FACTION OF FOOLS, PLAYWRIGHTS' ARENA and More Set for Arena Stage's Kogod Cradle Series in 2014

The 2013/14 Kogod Cradle Series continues in the new year with the Helen Hayes Award-winning Commedia dell'Arte troupe Faction of Fools, who are bringing their devilish sense of humor and trademark masked comedy style to Thornton Wilder's classic Our Town. The following month, award-winning Resident Playwright Samuel D. Hunter (The Whale) invites audiences to join him for open workshops for two of the new plays created during his residency, Lewiston and Clarkston. In March, the six members of the inaugural Playwrights' Arena (Norman Allen, Randy Baker, Jacqueline E. Lawton, Heather McDonald, Danielle Mohlman and Shawn Northrip) will introduce selections from the six plays they have each been working on independently as part of their yearlong collaborative program. Our Town runs January 9-12, 2014, Lewiston and Clarkston run February 6-9, 2014 and Playwrights' Arena-A Weekend of New Work runs March 6-9, 2014 in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle.

Focused on the development of new and emerging work by artists from throughout Greater Washington and around the country, Arena Stage's Kogod Cradle Series invites artists and audiences to actively explore the development process. Artists benefit through a series of workshops, readings and performances in the Mead Center's intimate 200-seat Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, a space specifically designed to support the development of new American theater. For more information on the 2013/14 Kogod Cradle Series visit arenastage.org/artistic-development/new-play-institute/the-cradle-series.

ABOUT OUR TOWN: Faction of Fools brings their devilish sense of humor to a new Commedia dell'Arte workshop staging of an American classic: Thornton Wilder's Our Town. Wilder's work was wildly inventive in its time, relying on pantomime, direct address and metatheatrical commentary, all of which are at home in a Commedia dell'Arte aesthetic. In anticipation of a full production of Our Town during their 2014/15 season, Faction of Fools presents four workshop performances featuring open rehearsals, Q&A sessions with the artists and staged scenes from Wilder's original text performed using Commedia masks. Aiming to identify an "American" Commedia within this American classic, Faction of Fools seeks to uncover the archetypes that we still recognize in Our Town.

"As we bring Commedia dell'Arte to Washington, D.C., Faction of Fools is always searching out what is 'cutting-edge' about this classical style, and what is 'familiar' in the foreign form," shares Faction of Fools' Artistic Director Matthew R. Wilson. "We are thrilled to partner with Arena now to tackle this American classic Our Town and explore how we as local artists find ourselves in an international tradition, and how the characters of Commedia relate to the people of our community."

Arena Stage audiences may remember how Faction of Fools used masks and acrobatics to highlight the absurdity of The Sandbox during the 2011 Edward Albee Festival. Additionally, The Washington Post likened their take on Hamlet to a "Beckettian" black comedy with a "high concept spin". For more information on Faction of Fool's visit factionoffools.org.

ABOUT LEWISTON AND CLARKSTON: Resident Playwright Samuel D. Hunter will workshop two of the new plays he has written during his yearlong residency as part of the American Voices New Play Institute, Lewiston and Clarkston. Each evening, audiences will be invited to observe an open rehearsal led by Hunter and New Play Institute Dramaturg Jocelyn Clarke and featuring a company of actors, beginning with a selection of scenes from Lewiston and Clarkston, set in Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington, and followed by brief discussion and further workshopping of the pieces. Through these open rehearsals, audiences will gain a greater understanding of how new work is developed by observing first-hand the collaborative process between the playwright, dramaturg and actors.

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