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January 30, 2014

A tale of survival

New Works Festival's winning full-length play onstage tomorrow

The call couldn’t have come at a better time.

Playwright Cassie Seinuk was taking an early fall walk near her Somerville apartment with an actress friend and having a frank discussion about their futures.

“We walked for like an hour, and we talked about how there are so few opportunities for her as an actor and me as a playwright,” Seinuk said. “I was telling her how I haven’t gotten that ‘aha’ moment with a full-length play.”

As Seinuk was heading back to her apartment, her phone rang. She was working as a stage manager at the time, so when she didn’t recognize the number, she thought for sure it was one of her actors saying they were going to be late for rehearsal.

But it was Kimm Wilkinson, artistic director at the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport. She told Seinuk that her full-length play “From the Deep” was the winner of the Pestalozzi Prize in the New Works Festival.

And Seinuk suddenly had her “aha” moment.

“I started jumping up and down and squealing and stuff like that,” she said. “It was great, it was really great.

“It’s such a different feeling when it’s a full-length play,” said Seinuk, who has had more than 20 stagings of her short-length plays. “Every once in a while, it’s easy to get to a point, ‘Is this what I should be doing?’”

She said winning the $150 prize was validating: “Yes, this is what I should be doing. And it’s great to be reminded of it.”

“From the Deep” will be presented at the Firehouse tomorrow night. The plot is “very loosely” based on two missing people cases that were in the news a lot in October 2012: Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was held by Hamas militants for more than five years before being released, and Jonathan Dailey, a Boston University student who was missing for several days before his body was found in the Charles River.

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