Interdisciplinary Collaboration on Display at Manhattanville in New Play Reading Series
Fresh Ink hosted on April 5 in Founder’s Hall
PURCHASE, NY, March 22 – Manhattanville College will host its new play reading series, “Fresh Ink,” on April 5, 2023 in the Founder’s Ex Theatre at Manhattanville College, 2900 Purchase Street, Purchase, NY. Held annually, Fresh Ink gives undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of degree or program, the opportunity to present new plays, screenplays, musicals, and other dramatic texts. Presenters can gather feedback from the audience as they continue to develop their scripts. At the same time, performing arts students can audition and gain valuable experience in the early stages of a show’s development, which is uncommon within the bounds of a traditional performing arts program.
Theater professor Vinny Mraz produces the event each year and says the most significant part of producing Fresh Ink is getting to see and hear new student work. “Readings can be a really big first step for playwrights, so seeing that opportunity happen and getting vital feedback from the audience is so fulfilling.” In addition to feedback from the audience, the event annually hosts adjudicators who attend to be dedicated listeners and provide feedback from their unique perspectives. Previous adjudicators have represented theatre, performance, and writing programs at the college.
This year’s event will present “The Unhappy Family in the Empty Tomb,” – Manhattanville Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing candidate Peter Prizel and directed by undergraduate Musical Theatre sophomore Izzy Camacho. This collaboration is particularly exciting since Mraz has been working to develop this kind of interdisciplinary approach.
“Izzy is coming from musical theatre training here; Peter comes from a career in social work. It’s two different angles and completely different views, and it’s so exciting for me as a producer,” says Mraz. “Izzy directed a play last year for Fresh Ink and is assistant director for ‘The Birds,’ and Peter has very little background in the theatrical world. It doesn’t happen often and it’s an incredible learning opportunity for all involved.”
Prizel is eager to share his work with an audience. He has held a long-standing interest in museums and travel and has always leaned into magical realism in his writing, so when his professor shared the opportunity with him, Prizel felt it would be a great opportunity to see what’s possible with his work. Prizel has found the highly collaborative process inspiring, especially as a continuing education student with a family and children, and shares that it’s “refreshing to work across interests, across departments, and across different age groups. Izzy is significantly younger than me, but she’s taken on a lion’s share with how connected and active she is on campus. I'm so appreciative for the support I’ve gotten in producing this from the College... and I can’t thank my wife and mother-in-law enough for supporting me to be able to work on this.”
Students who have previously participated in Fresh Ink have progressed beyond the initial reading stages. One student self-published their own book, inspired by Fresh Ink, through Amazon. Both readings from last year’s event have been produced beyond the initial reading. “The Mark of Crystalis,” written by Syd Suarez who graduated last year, was produced and performed as part of the 2022 Senior Thesis Festival at Manhattanville. “The Dose,” written by sophomore Catie Lasek and Gabby Pizzolo from Purchase College, will be performed by the student group “Broadway at Manhattanville” (B@M) this spring as a workshop.
For this year’s participants, Mraz hopes Prizel’s work will also progress towards publication and production, and Camacho will gain valuable skills in the collaborative spirit of directing, especially with the rare opportunity to work directly with the writer.
“At Manhattanville, everyone works so hard and is so dedicated, especially Vinny,” says Camacho. While this is not their first time directing at Fresh Ink, they are excited to return and build upon their existing knowledge. “Peter’s play is religious but it’s also satire and it’s very different [than what I worked on last year]. This is going to be my first time casting, though. It’s new and exciting. I have more knowledge than I did last year and that will help me.” In addition to her extracurricular experiences, Camacho is currently taking a directing class and considering attending graduate school for directing. She feels that she learned about her creative and leadership-based strengths in Creative Process, the first-year pre-requisite course for performing arts students, and has found that Fresh Ink is “an opportunity to showcase my creativity. We have a lot of opportunities for that here, we just need to take as many as we can.”
"The Unhappy Family in the Empty Tomb” is a work of religious satire based on the cenotaph of Pope Julius II located in the Church of San Pietro in Rome. Iain Hayley Pollock, director of the Manhattanville MFA Creative Writing program, and Jeff Kaplan, theatre professor, will serve as this year’s adjudicators in another example of interdisciplinary collaboration. Prizel is particularly excited to receive feedback on the feasibility of his work, as he feels the concept and staging are relatively complex.
To learn more about “Fresh Ink” at Manhattanville College, contact Vincent.Mraz@mville.edu.