comes to the summit will pick up the play for production," she said. "The play is just slated for the reading as a way of introducing it to the theater world."

The festival is Feb. 8 to 10. Public readings passes can be purchased for $40 and allow admission to all five readings of new plays. Individual readings are $10. Information regarding full summit passes, which include guaranteed seating to readings, main stage premieres, meals and receptions, is available at www.denvercenter.org/summit.

"The Most Deserving," set in Hays but not necessarily inspired by events in town, follows events that transpire when a local arts council is given a $20,000 grant to disperse to a deserving artist.

"It's a comedy, and everything is over the top, and everyone's agenda is a little bit self-interested," Trieschmann said. "But I do think it delves into some issues of when resources are scarce, how do you divvy them up fairly and who gets to make those determinations."

Treischmann, who has seen her work come to life on U.S. stages and overseas in London and Sydney, also wrote the screen play for the film "Angels Crest," which premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival before being released by Magnolia Pictures. In addition to writing a new play for the DCTC, she also has been commissioned to write an adaptation of the Wizard of Oz. Her play "How the World Began," which was performed in Boulder last summer, opens in Milwaukee this month.

The ability to continue her budding career as a playwright in a somewhat isolated area of Kansas has been a bit of a surprise to Trieschmann.

"I don't feel like I've fallen off the face of the earth, which I think was a little of the fear," she said. "If anything, I think it makes me stand out.

"Every playwright lives in Brooklyn, so I'm able to say I live in Hays, Kansas, and I think it's memorable."