Casting Announced for #NewPlay Festival At Arena Stage
The discourse surrounding new play development continues within the American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, as the company presents the #NewPlay Festival. The festival, which is a culmination of the National Endowment for the Arts New Play Development Program (NEA-NPDP), will feature full-length performances and readings of six plays at the Mead Center (1101 6th St., SW), concurrently with one play in full-production at The Studio Theatre (1501 14th St., NW). The Festival also includes a presentation featuring scenes from Robert Levi's forthcoming documentary that follows the development of selected projects, which will be followed by a panel of featured artists speaking about their process.The #NewPlay Festival runs at the Mead Center January 19-30, 2011. Festival casting and performance schedule below.
"The #NewPlay Festival will be an explosion of theatrical energy," says Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. "The Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle was created as a safe haven for new works, which is why it is an ideal venue to host such a range of interesting new projects from around America. This festival was always envisioned as the culminating event of the first round of the NEA New Play Development Program, planned to help christen the Kogod Cradle in our inaugural season, and we're delighted to see this vision come to fruition."
In June 2007, Arena Stage was selected by a diverse panel of experts from the field to be the administrator of a new initiative for new play development. The goal of this first round of the NEA-NPDP was to advance the American nonprofit theater's ability to provide meaningful support for new work. This program provided financial support to theater institutions and playwrights for the development of new plays of substantial merit. The initiative aimed to identify, organize and disseminate information on effective collaborative models for the sustained development of outstanding new American plays.
In October 2008, Arena Stage and the NEA announced the selected projects. The two NEA Outstanding New American Play selections included the Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles, CA) production of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zooby Rajiv Joseph and theMcCarter Theatre (Princeton, NJ) productions ofTarell Alvin McCraney's trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays. Each project received a total of $90,000 to support advanced development activities, culminating in a full production of each play. In Spring 2009, both productions received their world premieres. Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo directed by Moisés Kaufman was such a success in Center Theater Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre that the company produced it again in its larger Mark Taper Forum in the following year. A Spring 2011 production has been announced for Broadway starring Robin Williams and directed by Kaufman. Following the McCarter Theatre premiere, The Brother/Sister Plays established similar acclaim with the trilogy receiving productions at prominent theaters across the country, in addition to earning McCraney both a 2010 Steinberg Playwright Award and the first New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award in 2010.
Five NEA Distinguished New Play Development Projects received $20,000 each to support early development activities for a new play. The selected projects included Pastures of Heaven by Octavio Solis with the California Shakespeare Theater (Berkeley, CA); Happy End of the World by Lloyd Suh with The Children's Theatre Company (Minneapolis, MN); The Provenance of Beauty by Claudia Rankine with The Foundry Theatre (New York, NY); Agnes Under the Big Top by Aditi Brennan Kapil with the Lark Play Development Center (New York, NY) and I've Never Been So Happy by Kirk Lynn with the Rude Mechs (Austin, TX). Each participating theater collaborated closely with the playwright on development activities, such as workshops and staged readings.