South Florida will reinforce its commitment to new play development in January with two simultaneous new play reading festivals at Palm Beach Dramaworks and FAU Theatre Lab during the first weekend of the year.
Patrons will see works in development with actors reading from scripts, but some of which may end up be fully produced in the future at the host companies. In some cases, the playwrights will seek feedback from the audience. Tickets are available for individual shows, a full day or the entire festival.
Dramaworks’ New Year/New Plays Festival presents five plays over three days plus other events as part of its Dramaworkshop initiative that has previously resulted in Edgar & Emily and the current House on Fire.
Friday, January 4
3 p.m. — Red, White, Black and Blue by Michael McKeever (Daniel’s Husband) Described as “A crumbling family history. An orphaned piano prodigy left to wander the A national tragedy sets the stage as Lenora Waters finds herself about to become the first black female president of the United States amid cut-throat opposition and demons from her family’s past. Part political thriller, part jet-black satire, Red, White, Black and Blue examines the upside-down world of American politics and one woman’s struggle to secure her place at the top, without losing her humanity.”
7 p.m. — Drift by William Francis Hoffman. Described as “A crumbling family history. An orphaned piano prodigy left to streets alone. His older brothers at violent ends over competing tales about their father’s tragic death. Set in 1957 Chicago, in the lofted annex of a forgotten church and on the steel girders of a skyscraper under construction, Drift offers a concussive and heart-wrenching glimpse of a family trying desperately to uncover who they are.”
Saturday, January 5
1 p.m. — Panel Discussion: “Regional Theatre and the Development of New American Play ” featuring panelists industry professionals: Nan Barnett, executive director, National New Play Network, and formerly with Florida Stage;
Haley Finn , associate artistic director, Playwrights’ Center; William Hayes, producing artistic director, Palm Beach Dramaworks, and Susan Westfall, Florida representative, Dramatists Guild, and co-founder of City Theatre in Miami.
3 p.m. — With by Carter W. Lewis (author of numerous works at Florida Stage). Described as “Minnie and Clifford devolve into a world of hilarious, but ultimately heartbreaking, minutiae as they navigate a blizzard, a dead son, a rat in the kitchen, and a half-decorated Christmas tree, hoping to find the last strains of dignity in their final days together. With delves into the contempt and comfort of two lives devoted to each other and entwined forever.”
7 p.m. — The Captives by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich. Described as “A gripping and darkly comic story of a death-row inmate and the closeted artist who’s painting his last meal. But he wants a stay of execution — not a final meal — setting in motion a social media frenzy and a series of life-altering events for the painter, the prison warden, and the man about to die. The Captives rattles the cages we find ourselves in and unflinchingly asks who or what is holding us there.”
Sunday, January 6
12:30 p.m. — Lunch with the artists at Leila Restaurant with Middle Eastern-themed food at 120 South Dixie Highway.
3 p.m. — Ordinary Americans by Joseph McDonough (Edgar & Emily) starring Elizabeth Dimon. Described as “In the early 1950s, Gertrude Berg and Philip Loeb, the pioneering stars of television’s groundbreaking sitcom, The Goldbergs, heroically struggle to save their show, their careers, and their friendship in the face of McCarthyism, anti-Semitism, and the political climate of the country. Based on actual events, Ordinary Americans reveals the double-edged sword between speaking out and staying silent.”
6 p.m. — Champagne toast following the play
Tickets are $50 for all three days, $25 for any full day, and $15 per single play. The panel discussion and champagne toast are free with a ticket to any play. Lunch at Leila is a separate $25. Dramaworks will provide free tickets to members of Actors Equity, the South Florida Theatre League and the Florida Professional Theatre Association. For more information, visit palmbeachdramaworks.org/dramaworkshop, or contact the box office at (561) 514-4042.
FAU Theatre Lab continues its commitment to new works with its fourth New Play Festival with six plays staged in readings across three days.
Friday, January 4
7:30 p.m. — Go. Please. Go. By Emily Feldman. Described as “A couple breaks up. He says he’ll leave, and then he doesn’t. Through bar mitzvahs, baptisms, and funerals, he stays. People get drunk. People get sober. People plan vacations. People die. Somebody wins the lottery. A baby grows up and moves far away. Everybody dances. Years pass in-between two lines of dialogue, lifetimes zoom by in an hour. Set in a stark theatrical landscape, Go. Please. Go. asks what it means to love somebody for a lifetime, and what a lifetime even means.
Saturday, January 5
Noon — An Afternoon of Short Plays. Described as “These plays were selected from submissions open to participants in the master classes and workshopped with Artistic Director Matt Stabile for a month prior to the festival. The playwrights range from the novice to professional.
3 p.m. — Or, An Astronaut Play by Johnny G. Lloyd. Described as “The Astronaut School has four students – but only one can actually make it to outer space. Who has what it takes? Does anyone even know what it takes? Following the experiences of Daria, an intense, focused student, Claire, a woman struggling to fully realize her own ambitions, Paul, a hobbyist, and Tom, a straight, white, American man, Or An Astronaut Play explores who gets access to the space they want to enter, why, and what’s left for the rest of us.
7:30 p.m .— Let It Lie by Dan Clancy (The Timekeepers). Described as “Michael and Jack are their mother’s pride and joy. An Irish immigrant, she’s done everything to give her boys the American Dream – including raising them under the protective eye of her beloved Catholic diocese. Jack becomes a priest, on a “fast track” in the hierarchy; Michael, a college professor. But when unimaginable secrets are brought to light, everything is jeopardized. Time moves fluidly in this story that spans over 30 years and reveals the devastating cycles of shame and pain that accompany sexual abuse.”
Sunday, January 6
Noon — Welcome Home by Stephen Brown. Described as “A typical day in the life of 19-year-old Tommy involves triple shot lattes, yearning after his assistant manager at Starbucks, and arson at Applebee’s. Such distractions are therapeutic when your older brother has been missing for months, but when a well meaning, if somewhat misguided, therapist shows up on his doorstep, Tommy must finally face his loss.
3 p.m. — Billing the NRA by Desmond Gallant (Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance and Director of the School of the Arts at Florida Atlantic University). Described as “During an Easter masquerading as Thanksgiving, Ethen and Lexi struggle to navigate the new norms of their marriage after suffering the devastating loss of their children. While Lexi copes by recommitting to her own dysfunctional family, Ethen discovers purpose in an unconventional series of acts. As society’s paralysis stokes one man’s fury, the turmoil of a family gathering brings a series of secrets to light.”
Admission is $15 to $20 for each play depending on the play. A full festival pass is $90. Contact the box office at 561-297-6124