Roundabout Theatre Company & Columbia University Announce Winners of New Play Reading Series

Playwrights featured include Sam Grabiner, Gethsemane Herron-Coward and Devon Kidd.

By: Jul. 30, 2020
Roundabout Theatre Company & Columbia University Announce Winners of New Play Reading Series

Roundabout Theatre Company and Columbia University School of the Arts have announced the winners of Columbia@'s 2020 New Play Reading Series. As part of the collaborative partnership between Theatre Company and Columbia University, the reading series awards three playwrights from the current MFA program and recent alumni with a cash prize as well as a reading produced by Roundabout. Five finalists have also received cash prizes in recognition of their exceptional work. No other collaborative partnership in the New York area brings together an esteemed Ivy League MFA program with a Tony Award-winning, not-for-profit theatre. The reading series is made possible by a grant from The Tow Foundation.

Playwrights featured in the fifth annual Columbia@Roundabout New Play Reading Series include: Sam Grabiner (Next Year in Jerusalem!), Gethsemane Herron-Coward (BLANKS) and Devon Kidd (In the Jungle).

Finalists include Ciara Ni Chuirc (Juggernaut), Johnny G. Lloyd (The Problem with Magic, Is:), Zizi Majid (How to Gild an Eagle), Cristina (Cha) Ramos (Fire Burn Them), Daniel Irving Rattner (Rooster Teeth).

The New Play Reading Series will be held August 24-28, 2020. Readings will be open to industry members and other guests by invitation only.

The selection committee consisted of two representatives from Roundabout Theatre Company: Associate Artistic Director Jill Rafson and Literary Manager Anna Morton; and two representatives from Columbia University: Christian Parker, Head of Dramaturgy concentration and David Henry Hwang, Head of the Playwriting concentration for the Theatre Program at Columbia University School of the Arts.


By Sam Grabiner

In July 2005 London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics. For many, this was cause for celebration. But for a small group of gardeners based in a knotty overgrown patch of East London, the victory was a death knell. Next Year in Jerusalem! follows two friends, Sid and Eli, who have tended this community garden all their lives. One day, Eli's precocious granddaughter arrives with a vision to save the allotments from destruction through ground roots organizing. As the Second Lebanon War rages on in the background, a generational clash between the older conservative Jewish men and the young, idealistic Ava takes place on a patch of land that has offered refuge to the rootless for a century. The play considers the forces of globalism rubbing up against localism, and asks what it costs to communicate across deep generational divides.


By Gethsemane Herron-Coward

Medical student Reese hunts for the romance of her dreams while classmate Iris and Reese's "aunties" dissuade, distract and try to save her from love's violent abandonment. Something they all experienced. Something they did not survive. BLANKS interrogates how intimate partner violence, intersectional patriarchy, and neglect affect Black women's pursuit of romantic and filial love and asks if love conquers all, what happens when it conquers you?


By Devon Kidd

Set in a boxing-gym in Chicago, Illinois, In the Jungle, illuminates the scourge of toxic masculinity. In 1999, teenage Fred moves to Chicago on his own with no help, but finally finds companionship in the men that box at Mr. Louis Gym. Unfortunately, he soon realizes that his inability to decide what it means to be a "man" by his own terms puts him in a position to be molded by the ideologies of others. Simultaneously, the play follows the narrative of Fred and his own son 20 years later at the same gym which he now owns. In the second narrative, Fred is an accomplished boxer, but still struggles with his grasp of "manhood" with his upcoming-boxer son. In the Jungle explores how sexuality, limitation of resources, and societal pressures combine to illustrate that for Black men, toxic masculinity may be a cyclical curse.


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