This weekend, Black Dirt Theater will begin performances of its original comedy, "Meet the Poes." The first performance is Friday, with additional shows through April 9.
The play is about several family members at their family reunion. Toward the end of the reunion, they get some unexpected news and then respond and react to one another in a comical "he-said, she-said" sort of way, explained Robin Starch, the show's artistic director.
"The show is lighthearted, and they ask each other 'why do we do what we do,'" she said.
There are some universal themes of family, including family rituals, family values and how people change (or don't change) when their family routines are changed.
It's a story that is relatable to just about everyone, said Katie Zuzek, Black Dirt Theater's public relations and strategic development coordinator.
"It's an easy show to relate to because it was written by, obviously, people who live day-to-day life just like us, and they wrote about going to a family reunion," Zuzek said.
The show is an original comedy, meaning it was written specifically for Black Dirt to perform. Starch said they hired Sara Pillatki Wazeha from Morris University as a writing mentor to work with four local writers, including Thomas Bonneville (who is also directing the play), Marty Weber, Maggie Weiss and Miriam King. The group spent about seven weeks working on the script; they met weekly to discuss ideas and themes, practice writing together and sharing what they had written between sessions. They came up with the premise of "Meet the Poes" fairly quickly, Starch said.
"From there, each writer got to create the different family units that come together during this family reunion," she said.
Then, they work on creating connections between all the writers' work.
After they finished writing the first act, Black Dirt picked its cast.
"When we had that first read through, it really made the characters come to life," Starch said.
With fresh inspiration and insight into how each character would appear on stage, the writers went back to work to write the second act.
The cast for "Meet the Poes" includes some new faces to Black Dirt Theater productions as well as some familiar ones. Starch said it should be a fun show to watch.
"It's a great space with a great script, an awesome cast, a chance to giggle and just relax," she said.
"Meet the Poes" will be performed on the auditorium stage at Hastings Middle School, 1000 W. 11th St. in Hastings.
Showtimes are at 7 p.m. March 31 and April 1, and April 7-8 (there is no show April 2). On April 9, the show begins at 2 p.m.
For more information and tickets, go to www.blackdirttheater.com.