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Hibernian Hall will present plays from ‘The Fire This Time Festival’

At the end of this month a repertory theater ensemble from New York City will come to Roxbury’s Hibernian Hall to present brief audience-tested plays on black themes. But before then, young Boston playwrights will get a chance to hone their dramaturgical skills in a free workshop. A Big Apple ensemble will present six 10-minute plays selected from previous seasons of “The Fire This Time Festival” (TFTTF), which has been running in Greenwich Village annually since 2007. TFTF is a platform for talented early-career playwrights of African- and African-American descent to explore new voices, styles, and challenging new directions for 21st century performing arts, and move beyond common ideas of what’s possible in contemporary “black theater.” Dillon Bustin, artistic director for Hibernian Hall, ran across the group during an NYC scouting trip last year. “This type of production is a stimulating continuation of our performance series,” he said. “We’re inspired to invite kindred spirits from TFTTF as guest artists, and can promise our audience an evening of the finest from New York’s diverse theater scene.” Director Nicole A. Watson, who selected a “road” cast of two males and two females, will stage the half dozen pieces especially for the Roxbury space. Here’s what the playwrights say about their works: Kevin R. Free, TFTTF producing artistic director, wrote “Portal, or Metaphorical Tricycle” which he summarizes as “an artist reflecting on his past and dreaming about his future gets slapped in the face by his present.” TFTTF co-founder Kelley Nicole Girod sets the scene for her “Poetics of the Creative Process”: “When a professor’s beautiful young mentee mistakes a shadow of a tree limb for his arm reaching out to touch her, a dangerous game manipulating words and images is set in motion.” Tracey Conyer Lee, the only playwright who will also be in the touring cast, teases her piece “Poor Posturing” by saying, “Can’t we all get along? Maybe…if we stop trying so hard.” Zoey Martinson notes that her work, “The Pitch,” takes a “comedic look at two young black writers trying to sell a modern black movie to studio executives. See how far they are willing go and how much they are willing to sacrifice to get their movie made.” Derek Lee McPhatter’s “Citizen Jane Super She-ro” fast forwards audience to a Supernetwork of the future “The universe’s most talented archival-architect brings our favorite super-hero, Citizen Jane, to vivid life tonight! Don’t worry if she seems fed-up or tired of saving the world. She had better give us another Happy Ending or else!” Finally, Yusef Miller invites audiences to join him for “Breakfast”: “After the suicide of their gay teenage son, Harriet and Glen’s love falls under scrutiny. Their ritualistic breakfasts together reveal a pathological battleground of neglect, anger, blame, fear. And closure is offered from an unlikely source, their son.”  The free writing workshop for college-age playwrights – entitled “Spark! Fire! Blaze!” – will be held on Fri., March 28, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Participants will learn how to generate, revise, and share work in a collaborative environment. The workshop, limited to 15, will be led by TFTTF artistic director Free. The mini-festival runs Friday and Saturday, March 28-29 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 30, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 for seniors and students. Discounts available for Friends of Hibernian Hall and other groups. Find out more at hibernianhall.org.