CHASING THE SONG, THE TALL GIRLS, BRAHMAN/I & More Set for La Jolla Playhouse's 2013 DNA New Work Series

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La-Jolla-Playhouse-Announces-DNA-New-Work-Series-20010101

La Jolla Playhouse announces a new play development initiative, the DNA New Work Series, entailing a six-week period of workshop productions and public readings of new plays and musicals, taking place January 24 through March 3, 2013. The focus of the DNA New Work Series is to allow playwrights and directors the opportunity to develop a script by providing rehearsal time, space and resources, culminating in a workshop production or public reading.

“As the place to look for what’s next in American theatre, it’s not only a major tenet of our mission to cultivate and develop the work of emerging and established artists, it’s in our DNA,” said Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley. “The Playhouse’s commitment to these artists and their work is the lifeblood of our theatre, and it is our hope that we can create an annual series to shine a spotlight on the development of the eclectic and diverse theatre that has become a hallmark on our stages.”

All projects in the DNA New Work Series will take place with little or no scenic, costume or staging elements, and actors may have scripts in hand. The various creative teams will be available for interviews for feature coverage; however, in order to preserve the developmental nature of the program, DNA Series productions are not open to review.

A centerpiece of the series will be a staged reading of the new musical Chasing the Song, by the Tony Award-winning creators of Memphis: Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics) and David Bryan (music and lyrics), and directed by Christopher Ashley (Glengarry Glen Ross, Memphis). The musical will have two public staged readings on Friday, January 25 and Saturday, January 26, both at 8:00pm in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre. In New York’s legendary Brill Building, Elegant Edie’s music publishing house is struggling along when talented novice songwriter Ginny bursts on the scene. She quickly learns the ropes from her seasoned colleagues, penning several hits and discovering herself in the process. Chasing the Song follows this group of pop songwriters and the changing sounds of the music charts in the early 1960s, prior to The Beatles emerging and changing the entire music world.

Two new plays will also be developed in workshop productions as part of the series: The Tall Girls, a new drama by Meg Miroshnik, will run for eight performances January 24 – February 3 in the Rao and Padma Makineni Play Development Center. In the dusty, desolate town of Poor Prairie, fifteen-and-a-half-year-old Jean has been exiled as caretaker for her wild-child cousin, Almeda. It’s a grim, dangerous place to eke out an existence as a teenage girl—until a handsome man with a past arrives, a brand-new basketball in tow. As the town’s girls come together to form a team set on making it out of Poor Prairie, a committee of townspeople threatens to stamp out girls’ sports altogether.

Brahman/i, a new comedy by Aditi Brennan Kapil, directed by Jeremy Cohen, will run for eight performances February 21 – March 3 in the Rao and Padma Makineni Play Development Center. Sixth grade was hard enough before Brahman discovered he was intersex — or in the words of his traditional Indian aunt, a hijra. This hilarious stand-up comedy routine/play takes on history, mythology, gender roles and high school through the inimitable comic lens of Brahman/i, a boy/girl tethered by neither gender nor culture, and wildly curious and inventive in his/her examination of both.

Additionally, the DNA New Work Series will include six free 1-day readings that will be presented over six days: February 7 - 9 and February 14 - 16. The readings include Being Henrietta by Monique Gaffney, Orange Julius by Basil Kreimendahl, The Consultant by Heidi Schreck, as well as three additional readings to be announced shortly.

Ashley continued, “I’m so pleased to work with Playhouse favorites Joe DiPietro and David Bryan on their latest project, as well as welcome newcomers Aditi Brennan Kapil and Meg Miroshnik, giving these exceptional artists a chance to hone their work in an environment of support that only The Playhouse can provide.”

The DNA New Work Series joins the long list of new work development initiatives at The Playhouse, such as its ongoing commissioning program and the Page To Stage Play Development Program. Initiated in 2001, Page To Stage offers audiences the opportunity to experience the birth of a play and to take part in its evolution. Past Page To Stage productions include The Nightingale, Peter and the Starcatchers, which transferred to Broadway earlier this year and won five Tony Awards, as well as John Leguizamo’s Diary of a Madman, The Night Watcher, The Farnsworth Invention, Zhivago, Billy Crystal’s Tony Award-winning 700 Sundays and I Am My Own Wife, which went on to receive the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Since 1982, The Playhouse has commissioned 40 new plays, musicals, adaptations and POP Tours from a broad range of playwrights, including Lee Blessing, Tony Kushner, José Rivera and Diana Son, as well as the 2012 musical Hands on a Hardbody, book by Doug Wright, lyrics by Amanda Green and music by Trey Anastasio and Green, which will open on Broadway in March, 2013. Other artists currently under commission include Basil Twist (Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Dogugaeshi), Kirsten Greenidge (Milk Like Sugar), Naomi Iizuka, Chair of UCSD’s MFA Playwriting Program, Mark Bennett (An Iliad, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Keith Bunin (Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir), Joe Iconis, Gregory S. Moss, Ernie Nolan and Alfred Uhry.

