Robert Cooperman thinks the theater has tilted a little too far to the left.

Robert Cooperman thinks the theater has tilted a little too far to the left.

The Ohio University-Lancaster professor and published playwright formed Stage Right Theatrics and will present the inaugural Conservative Theatre Festival on Saturday, Jan. 7, in the Columbus Performing Arts Center's Shedd Theater. The festival is patterned after an event in Philadelphia, held first in 2012, and Cooperman felt the concept would play in Columbus.

"I believe that plays today have ingrained left-wing points of view," Cooperman said. "This is because theater, like most of the arts, is a very progressive area. Theater artists speak the same lingo, believe the same premises about people and this country and constantly depict themselves as victims. As a result, they have become a powerful status quo and do not want this hold on power challenged."

Cooperman said he called his festival "Conservative" rather than "Republican" so as not to be identified with a political party but rather a set of values - values that, to Cooperman, are underrepresented in contemporary theater.

"If aliens came down to Earth to learn our culture and saw only productions in our current theaters, they'd go back home with only a partial perspective. There is a whole part of society that doesn't get to share its point of view on the stage," Cooperman said.

"Plays today take for granted that minorities are oppressed and the white male is the oppressor," he continued."They take for granted that this country is a rotten place, which has exploited cultures, women, minorities, homosexuals, et cetera. It is gospel that capitalism is an evil system and religion oppressive.And they take for granted that we are a democracy - we are not, we are a representative republic - and the Constitution is an antiquated document that hasn't kept up with the times.The truth is, the founders wrote the Constitution to last for all times, which it does. Just look at the arguments against the Electoral College to see an example of the vitality of the Constitution.So, yes, today's art is of the left and decidedly not of the people.

"People don't understand what conservative means because it's being defined by the left. Let us define who we are and let people see what we believe."

An open call for scripts returned 38 submissions - "37 more than I expected," Cooperman said. A short list of criteria included thematic content as well as practical matters such as small cast and plays no longer than 10 to 15 minutes.

"There were a lot of strong scripts," Cooperman said. Most were received from emerging playwrights, with submissions coming from around the country. Cooperman selected six scripts, including one of his own, to be presented during the festival, which will feature three of the plays, an intermission, and then the other three.

"All of the plays embrace the idea that the beliefs that seem to be ingrained in our contemporary culture are to be challenged and questioned," Cooperman said. "In its own way, each play expresses the notion that the traditions of eras past provide guidance for our future and should not be dismissed out of hand as antiquated.One play, 'Spare Some Change,' explores the idea that individuals should determine their own fate and not rely on handouts from government and the rich in order to exist.A couple of the plays confront the existence of human nature, something the left always seems to dismiss.My play, 'Drop the Barbie!,' satirizes what I perceive as the left's insistence that disagreement with its worldview is tantamount to hate."

Cooperman admitted to challenges in lining up directors and actors for the festival. He credited those participating - including some of his OU theater students - for jumping into something that is both a new venture and, for many of them, outside their personal worldview.

"To their credit, they overcame their fear and trepidation of being in something labeled conservative," Cooperman said.

Cooperman, perhaps obviously, hopes audiences share this same openness regarding themes and content. He said the purpose of the festival is not solely to offer conservative plays to conservative audiences, but also to offer an alternative experience for frequent theater-goers.

"I'm not looking for converts, but appreciation, understanding and dialogue," Cooperman said.

"For centuries, it has been about addressing issues of concern to the playwright. Theater shakes you up. That's what art does."

List of plays:

"The Truth Will Out" by Ron Frankel

The son of a progressive family informs his father that he has joined a conservative group, and that he is gay, to boot.

"Spare Some Change" by CJ Erlich

An entrepreneurial homeless man tries to convince a businesswoman to invest in his lunch.

"The University Chalk Circle" by Gary Wadley

What happens when liberal silliness taught in our universities meets reality?

"That N**'s Crazy" by Pete Riesenberg

Can "that word" ever be used by a white man, even in the context of Richard Pryor's 1974 album?

"A Subject of Inquiry" by Carl Williams

A public school teacher is forbidden from discussing evolution versus intelligent design in the classroom.

"Drop the Barbie!" by Robert Cooperman

A contemporary couple attempts to keep its offspring from thinking conservative thoughts.