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Short play has long history for Lawrence playwright

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What if your aging mother told you she had a secret lover? What if she further said she was the only one who could see him?

That’s the premise of Lawrence resident Feloniz Lovato-Winston’s short play “Emilia’s Lover,” which gets a staged reading Friday night in Kansas City. It’s part of Potluck Productions’ First Friday Play Reading program, which showcases emerging female playwrights from the greater K.C. area.

“It’s kind of a mystery,” Lovato-Winston says. “Her children don’t know if this guy actually exists, because she says she is the only one who can see him. They’re concerned she might be suffering from dementia, but they’re afraid to confront her about it, because they don’t want to offend her.”

The play began as an assignment for KU Professor Emeritus Paul Lim’s Playwriting 101 class.

“It was the first play I ever wrote,” Lovato-Winston says. “I had two ideas when we first got the assignment, and I asked my husband which one he liked better. He chose ‘Emilia’s Lover,’ but I was so nervous I wrote them both. At the last second, I turned in ‘Emilia’s Lover.’”

Though she turned it in as a class assignment on a whim, the play stayed with her.

“I kept coming back to it and tinkering with it and adding to it,” she says.

Now she has several versions. A 15-minute rendition is featured at the staged reading Friday night. A 10-minute version will be featured in EMU Theatre’s 10-Minute Play Festival coming up in March.

Lim has been helping his students get their work featured by Potluck Productions for several years. Lovato-Winston’s — as well as KU Law student Kim Condon’s play, “Toe-May-Toe, Toe-Mah-Toe,” which also stages Friday — are the two latest.

Lovato-Winston says it’s hard writing a complete drama that is so short.

“You’ve only got dialogue to work with,” she says. “It’s really hard to create fully fleshed-out characters in such a short piece. You don’t have a lot of time to establish them.” She may have tinkered with the play several times over the years, but it almost never got shorter.

“As I worked on it, I kept adding things,” she says. “It kept getting longer. When it got accepted to EMU’s 10-Minute Play Festival, and I had to cut some material out of it to get it down to 10 minutes, that was really hard.”

As for that other play that she didn’t turn in?

“I’m sure I’ve got it in a drawer somewhere,” she says. “I can’t even remember what it’s about.” Sounds like she chose the right one.

The First Friday Play Reading is part of Kansas City’s First Fridays arts festival. The production features five short plays by female playwrights read by professional actors. It stages at 8 p.m. Friday at the Uptown Arts Bar, 3611 Broadway in Kansas City, Mo. Admission is $5.

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