A writer’s ebullient anxiety

For a playwright, the interval of time between having your play selected for production and the performance’s opening night can only be described in two words: ‘Ebullient anxiety.’

When my play, Connection, was selected for this year’s Maine Playwrights Festival, I experienced the adrenaline rush I’m sure all playwrights know. Because up until now, it’d existed in a world solely inside my own head. After the first draft, questioning almost every line, every plot twist. Delete. Write. Mutter to myself. Revise.

And then you send it out into the world – unleashing your new script on some unsuspecting theater company – having no idea what the response will be. Anxiety builds until, like now, with the Maine Playwrights Festival, someone says, “Hey, we like this.”

Joy. Rapture. And then more anxiety. Will an audience like this? Lately I’ve been writing plays that mess around with time. My play Connection bends time in a way that allows characters to interact in ways that seem – at least today – impossible. Will the audience go along? Will they question my sanity? Question their own sanity?

The Maine Playwrights Festival process uniquely addresses the anxiety most playwrights feel. The staged reading happening this weekend allows me to hear my lines, for the first time, read aloud by seasoned actors. I’ll listen closely to how they interpret the characters, the nuances they’ll add. I’ll pay attention to how the director, Paul Haley, puts the pieces of the puzzle together and offers his own vision.

And I’ll try to read the audience. Most of my plays have included good doses of comedy, so of course I listened for which lines drew the most laughs. Ironically, I began writing Connection as a comedy, imagining what would happen if a character was able to play with time to his distinct advantage. But somehow the stakes rose to such a point where interactions between the characters got pretty intense.

So I won’t be looking for laughs during this reading, but instead for whether the audience seems to be engaged. Tracking along. Or at least stays in their seats!

And afterwards, I’ll look forward to feedback from Paul, the actors, our playwright-in- residence Kate Snodgrass, our dramaturg Dan Burson. Then … more revising. Deleting. Muttering. But I wouldn’t replace the experience of being in the MPF for anything in the world.

JUST ANNOUNCED – two great new classes

Study Shakespeare with Naked Shakespeare’s Artistic Director and/or Performance Poetry with Acorn’s Director of Training

Classes meet on selected Thursday nights this spring

Poetry in Motion, taught by Carmen-maria Mandley
Thursdays March 30 and April 6 • 7:30 to 9:30pm • $40
click here to learn more

Intro to Shakespeare in Performance, taught by Michael Levine
Thursdays May 4, 11 and 18 • 7:30 to 9:30pm • $65
click here to learn more

Acorn’s spring acting classes

Whatever your interest and level of experience, there is a place for you in one of Acorn’s classes and workshops!

New classes begin the week of March 27th.

click here for classes – save 20% on Early Bird registrations before March 1
click here for specialized workshops
click here to register for a FREE acting workshop
click here for voice workshops

All classes and workshops meet in Mechanics Hall in downtown Portland

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are pleased to announce the selections for the 2017 Maine Playwrights Festival


6 plays will be performed over the course of two weekends from April 27 to May 7 at the Portland Ballet Studio Theater

Click here to audition for the 2017 Maine Playwrights Festival

Auditions take place Sat., Feb. 4 and Sun., Feb. 5.

CONNECTION, by David Vazdauskas

ELWOOD’S LAST JOB, by Elaine Ford

MIRACLES, by Ron Kanecke

THE THING CAROL SAW, by John Manderino

THE WILD HUNT, by Lynne Cullen


Acorn’s 2016/17 Season


Next season join us in the Mechanics Hall Ballroom as we explore themes ranging from the nature of truth to ties that bond family and country. All shows begin at 7pm and are $10 all ages general admission.

adapted and directed by Megan Tripaldi

The story of the heroine who saved the French and paid the ultimate price for her sacrifices. Pulling only the scenes revolving around her story in Henry VI Part one we get to see a clearer picture of the women who was a hero and what she had to give up to claim victory.

Friday, October 7 and Saturday, October 8

Truth Tellers
adapted and directed by Sarah Barlow

Telling the truth is a precarious venture, but for every leader or dreamer, there must be a realist to keep them grounded. Will these leaders learn from the tough love doled out to them in song, foolery and downright castigation, or will they topple from their pedestals in shame and misery?

Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5

Oath Breakers
adapted and directed by Michael Levine

Whether it be in love or war, Shakespeare’s characters will promise the moon, and in their next breath take it back again. Come decide for yourself whether karmic justice is served when notable liars in the canon go back on their sworn words.

Friday, December 2 and Saturday, December 3

Fathers and Daughters
adapted and directed by Carmen-maria Mandley

Very oft there IS a divided duty in the relationship between fathers and daughters in Shakespeare. Sometimes the incredible tenderness, creative cruelty, lusty betrayal and deep love can be unparalleled. In the Bard’s plays, these relationships border on athleticism in their consistency and their changeability.

Friday, February 3 and Saturday, February 4

The Hollow Crown
adapted and directed by Michael Levine

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, and sadly many would-be rulers only discover this reality after they have paid a high cost to obtain or retain the golden round. A whirlwind march through the British monarchy as dramatized as only the Bard can.

Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4

A Compendium of Flamboyent Shysters and Gargantuan Blabbermouths
adapted and directed by Michael Levine

These outrageous peddlers of words not only talk the talk but walk the walk as they charm, trick, connive, and dupe their way in and out of trouble using the twin powers of rhetoric and obfuscation. Meet some of Shakespeare’s most memorable princes of deceit in our final show of the season!

Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8


Our celebration of new scripts expands to two weekends in a new venue

April 27 to May 6

Portland Ballet Studio Theater
Tickets $18 for adults and $16 students and seniors


Experience the adrenaline-packed excitement of new plays written, rehearsed and performed in only 24 hours!

January 21

Portland Ballet Studio Theater
Tickets $10 all ages