Lynda Martens’ play “Naked In The Kitchen” won the 11th annual Reva Shiner National Full-Length Playwriting Contest, sponsored by the Bloomington Playwrights Project. It was chosen out of about 150-300 submissions, and she received a cash prize.
The Bloomington Playwrights Project will produce her play, which will begin running in October 2009. Casting for the four-person play will begin in August and will include two college-student roles.
The play is about a married couple sending their only son off to college and the struggles that follow in the resulting emptiness. Together, the family tries to resolve things through love and good humor.
Hailing from Canada, Martens said her play is largely about how kids are affected by conflict between parents. She said it is geared toward people from 30 to 60 years old, but that anyone from 12 to 100 might appreciate it.
“I didn’t sit down to write about a message,” Martens said. “Most of it developed through the characters.”
As a therapist for couples and families, she said some of the features of her play are based on people and situations in her own life, but the play is not quite autobiographical.
“The main point is that life is hard,” Martens said. “You have to stick together to be okay.”
The provocative title refers to vulnerability, Martens said, and that the kitchen is where “everything comes out” and people connect.
Gabe Gloden, managing director of Bloomington Playwrights Project, said college students might like the play because it is unusually realistic.
“Finding a drama that appeals to a college crowd is difficult because you’re competing with film and university theater,” Gloden said.
Gloden, along with many others at Bloomington Playwrights Project, said he enjoyed reading Martens’ play and that it was a new, fresh take on an idea.
“I liked it,” Gloden said. “It’s very unique because it’s not melodramatic. Just a very real depiction of family life that maintains an endearing sense of humor throughout.”
Sophomore Megan Duff said she noticed a subtle difference in her parents’ relationship since she went to college – a common and realistic occurrence that Martens’ play captures.
“They argue more over the things that have to do with me – like car insurance, medical bills, things of that sort – than they did when I lived with them,” Duff said.
Through her play, Martens shows it is not uncommon for a family dynamic to change, for better or for worse, when children go off to college.
“It is very hard to get a new play read,” Martens said. “(I) appreciate the opportunity that the Bloomington Playwrights Project has given me.”