As a member of the Blue Star Theater Program, the Cape Fear Regional Theater aims to better connect theatre offerings to military personnel. It’s with this goal in mind that the theater formed a partnership with Veterans and Theater Institute to offer free workshops to military service members, explained Molly Malone, CFRT Education and Outreach director.

VTI’s pilot program began in early 2016 to engage military personnel in playwriting and technical theater. Its first official semester of workshops kicked off at a Rhode Island theater in September. CFRT will be the second theater to offer the program, which begins Feb. 14.

Malone said CFRT has partnered with Fayetteville State University and Methodist University for the class spaces and teachers.

The playwriting class will enroll 10 to 15 students and meet weekly from Feb. 14 to May 30 at FSU. The class is for beginner and intermediate writers who want to learn about playscripts, dramatic monologues and one-person shows, Malone said. Participants will complete writing exercises, share with the class and receive feedback.

“Playwriting can be done solo, but at a certain point you have to hear it, you have to see other people read it and play with it then you adjust,” Malone said. “It’s a really great hub for creativity.”

Malone said veterans won’t be required to write about their personal experiences or time in the Army. They’ll be able to write about anything they choose.

Writing experience might be helpful but is not required. Even those individuals who aren’t savvy essay or short-story writers can still flourish, Malone said.

“Everyone has conversations and that’s what you’re doing, writing conversations,” she said. “Playwriting taps into another side of us; if you’re not into other types of writing, playwriting might wake up something else inside of you.”

By the end of the class, students should have a portfolio of new work that they’ve developed and will have the opportunity to hold a reading to share their work at CFRT or other theater venue in the area, Malone said.

Technical theater classes will enroll eight to 10 students and will meet Feb. 14 to May 30, however class times will vary for each student. During the initial meeting, participants will meet with the instructor and schedule one-on-one time.

This program is more of an apprenticeship program and is very hands-on, Malone said. Topics will include stage carpentry, scene painting, stage electrics, props, sound engineering and backstage organization. Prior skills are not a requirement but a desire to learn is, she said.

Those enrolled in the technical theater workshop will learn the skills necessary to pursue different positions at theaters in the area, Malone said.

Anyone who has questions about the program or who want to register, can email Malone at mmalone@cfrt.org or call her at 323-4234 extension 244.

Malone explained the CFRT’s partnership with VTI is one more step in its desire to serve the military community.

Additionally, the theater offers military discounts on show tickets as well as discounts for educational programs, such as its after school program and summer camps.

“It’s really just a question of how can we best serve (the military community),” Malone said. “Discounts were OK for a little while, but now what we want to do is spread the wealth even more.”

Last year the theater commissioned the play “Downrange: Stories from the Homefront” to engage not only the military population, but also the greater Fayetteville community to help them understand what military Families go through, she said.

“We are building on that this year with Veterans and Theater Institute and will continuously build on what we offer and how we serve our military community here at Fayetteville.”