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Alumna Playwright to Speak on NYC Theater Scene

Scenes from Commedia del Smartass

When award-winning playwright Sonya Sobieski ’91 visits campus this week to give a workshop in playwriting, she will have a chance to attend a production of her comedy Commedia del Smartass, presented by Ellen Morbyrne ’09J.

Morbyrne (formerly Ellen Morf) and her husband Dan Morbyrne (formerly Dan Barnes) are teaming up to direct Sobieski’s play at the East Street Studios in Hadley. The production will run March 7 through 9, and again March 14 and 15. Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 9.

Commedia del Smartass follows four high school juniors as they navigate the winding paths of young love and heartbreak while dealing with teenage realities surrounding peer pressure, drugs and sexuality. “Commedia del Smartass is a tragic-comic exploration of youth, love, and what it means to be human,” according to a press release from the Serious Play! New Directors Series 2008, which is sponsoring the production. “How do we define ourselves and how do we permit ourselves to be defined?”

The Morbyrnes will direct an ensemble of characters dancing, falling and leaping about the stage in a choreographed tangle designed by Alberto Peart. Audience members will be invited to join in.

Following a 2005 off-Broadway production of the play in New York City, Commedia del Smartass was lauded by Village Voice and New York Magazine. It was then that Sobieski sent the play to Len Berkman, Anne Hesseltine Hoyt Professor of Theatre, with whom she studied while at Smith. Berkman produced a reading of the play with Morbyrne in the lead role.

Sobieski, who teaches playwriting at the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies, is a winner of numerous playwriting awards. She will visit Smith on Saturday, March 8, to offer a two-part workshop in the Mendenhall Center Green Room. At 10:30 a.m., she will speak on “Life After Smith: NYC Theatre Demystified,” a discussion of internships, jobs and theater, open to the Smith community. At 11:30 a.m., she will lead a workshop for playwrights in the Five College region.

Sobieski worked in the literary department of the off-Broadway theater Playwrights Horizons for nearly a decade. She is an affiliated artist with the Obie Award-winning New Georges, which commissioned and first produced Commedia del Smartass. Her first full-length project won a Best in Fringe Award for excellence in playwriting at the New York International Fringe Festival. Her work has also been produced by Clubbed Thumb, Vital Theatre, Prospect Theater Company, adobe theater company, and others.

Tickets for Commedia del Smartass at the East Street Studios, 47 East Street (off Route 9) in Hadley, are $12 general, $5 students & seniors. Call 413-584-5535 to reserve. For more information call 413-586-0647.

3/3/08   By Eric Sean Weld
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