Tempting Lineup For O’Neill Playwrights Conference

Even someone as interested (OK, obsessed) as I am about new works can’t follow everyone, or even a significant portion of the vast and vibrant world of emerging talents in American theatre.  I am watching closely the work of a dozen or so young playwrights and was happy to see two of their names among more established colleagues on the list of writers of plays selected for the  O’Neill National Playwrights Conference this July.   Jen Silverman‘s  play Phoebe in Winter will premiere in New York with Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks this June and just two weeks ago she won the 2013 Yale Drama Series Award for her play Still.  I found Jeff Augustin‘s play Cry Old Kingdom one of the best offerings at the Humana Festival in Louisville earlier this month and his name is on another list I’m writing about (playwrights who will be working at Berkeley Rep’s The Ground Floor summer residency lab — see my post on that next week).

O'Neill Playwrights Conference

O’Neill National Playwrights Conference

If I had to list my favorite American contemporary plays, David Auburn‘s 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning Proof would be very high on that list and he’s the invited artist for this year’s O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.  It’s almost tempting enough to consider another cross country  trip.  Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg said in a statement:  ”I am very proud of this season… It is incredibly exciting to be developing these projects and to be working with these innovative writers this summer. The 1,100 scripts submitted are the highest ever during my tenure, and selection was a highly competitive process. Our plays come from this deep pool and also include an invited artist, David Auburn, whom I am happy to welcome to the O’Neill.”

The eight playwrights will be given a week of development support with actors, dramaturgs, designers and directors, culminating  with public readings of the eight plays at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford Connecticut.

Here’s the line-up of selected plays  (summaries as reported by Gordon Cox in Variety ) :

  • Lost Lake by David Auburn – centers on a single mother who escapes city life by spending a week in a run-down cabin by a lake.   To be directed by O’Neill Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg.
  • A Great Wilderness by Samuel D. Hunter (Obie-award winner for A Bright New Boise and writer of The Whale) – a Seattle Repertory Theater commission about the mental deterioration of a man who has spent his life counseling gay teens away from homosexuality.  Braden Abraham directs.
  • Little Children Dream of God  by Jeff Augustin – storyline follows a Haitian immigrant struggling to find a life for herself and her son in Miami.
  • The Oregon Trail by Off Broadway alum Bekah Brunstetter (Be a Good Little Widow, Oohrah!) — about a middle schooler who becomes lost in the titular old-school computer game.
  • The Solid Sand Below by Martin Zimmerman —  commissioned by the Goodman Theater, about a man who becomes a battle addict during a stint in Iraq.
  • Samsara by Lauren Yee –  centering on an American couple having a surrogate child through a woman in India and the fanciful anxieties that afflict all three parents.
  • All the Roads Home  by Jen Silverman — tracing a cross-generational tale of three women and their dreams, set in the 1950s, the 1970s and today.
  • Evanston: A Rare Comedy by Michael Yates Crowley –  a comic take on modern-day suburbia.

The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference runs July 3-27.   During that time two additional writers, Sarah Gubbins and Joshua Harmon, also will be in residence working on new plays.

Sounds like a great conference to me.

 

 

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