“When a dream explodes.”
That was the theme of a new-play festival competition Marilyn Millstone entered at an Illinois theater recently, but exploding dreams certainly hasn’t been the case for her playwriting career.
Millstone’s entry for that competition, “Play Date,” will be livestreamed on Facebook Aug. 23.
“Livestreaming is very public,” Millstone said, admitting some anxiety. “But ‘Play Date’ is my boldest and bravest play so far, about a chance encounter between strangers at a bus stop.”
She’s also working on her first commissioned full-length play for a Pittsburgh theater.
In addition, for the second year in a row, Millstone won a spot in the Silver Spring Stage One-Act Festival.
Her award-winning play for the Stage this year is “Birthday Girl,” about a woman who “wrestles with reaching 39 – an age that has cultural significance,” she said.
“I don’t like to categorize my work,” Millstone, a Montgomery County resident, added. “But it’s a semi-light approach to a serious topic. It turns a beloved fairy tale on its head.”
Apart from the satisfaction of having one’s work win a very competitive competition, Millstone said she is “so impressed” with her director, Chelsea Radigan
“Despite her youth, Chelsea is quietly commanding,” she said. “I’m lucky to have her.”
Another County winner is Jacy D’Aiutolo, whose winning play is called “Promise.”
It’s about two young women – a somewhat-insecure violinist and a brassy dancer – who form an unlikely friendship and help each other to build confidence just before a life-changing audition at a prestigious conservatory.
Both playwrights have been immersed in theater for some time. Millstone has been a school drama director and theater director, though she’s primarily a playwright now.
D’Aiutolo has been involved in theater since high school – mostly as an actor and singer but more recently as a director.
“I started writing for the stage about 11 years ago, and had my first productions shortly after,” she said. “My plays have since been produced across the country and in London. I have an undergraduate degree from UMBC in Visual and Performing Arts, with a focus on vocal performance.”
For her day job, D’Aiutolo puts to use her law degree from Georgetown.
This isn’t her first participation in the One-Act Festival. In 2010, her “Prophets and Madmen” – a drama about what happens to a young art historian when the statue he is studying comes to life – was one of the winners. In 2016, “The Pirate and the Caterpillar,” a comedy about a young actress seeking revenge on a critic whose reviews of her were less than kind, also won.
“I was quite pleased to hear about the win this year,” said D’Aiutolo. “I understand there were a large number of submissions, which means the competition was pretty steep. This is the eighth play I’ve had produced in the Silver Spring Stage Festival, but each time your work is selected it’s a thrill, because the judging process is blinded.”
Just because a playwright has been produced at the Stage before doesn’t mean he or she always will be. The circumstances are also different each year, because the play selectors change every year.
The director of “Promise” is Karen Fleming, whom the playwright is “thrilled to have.”
Danae Rupp (the violinist) and Rebecca Shoer (the dancer) star.
The cast of “Birthday Girl” consists of Joy Gerst, Shelby Sours, Melanie A. Lawrence, Allison Starr and Ron Ward.
The two playwrights have one more thing in common: both are residents of Kensington.
The One-Act Festival takes place over two weekends, Aug. 17-20 and Aug. 24-26. Both Millstone and D’Aiutolo’s plays are showing the second weekend.
Silver Spring Stage is located at 10145 Colesville Road (Woodmoor Shopping Center) in Silver Spring. For more information, call 301-593-6036 or visit their website at www.ssstage.org.