Why the Bill and Peggy Hunt Playwrights Festival? Who were Bill and Peggy?
Bill and Peggy Hunt were longtime Burien residents, a married couple who worked in all phases of local theater for over 30 years.
Peggy joined what was then called Workshop Theatre of Burien in 1959. (Workshop Theater of Burien became BLT in 1980.) Her first leading role was in 1960, playing a “dotty old lady” in “Harvey,” when she was still quite young. It’s the type of role she perfected in dozens of plays, and inspired a reviewer to call her ”the grand dame of Burien theater.”
Husband Bill soon followed Peggy into local theater. At first, on stage when an actor was needed for a bit part. (There are no small parts, just small actors.) Soon he was using his expertise as a Boeing engineer to help the growing theater with organization, planning and design work. Bill designed the “roll away” seating, still used at BLT, which was necessary to maintain the multipurpose function of the theater for the other uses King County and later the City of Burien made of the space. Both Hunts served on BLT’s Board of Trustees, as well as working on play production.
The Hunts came to Burien from their native British Columbia. Peggy told stories to her new theater friends of the play writing and play production competitions held in Canada and encouraged trying that in Burien. Under her leadership, the first theatrical one-act play competition in the Greater Seattle area was held in Burien, as part of the early ‘70’s Burien Arts Festival. Then Workshop Theater sent one-act play entries to the biennial statewide play competition.
The play-writing competitions, also Peggy’s suggestion, came later, in the 1980’s, after the theater group was incorporated as Burien Little Theatre (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit). BLT was, at first, a program of the King County Parks Department, but soon stood on its own. At BLT one-act play festivals became popular in the late 80’s and 90’s, but in 1999 the decision was made to advertise for only new works. The Festival prize winners received a small monetary award, and the winning plays were produced for the public. Peggy was in the cast of one of the award wining plays in 2000 Festival.
In 2002 BLT’s Board of Trustees voted to honor the Hunts for their longtime contributions to BLT’s success by naming the biennial playwrights competition after them.
Bill died in 2003. Peggy currently lives at a retirement home in Bellingham, Washington, near their daughter’s family. Peggy remains in contact with her BLT friends.
Don’t miss the winers of the 2013 Bill and Peggy Hunt Playwrights Festival: “Bottom Line;” “Undiscovered Places;” “17-B” and “Parsing Race.”
Big hat tip to Barbara Reamer.