Performance Network Theatre, Ann Arbor's professional theatre known for bringing Michigan audiences the hottest new scripts from New York and beyond, is proud to announce the December installment of its Fireside New Play Festival, showcasing four full-length plays as from emerging American Playwrights. These new plays have been selected from hundreds of submissions and will be showcased to the public at Performance Network from Sunday, December 2 through Wednesday, December 5 in developmental performances known as a "staged readings."
Associate Artistic Director and Literary Manager Carla Milarch, who helms the festival, calls the work of developing new plays the most important work in the world of theatre today. "It's the Research and Development arm of American Theatre" Milarch says "Plays don't just spring to life fully-formed, but rather go through a painstaking process of writing and re-writing, which is nearly impossible without hearing them read out loud. The Fireside New Play Festival gives playwrights a vital opportunity to hear and revise their work with feedback from an audience."
It's not just a useful experience for playwrights, as audiences get a rare opportunity as well, to view plays that may make it into Performance Network's professional season or go on to productions around the country. "Plays from Fireside have gone on to productions at theatres nationwide, including The Goodman, Shakespeare and Company, New Jersey Rep, and many more" Milarch says. "Our Fireside feedback sessions are lively and thoughtful, and give the playwright invaluable feedback about how their words are landing with audiences. It's a unique window into the creative process and a rare chance for audience members to actually help shape the plays."
In fact, Performance Network Theatre is holding a full production of Brill by David Wells in January, a favorite from last year's Fireside Festival! Audience feedback was so strong and favorable after the reading - Performance Network decided they would be honored to host the World Premiere of the play with music about the Brill Buildings in Manhattan in 1959 when you could find a publisher, cut a demo, promote the record, and make a deal with radio promoters all within one building.
Performance Network Theatre is one of 26 Core Members of the National New Play Network, the country's alliance of nonprofit theaters that champions the development, production and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has supported over 100 productions nationwide through its innovative Continued Life of New Plays Fund, commissioned eighteen playwrights, and provided more than twenty MFA graduates with paid residencies. Through its affiliation, PNT is part of a large and flourishing Network of plays and playwrights, accessing the best new plays available and participating in national development efforts.
The Fireside New Play Festival Schedule is as follows:
Miracles in the Fall, by Chuck O'Connor: Sunday, December 2 at 7 pm
Clare Connelly, a Dominican Sister in 1968 Detroit, is the caretaker of her alcoholic father and the keeper of her dead mother's virtue. She embodies the contradictions of her hometown, where the self-hatred of race riots dusts the city's baseball team championship hope. Clare's desire for holiness is challenged by the indignity of her increasingly infirm father, the confidence of a maverick priest's intimacy, and the self-crippling family secret revealed with the untimely return of her prodigal brother. Clare must face her personal history and accept that survival is a very human act of self forgiveness.
Merit, by Lenelle Moise: Monday, December 3 at 7 pm
Winner of the 2012 Ruby Prize (Southern Rep's annual new play award for a woman of color playwright), Merit is a two-act comedic drama about race, isolation, academia and sex. Set in a fictional but contemporary college town in Vermont, Merit follows Mona, a precocious and passionate fiction writer who is the only student of color (and Southerner) in her prestigious graduate program. When she befriends distinguished professor Doctor Sive-a demanding divorcee with fatigued sex appeal-the two are called to strike a balance between curiosity and propriety, power and love, desire and professionalism. Merit was developed as part of the 2010 Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival.
County Line, by David Wells: Tuesday, December 4 at 7 pm
County Line is a comedic drama that taps into our collective sense of being unmoored, and the hardwired perseverance that keeps us from floating completely adrift. Set in rural Kansas, Lois's mother left when she was six-years-old. When Lois is 17, her lovable but irresponsible father gets 18 months in state prison, and Lois is sent to a foster parent who also runs the County Line Truck Stop &Travel Center. Now 22-years-old, Lois tells the story of that time in her life five years ago and why she's returning to the County Line.
Road Through Heaven, by Ricky Martinez: Wednesday, December 5 at 7 pm
What would we do to stay embraced by love, to bathe in its truth, to understand its unconditional core, to live in its heaven? For an orphan coming-of-age, haunted by his past, this haven of love dwells in a humble home where he is bound by a lovers' triangle. Yet, within the walls of paradise, the secret seed of a curse is growing and threatens to be birthed. Set on an island in the Caribbean, this full-length magical-realistic play explores the poetry of life and death, the responsibilities of friendship, and the determination of willing dreams into realities.
