Theatres Give Sneak Peeks at Upcoming Projects
Theater patrons looking for a glimpse into what is ahead for DC theater are in luck this Labor Day weekend as the Kennedy Center hosts the 8th Annual Page-to-Stage New Play Festival. The event, spanning 3 days, offers free readings and open rehearsals of upcoming projects from over 40 DC-area theater companies. The Center will use every part of its facility to showcase projects in development by “local, regional, and national playwrights, librettists, and composers,” according to a Kennedy Center press release.
Included in the performances will be a play written by Caleen Sinnette Jennings that marks the opening of the African Continuum Theatre Company’s Fresh Flavas series, the company’s own new play reading festival. Jennings is Professor of Theatre at American University in Washington, D.C., as well as a two-time Helen Hayes Award nominee for Outstanding New Play. Her latest work, Uns, is comprised of four short plays titled Undisclosed, Unmilked, Unlearned, and Uncovered, which each explore the predicament of a different black woman in America.
Page-to-Stage will also feature two disparate new productions by director Shirley Serotsky. First, Serotsky helms Mikveh for Theater J, the company for which she also serves as Director of Literacy Management and Public Programming. Mikveh takes the audience inside the world of the ritual bath taken by Orthodox Jewish women. As the women meet for their monthly cleansing, secrets of abuse are revealed and a newcomer threatens to break the tradition of silence. Mikveh will open at Theater J in the spring.
In contrast with Mikveh, Serotsky’s other project at Page-to-Stage is a musical from Bouncing Ball Theatrical Productions titled It Closed on Opening Night. Serotsky described the show as a “tongue-in-cheek,” “show-within-a-show” that, through a series of flashbacks during an interview, tells the story of a musical that “went horribly wrong.” Serotsky conveyed that, in an amusing way, the play attempts to examine what it would take for a musical to be so bad that it would be closed after just one performance.
Among the new companies to perform will be The Audible Group. Formed by actors Susan Lynskey and James Konicek, Helen Hayes Award winning sound designer Matthew M. Nielson, and DC Theatre Scene Editor and Publisher Lorraine Treanor, the group will debut two new plays, turning the Center’s South Atrium into a listening room. Witness, directed by DC Theatre Scene critic Miranda Rose Hall, is a one-act play about a father and daughter dealing with extreme grief. The Listening Room: Troublesome Gap allows listeners to eavesdrop as an Appalachian mining town mystery unfolds in a re-invention of radio theater for the 21st century. Previously, The Audible Group produced A Child’s Christmas in Wales for DC Theatre Scene, as well as the annual Audience Choice Awards Show. This year, Dashell Hammet returns in another awards-show-within-a-mystery which debuts here Sept 8th at 8pm
Although these works serve as highlights, there are plenty of performances to be enjoyed at Page-to-Stage. Serotsky suggests spending an entire day at the festival because there is “such a wide variety of material represented.”
The Page-to-Stage Festival begins on Saturday, September 5th and runs through Monday, September 7th with shows beginning at 2pm and ending at 10pm. Click here for a full listing of companies, shows, and times.