American Theater Company Opens 30th Anniversary Season with ARACAWORKS: CHICAGO This Week
This week, American Theater Company (ATC) launches its 30th Anniversary season with the inaugural year of AracaWorks: Chicago, in partnership with New York's The Araca Group, Broadway producers of Urinetown, Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, The Wedding Singer, Lend Me a Tenor, A View from the Bridge, and this season's Disgraced.
Three playwrights are currently in residence: Gabriel Jason Dean [Javaaneh (In Bloom)], Idris Goodwin (The Realness), and David Bar Katz (Ask/Tell). The residency culminates this weekend with readings led by directors Jonathan Berry, Wendy C. Goldberg, and ATC Artistic Director PJ Paparelli. One of the three plays will receive a year of development attention at ATC, including a potential workshop production.
Two years ago Araca & ATC partnered on the development and premiere of Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar. After a run at Lincoln Center's LCT3, The Bush in London, and receiving the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Disgraced makes its Broadway debut in September, starring Josh Radnor ("How I Met Your Mother"), Gretchen Mol ( Boardwalk Empire), Karen Pittman, and Hari Dhillon.
The lineup includes:
Javaaneh (In Bloom) by Gabriel Jason Dean (director: Jonathan Berry)
In 2006, Aaron, an American documentary filmmaker, goes to Afghanistan to shoot a film about the sudden rise of the opium trade post-Taliban. During the shoot, Aaron encounters an ancient Afghan tradition in which young boys dress in women's clothing, dance for wealthy warlords, and are prostituted to the highest bidder. When Aaron meets Hafiz, the most coveted boy, he becomes obsessed with saving him and lines of east and west begin to blur. Javaaneh (In Bloom) is a dangerous and sensual modern allegory that peeks under the proverbial veil of gender and sexuality in Afghanistan and examines the privileges and consequences of radical empathy.
The Realness by Idris Goodwin (director: Wendy C. Goldberg)
A romantic comic-drama set in the underground hip-hop scene of the 90s. Thomas has escaped the burbs and come to the city to savor authentic hip-hop culture. He falls madly in love with Prima, a super dope MC and he is willing to lie, cheat and scheme to win her well-guarded heart. But is he after real love or fulfilling a middle class rap fantasy? A meditation on authenticity and class collision, The Realness follows a young man's journey for his heart and identity.
Ask/Tell by David Bar Katz (director: ATC Artistic Director PJ Paparelli)
Platoon Sergeant James Green was stationed in Afghanistan when President Obama declared that gay soldiers no longer had to live a lie. When Green comes out to his men, he was shot to death the next day. Ask/Tell delves into the mystery of his murder and the unspoken hypocrisies that accompany intense intimacy between men in a war zone.
GABRIEL JASON DEAN is a Brooklyn based playwright/screenwriter. Javaaneh (In Bloom) was a finalist for the Laurents / Hatcher Award, received the Kennedy Center's Paula Vogel Prize, and was Runner-Up for the Princess Grace Award. His play for children, The Transition of Doodle Pequeño received the 2013 American Alliance for Theatre & Education Distinguished Play Award, the 2011 New England Theatre Conference Aurand Harris Award and was selected for the 2012 Kennedy Center New Visions / New Voices Conference, Theatre for Young Audiences Award and was Runner-Up for the Harold & Mimi Steinberg National Playwriting Award. He is the recipient of the Essential Theatre New Play Prize and Austin's 2013 B. Iden Payne Award for "Best Original Script" and "Best Comedy" for Qualities of Starlight, and his play Pigskin won the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival. Other awards include the James A. Michener Playwriting Fellowship, Dramatist's Guild Fellowship and the Sallie B. Goodman / McCarter Theatre Fellowship and the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. His scripts are published through Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing and Playscripts. Dean is a Core Writer at The Playwrights' Center and a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop.
IDRIS GOODWIN is a playwright, Hip Hop artist, spoken word performer and essayist. He is the author of the award winning and widely produced play How We Got On (Playscripts, 2013) and the pushcart nominated essay collection These Are The Breaks (Write Bloody, 2011). He's performed on HBO and Sesame Street. His two latest plays And in this corner...Cassius Clay and This is Modern Art (co-written with poet Kevin Coval) will have world premiere productions in 2015. Goodwin teaches performance writing and Hip Hop aesthetics at Colorado College.
DAVID BAR KATZ is a member of The LAByrinth Theater Company which presented his plays Philip Roth in Khartoum (at The Public Theater) and The Atmosphere of Memory (starring Ellen Burstyn) and has staged six of his plays in their annual Barn Series Festival. Katz's play The History of Invulnerability, about the creator of Superman and the Man of Steel's Jewish roots, premiered at The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park where it received the Acclaim Award for Outstanding Play of the Year, the Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Outstanding Premiere and won the American Theater Critics Association Citation as one of the top three American plays of 2010. Katz co-wrote and directed the Broadway show, Freak, which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play and Katz was nominated for an Emmy Award for the HBO production. He co-created and was a head writer for FOX TV's, House of Buggin', the first all-Latino network television show. Next season Philip Roth in Khartoum will premiere on London's West End. Katz recently wrote The Man in the Rockefeller Suit for Fox Searchlight to be directed by Walter Salles, is currently writing a film for Universal starring and directed by Jason Bateman and is creating a new television series for the Sundance channel based on the life of rocket inventor and occultist, Jack Parsons.