Richard Vetere says he was born a writer.
“I’ve been making a living in the industry for years, a long time,” he said.
Vetere, of New York City, is among the playwrights who will be in attendance for Wega Arts’ Second Annual One Act Play Festival.
The festival is being held June 20-22, at the Gerold Opera House, in downtown Weyauwega.
Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 20 and 21, and 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 22.
About 80 new, one act plays were submitted for consideration.
Eight plays were selected for the festival.
Five of them will be fully staged, and three will receive staged readings.
The plays range in length from approximately 10 minutes to 30 minutes and will be produced by Wega Arts, with assistance from the Weyauwega-Fremont Drama Club.
The staged plays will be “A Grimm Tale” by Mary Clohan, “The Monkey Play” by Rand Higbee, “Keep the Farm” by Kathy Fehl, “No More Writers” by Vetere and “Never After” by Peter Hargarten.
Fehl, Ian Teal and Carrie Gruman-Trinkner are the festival directors.
In addition to Vetere and Fehl, playwrights Higbee and Hargarten will also be in attendance for the festival. Higbee is from Hager City, Wis.
A panel discussion with the playwrights will take place at approximately 9 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, following the final performance.
“A Grimm Tale” is about a production team of a successful children’s show which arrives at the studio to find the star of the show offed himself on the set. They scramble to find a solution before the audience of children arrives.
“The Monkey Play” is about a talking chimpanzee named Homer, and “Keep the Farm” is about several generations of a family, struggling to keep their farm.
“Never After” is a dark, comic twist on fairy tales.
Vetere’s “No More Writers” is about a future in which writers are forbidden, and one person tries to defy authority.
“I wanted to write this science fiction type of piece. It is the future, and writing original material is against the law,” Vetere said. “The story is a guy is being questioned for having a journal and writing something in the journal.”
He explained how that became the subject of the play.
“A trend I see is how writers are getting a lot less respect,” Vetere said.
Everyone wants their writing published, and producers often push writers around, he said.
“I notice students are not really aware of their rights,” said Vetere, who also lectures at NYU.
He sees much of today’s writing as trying to fit particular formulas.
Vetere is a playwright, novelist, poet, screenwriter, TV writer and actor, who was recently elected to the Writers Guild of America East Council Seat for a two-year term and was made a Lifetime Member of the Guild in 2010.
His new novel, “The Writers Afterlife,” will be published by Three Rooms Press in 2014.
Vetere wrote “The Third Miracle” and co-wrote the screenplay adaptation produced by Francis Ford Coppola.
He also wrote the teleplay adaptation of his stage play “The Marriage Fool” for CBS TV films starring Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett and “How To Go Out On a Date in Queens” starring Jason Alexander.
Vetere wrote the original screenplay for “Vigilante.” He has 15 plays published by Dramatic Publishing, and each has received productions around the world.
His play “One Shot, One Kill” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize when presented at Primary Stages.
Vetere just completed a year teaching playwrighting in the master’s program at NYU and has taught playwrighting at the New School and CUNY. He teaches screenwriting at Queens College.
His play “Last Day” was given its world premiere last summer at Gloucester Stage, where he was playwright-in-residence, and his first young adult play “Bird Brain” was just published by Dramatic Publishing.
He loves to talk about writing.
“It’s all I’ve ever done,” Vetere said.
The play the local audience will see was written by Vetere about a year and a half ago.
“It was done only once before, in a reading. It got a lot of attention,” he said.
The three plays selected for staged readings are “Stage Whispers” by Donna Hoke, “Close Your Eyes” by James Harmon Brown and “Here Cometh Honey Boo Boo” by Clare Higgins.
In “Stage Whispers,” Amanda helps her octogenarian grandmother pack to move to a retirement community, with their perspectives about life and memories revealed.
“Close Your Eyes” tells the story of a man and woman, long divorced, who meet one last time on the occasion of the woman’s impending death. Vetere will be reading that play with local resident Linda France.
“Here Cometh Honey Boo Boo” is a Shakespearian take on the saga of Honey Boo Boo.
When asked what the festival directors looked for when they selected plays for this year’s festival, Fehl said they looked at themes and what could engage an audience.
“There’s a range of styles in the theater, so it becomes very individual,” she said.
Fehl said she and Teal worked with many playwrights when they lived and worked in New York City, and Vetere was among them.
“We got in touch with him recently and thought he might have a play we could do. He submitted one and is flying out,” Fehl said.
For Vetere, who was born and raised in New York, it will be his first trip to Wisconsin.
He is looking forward to meeting the other playwrights and to watching the one acts in the opera house.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door and are good for any or all performances. Advance tickets may be purchased at The Coffee Klatsch in Weyauwega, online at wegaarts.org and at The Book Cellar in Waupaca.
Beer and wine will be available.
Fehl said the festival will include actors from throughout the area.
“We look forward to developing the one act play festival into a play development center that will draw writers from all over the country,” she said.