About the Playwrights:
Chuck O'Connor: Chuck O'Connor is a Network Playwright with Chicago Dramatists Theater where he studies under the guidance of Resident Playwright Will Dunne. O'Connor's recent writing credits; High Hard Ones – Official Selection Festival of One-Act Plays – Chicago Dramatists, Route 66, 2012 Heideman Award Finalist – National Ten-Minute Play Festival – Actor's Theater of Louisville; Date of Admission Official Selection Fireside Festival of New Plays – Performance Network Theater, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Miracles in the Fall Official Selection Sceneshop Showcase – Chicago Dramatists Theater; The Vanishing Point (Screenwriter) – Official Festival Selection Dances with Films Mann's Chinese Theatre Hollywood, California; HowlRound Theater Commons at Emerson College/Arena Stage (Essayist). Chuck's past playwriting roles include Resident Playwright for Meadowbrook Theater and member of the Playwright's Laboratory with Jeff Daniels's Purple Rose Theater Company. He has been an Artist-in-Residence with the Detroit and Flint Public Schools using theater as a literacy tool and was a founding Artistic Associate of the Internationally Recognized Mosaic Youth Theater of Detroit. Chuck holds a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts from Michigan State University and a Master's Degree from Loyola University-Chicago.
Lenelle Moïse: Lenelle Moïse creates jazz-infused, rhythmic performance texts about the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, memory and magic. Moïse is a current Huntington Theatre Company Playwriting Fellow and was a 2010 Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival Fellow. Her two-act comedy, Merit, won the 2012 Southern Rep Ruby Prize. She also wrote, composed and co-starred in the critically-acclaimed drama, Expatriate, which launched Off-Broadway at the Culture Project. Her other plays include Matermorphosis (commissioned by Serious Play Theatre Ensemble), Little Griot (commissioned by the Drama Studio), Purple (commissioned by the Kitchen Theatre Company), Cornered in the Dark and The Many Faces of Nia. Her solo performances, Womb-Words, Thirsting and Ache What Make (in development), have received standing ovations at theatres and colleges across the United States. She was the fifth Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, the 2012 Visiting Performing Artist in African & African Diaspora Studies at UT Austin and the 2011 Artist in Residence in Performance Studies at Northwestern University. She holds an MFA in Playwriting (2004) from Smith College. Her work has been published in several anthologies including Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution. For more information, visit http://www.lenellemoise.com
David Wells: David Wells is an Ann Arbor based writer whose play Brill was workshopped at Fireside last year, and will receive its world premiere at Performance Network Theatre in January. He studied Film and Playwriting at the University of Michigan, followed by his Masters in Playwriting from San Francisco State University, where he was the recipient of the Lawrence and Lee Playwriting Award. He then parlayed that into a stunningly frustrating turn as a screenwriter, developing scripts at Walt Disney, Universal Studios, and New Line Cinema, before returning to writing plays last year.
Ricky J. Martinez: Ricky J. Martinez is a humble Cuban-American artisan currently residing in Miami, Florida where he is Artistic Director of New Theatre and has fathered over 40 World Premiere productions and commissions. Martinez has staged some of his own work including Postlude 1 (New Theatre), .Epar (New Theatre), Concerning Phaedra (Miami Light Project commission), Snow (NWSA); ED.L (Coral Castle Commission) and Calbo (a one-man show commissioned by the Miami Light Project, which traveled to Germany represent the United States and was also part of the Florida-Brazil festival). His plays have received readings/staged readings at various theatres and festivals, including Actor's Playhouse, New Theatre, East Village Experimental Theatre, Lavender Footlights Festival, NJRep as part of the NNPN Showcase, Shotgun Productions as part of its Cuban Artist Week/ INTAR in New York, and Teatro Paraguas. He is the recipient of two Downtown Miami Playwrighting Program mentorships with playwrights Arthur Kopit and Tina Howe.
More information and reservations can be found online at www.performancenetwork.org, or by calling 734-663-0681 during box office hours, 10am-6pm, Monday through Friday, 11am-6pm, and one-hour before showtimes.