KHT hosts playwrights showcase of new works

Members of the 45th Parallel Playwrights.

Keizer Homegrown Theatre will host the 45th Parallel Playwrights’ (45PP) second annual showcase throughout the month of June at the Keizer Cultural Center.

Under the banner, The Evolution of the Play, the 45th Parallel Playwrights (45PP) will illustrate the stages a play goes through from idea to actual staging. 

This year’s free series of events starts with a June 4 playwriting workshop by Rachael Carnes, a prolific playwright and the regional director of the Dramatists’ Guild. 

Ms. Carnes is an award-winning playwright and her works have been staged in Eugene, Portland, New York and at Cambridge University. She was a Oregon Arts Commission Career Opportunity Grant, recipient, 2020. 

On June 10 and 11 45PP will stage Short Works and Excerpts at 7 p.m., featuring work by the group’s founder, Lynn Millar, and renowned local actor James Kemp. 

Ms. Millar’s excerpt reveals an important section of her play, An American Plan. The plot covers a long forgotten but extremely relevant chapter in U. S. history, when the federal government began a policy of randomly arresting women. The program, which was itself known as the American Plan, started during World War II as an attempt to protect American soldiers from sexually transmitted infections and prostitution. The play juxtaposes the lives of a group of modern women with their counterparts from a century ago. 

Kemp’s work is based on his first-hand knowledge of what happens inside nursing homes. Families, residents, caregivers and clergy clash as each tries to define quality senior care in Kemp’s episodic A Piece of Clockwork. The excerpt being performed is Finding Dallas in which memory care resident Schultzie keeps asking, “Where’s Dallas?” much to the confusion of his caretaker Arnie and two competing pastors. 

On Saturday, June 18 the theatre will host a staged reading of Prima Donna by local resident Debra Vassallo at 7 p.m. The play follows quirky Theresa and intense Robert as they navigate life in 20th century Oregon. From a logging camp to company town and on to Klamath Falls, the couple guide their family through the ups and downs of a changing world. Robert is a logger while Theresa’s occupation is creating three perfect daughters, not an easy task. You’ll find yourself asking who’s in charge and who’s trying to help in the funny, well-meaning family as they try their best to laugh at life’s circumstances and make difficult end of life decisions. 

The showcase culminates in the world premiere of Bunny and Vincent, a play by Salem resident Jenifer Kay Hood. The two-act drama tells the story of the relationship between the 20th Century critic Edmund Wilson and the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. This story is akin to the plot of A Star Is Born, only this one is based upon real life events. Ms. Hood is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Millay and has been working on this play since 1997. 

Through her association with the poet’s sister, the critic’s daughters, the Millay Society, 45PP, the Dramatists’ Guild, and Britain’s Rough Hewn Dramaturgy, the playwright has created a work that is ready for production. It is being directed by Franca Hernandez. Performances are June 24-25 at 7 p.m. and June 26 at 2 p.m. 

All workshops and performances are free. Seating is limited to 50 per performance. To learn more about Keizer Homegrown Theatre go to