Tickets for the DNA Series go on sale to subscribers on Thursday, December 6 and to the general public on Monday, December 10. Prices for Chasing the Song are $20; $15 for subscribers; $10 for students. Prices for Brahman/i and The Tall Girls are $15; $10 for subscribers and $5 for students. All seats are general admission. Tickets for the 1-day readings are free and will be available to reserve at a later date to be announced. For more information, visit LaJollaPlayhouse.org or call the box office at (858) 550-1010.

The nationally-acclaimed, Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse is known for its tradition of creating the most exciting and adventurous new work in regional theatre. The Playhouse was founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer, and is considered one of the most well-respected not-for-profit theatres in the country. Numerous Playhouse productions have moved to Broadway, including the currently running hits Jersey Boys, Peter and the Starcatcher and Chaplin: The Musical, as well as Memphis, Big River, The Who’s Tommy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Walk in the Woods, Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays, the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Farnsworth Invention, 33 Variations and Bonnie & Clyde. Located on the UC San Diego campus, La Jolla Playhouse is made up of three primary performance spaces: the Mandell Weiss Theatre, the Mandell Weiss Forum Theatre and the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Center for La Jolla Playhouse, a state-of-the-Art Theatre complex which features the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre. La Jolla Playhouse is led by Artistic Director Christopher Ashley and Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg.

Artist Biographies

Christopher Ashley (Director, Chasing the Song) has served as Artistic Director at La Jolla Playhouse since October, 2007. During his tenure, he helmed the world premieres of Claudia Shear’s Restoration and Arthur Kopit and Anton Dudley’s A Dram of Drummhicit, as well as Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the acclaimed musicals Xanadu and Memphis, which went on to Broadway, winning four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical. In addition, he spearheaded The Playhouse’s Resident Theatre program and oversaw the world premieres of Hands on a Hardbody, Milk Like Sugar, Little Miss Sunshine, Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin, Surf Report, Bonnie & Clyde, Doug Wright’s adaptation of Creditors, the Page To Stage workshop of Charlayne Woodard’s The Night Watcher, and the West Coast premiere of 33 Variations. Prior to joining The Playhouse, Mr. Ashley directed the Broadway productions of Xanadu (Drama Desk nomination), All Shook Up and The Rocky Horror Show (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations), as well as the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration productions of Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along. Other New York credits include: Leap of Faith, Blown Sideways Through Life, Jeffrey (Lucille Lortel and Obie Awards), The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Valhalla, Regrets Only, Wonder of the World, Bunny Bunny, Communicating Doors, The Night Hank Williams Died, Fires in the Mirror (Lucille Lortel Award), among others. He also directed the feature film Jeffrey and the American Playhouse production of Blown Sideways Through Life for PBS. Mr. Ashley is the recipient of the Princess Grace Award, the Drama League Director Fellowship and an NEA/TCG Director Fellowship.

David Bryan (Composer/Lyricist, Chasing the Song) won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Score for the hit Broadway musical Memphis. He is a Grammy® Award-winning keyboard player and founding member of Bon Jovi. Over the past 26 years the band has sold more than 130 million records and toured the world, playing to millions of people. Their recent Lost Highway Tour was the #1 grossing tour in the world. He and Joe DiPietro have also co-written the award-winning musical The Toxic Avenger. Recently appointed as an Honorary Board Member of Only Make Believe — a program dedicated to the principle that freeing a child's creative spirit is a valuable part of the healing process — Mr. Bryan is also a National Spokesperson for VH1's Save The Music Program. The VH1 Save The Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of education in America's public schools by restoring music education programs in cities across the U.S. For more information: www.davidbryan.com.

Jeremy B. Cohen (Director, Brahman/i) has served as the Producing Artistic Director of the Playwrights’ Center since 2010, with a previous tenure as Associate Artistic Director at Hartford Stage from 2003-10. Directing credits there include: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (with Actors Theatre Louisville, Kansas City Rep, St Louis Rep and off-broadway at New Victory), Snow Falling on Cedars, Mistakes Were Made, The Scene (with George Street Playhouse), Mahalia: A Gospel Musical with Frenchie Davis, I Am My Own Wife, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Bad Dates and A Christmas Carol. World/US/Regional Premieres include: Let There Be Love with Avery Brooks (Centerstage); the premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s The Novelist (Dorset Theatre Festival); Smart Cookie (Alliance); Adam Rapp’s Ghosts in the Cottonwoods (Victory Gardens); Scott McPherson’s Scraped, Hannah and Martin (Theater J/ TimeLine Theatre); The Idiot Box (Naked Eye/Open Fist); Mom’s the Word (Royal George); Closet Land (NY Perf Works); Beautiful Thing (Latte Da); Shopping and Fucking. Other regional productions include: The Scene, Bad Dates and Trip to Bountiful (Alley); Nickel and Dimed (Steppenwolf); The Unexpected Man (ATF). He has also developed over 50 new plays, including: Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar (NYSF) and at Pasadena Playhouse, Denver Center, New Harmony, O’Neill and Woolly Mammoth. As Founding Artistic Director of Naked Eye in Chicago, Cohen directed over 15 plays including world premieres of Waving Goodbye (Steppenwolf) and Timothy Mason’s Cannibals and the Midwest premieres of Adam Rapp’s Nocturne and Naomi Wallace’s One Flea Spare (Goodman).

