Michele Rittenhouse, managing director of the NJIT Theatre Arts Program, has had her play “Red Rover” accepted for development at the Seven Devils Playwright Conference in Idaho this June. Rittenhouse will work there for two weeks with a director and dramaturg to develop the play for a staged reading. She will also mentor high-school writers from the town.
“The conference offers a unique opportunity,” Rittenhouse said. “The entire town participates in the conference in one way or another, housing, acting, writing, or as one of the most valuable roles, as audience. There is feedback and discussion about each play presented so the writers can find out what they have written and find ways to polish the work in a rewrite for future professional venues.
The play is set in the fictitious town of Clover, Mississippi, not far from the real Mississippi town —Tupelo—where Rittenhouse grew up. The year is 1969 and a family has learned that a son is missing in action in Vietnam. The parents and grandmother blame each other while the distraught granddaughter takes off to photograph stormy waves, to fulfill a long-ago promise to her missing brother. As the storm worsens, turning into Hurricane Camille, the daughter and her boyfriend are lost. Eventually they are miraculously found—and as the family sorts out these catastrophic events, they rediscover hope for the return of the lost son.