New Playwrights At Sisson Road Group Holds Debut Showcase

by Jennifer Sexton-Riley
Playwrights at Sisson Road will hold its Season One Showcase of new local works on Saturday, April 27. Playwrights at Sisson Road will hold its Season One Showcase of new local works on Saturday, April 27.

The new Playwrights at Sisson Road group will hold its Season One Showcase of new local works on Saturday, April 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. on the indoor theater stage at Cape Cod Theatre Company/HJT on Sisson Road in Harwich. General admission is free, and new CCTC/HJT Producing Artistic Director Jenn Pina will be the event’s emcee.

The showcase will feature bite-sized 15-minute sneak peeks of new works by local playwrights Kristin Stewart of Harwich, Art Devine of Harwich, Bob Cohen of Wellfleet and Brewster, Michele Clarke of Chatham, Kelly Eisenhardt of Dennis, and Jim Pettibone, a member of Improv Cape Cod in Dennis. The performances will highlight the talents of an all-star Cape Cod cast, including Chelsey Jo Brown, Seton Brown, Connie Chan, Bob Cohen, Art Devine, Ian Hamilton, Susan Lambert, Jim Pettibone, Nina Schuessler, Jane Staab, Kristin Stewart, Jennifer Stratton, Lynda Sturner and Anthony Teixeira.

Playwrights at Sisson Road have reached out to invite not only the theater-loving public, but also the producing artistic directors of theaters and companies that develop new work within a 90-minute drive to be there. Their objective? To get at least one of the group’s shows produced in the 2025 season. Playwrights at Sisson Road member Michele Clarke said the Cape is the birthplace of modern American theater, and though more than a handful of local playwrights live and work here, few new plays from Cape writers are produced each year.

“We have some great work being done by the Playwrights at Sisson Road crew,” Clarke said. “We meet at the CCTC Arts Center in Harwich each Saturday morning in the fall and winter.”

Group member and Cape Rep Theatre Playwright in Residence Art Devine said the group began meeting weekly back in October, and really started to get its feet under it in January.

“If you write with people, you continue to write,” Devine explained. “If you’re not held accountable to people, you think to yourself, ‘Oh, I can just do the dishes. I’ll just walk the dog.’ But if you have to present something at the next meeting, you have to write, with people giving you feedback and inspiration. And you get to listen to some gems. It’s gotten me back to writing. Playwriting is my love and I am back at it.”

Playwrights at Sisson Road member and playwright Kristin Stewart, winner of the 2023 Kaplan Playwriting Prize from Eventide Theater for her play “It’s Just Walking,” explained how the Saturday morning meetings work.

“First we spend a few minutes chatting and eating pastries, and then we begin,” Stewart said. “We have a shared Google folder, and we each put our work in there for the week. We work in chronological order, according to the order in which the work was saved in the folder. Each playwright assigns actors around the table, and we read the work, talk about it and critique it. If we don't get to all the work, we start the following Saturday with the one we missed the previous week. The meetings usually last about three hours, which is usually enough time for all of us.”

Stewart explained that in the group’s early days, member Michele Clarke invited some fledgling actors into the group to read for the playwrights.

“It gives them the opportunity to practice cold reading and to read scripts,” Stewart said. “It’s easier for us as playwrights to be able to only listen and not have to do the reading ourselves. It was a great idea to invite them, and their presence has added an Interesting twist to the process.”

The plays which will be presented in the showcase will include “Bob’s Musical” by Robert D. Cohen, a funny and charming love story of a widow and widower, followed by Cohen’s “Discovery,” which tackles the idea of what would happen if everything we think we know isn’t quite right. Next up is Michele Clarke’s “Yours Ever,” the true story of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s rise to fame. Next is “Heritage Ranch” by Art Devine, a one-act comedy in which salt-of-the-earth characters grapple with a DNA test and a fortune teller’s prediction.“Tiny Houses” by Kristin Stewart is next, a play that offers a new, laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving take on how we think about death. “Change for a Dollar” by new playwright Kelly Eisenhardt is next, a raucous, poignant and funny cautionary tale based on true events from her dad’s life, followed by “Crime Scene Weapon,” the no-holds-barred part two of Eisenhardt’s tale, which will make you laugh out loud and maybe cry. Several vignette pieces by Jim Pettibone titled “PBS,” “Customer Inquiry,” “What’s In a Name” and “Well, Hi” will be performed between the longer pieces, sharing his observations on life with a sharp eye and a lively wit.

For more information find The Playwrights at Sisson Road on Facebook.