Richard Thomas, S. Epatha Merkerson, et al. Set for Public Theatre's NEW WORKS NOW


The Public Theater (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis, Interim Executive Director Joey Parnes) announces casting for the second week of the popular reading series, NEW WORK NOW!, running thru Sunday, September 18 in The Public's Martinson Theater (425 Lafayette Street). Casting for the free readings includes Donald Moffat, Richard Thomas, Michael Cristofer, Veanne Cox, Peter Francis James, Bill Heck, and S. Epatha Merkerson. All readings are free and open to the public and may be reserved by contacting the box office at (212) 967-7555.

This year's 11 playwrights are Christina Anderson, Daniel Berrigan, Colman Domingo, Danai Gurira, Dawn Jamieson, Lisa Kron, Itamar Moses, Tanya Saracho, S.M. Shephard-Massat, Julian Sheppard, and Alena Smith.

Previous NEW WORK NOW! series have included the world premieres of Urge for Going by Mona Mansour; In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney; The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson; Paris Commune by Steven Cosson and Michael Friedman; The Poor Itch by John Belluso; In Darfur by Winter Miller; Durango by Julia Cho; Measure for Pleasure by David Grimm; Satellites by Diana Son; Well by Lisa Kron; Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori; and the Pulitzer Prize-winning plays Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz and Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks.

2011 NEW WORK NOW! Schedule

Monday, September 12 at 7 PM
By Danai Gurira
Directed by Emily Mann

Cast includes Christoph Abeil, Saidah Arrika Ekulona, William Jackson Harper, Zainab Jah,
Russell G. Jones, and Kevin Mambo
Set amid the scramble for sovereignty in southern Africa (now Zimbabwe) in 1895, The Convert tells the tale of a young girl who escapes a forced marriage with the help of a stalwart black African catechist. Indebted to this new Christian god, she shuns her culture to become his protégé, but when an anti-colonial uprising erupts she must decide where her heart truly belongs. This searing new play about an explosive clash of cultures is by the co-author of In the Continuum who also appeared in this summer's Shakespeare in the Park production of Measure for Measure. The Convert was commissioned by Center Theater Group and will receive its world premiere this season in a co-production between McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, NJ), Goodman Theatre (Chicago, IL), and Center Theater Group (Los Angeles, CA).

Tuesday, September 13 at 7 PM
By Daniel Berrigan, text prepared by Saul Levitt
Directed by Gordon Davidson

Cast includes Gwen Arner, Veanne Cox, Michael Cristofer, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Kevin Geer, Bill Heck, Korey Jackson, Peter Francis James, Joanna Merlin, Donald Moffat, Matt Servitto, and Richard Thomas

On May 17, 1968, Father Daniel Berrigan, his brother Father Philip Berrigan and seven other Catholic peace activists seized 378 draft documents from Local Board No. 33 in Catonsville, Maryland and publicly burned them to protest the napalming of innocent people during the Vietnam War. Drawing on court transcripts, this play is an account of their trial. The Public remembers the nine's courageous actions and this vital American play via a New Work Then presentation, helmed by the director of the original 1971 production.

Wednesday, September 14 at 7 PM
By Tanya Saracho
Directed by Jerry Ruiz

Cast includes Sarah Nina Hayon, Ana Noguiera, Emma Ramos, and Socorro Santiago

Set in the South Texas of her youth and written in the Windy City, where Chicago Magazine called her Best New Playwright of 2010, Tanya Saracho's Mala Hierba focuses on the trophy wife of a border magnate who wavers between her wifely duty and the love of her life as she navigates the dangerous waters between desire and obligation.

Thursday, September 15 at 7 PM
By Itamar Moses
Directed by Liesl Tommy

Politics. Race. Class. Welcome to Berkeley High School, 1994: the most diverse public high school in America...and as divided as America itself. But when an on-campus brawl sets in motion a chain of events that effects newspaper nerds and gang members alike, loyalties will be tested, identities questioned, and a community that prides itself on always being ahead of the political curve will be forced to face how far it still has to go. And then there's P.E.

Friday, September 16 at 7 PM
By S.M. Shephard-Massat
Directed by Delroy Lindo

Cast includes Alena Arenas, Rosalyn Coleman, Barry Shabaka Henry, S. Epatha Merkerson,
Tiffany Michelle Thompson, and Craig Wallace

World War II is over, and Bettie and Meeker have moved from rural Florida to urban Atlanta to join a small but up-and-coming black community. But as pressure mounts at Meeker's workplace and Bettie's expectations become bigger than both of them, the better life they dreamed of seems less than certain to be on the horizon.

Saturday, September 17 at 7 PM
By Colman Domingo
Directed by Robert O'Hara

Cast includes Colman Domingo, Maurice McRae, and Sharon Washington

Colman Domingo, star of Passing Strange and The Scottsboro Boys, explores the surreal, bizarre and outrageous comedy that can stem from loss via the story of Gil: a young man who plans to scatter his mother's ashes in the place where she was most happy, Disney World.

Sunday, September 18 at 7 PM
By Dawn Jamieson (Cayuga/Iroquois)
Directed by James Fall Shubinski (Mohican)

Iroquois ironworkers built New York's skyscrapers and on 9/11 many returned to the World Trade Center to remove the mangled beams raised up by those who came before them. In this new play by Dawn Jamieson, these Native men seek rescue and redemption as they try to untangle the beams and their own lives, as well.

