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Volume 26, Number 2 — February 2019

Milligan student play to be featured in Barter Theatre's College Playwriting Festival

December 23, 2014

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. — A Milligan College student's first play was selected by the Barter Theatre to be featured in their inaugural College Playwriting Festival Jan. 16-18 in Abingdon, Virginia.

Sophomore Colin Morgan's play "The Interloper" will be featured along with five others each selected from participating area colleges and universities including Milligan, East Tennessee State University, Emory & Henry College, King University, The University of Virginia's College at Wise and Appalachian State University. A staged reading of Morgan's play takes place Sunday, Jan. 18, at 3 p.m., on Barter Theatre's Stage II.

At the festival, area college students will have the opportunity to participate in the production process and see work produced. For Milligan students, enrolling in "Writing for Stage and Screen" gives them a chance to be involved in the festival when the class is offered each fall.

"For the past 30 years, Milligan has shared a unique relationship with the nationally-renowned Barter Theatre, a treasured institution that has launched many careers by hiring former Milligan students in a variety of capacities and fulfilling my own desire to work as a professional actor, director and teacher," said Richard Major, associate professor of theatre. "The creation of Barter Theatre's College Playwriting Festival has once again proven their commitment to the development and support of young, emerging artists."

As a first-time playwright, Morgan never thought his one-act play, an off-beat comedy about two friends searching for aliens at a supermarket, would be selected by his professors for submission-much less by the Barter Theatre.

"I couldn't believe it," said Morgan, who is from Gray, Tennessee, and double-majoring in theatre and photography.

One day at the supermarket, the play's main character, Ted, meets an old friend from high school, an oddball named Warren. After catching up, Warren convinces Ted to help him hunt aliens in the store.

An interloper, someone who feels out of place in a situation, refers both to the aliens in the story and Warren, who feels outcast, according to Morgan. He thinks the Barter Theatre picked his play because it is relatable and grounded in the relationship between these two men.

"Colin has written a quirky, engaging piece that we think will not only be fun for the audience to hear, but for the actors to perform as well," said Nick Piper, associate director at the Barter Theatre.

The Barter Theatre already has given Morgan notes to help improve his play for its debut. One note suggested he work on increasing the dramatic stakes for his main character. Thankfully, the biggest lesson he learned in "Writing for the Stage and Screen" this fall is that writers have to constantly revise.

"The quality of dramatic writing being created by Milligan students is truly impressive," said Deborah Harbin, adjunct instructor of communications and theatre, who co-teaches the class with Kenny Suit, associate professor of film studies. "Our classroom has become a testing ground for some genuinely innovative and creative scripts that cover a wide range of subject matter and styles."

Harbin, Suit and Major picked three selections for the festival from 13 submissions at Milligan.

At the festival, Piper said professional artists will be helping all of the college playwrights develop their pieces over the course of the festival weekend, as well as give them the opportunity to interact with other college students from schools throughout the region.

While Morgan has acted in previous plays at Milligan and hopes to continue acting and being involved in theatrical productions, he's intrigued by playwriting.

"Now that I've gotten a feel for it, I'm going to stick with it," said Morgan. "Playwriting is a lot of fun to me."