ZERO, BAD GUYS, and More Featured in Public Theater's NEW WORK NOW! Series
The Public Theater starts the 2011-2012 season with the return of NEW WORK NOW!, the popular reading series that allows audiences an opportunity to experience new work by a diverse selection of established and emerging theater artists. NEW WORK NOW! runs September 7-18 in The Public's Martinson Theater (425 Lafayette Street). All readings are free and open to the public. Member tickets are available now and single ticket reservations will be available on Monday, August 22 by contacting the box office at (212) 967-7555.
This year's 11 playwrights are Christina Anderson, Daniel Berrigan, Colman Domingo, Danai Gurira, Dawn Jamieson, Lisa Kron, Itamar Moses, Tanya Saracho, S.M. Shephard-Massat, Julian Sheppard, and Alena Smith.
"NEW WORK NOW! has always been a highlight of The Public Theater's play development programming," said Associate Artistic Director Mandy Hackett. "This year's line-up is chock-full of extraordinary writers and thrilling new plays and they're all for free."
Previous NEW WORK NOW! series have included the world premieres of Urge for Going by Mona Mansour; In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney; The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson; Paris Commune by Steven Cosson and Michael Friedman; The Poor Itch by John Belluso; In Darfur by Winter Miller; Durango by Julia Cho; Measure for Pleasure by David Grimm; Satellites by Diana Son; Well by Lisa Kron; Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori; and the Pulitzer Prize-winning plays Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz and Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks.
This year's NEW WORK NOW! series also includes the return of New Work Then, an opportunity for The Public to celebrate seminal works from the past. The Public presented a 10 play New Work Then series in 2005, in honor of its 50th anniversary, and continues the tradition this year with a reading of The Trial of the Catonsville Nine by Daniel Berrigan, with text prepared by Saul Levitt. The play draws on court transcripts from the trial of nine Catholic peace activists who, in 1968, seized 378 draft documents from Local Board No. 33 in Catonsville, Maryland and publicly burned them to protest the napalming of innocent people during the Vietnam War. Directed by Gordon Davidson, the play premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles as part of its New Theatre For Now Festival in August 1970. It subsequently moved to New York - first to the Good Shepherd-Faith Church near Lincoln Center in January 1971 and then on to the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway that same year. It returned to the Mark Taper Forum for a full subscription run in the 1971 season. The Public remembers the nine's courageous actions and this vital American play via a New Work Then presentation, helmed by the director of the original production.
2011 NEW WORK NOW! Schedule:
Wednesday, September 7 at 7 PM
By Julian Sheppard
Directed by Leigh Silverman
A lifelong New Yorker who's lost his way. A desperate club owner. A Brazilian kept woman. An Israeli real estate broker. Two West Virginia teenagers. Beginning at Ground Zero with a tourist and a kind of tour guide, Zero explores how we live with a hole in the center of our world through a panoramic perspective on post-9/11 New York City. A play about the different routes we take to survival, what happens when disparate lives collide, and the desire for redemption.
When Jenni called customer service all she wanted was to fix a minor problem with her cell phone bill. Instead she was sucked into a vortex of unimaginable horror. Now she wants revenge - or to get her cell phone servIce Turned back on. This new play by Lisa Kron is part thriller, part screwball comedy, part based on actual events that have undoubtedly happened to YOU.
It's Indian summer and the boys are back home. Noah's fired up the grill. Fink bought a steak. And Jesse, as always, has weed. They're all set for a perfectly "bromantic" afternoon. But politics, ambition, money - and murder - have a way of killing the buzz. By the end of the day, even the strongest bonds will be shaken in this collision of angry young men.
Saturday, September 10 at 7 PM
By Christina Anderson
Directed by Eric Ting
They say we live in post-racial times but who leads a post-racial life? In this thought-provoking play for one actor, a young Black American woman sets out on a quest to find one person leading a life unrestricted by race or gender.
Monday, September 12 at 7 PM
By Danai Gurira
Directed by Emily Mann
Set amid the scramble for sovereignty in southern Africa (now Zimbabwe) in 1895, The Convert tells the tale of a young girl who escapes a forced marriage with the help of a stalwart black African catechist. Indebted to this new Christian god, she shuns her culture to become his protégé, but when an anti-colonial uprising erupts she must decide where her heart truly belongs. This searing new play about an explosive clash of cultures is by the co-author of In the Continuum who also appeared in this summer's Shakespeare in the Park production of Measure for Measure. The Convert was commissioned by Center Theater Group and will receive its world premiere this season in a co-production between McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, NJ), Goodman Theatre (Chicago, IL), and Center Theater Group (Los Angeles, CA).
Tuesday, September 13 at 7 PM
New Work Then: THE TRIAL OF THE CATONSVILLE NINE
By Daniel Berrigan, text prepared by Saul Levitt
Directed by Gordon Davidson
On May 17, 1968, Father Daniel Berrigan, his brother Father Philip Berrigan and seven other Catholic peace activists seized 378 draft documents from Local Board No. 33 in Catonsville, Maryland and publicly burned them to protest the napalming of innocent people during the Vietnam War. Drawing on court transcripts, this play is an account of their trial. The Public remembers the nine's courageous actions and this vital American play via a New Work Then presentation, helmed by the director of the original 1971 production.
Set in the South Texas of her youth and written in the Windy City, where Chicago Magazine called her Best New Playwright of 2010, Tanya Saracho's Mala Hierba focuses on the trophy wife of a border magnate who wavers between her wifely duty and the love of her life as she navigates the dangerous waters between desire and obligation.
Thursday, September 15 at 7 PM
By Itamar Moses
Politics. Race. Class. Welcome to Berkeley High School, 1994: the most diverse public high school in America...and as divided as America itself. But when an on-campus brawl sets in motion a chain of events that effects newspaper nerds and gang members alike, loyalties will be tested, identities questioned, and a community that prides itself on always being ahead of the political curve will be forced to face how far it still has to go. And then there's P.E.
Friday, September 16 at 7 PM
By S.M. Shephard-Massat
Directed by Delroy Lindo
World War II is over, and Bettie and Meeker have moved from rural Florida to urban Atlanta to join a small but up-and-coming black community. But as pressure mounts at Meeker's workplace and Bettie's expectations become bigger than both of them, the better life they dreamed of seems less than certain to be on the horizon.
Colman Domingo, star of Passing Strange and The Scottsboro Boys, explores the surreal, bizarre and outrageous comedy that can stem from loss via the story of Gil: a young man who plans to scatter his mother's ashes in the place where she was most happy, Disney World.
Iroquois ironworkers built New York's skyscrapers and on 9/11 many returned to the World Trade Center to remove the mangled beams raised up by those who came before them. In this new play by Dawn Jamieson, these Native men seek rescue and redemption as they try to untangle the beams and their own lives, as well.
The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Joey Parnes, Interim Executive Director) was founded by Joseph Papp in 1954 and is now one of the nation's preeminent cultural institutions, producing new plays, musicals and productions of classics at its downtown home and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Public Theater's mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day on stage and through extensive outreach programs. Each year, more than 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe's Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public Theater's productions have won 42 Tony Awards, 158 Obies, 42 Drama Desk Awards and four Pulitzer Prizes. Fifty-four Public Theater Productions have moved to Broadway, including Sticks and Bones; That Championship Season; A Chorus Line; For Colored Girls...; The Pirates of Penzance; The Tempest; Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Topdog/Underdog; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; Passing Strange; the revival of HAIR; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Merchant of Venice. www.publictheater.org.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos