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Theater: First Southeastern New Mexico Playwright Festival

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Christina Stock Archive Photo Kyle Bullock, left, is seen here with his father Don Bullock. Kyle Bullock welcomed the audience to his playwright "Those Unforgettable Black Rims" in 2016. He is looking forward passing on his knowledge of playwrights to a new generation of authors.

Way Way Off-Broadway Theatre Company, under guidance of Kyle Bullock, presents local playwright talent

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Way Way Off-Broadway Theatre Company presents its first Southeastern New Mexico Playwright Festival at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, 409 E. College Blvd., July 20 at 2:30 p.m.

Original, unique and creative works from new writers in southeast New Mexico will be presented.

Asked where the idea originated, Kyle Bullock said, “I’ve written several plays and watched them go from idea to production. That was a life-changing and exciting opportunity that I realized that a lot of people don’t get to have. Books you can self-publish, articles you can get published, but there are very few opportunities of plays to get noticed and seen. We’ve talked about this idea off and on the last couple of years with Way Way Off-Broadway (Theatre Company) and this summer we thought is the perfect time.

“I wanted to create a class that would give artists a platform and to present it in a way that you don’t often get to see. There are very few programs out there, so it was an exciting opportunity to do so,” Bullock said.

Bullock is giving the class and has experience as a playwright author himself. “Funny story, there are playwright festivals, but the first one I ever went to, a friend of mine said I had to submit to,” he said. “I had written a play — the first one — and I just wrote it as a way to express myself. I didn’t expect anybody to notice it. Long story short, she told me there was that one festival in Lubbock that was going on that I ought to do. So I submitted it and I thought it was a huge honor to have it read and then they told me that I won. I didn’t know that you could win these things. Then they said that I won best of show, so I got into the production of that theater lineup the following year. So, I fell into it on accident and then I fell in love doing it. I just had the great fortune of getting to do it several times since then. I hope the same thing happens with these teenagers, that they fall in love with something they didn’t know before.”

Asked about his first class and the students, Bullock said, “The youngest (student) is 13 and up to 19, 20 years old. I’ve got five students in the class. We kept it small so they could have the freedom to write whatever they wanted and work on it individually. I’ve got at least three or four who are going to present. They’ve written stories, some are funny, some are serious, but they are all very unique to that person and very personal, which was exactly what we wanted to achieve. I am very proud about what they have done. It’s really difficult to do what they’ve done, not because it takes a lot of time, which I think surprised a few of them of how much time and effort goes into it, but you also have to surrender yourself and be vulnerable in front of people by writing something, letting people play with it, literally play with it. I am very proud about the work they’ve done. They did a great job.

“The ones I know that produce next week are Nick Featherstone and Spenser Willden — he is a hoot, his show is so funny — and Sam and Rose Thorsted. Willden’s is a mix of Seinfield meets a heist movie, it’s wild fun. Nick shows a very serious personal story about a young man going through a lot of healing in his life. Rose’s story is changing as we speak, so I am not sure what hers will be. It’s TBA. Sam’s story is kind of like a blend between Hallmark movie meets inspirational drama. It’s a story about an angel who came to Earth to help a very broken man. It is very, very fun and light-hearted. She did a great job,” Bullock said.

There will be no tickets sold, but donations are accepted. “That goes back into the programs that we do for the kids. There will be a reception afterward to congratulate the artists on their shows. Anyone can come and enjoy the work,” Bullock said.

According to Bullock, the performance by actors is a readers theater performance, which isn’t fully produced, meaning there will be no costumes or lighting effects as one would see in a fully produced show. The authors will experience their playwrights for the first time sitting in the audience.”

Asking about future plans, Bullock said that he would like to continue the classes. “If there is interest, I would love to host another class again,” he said. “It really is not just for teenagers, but for any age group. What I would tell people is, that writing can be a great hobby that can turn into something more for them. You can start at any age and the best part for me is getting to watch these kids come up with an idea. The first day, they don’t have an idea, but at the end of it, they have something they are very passionate about. And it helps for some to work through some hard parts of their life. We got to make light of situations that they are going through, some fun to process. There is a lot of healing. I want everybody to know this is for all ages and anybody can jump into this. So if there is anyone interested out there for this to happen again or for other artists to submit their work, just have them contact the company and we’ll plan future events.

“The workload in this is quite a bit. They are 10 to 20 minute plays each, but you are not only writing the script, you are also tweaking and changing it so there is a lot that goes into it, so the labor is intense for eight weeks. I want to keep the class size small for that reason,” Bullock said.

“I encourage everybody in this last class by saying, ‘You can’t always play that one sport for the rest of your life, you can do a lot of music for the rest of your life, but writing is something you can do as long as you have a thought in your head.’ It’s important that we not just write for our sake, but we write to share with other people because when you share with the community, you start telling each other stories and that’s what makes communities great, telling each other’s stories, building each other up, reminding each other where we come from, how we get to better places. So I encourage them, no matter how old you are, just keep creating, no matter what your medium is, just keep creating. It will be a loss to the world if you don’t,” Bullock said.

“I do want to thank the Anderson Museum — we looked for a place to host this and they just have a very warm, inviting place for us, where they are cultivating art every year. They were thrilled to let young and local artists come and introduce their things. They have been phenomenal to work with, they’ve made this opportunity happen, so I want to thank them loud and clear. I also want to thank Once Again Consignment, because Molly (Boyles) sponsored any of the overhead cost we had for the whole class and production for this at the Anderson. Thanks to her profoundly coming alongside to help. All of the donations, including the donations at the door, they go right back to the kids. We are not taking paychecks out of this. We just want to make an impact for the kids in the community and the adults in the community. Thanks to all of those groups and anybody who has pitched in,” Bullock said.

For more information, visit waywayoffbroadway.com or call 575-317-0157.