Joe DiPietro (Book Writer/Lyricist, Chasing the Song) won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Score for Memphis. Additional Broadway and national tour credits include The Toxic Avenger and All Shook Up. Off-Broadway: I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, the longest running musical revue in Off-Broadway history. Also Off-Broadway: the long-running comedy Over the River and Through the Woods, which has had hundreds of productions around the world. Other works include The Thing About Men (Outer Critics Circle Award – Best Off Broadway Musical) and Art of Murder (Edgar Award – Best Mystery Play). His play, F**king Men, premiered at the Finborough Theatre in London.

Aditi Brennan Kapil (Playwright, Brahman/i) is a playwright, actress, and director of Bulgarian and Indian descent, raised in Sweden, and currently residing in Minneapolis. She is a graduate of Macalester College with a B.A. in English and Dramatic Arts. Her play Love Person, a four part love story in Sanskrit, American Sign Language and English, has been produced to critical acclaim around the country and received the Stavis Playwriting Award in 2009. It was developed during a Many Voices residency at the Playwrights' Center, workshopped at the Lark Play Development Center in NY, and selected for reading at the National New Play Network (NNPN) conference 2006. Love Person was produced in a NNPN rolling world premiere at Mixed Blood Theatre (MN), Marin Theater (CA) and Phoenix Theatre (IN) in the 2007/08 season. In 2008/09 it was produced at Live Girls! Theatre in Seattle, Alley Repertory Theatre in Boise and Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago. Her most recent play, Agnes Under the Big Top, a tall tale, was selected as a 2009 Distinguished New Play Development Project by the NEA New Play Development Program hosted by Arena Stage, and was developed by the Lark Play Development Center (NY), Mixed Blood Theatre (MN), InterAct Theatre (PA), Playwrights' Center (MN) and the Rhodope International Theater Laboratory (Bulgaria). Agnes Under the Big Top premiered at Mixed Blood Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre (CT) in 2011 and Borderlands Theater (AZ) in 2012 in a NNPN rolling world premiere. She is currently writing a trilogy commissioned by Mixed Blood Theatre based on the Hindu trinity, and a play loosely based on the character of Imogen in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, commissioned by Yale Repertory Theatre. Kapil is a Resident Artist at Mixed Blood Theatre and an Artistic Associate at Park Square Theatre.

Meg Miroshnik’s (Playwright, The Tall Girls) plays include The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls (finalist for the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn prize, winner of the 2011-2012 Alliance/Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award), The Droll {A Stage-Play about the END of Theatre} and an adaptation of the libretto for Shostakovich’s Moscow, Cheryomushki. She is the recipient of a 2012 Whiting Award, a literary prize for “the abundant promise of future work.” Her work has been developed or produced by the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Center Theatre Group, Pacific Playwrights Festival at South Coast Rep, the Sallie B. Goodman fellowship at the McCarter Theatre Center, ALLIANCE THEATRE, the Kennedy Center, Lark New Play Development Center, Chicago Opera Theater, the Moscow Playwright and Director Center, Yale Cabaret, the Carlotta Festival at Yale, Perishable Theatre, WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory, One Coast Collaboration, and published in Best American Short Plays, 2008-2009 (Applause, 2010). Upcoming projects include the CTG 2012-2013 Writers Workshop and a commission for a new play for South Coast Rep. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama where she studied with Paula Vogel.

SCHEDULE

Chasing the Song
By Joe DiPietro (book and lyrics) and David Bryan (music and lyrics)
Directed by Christopher Ashley
Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre
Performances: Fri, 1/25 at 8:00pm and Sat, 1/26 at 8:00pm
Tickets: $20 General / $15 Subscriber / $5 Student
General admission seating

The Tall Girls
By Meg Miroshnik
Rao and Padma Makineni Play Development Center
Performances: Thu, 1/24 – Sat, 1/26 at 7:30pm; Sun, 1/27 at 2:00pm; Thu, 1/31 – Sat, 2/2 at 7:30pm; Sun, 2/3 at 2:00pm
Tickets: $15 General / $10 Subscriber / $5 Student
General admission seating

Brahman/i
By Aditi Brennan Kapil
Directed by Jeremy Cohen
Rao and Padma Makineni Play Development Center
Performances: Thu, 2/21 – Sat, 2/23 at 7:30pm; Sun, 2/24 at 2:00pm; Thu, 2/28 – Sat, 3/2 at 7:30pm; Sun, 3/3 at 2:00pm
Tickets: $15 General / $10 Subscriber / $5 Student
General admission seating

1-Day Readings
Being Henrietta, by Monique Gaffney
Orange Julius, by Basil Kreimendahl
The Consultant, by Heidi Schreck

Three additional readings to be announced.

Performances: Thu, 2/7 & 2/14; Fri, 2/8 & 2/15; Sat, 2/9 & 2/16 (Times TBA)
Tickets are free and will be available to reserve at a later date to be announced.

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