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West Hall grad seeks help finding his way to the Great White Way
Prospective playright seeks funding to take his play to New York
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Jake Hunsbusher is a Graduate student at UGA and an aspiring playwright. The Manhattan Repertory Theatre in New York selected his One-Act play, "Amulets for Garthenon" for their Spring 2018 One-Act Play Festival. He's trying to raise money now to actually produce the show. - photo by Scott Rogers

The first play Jake Hunsbusher wrote was called “The Pizza Man.” It was a simple, 10-minute play that he had finally worked up the confidence to write and produce during the last year of his undergraduate degree at Georgia Southern University. He didn’t think it was very good, but he was assured by his friends and family that it was actually something to be proud of.

“It’s one of those things that you think you’re going to start, but you’re kind of afraid of how bad the first thing is going to be,” said Hunsbusher, a West Hall High graduate. “But I got over it and started writing more and more.”

After “The Pizza Man,” and submissions of almost 20 other plays since he graduated from Georgia Southern, Hunsbusher finally has a play that will be produced at a theatre in New York, something he never planned on but always kind of aimed for, hoping he could have a career in playwriting.

The Manhattan Repertory Theatre selected Hunsbusher’s one-act play, “Amulets for Garthenon,” as part of its Spring One-Act Play Competition, which carries a $1,000 prize.

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Jake Hunsbusher's One-Act play, "Amulets for Garthenon". - photo by For The Times
His play follows two potential roommates and starts out mimicking a sitcom, with the audience acting as a live studio-audience. As the show progresses, it breaks from that format, and Hunsbusher has made sure to keep the details a secret.

“It goes on and things start to unravel in a way that I think the audience is going to find very interesting and engaging,” said Hunsbusher, now a graduate student at the University of Georgia.

But he didn’t know if it was even a big deal that his play was accepted by The Manhattan Repertory Theatre. He wasn’t very familiar with the theatre and his play is being produced as an off-off-Broadway show. After speaking with his professor at Georgia, Dr. John Patrick Bray, Hunsbusher was assured that it was actually a big deal, something to be proud of just like “The Pizza Man.”

“I think anytime you’re able to present your work outside of the university, it’s a pretty big deal,” said Bray, who was Hunsbusher’s professor in dramatic writing when he wrote the play. “And to have it produced in New York is a really big deal, so I think it will be a wonderful experience for him.”

Over the past couple of years, Hunsbusher has checked playwriting blogs pretty frequently to see if there were any festivals or theatres where he could submit his plays. He hadn’t heard back from anyone, and The Manhattan Repertory Theatre promised a response on the next day.

“At the very least I was going to get some feedback, which would be great,” Hunsbusher said.

But before submitting, he had to make sure, just in case his play was selected, he would have someone to act in it. So he called his friend, Matt Suwalski, a fellow grad student, who agreed to join in if the play was selected.

To Hunsbusher’s surprise, his play was selected and before he knew it he was suddenly left with a major task. He has to find some way to pay for production, which includes getting himself, Suwalski and another friend acting in the play, Anna Corbould, to New York. He’ll also have to find lodging and, of course, actually produce the play.

He said it will cost about $5,000 to make all of that happen, so he set up a fundraising page to promote the play, asking for donations. He has already raised over $600.

If he’s not able to raise all of the money, he said he’ll have to pay for it out-of-pocket, which would be difficult as a grad student. But he said he’s not going to miss this opportunity, even if that’s what it comes to.

“I’ve even been applying to grants through the university for travel,” Hunsbusher said. “So I am going. It’s happening no matter what.”