Denver New Play Summit 2017

I have attended the New Play Summit in Denver often enough now to feel at home there.  I see a lot of familiar faces.   I know where I like to sit in each theatre.  I know I won’t be hungry and will have very little free time.  I know I will see five new play readings and three fully produced plays.  And, I know the theatre will be of such consistently high quality that we will all comment to each other on the great performances, direction and eclectic selection of good plays. Here is why it is so much fun to go to the Denver New Play Summit: 1.   THE WORK  At the end of the post I will list and tell you a bit about the specific plays I saw.  But, the readings are works in progress and are expressly not to be reviewed, and reviews are not what...

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“The Soap Myth” Reading in Marin

Living on the West Coast, it is inevitable that I will sigh over the theatre news and missed opportunities for limited engagement theatre in New York I would very much like to see.  One of those I was sorriest to miss was the 2012 National Jewish Theatre Foundation’s Off-Broadway production of Jeff Cohen’s The Soap Myth. A four actor show (including my friend since high school, Donald Corren, who the New York Times review called “a chameleonic wonder” in performing his several roles),  the play is about whether the claim that the Nazis made soap from Jewish bodies during the Holocaust would be included in a museum exhibit or excluded from lack of evidence other than stories from survivors. The Soap Myth was so good that it was filmed and broadcast...

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IDEATION at City Lights Theater

In addition to the terrific large regional theatre companies we have here, the Bay Area is also rich in small  jewel box theatre companies doing some great work.  One of the best is City Lights Theater Company in San Jose, and they are producing one of my favorite new plays of the century:  Ideation. Founded in 1982 as a collective dedicated to producing challenging, offbeat works by local playwrights, City Lights has grown and changed significantly.   Current Executive Artistic Director Lisa Mallette  (who is  also an actress and in the cast of Ideation) took the helm in 2001 and has led a successful artistic and fiscal restructuring effort which now sees the theatre offering six plays each season in its 100-seat space (which somehow feels larger to me)...

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A New Holiday Play Jane Austen Might Enjoy

Part of me would like to think that plays spring from playwrights’ pens (or keyboards) as almost inevitable outpourings of inner voices and passions yearning to break out — “Art”.  But of course, even to the extent that is occasionally true, writing plays is very hard work and there can be a lot of engineering and design involved.  This was the case with Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, now playing at Marin Theatre Company as part of its national rolling world premiere. The playwrights started with the intent to write a holiday play — in high demand by regional theatre companies.  On a long road trip, using napkins for notes, they decided on a Jane Austen theme and focused on Mary Bennet...

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New York Theatre Recommendations Fall 2016/17

Ah, New York.  We have great theatre throughout the country, but I would love to live in New York for the theatre alone (plus the bagels), if I wouldn’t have to give up closeness to family, friends and the life I’ve built in California. I do try to go when I can, and when I don’t actually go, I read extensively about New York theatre and who’s doing what and when, and I yearn.  I am often asked, and cheerfully share, my recommendations for New York theatre selections, with the caveat that these are plays and musicals that personally intrigue me, not necessarily the “best” theatre (whatever that means anyway), and often I haven’t seen them.  I might love the playwright’s prior work, or know a particular director chooses edgy, exciting new plays...

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Noticing the New Works Festival

In August, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley had its 15th annual New Works Festival, hosting almost 100 theatre artists reading 2 new plays and 4 new musicals, and featuring many special events such as the Meet the Artists panel, and several up close and personal meals and interviews with various artists. It’s not news that I always love the Festival, and this year was no exception.  While there were many exciting and promising works (my personal favorites being Rajiv Joseph’s play Archduke and Min Kahng’s musical The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga), the real zenith for me is the opportunity to feel like I get to know these artists as people, not just as talents.  They are around and they love to talk theatre!  When they’re not rehearsing or...

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Sarah Jones’ “Sell/Buy/Date”

If you get a chance to see Sarah Jones in her new one-person, multi-character show Sell/Buy/Date, take it!  The opportunity might be either in the last few days of her workshop performances ending July 31 at Berkeley Rep or in New York at Manhattan Theatre Club opening in previews September 27, 2016 – or wherever she may go after that. Sarah Jones is one of the very few performers who can really pull off a compelling metamorphosis from one character to another, with her toolbox of myriad accents, varying body language, voice tones,  and overall affect, without resorting to overly broad or stereotypical gestures.  Her people are young and old, male and female, of many ethnicities and national origins.  All are recognizable and authentic.  As one...

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