Two dozen new works will be on display as part of Washington D.C.’s Ninth Annual Source Festival, running June 8 through July 3, and theater fans will surely be intrigued by what’s being staged.
“Dive in and don’t be afraid,” says Jenny McConnell Frederick, artistic director of the event. “There are so many things to choose from that you can’t make a bad choice.”
As it does each year, The Source Festival selected three full-length productions to headline the event, and this year’s impressive group comes from more than 140 scripts that were sent in.
“We use these plays to serve as our themes for the festival,” McConnell Frederick says. “This year’s themes are Dreams & Discord, Heroes & Home, and Secrets & Sound. Each is an inspiration for the groupings of 10-minute plays and for the creation of our three Artistic Blind Dates.”
The Heroes & Home theme is led by Jennifer Fawcett’s Buried Cities, a tale about getting lost in hidden spaces.
“Buried Cities was born out of another project I did in grad school (University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop) when I worked with a group of actors to create a play about gun ownership in America,” Fawcett says. “I was really interested in the idea of a couple, one of whom could not feel safe without a gun and one who couldn’t feel safe with one. This question of how to feel safe is a big one these days, I think. There’s a lot of fear, there’s even more fear mongering.”
Fawcett has wanted to be part of the Source Festival for years and is excited that she’s finally getting the chance.
“I like the ethos of the festival, which is a testament to the people who run it. There’s a willingness to risk, a willingness to take on the huge challenge of mounting three new works at the same time with limited resources and trusting the audiences to support the work and dig into it,” she says. “I don’t think this exists in a lot of regional theatre today. Theatre is expensive and therefore risky, so safe choices are often made usually at the cost of new plays. Source is different.”
June 8 – July 3, 2016
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Tom Horan’s Static heads the theme of Secrets & Sound. The play, a ghost story with lots of mystery surrounding it, will be directed by Bridget Grace Sheaff.
“I would want anyone who has ever been fascinated by the things people leave behind—the keepsakes in a bedside table, a box under the bed, an abandoned house—to be ready for a production you wouldn’t want to miss,” Horan says. “I don’t know of any other festival where I could see a series of 10-minute plays and an experimental piece that would be in conversation with my work. By exploring these ideas in a multifaceted way, the festival provides this wonderful possibility for audiences to make connections and have discussion that resonant deeply with their own lives.”
Representing the Dreams & Discord theme is the play Ballast, written by Georgette Kelly and directed by Margo Manburg. The play explores what it means to love someone in a moment of great transition, following the couples of Zoe and Grace, who recently transitioned from male to female; and Savannah and Xavier, who are dealing with cisgender issues.
“I’m very excited for this workshop production of Ballast because it is an opportunity for me to get to know D.C. artists and audiences,” Kelly says. “I have been impressed by the way the Source Festival uses themes from its full-length plays to inspire new artistic collaborations in the form of 10-minute plays and artistic blind dates. There should be a very interesting variety of options for audiences.”
Of course, as Kelly notes, in addition to these three plays, the Source Festival has curated a host of additional theatrical experiences on these themes.
For the Artistic Blind Dates, nine performers were selected from a group that includes musicians, filmmakers, dancers and other theater artists, and were put into groups of three to put together a theatrical experience based on one of the three themes.
“We chose those that were the most artistically exciting and they had six months and a small budget to put together whatever they wanted based on the theme,” McConnell Frederick says. “By joining together, they learn to speak each other’s artistic language and create something that will hint at some new angles on their collaboration together.”
The three performances include Crossroads, exploring the intermediary between the natural and the supernatural; Entanglement, created and performed by Claire Alrich, Maryam Foye, and Britney Mongold, which shows the story of three women traipsing through their own mythology, celebrating heroes who made them strong; and lost&SOUND, performed by Jacy Barber, Maverick Lemons and Veronica Lancaster, which challenges audiences to pursue the truths and revelations hidden sound waves.
Then there are the 18 10-minute plays, featuring some of the brightest D.C.-based actors and directors around.
There’s certainly something for every theater lover during the three weeks of performances.
“It’s an absolutely amazing way to see fresh, hot theatre being made across the country,” McConnell Frederick says. “The writers are people getting noticed and it’s a great way to see the next generation of top theatre artists as this is the first opportunity people have to see those who have a really bright future.”