Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Ruth Easton New Play Series at Playwrights' Center

Since I "discovered" it a few years ago, the Playwrights' Center has become one of my favorite places to experience theater, specifically - new works of theater still in the development process. PWC supports something like 2000 playwrights a year in various different ways. Their "Ruth Easton New Play Series" runs the first (or sometimes second) Monday and Tuesday of the month, December through April. This series "gives selected Core Writers 20 hours with collaborators to workshop their script—to write, rewrite, experiment, and shape their work. For playwrights, this means great leaps forward for their plays. For audiences, this means a thrilling and intimate night of theater." I attend every one I can, because the plays are always interesting and the casts are always dreamy. It's really fun to be part of the first audience to experience a new play, and I highly encourage you to check it out if you haven't yet. Warning: attending readings at PWC can get addictive, but the good news is it's free! Below is some info about the current reading, which continues TONIGHT, and upcoming readings in the series (reservations recommended, but if you show up they'll usually be able to get you in).

A black page or canvas. So many possibilities.
(Photo credit: @cherryandspoon Instagram)
Jeune Terre, January 14-15 2019
by Playwrights’ Center Core Writer Gab Reisman
The waters are rising around Jeune Terre, Louisiana, and the land is slipping away. As scientists and state administrators bargain over the town’s future, a theatre troupe arrives to tell an old story in a new way, just in time for a quickly approaching storm. This inventive new play with songs explores what it means to live on the edge of invisibility in a time of atmospheric change.

Director: Jeremy B. Cohen
Dramaturg: Elissa Adams
Composer: Avi Amon
Dialect Coach: Foster Johns
Apprentice Stage Manager: Bronwen Chan
Cast: Christian Bardin, Gary Briggle, Alex Galick, Becca Hart, Dan Hopman, Joe Isenberg, Sheena Janson Kelly, Rajané Katurah Brown, Eric "Pogi" Sumangil, Wendy Lehr, and Karen Wiese-Thompson

My thoughts: We only got to see the first act of this play with music, and it left me wanting more (especially because Act I ended with an approaching hurricane). It deals with the environment (the very real danger of coastal Louisiana becoming permanently flooded, with towns disappearing into the ocean), politics (an outside organization coming into the town and telling them the plans for preventing flooding, which the townspeople are not happy with), personal relationships, the legend of pirate Jean Lafitte, and a theater troupe on a barge making a musical about the town. There's a lot going on and a lot of specifically drawn characters, and I hope to see more of this one. Oh, and the music is pretty great too.


The History of Religion, February 3-4
by Playwrights’ Center Core Writer Carlyle Brown
From memoir to myth, from Sugar Hill to the Caribbean, The History of Religion travels in time and space to examine humanity’s relationship with faith, bringing us face-to-face with the biggest question of our lives: in a world full of pain, sorrow, and suffering, what makes life worth living? Set against a musical backdrop by multi-instrumentalist Victor Zupanc, playwright/ performer Carlyle Brown calls us into worship, taking the audience on a journey from mystery to revelation and back again.
Cast and creative team: TBA

Tiny Houses, March 4-5 2019
by Playwrights’ Center Core Writer Stefanie Zadravec
On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Flight MH-17 rained down upon a tiny, war-torn Eastern Ukraine village by a surface-to-air missile launched by pro-Russian Separatists. Bodies and objects alike become fodder for those trying to escape the circumstances in which they were born. Tiny Houses is a comic riff on Pandora’s Box that explores the ripple effect on several women who suddenly realize they can disrupt the status quo.
Cast and creative team: TBA

by Playwrights’ Center Core Writer Kim Euell
The Dance is a play exploring how epic events impact the personal relationships between three ambitious young people (two African American artists and an activist attorney) as they struggle to define their identities, values, and commitments. Set against the backdrop of Nelson Mandela’s prison release and historic visit to the Bay Area, the play strives to capture the zeitgeist of this momentous period when the convergence of the anti-Apartheid movement, the crack epidemic, The War on Drugs, and the ascendance of Hip-hop culture impacted communities of color in the US.
Cast and creative team: TBA


Darling Boud (as in Loud), December 3-4 2018
by Playwrights’ Center Core Writer Allison Gregory
Teeming with glamour and tragedy, Darling Boud brings the six infamous, blue-blooded Mitford sisters to searing, witty life. Controversial, politically charged, radically different, their fascinating world intersected the big events of the twentieth century. But what happens when they are brought together—something they never would have agreed to in life? A collusion of family, love, and world war in correspondence.
Director: Risa Brainin
Dramaturg: Liz Engelman
Cast: Jane Froiland, Carolyn Pool, Sara Richardson, Sue Scott, Sandra Struthers, Amy Warner

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