Seen & Heard: Playwright, pianist stand out in regional competitions

Tim Brennan.JPG
Tim Brennan

Tim Brennan, an English teacher at Southland High School, in Adams, is the author of a one-act play that recently won a playwrights' competition.

His play, "Hear Me Now," was one of three winning plays selected from more than 200 submissions, by authors in nine Midwestern states, in the Heartland Theatre Company's Midwest One-Act Play Festival competition.

"They have a competition committee," Brennan said, "the committee selects six plays and gives them to the visiting playwright." This year's guest playwright is Mary Ruth Clarke, writer of the original "Meet the Parents," and a member of the Chicago Dramatists Guild.

"Out of those six plays, she picks three," Brennan said, "and I was lucky enough that she picked mine."

Brennan's play, and the other two winners', will be performed at the one-act play festival, July 12-14 in Normal, Ill.


"Hear Me Now" is the story of the lives of members of a divorced family in which the daughter lives with her mother.

"I'm very happy that I get to go see my play on stage," Brennan said, "but I'm more looking forward to talking and working with a playwright like Mary. I think that will benefit me tremendously. She's in a different league — she's a major-league player."

Brennan is formerly Southland's theater director, "but I haven't done that for years," he said. "I started writing plays instead — it's more fun that way."

From his first play, "Bedtime Stories," written for the Rochester Repertory Theatre, Brennan has had his short plays performed at theaters in Chicago, Bethesda, Md., and San Diego, Calif.

"A lot of my stuff is shorter," Brennan said. "I've written some 10-minute plays and I've actually written some one-minute plays, but 'Hear Me Now' has a run time of about 30 minutes."

"Everyone is a storyteller at heart," he said. "Parents and grandparents are storytellers to children, and everyone tells stories all the time. Our civilization started with storytellers."

Keys to success

Budding pianist Ann Borgen, the 9-year-old daughter of Joyce and Kevin Borgen, of Chatfield, qualified to perform at the 78th annual State Honors Concert May 18 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.


After a preliminary, scored performance at Rochester Community and Technical College in February, Ann moved on to the Minnesota Music Teachers Association's State Piano Contest Finals in March, where she registered a perfect score.

Based on that performance, she was selected for the State Honors Concert, featuring 700 young performers from around the state.

Ann adorably said she was "half-and-half nervous — sort of nervous, and sort of not" to perform in front of such a large crowd at the concert.

"I was more scared for the contest testing than I was for the big concert," she said. Of course, she said, the key to calming nerves is practice.

Ann practiced on her own and with her piano teacher, Basia VanderZanden, of St. Charles and the Hoffman Madsen Studio of Rochester; and she practiced with her ensemble a few times before the big performance of "Secret Agent," by Melody Bober.

Impressively, Ann has had these accomplishments only two years after she began playing piano in second grade.

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