Professor’s comedy takes the stage
The price of success: ‘Trespassing’
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 01:03
CU Denver professor by day, playwright by night, Cate Wiley wrote Trespassing: A Comedy Of Sacrifice, between faculty meetings and paper grading. Wiley managed to get this play—her first full-length one—into the Athena Project Festival.
The play follows Todd, a struggling novelist who’s trying to finish his second book. He is both blessed and cursed after a mysterious old woman visits him at his father’s old cabin and offers him inspiration and success—at a price.
The muse-turned-scary-godmother offers Todd inspiration in exchange for his first-born child. Todd agrees, thinking he won’t ever have children with his girlfriend—but the surprise pregnancy changes everything. This challenges Todd to make the decision whether to be a successful writer and a family man, or to give up on one to do the other.
Family dynamics are illustrated in the plot, and inspiration is the theme. The play delves into the birth of inspiration, what happens when it’s threatened, and the lengths to which artists go to protect it.
Designed for audience feedback, Wiley’s play is a part of the Plays In Progress Series in the festival.
Playwrights are able to witness their words spoken and acted out as the appointed director works out staging, pacing, and how the dialogue is working. These workshop plays have minimal sets, lighting, and sound.
The Plays In Progress Series includes four new works written exclusively by female playwrights.
Wiley was prompted to enter the festival by Angela Astle, the founder and producer of the Athena Project. Despite the competition, Wiley’s play was selected out of the many Colorado and out-of-state online submitted entries.
After the four Plays In Progress workshop productions are finished, one play will be selected from the series to be featured in a full production in the next Athena Project Festival in March 2014. The winner from last year, Clinnesha Sibley’s Tell Martha Not To Moan, is presently putting on a production in the festival.
Even though Wiley had nothing to do with the choosing of her play’s director—who happens to be Angela Astle—or with the audition process, she is delighted by the people she gets to work with. “That’s the great thing about being a playwright,” said Wiley. “You work very hard to get the thing down, but then you give it to somebody, hopefully someone you trust, and say, ‘here you go, put it on stage.’”
Most of the actors hired for the festival are local professional actors, and some exclusively act for a living.
“I also really appreciate actors who are interested in new work,” said Wiley, “that they’re not just trying to get starring roles in classical plays that have been tried and true; they are willing to work with a playwright and make suggestions.”
Writers and artists will likely relate to the story, but it is accessible for all audiences to appreciate. “I think the play will appeal to a pretty wide range of ages,” Wiley said, “because a lot of people want to be artists.”