PORTLAND  – Portland Stage celebrates a milestone this spring with the 20th year of the Little Festival of the Unexpected, a  forum for the development of new American plays. Its  long track record of launching plays to future productions includes this past season’s “Out of Sterno” and “The Passion of the Hausfrau”.

The 2009 Little Festival will feature readings of three new plays by professional playwrights as well as three short scripts by area high school students. Each reading is open to the public at a $10 suggested donation. All festival events May 13-16 will be held in the Studio Theater, PSC’s 75-seat second stage, at 25A Forest Avenue. For reservations call the Portland Stage Box Office at 207-774-0465.

“I’m very proud to celebrate 20 years of this festival, and the opportunities it gives our company to develop relationships with living, breathing writers,” says Anita Stewart, executive/artistic director of Portland Stage Company. “This year I’m excited both to form new connections and also renew past relationships with two LFU alums: Willy Holtzman, who was part of the 4th annual festival, and John Cariani, whose play “Almost, Maine” was workshopped at the 14th festival on the way to its world premiere here at Portland Stage. I can’t wait to see what these writers are working on now!”

Playwrights are in residence throughout the week-long festival as they continue to develop their scripts. Often, participating writers are hearing their play performed by a company of professionals for the first time. Little Festival audiences are encouraged to delve into the creative process by sharing their feedback with the artists during open discussions following each reading. In addition to working with professional writers, Portland Stage is also supporting the creative voices of Maine’s emerging playwrights through its Young Writers Project for high school students. This year’s Little Festival will include readings of three short plays by students from Gorham, Windham, and Cape Elizabeth, selected from among dozens of submissions to the 2009 Young Writers Project.

2009 Little Festival of the Unexpected Plays

“Last Gas” by John Cariani. Nat Paradis is stuck in a rut as the manager of LAST GAS, a convenience store in far northern Maine that sits on the edge of what’s wild and what’s not. When an old flame comes to town to bury her mother, Nat gets another chance, and does his level best to win her back. ” Last Gas” is a funny, sad look at love lost… and found… and the curve balls life throws us.


“The Toymaker’s War” by Jennifer Fawcett. In 1995, Sylvie was a young journalist who went to Bosnia to find the perfect story.  Instead she found herself in a village filled with children from opposing sides, and the sole witness to a massacre. Now, as she is called to testify at a war crimes trial, she must examine the role she played in that tragedy and the dangerous choices made in the name of love.

“The Real McGonagall” by Willy Holtzman. On the eve of his return voyage to Scotland, Sir William Topaz McGonagall recites his outrageously bad poetry at a saloon in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen.  Is he a fool? a joke?  Or is the joke on each of us who has ever secretly yearned for artistic self-expression but not dared to go public? A hilarious account of the true life-story of the world’s worst poet and his dubious (but lovable) place in history.

Little Festival of the Unexpected Performance Schedule: May 13 – 16

Wednesday, May 13, 7 p.m.: “Last Gas,”  (preceded by  “Complex Conversations,” by Sydney Butler

Thursday, May 14,7 p.m., “The Toymaker’s War,” preceded by “the Boy Who Loved,”by Molly Olsen

Frday, May 15, 8 p.m., “The Real McGonagall,”preceded by “The Businesman’s Rumpelstiltskin,” By Nick Rhys


Saturday, May 15, 

Thursday, May 14 – 7:00 PM
“The Toymaker’s War,” by Jennifer Fawcett
Preceded by THE BOY WHO LOVED by Molly Olsen

Friday, May 15 – 8:00 PM
THE REAL McGONAGALL by Willy Holtzman

Saturday, May 16
12:30 PM THE TOYMAKER’S WAR by Jennifer Fawcett

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