Veterans Repertory Theater (VetRep) is preparing to announce winners of its inaugural 2021 playwright competition while accepting submissions for the 2022 competition and continuing its first full season of staged readings. Founded as a nonprofit organization in February 2021 by Christopher P. Meyer, a combat veteran and third generation professional theater performer, VetRep is a creative hub that brings talented veterans and professional artists under one roof by producing live theater and events.
“The playwright competitions are the heart and soul of the organization. Veterans have a wealth of experiential knowledge that can make for wildly unpredictable, riveting, and entertaining theater,” says Meyer. “Yet they and their stories may also be the most underrepresented group in American theater. Our goal with the competitions is to help change that.”
The playwright competitions consist of two categories: full-length and 10-minute audio plays. All playwrights must be either a current or former US military, law enforcement, fire service, EMS or foreign service member, Department of Defense contractor or their immediate family member. The top three finalists of each category are awarded financial grants and invited to join the Artist-in-Residence Program where they are provided mentorship and financial support through activities such as workshops, staged readings, and possibly even the full production of their work.
Winners of the inaugural competition will be announced at the Savage Wonder Festival of Veterans in the Arts on Sunday, May 29, at Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center. Entries for the 2022 competition will be accepted through July 3, 2022 and can be submitted online through the submission portal at: vetrep.org/submissions with finalists announced by December 31, 2022.
Although not unheard-of, finding professional actors who are also veterans is even more of a challenge than discovering veteran playwrights. As a result, VetRep has tapped into the deep resources of the New York City professional theater community to provide actors to bring veteran playwrights’ works to life.
“We wanted to build out our repertory company prior to the conclusion of our first playwright competition so we could immediately dive into the work of developing our veteran plays, “ explains Meyer. “If we could do it while also providing great entertainment for our local community, I think that builds a stronger, more supportive environment to bring our veteran plays and playwrights into.”
Hence, the current staged reading series consists mainly of comedies written by known, non-veteran playwrights, such as Steve Martin and David Ives, and will add in works by the veteran playwrights as they become ready. The readings take place in the Parlor, a 16-seat venue that is part of VetRep’s administrative offices in an 1890’s-era house at 16 Quaker Avenue in Cornwall at 7 p.m. on most Saturday evenings through December. For a full listing of all shows visit vetrep.org/now-playing.
The 2022 season began on April 2. The season includes weekly staged readings at the Parlor, special events, and initial viewings of workshopped plays written by veteran resident artists. VetRep’s Savage Wonder literary blog and Savage Wonder podcast are both year-round productions. The literary blog focuses on veteran writers and poets, while the podcast features long-form, one-on-one conversations with veterans in the arts. On May 29, VetRep will hold the first annual Savage Wonder Festival featuring veteran artists appearing in the blog and podcast at the Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center in Chester.
Veterans have a wealth of experiential knowledge that can make for wildly unpredictable, riveting, and entertaining theater.”- Christopher Meyer