New Playwrights Festival Debuts Works Created by ODU Students


Photo courtesy of ODU Theatre and Dance.

By Ash F.J. Thomas, Staff Writer

Instead of producing two plays this spring semester, ODURep is producing multiple student-written, student-directed one-acts and solo pieces in an event called the New Playwrights Festival.


Two one-act plays will run on March 30-April 1 and April 7-8. “Another Side of Love” is written by Lela Hernandez and directed by Carolina Conte, with Adrian Rivera, Angelina Paquin, Mari Russell, Jamia Gordy, and Amanda Chassi in the cast. “Another Side of Love” is a light-hearted modern retelling of the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche.


“I had noticed that a lot of the shows were a little bit heavy, especially coming out of the pandemic. I wanted to write something that was fun, playful, comedic… something that ultimately left people feeling good at the end of it,” said Lela Hernandez.


“Time’s Up” is written by TréVeon Porchia and directed by Derrion Hawkins, with a larger cast consisting of Taylor Tousignant, Dionte Elliot, Zoe Moscopulos, Evalee Merritt, Amaya Wills, Tahji McCombs, Hope McCullough, Brooke Mullins, Taye Russell, and Ginny Vrolyk. “Time’s Up” is an exploration of the memories, flashbacks, and internal conflicts of a young man with little time left. Hayley Birnbaum, an ODU alumna, serves as the choreographer for the show.


On April 5-6, the festival will feature four solo pieces: “Blind Marriage” by Tahji McCombs, “Like Father Like Daughter” by Lakasia Moore, “ReMemories” by Orion Posey, and “Bits of R E D” by Amaya Wills. 


“It’s a good opportunity for us to show our talent in terms of writing, directing, and conveying our own emotional projects and creativity and present it on stage for the first time,” said Tahji McCombs.


Though the solo pieces originated as projects in an Acting 3 class, ODU professor Brittney Harris wanted to bring some of them on stage to share with the rest of the student body. 


The performance lineup also includes a staged reading of “The Choice,” written by Leila Bryant and featuring performances from Kendra Blount, Samantha Kay Hendrix, Joshua Moore, Kenzie Moyers, Brooke Mullins, Reicse Owen, and Avi Raschdorf.


The staged reading differs from a regular performance because it is an earlier stage of play creation. In the staged reading, actors have their scripts on stage and a narrator reads the stage directions.


“It’s essentially like seeing it on a production rehearsal, but it’s scripted so that the people who are viewing can see what the play looks like as far as dialogue, movement, and logistics,” said Leila Bryant, who is also directing the staged reading.


When asked about why ODURep was producing a collection of student-led performances this spring, McCombs said, “I’m actually quite surprised, because I feel like it should have always been done.


“[Graduating students] want to put out some projects to leave a goodbye piece, something we could easily look back on,” he said.


“The department wants to support the creativity of their students, not just in the acting and technical realm, but in the writing, producing, and directing realm,” said Leila Bryant when asked the same question.


“I think there’s a lot of talent here […] and the fact that ODU is giving students the opportunity should prove that there should be more student-led performances in the future,” said Adrian Rivera, ODU student cast in “Another Side of Love.”


Lela Hernandez has praised the cast, saying, “The whole cast has been phenomenal… They are so charismatic, it’s hard to not watch them.”


Tickets for the performances can be purchased online or at the door. They cost $5 for ODU students and the general public.