Castillo Theatre Announces Mario Fratti-Fred Newman Political Play Contest Winners


The Castillo Theatre is presenting four winning scripts from the 2012 Mario Fratti-FrEd Newman Political Play Contest, selected from over 200 entries including submissions by playwrights from around the world. The plays are being directed by distinguished theatre professionals and will be presented on Mondays, August 6, 13, 20 and 27 at 7:00 p.m.

The winners of the 2012 Mario Fratti-FrEd Newman Political Playwriting contest are:

August 6 – Flowers Behind the Mountain by Barbara Bennion, directed by J.J El-Far

In search of a better life, five immigrants from Mexico, Columbia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Chile cross the border to the United States, escaping war, drug and gang violence, and extreme poverty; and leaving their homes and families behind. Their stories are full of compassion and humor, and woven together through poetic monologues, music and dance. Will they make it in the United States, or be defeated by the challenges of discrimination and the discovery that the streets are far from paved with gold?

August 13 – Cottonwood in the Flood by Rich Rubin, directed by Woodie King, Jr.

When the United States entered World War II, it needed ships and needed them fast. Virtually overnight, a gargantuan complex of shipyards sprang up along the coast near Portland, Oregon. Tens of thousands of workers — many from the South and many African American — streamed into the area to build ships. In 1948 a worker city called Vanport was destroyed by a flood. The story of one African-American family brings to vivid and disturbing life a time and place where America’s nobler ideals and its history of racial injustice collided head-on.

August 20 – Being Moved by Stephanie Glass Solomon, directed by Mary Beth Easley

Ellen Stone — a political activist of a certain age — is being kicked out of her downtown Los Angeles apartment. Determined to save herself and her friends from foreclosure, she defies the odds and takes political action, only to find the unintended consequences challenging her beliefs. This serio-comedy is a celebration of romance as an older adult, and an exploration of the ideals and doubts accompanying a life of political activism.

August 27 – dreams heavier than air by Jackie Roberts, directed by David F. Chapman

By 2002, the struggling former mill town of Lewiston, Maine — all white and mostly Roman Catholic — had become home to more Somali refugees than anywhere in the United States. Inciting a national furor, Lewiston’s mayor wrote a letter to the Somali community begging them to stop coming to Maine. Inspired by these events, this tragedy paints a portrait of the town and the struggle of its white working class and Somali Muslims inhabitants to make ends meet — and to live together.

Performances are on Monday evenings; August 6, 13, 20 and 27 at 7:00 p.m. at the Castillo Theatre, 543 West 42nd Street (between 10th & 11th Avenue). Tickets are $10 for adults, students and seniors. Group rates are available. Tickets can be purchased through the Castillo Box Office at 212-941-1234 or at


Barbara Bennion (Flowers Behind the Mountain) was a dancer, choreographer and teacher for many years before turning to playwriting. After performing with the Martha Graham Dance Company she went on to teach at the University of Colorado, Marymount College, and the American Dance Festival. Her plays have been seen in Boston at Playwrights Platform and in New York City at the Stuart and Elizabeth Hodes Black Box Theatre. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, and the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center.

Jackie Roberts (dreams heavier than air) is a member of blacksmyths, the African American writers collective at the Mark Taper Forum. Her play maids: a fairytale for black women was performed at the Sledgehammer Theater in San Diego. In 2007, Jackie served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. She received her graduate degree from the Yale University School of Drama and is currently at work on her one-woman show: A Year of Great Food and Bad Mothering. Her article “Healing Myths from the Ethnic Community, or Why I don't teach August Wilson” was published in Theater Topics, September 2010, John Hopkins University Press.

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