Christina Anderson's plays include Inked Baby, Good Goods, BlackTop Sky, and Man in Love. Her work has appeared at A.C.T., Penumbra Theater, Playwrights' Horizons, Crowded Fire and other theaters all over the country. American Theatre Magazine selecTed Anderson as one of 15 up-and-coming artists "whose work will be transforming America's stages for decades to come."

Daniel Berrigan is a poet, theologian, editor, lecturer and rebel. Father Berrigan has written Time Without Number (Lamont Poetry Award, 1957); False Gods, Real Men (National Book Award nomination in 1969);They Call Us Dead Men; No One Walks Waters; Consequences, Truth, And . . . ; Love, Love at the End; No Bars to Manhood and Trial Poems.

Colman Domingo is a Tony, Drama Desk and Drama League Award nominee. An OBIE Award winner, he penned and starred in the solo play A Boy and His Soul at the Vineyard Theater which garnered the Lucille Lortel for Best Solo Show, and GLAAD Award for Best Theater: Broadway/Off-Broadway. His new play Wild with Happy was developed with the Sundance Lab, Theatreworks and NYTW.

Danai Gurira was last seen in Measure for Measure in Shakespeare in the Park. She was seen on Broadway in Joe Turner's Come and Gone and her Off-Broadway and regional credits include In the Continuum (co-creator) and The Story. Her film and television credits include The Visitor, 3 Backyards, My Soul to Take, Restless City, "Treme," "Lie to Me," and "Law & Order." She has received an OBIE, Helen Hayes (Best New Play: Eclipsed), NAACP, John Gassner Outer Critics Award, Hodder Fellow and NEA Grant Fellow.

Dawn Jamieson (Cayuga/Iroquois) is an actor and playwright. Her Broadway credits include Inherit the Wind, and The Price. Her other New York acting credits include Monetizing Emma and The Locket. Her film and writing credits include The Reawakening, Ivory, Crooked Paths, and Silent Quest. She is a member of American Indian Community House, AMERINDA, Times Square Playwrights, Dramatists' Guild, AEA, AFTRA, and SAG (SAG President's National Task Force for American Indians).

Lisa Kron's plays include In the Wake, Well, and 2.5 Minute Ride. She is a resident playwriting fellow at The New Play Institute at Arena Stage. Her honors include Guggenheim, Lortel, Lark and Sundance fellowships, and awards from Creative Capital and the Alpert Foundation. Kron is a founding member of the OBIE and Bessie-Award-winning theatre company The Five Lesbian Brothers.

Itamar Moses is the author of the full-length plays Outrage, Bach at Leipzig, Celebrity Row, The Four of Us, Back Back Back, Completeness; the musicals Nobody Loves You and Fortress of Solitude and the short play evening Love/Stories. On television, Moses has written for both TNT's "Men of a Certain Age and HBO's "Boardwalk Empire."

Tanya Saracho is a Mexican-born playwright based in Chicago. Her plays include Enfrascada (Clubbed Thumb, 2011); El Nogalar (Goodman Theatre, 2011); The House on Mango Street (Steppenwolf, 2009); Our Lady of the Underpass (Teatro Vista, 2009); Surface Day (Steppenwolf/CCHF, 2008); Jarred (Teatro Luna, 2008); Kita y Fernanda (16th Street Theatre, Teatro Luna); and Quita Mitos (Teatro Luna, Next Theater). Her current commissions include Steppenwolf, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and About Face Theater.

S.M. SHEPHARD-MASSAT is the recipient of a Helen Hayes Award for best new play, the Adrienne Kennedy Society's Young Dramatist's Award, Delaware Theatre Company's Connections Award for best original play, the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center, and the Black Theatre Alliance Award for best playwriting and NYU's 2009 Goldberg Prize for playwriting.

Julian Sheppard's works include Buicks, Love and Happiness, Los Angeles, After America, A Hole in the Earth, From Now On, Rollie & Fitch, Everything Else, and Smile. He was also the head writer on ESPN's "2-Minute Drill."

Alena Smith's plays include Plucker, The Sacrifices, The Piven Monologues, and The Lacy Project. Her work has been seen and developed at The Public; SPF; A.R.T. Institute; P.S. 122; The Ohio; the Flea; Southwark Playhouse (UK); Theater Bielefeld (Germany); and elsewhere. She was a member of The Public's Emerging Writers Group and an Artist Fellow with the New York Foundation for the Arts.

The Public Theater (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Joey Parnes, Interim Executive Director) was founded by Joseph Papp in 1954 and is now one of the nation's preeminent cultural institutions, producing new plays, musicals and productions of classics at its downtown home and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Public Theater's mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day on stage and through extensive outreach programs. Each year, more than 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe's Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public Theater's productions have won 42 Tony Awards, 158 Obies, 42 Drama Desk Awards and four Pulitzer Prizes. Fifty-four Public Theater Productions have moved to Broadway, including Sticks and Bones; That Championship Season; A Chorus Line; For Colored Girls...; The Pirates of Penzance; The Tempest; Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Topdog/Underdog; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; Passing Strange; the revival of HAIR; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Merchant of Venice.


Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos

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