Good Time Had By All — TheatreWorks New Works Festival 2017

Last weekend marked the end of another surprising, evocative and fun


New Works Festival for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.  Three new plays and two musicals plus these special extras:

  • a kick-off dinner with the playwrights and keynote speech by Jeff Raz with some fascinating secrets about clowning;
  • a late night performance of Blogologues, a bold, internet-inspired, sketch-based extravaganza created and performed by Jen Jamula and Allison Goldberg;
  • an open rehearsal of Waiting For Next, a play by Jeffrey Lo;
  • the Meet the Festival Artists Panel (one of my favorite events where the playwrights speak about their process and inspirations), preceded by:
  • a performance of Lights Up On A Bar by the Westmont High School team, winners of the 1440 Countdown, the annual playwriting marathon hosted by TheatreWorks that challenges teenagers to write, direct and perform an original 10 minute play in 24 hours.

Artists at this year’s New Work Festival included the married musical writing team of Irene Sankoff and David Hein

Sankoff(far left) & Hein (far right) flank cast of their "My Mother's Lesbia Jewish Wiccan Wedding" in rehearsal

Sankoff (far left) & Hein (far right) flank cast of their “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding”

(the multi-award winning writers of Broadway hit Come From Away), reworking their autobiographically-based musical My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding.

New to stage writing, although a veteran writer for Hollywood, David Stenn was here working on Out in The Streets:  The Music of the Shangri-Las – accompanied by Mary Weiss, founding singer of the Shangri-Las 40+ years ago!  (Seeing him interview her at a donors’ lunch was a total joy and typified the precious process-at-work moments the festival can offer.)

Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las being interviewed by writer David Stenn

Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las being interviewed by writer David Stenn

The new plays read at the festival were Tiny Houses by Stefanie Zadravec, inspired by the 2014 downing of a passenger plane over the Ukraine; 3 Farids by Ramiz Monsef, a very funny look at the “Industry” in Hollywood, and Kevin Rolston’s one actor fable Deal With the Dragon.

As discussed during the Artists Panel, to varying degrees depending on the piece and the writer, theatre is a collaborative process, with significant input by actors, directors, designers and other theatre artists.  The New Works Festival is a part of the collaboration where we audience members also play an important role by providing early reaction and feedback on in-process work.  A peek behind the curtain makes the final produced work so much more exciting to see!  (maybe next year on TheatreWorks’ season?  2019 in Seattle? 2020 on Broadway?  A Martin Scorsese film in 2021?  Who knows?)  Very fun.

Thank you Giovanna Sardelli, New Works Director, and all the TheatreWorks staff who pulled together such a special festival for audience and artists alike.

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  1. Barbara Shapiro
    Aug 23, 2017

    Many thanks, Susan… As always an insightful summary of an extraordinary 10 days. Bravo TheatreWorks!

  2. Stefanie
    Aug 29, 2017

    Thanks Susan – so lovely to meet you in person. I’ve carried your wonderful comments with me back East

    • Susan Fairbrook
      Sep 1, 2017

      Stefanie — You are such a talented and thoughtful playwright — I look forward to seeing more of your work!

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