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NewFest celebrates 20 years

chops is the opening play for newfest 2011

Chops by Performing Arts major Kirin McCrory is the opening play for NewFest 2011. 

There’s a dead body on the stage throughout the entire play, and it’s up to the audience to figure out why.

Chops, written by Performing Arts major Kirin McCrory ’11 and selected for the 2011 Rod Parker Playwriting Award, tells the story of a female serial killer in a small, obscure town. It premiered Thursday, March 24, in the Semel Theater.

It’s hard to say exactly what kind of play Chops really is, said director Joe Antoun, MA ’99, and that’s what makes it good.

The production of the Rod Parker award-winning play is part of the annual NewFest celebration, and this year marks the 20th student play chosen to receive the award.

“It is not a whodunnit,” said Tyler York, assistant general manager of Emerson Stage, “but it’s the reasons why, and the social constructs around this community, that make this a powerful story.”

McCrory began writing Chops with the first image of the play in mind: a dead body present on stage. She continued writing over the next year, including while in Emerson faculty member Andrew Clarke’s playwriting class.

Rod Parker ’51 wrote his first play while in school at Emerson. He has enjoyed a long career as a producer and writer for a number of hit television sitcoms, including Empty Nest, Gimme a Break!, Maude, and All in the Family. In 1991, he helped to create the Rod Parker Playwriting Award to promote new plays and foster playwriting among undergraduate and graduate students at Emerson.

Other NewFest activities include:

A Playwright Forum on Friday, March 25, 2:00 pm. On hand will be several of Boston’s most active playwrights: Emerson faculty member Andrew Clarke; playwright and Harvard University creative writing professor Christine Evans; Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s Kirsten Greenidge; and playwright and Boston University creative writing professor Ronan Noone. More about the playwrights can be found on Facebook.

An Emerson Alumni Night on Friday, March 25, 6:30 pm. Rod Parker will attend, along with a number of winners and actors from previous productions of the Rod Parker Award-winning plays. “We want to celebrate the previous winners of this award, and make it about the past but also about the future in terms of thinking about what the next 20 years of the Rod Parker Playwright Award looks like,” said York.

NewFest Readings on Wednesday, March 30, and Thursday, March 31.These readings will feature the work of student playwrights who submitted entries to the Rod Parker Playwriting Award 2011.

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