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Local theatre professor and playwright stages play about Mae West

This fall when playwright Kathryn O’Sullivan returned to her “day job” as theatre professor at the Manassas Campus of Northern Virginia Community College, she brought back exciting news. Her play, “MAE,” will be performed on three weekends in September and October, thanks to the work she was able to complete while on sabbatical last year.

“I’m very grateful to NOVA for giving me a Presidential Sabbatical,” O’Sullivan said.  “It allowed me the time to fully realize a project that has been with me for more than a decade.”

“MAE” tells the story of what happens when stage and screen icon Mae West comes back from the great beyond to educate an unsuccessful Mae West impersonator about her life’s triumphs and tragedies.

“I began work on the play while a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, and used the sabbatical to incorporate additional research into a major rewrite, secure licensing for music used in the play and investigate performance venues for the production,” O’Sullivan said.

Paul Awad is directing the play. “I have wanted to direct this play since I first read an early draft 10 years ago. Turns out I had to marry the playwright to do so,” he said. The husband-and-wife team lives in Reston.

The show will be previewed at Flashpoint’s Mead Theatre Lab in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15 and 16. Opening night is Sept. 17. The play continues on Sept. 18, 24 and 25, and Oct. 1 and 2. All performances start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25; $15 for preview nights.

A painting of Mae West by artist Rosemary Gallick will be raffled for charity during the run of the show. Gallick is a longtime art history professor at NOVA’s Woodbridge Campus.

To learn more about “MAE,” contact O’Sullivan at kosullivan@nvcc.edu.

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.