Columbus Makes Art Presents: MadLab’s Young Writers Short Play Festival Returns
Carl Burgason is an up-and-coming theater artist in Columbus and a native of Hilliard. Over the past few years he has written, acted and directed around the city and is a frequent collaborator at MadLab. He is currently mentoring and directing the show The Void, as a part of their Young Writers Short Play Festival.
Stephen Woosley: How did you first get involved at MadLab?
Carl Burgason: Back in 2012, I had a short play selected for the first ever Young Writers Short Play Festival. I had a great experience, and so over the last five years or so, I’ve stayed connected with the theater; they’ve put on some of my shorts, I’ve acted in a few of theirs, and in 2016 they were gracious enough to do a staged reading of my full-length play, A Corporate Corporation.
Stephen: Tell us about that show.
Carl: I call it my “Millennial Opus.” It takes place exclusively in retail stores and franchised bar and grilles — places people of my generation despise — and is mostly about young people who have no idea how to navigate the professional world, written by a millennial who has no idea how to navigate the professional world. It was written as my creative thesis in undergrad, in a haze of 1 a.m. pots of coffee and Bernie Sanders memes. And I think that shows.
Stephen: When you wrote for the first YW, did you ever see yourself becoming a mentor for the program?
Carl: I actually did not! I was very honored to be asked to mentor for the festival. It’s been a huge undertaking, giving feedback to the writers that is actually helpful for the development of the shows. For anyone to trust me with that is very humbling.
Stephen: Do you see a difference in the program since 2012?
Carl: Oh definitely. The idea of the program and the way it’s structured is overall the same. However, what’s incredible about it now is how much it has grown. The community buy-in for this project is huge and it’s grown to be one of the biggest events in MadLab’s season.
Stephen: Why do you think that is?
Carl: For many of the young playwrights in the program — myself included — this festival is the first time someone takes notice of your work and says “hey, you can do this.” Theater has such a competitive edge to it, and theaters aren’t usually looking for scripts by younger people, and they certainly aren’t looking for scripts that need heavy revision and improvement. They’re just looking for a show to put up. This program actively seeks to support and encourage young artists, and I think the community responds to that and appreciates it.
The Young Writers Short Play Festival runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. from July 14-29, with two Sunday matinees on July 16 and 23 at 3 p.m. More information about the program, including a detailed schedule of the shows and ticket information can be found here.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.