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Battle of the Bards VI: Scranton "Gateway Theater"

Updated: May 9



The sixth Battle of the Bards took place at The V-Spot in Scranton, Pa on Sunday, May 5th, and we attended to speak to some attendees, both new and returning, as well as co-directors Ryan Jay and Casey Kelly. Ryan describes the “gimmick” of the event as, “We take four local writers, we give them two days to write a five to ten-minute play each. We print out the scripts the day of the event, and then volunteers from the audience give it a quick read-over and get up on stage and perform it. We’re calling it ‘gateway theater’; it’s supposed to be no pressure, no need to memorize anything; they’re going up with the scripts.” The concept for Bards came from the duo trying to formulate a way to get all of the local theater people they knew together to do something fun and low-pressure. “Eventually, we ended up coming up with this event; it’s more of an open mic, you can just show up and do your thing,” says Ryan.


Casey, who has a bachelor’s in theater from the University of Scranton, is heavily involved in the Scranton theater scene and is also just as involved in getting writers for the event. She enjoys Bards, not only because she gets to “act in a new play every month,” but also, with working in the service industry, it’s often hard for her to get time off for events. For Bards, she only needs one free Sunday a month.


This month's Bards consisted of co-directors Casey Kelly and Ryan Jay, as well as local writers Margo L. Azzarelli and Sawyer Green.


Interested in being a playwright at a future Battle of the Bards? “We have ‘Nominate a Bard,’ it’s linked on our Instagram and everywhere else. You can nominate yourself, nominate your friend, or just shoot us a message and say ‘Hey, there’s a writer local to Scranton or the surrounding area that thinks they can do it and is interested,’ and we’ll reach out and talk to them,” says Ryan.



Battle of the Bards V writers and co-directors, left to right; Jeff Boam, Ryan Jay, Casey Kelly, Hank Willenbrink, and Marci Herman Riebe.


The sign-up sheet at every Bards is a mixed bag, with skill sets ranging from life-long theater performers to first-time readers of a script. “As we’re signing people up, we have two columns on the sign up sheet: ‘definitely cast me’ or ‘cast me if you need me.’ That’s a way to tell us not to give you a huge role. Let us know when you’re signing up if you want a part with no lines; sometimes we get those. We have people who want to dip their toes in and just try it out, and you can definitely do that,” says Ryan. Most attendees describe the event as “fun, a great way to make connections, and very low pressure.”


Jordan Joubert, after her fifth Battle of the Bards, cited her favorite part of the event as the “sense of community.” Kyle Jamieson Stratton and Belle Bonczkiewicz, both returning from previous Bards, say that the creativity is what keeps them coming back. “The fact that I get to show up at a bar, get a script that was written two days ago, and fully put on an original scene is incredible,” says Kyle.


Robyn Shonk and Eyal Filkovsky, as first-time attendees, were on the hunt for the sign-up sheet the moment they walked into The V-Spot. “I’ve wanted to act again for a while, and I wasn’t sure how to do it but this was a really comfortable environment that made it easy to do it,” says Robyn. Ryan P. Flaherty, also a first-time attendee, offered advice to those who are interested in participating in Bards but may be nervous to step on stage, “If you never try it, you’re never gonna know if you suck at it, so find out if you suck. Keep doing it until somebody stops you.”


Interested in writing for, acting in, or attending the next Battle of the Bards? Sunday, June 23rd, 2024 at The V-Spot, sign-ups at 5 p.m., show at 6 p.m.


Ryan and Casey’s “Ryan Wanted an Even 50/50 Split and Casey Said ‘Not Enough Taylor’” 10 Song Playlist:

  • The Albatross - Taylor Swift

  • willow - Taylor Swift

  • How Did it End? - Taylor Swift

  • ivy - Taylor Swift

  • Maroon - Taylor Swift

  • The Great War - Taylor Swift

  • Peter - Taylor Swift

  • Shake it Off - Taylor Swift

  • Florida!!! - Taylor Swift & Florence + The Machine

  • Hits Different - Taylor Swift


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This was so much fun, I can't wait for the next one!

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