BIKE AMERICA Wins Alliance National Graduate Playwriting Competition; Runs Now thru 2/24

The Alliance National Graduate Playwriting Competition continues to spotlight the best emerging playwrights with a full production for the competition winner and staged readings for four competition finalists. BIKE AMERICA, the ninth competition winner, will premiere on the Hertz Stage today, February 1 - 24, 2013. Opening night is February 6, 2013. BIKE AMERICA is written by Mike Lew from the Juilliard Drama Division and will be directed by Mortiz von Stuelpnagel.

BIKE AMERICA tells the story of Penny, a damaged student who sets out on a cross-country bike trip to find her place in the world. Along the way Penny meets a colorful crew of bikers from the lesbian couple who've decided to get a marriage license in every state they visit to the mysterious Man with the Van who transports their stuff. As the bikers travel through iconic towns across the country from the deep North down to the deep South (and the highways between them), they discover things about each other and the communities around them. BIKE AMERICA captures the national temperature and the restlessness of a millennial generation that will go to any length to find a place that always seems just out of reach.

The cast of BIKE AMERICA includes film and stage actor Jessica Digiovanni as Penny, Atlanta actors Je Nie Fleming, Brandon Hirsch, Matt Nitchie, and Maurice Ralston, as well as Marilyn Torres and Tom White.

The Alliance National Graduate Playwriting Competition solicits plays from the leading MFA graduate programs in the United States, and then conducts a rigorous selection process to find four finalists and one winning play. The winner receives a full production as part of the ALLIANCE THEATRE regular season. The winner and four finalists also receive development opportunities for their works including staged readings with industry professionals in New York and Atlanta. A one-of-a-kind opportunity for emerging playwrights, the Competition transitions student playwrights to the world of professional theatre.

"The Alliance is so proud to participate in the very early careers of these talented playwrights," said Celise Kalke, ALLIANCE THEATRE Director of New Projects. "After their investment in their playwriting careers, we then invest in their first year out of school to help keep American Theatre important, current and vital."

Aside from Alliance Artistic Director Susan V. Booth and Kalke, the selecting judges included Playwright David Henry Hwang, Playwright Tracey Scott Wilson, and Playwright Janece Shaffer.

The four 2013 finalists will be heard in free, staged readings February 5-7, 2013. The finalists are:

· ABSENCE - by Peter M. Floyd, Boston University
o Helen Bastion is 74 years old, but age has not taken its toll on this matriarch's will or her need to control her family, from her compliant husband David to her resentful daughter Barb. But when she begins to suffer lapses of memory, her steely facade begins to crumble. Words lose their meaning and reality fragments, as Helen's own sense of self starts to dissolve. Is she truly disappearing, or is she becoming something greater? An excitingly theatrical and surprising play about aging, power, grace and imagination.

· ROMAN CANDLE SUMMER - by Atlanta playwright Neeley Gossett, Hollins University
o Bitsy is a society woman who appears to have everything she could want-except a child. During a hot Alabama summer filled with carnivals and bottle-rockets, her life collides with Tess, a fourteen-year-old girl bouncing around foster homes and selling fireworks on the state border. In order to allow the teenager in her life, Bitsy must stake Tess against her country club comforts and marriage.

· RIVER CITY - by Diana Grisanti, University of Texas at Austin
o Shaken by her father's death, Mary sets off to uncover three generations' worth of family secrets buried in the West End of Louisville, Kentucky. River City charts Mary's journey, which spans four decades, and investigates race, memory, and the ghosts that haunt one American city.

· ANNIE BOSH IS MISSING - by Janine Nabers, The Juilliard School
o Annie, a twenty-two-year old mixed race recovering drug addict is swept into her own storm of violence and confusion when she returns home to Houston in the midst of Hurricane Katrina aftermath. Unable to communicate with her estranged family, Annie ventures out into the turbulent city around her looking for a connection -- causing the rift between Annie and her family to worsen.

The five plays selected each year during the Alliance National Graduate Playwriting Competition represent one manifestation of the Alliance's mission of shared theatre for diverse people with their rigorous multigenerational, multicultural, and omni-political ambitions. Emerging writers are offered the ultimate developmental tools and networking opportunities with industry professionals. At the same time, Atlanta audiences are introduced to the country's brightest emerging playwrights thereby cultivating an informed audience for new work.

The competition and production are supported by a 2005 gift by the Kendeda Fund, an NEA Art Works grant and a grant by the Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm, February 1-24, 2013, on the Hertz Stage.

Tickets start at $25 and are available at The Woodruff Arts Center Box Office in person or by calling 404-733-5000. Tickets are also available online at Discount rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling 404.733.4690. Discount rates are also available for members of the military, seniors and students. The ALLIANCE THEATRE is located at The Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree Street, at the corner of Peachtree and 15th Street, in Midtown Atlanta.

Mike Lew's plays include Bike America, microcrisis (Ma-Yi, NYC; InterAct Philadelphia);Stockton (Ensemble Studio Theatre workshop, NYC); People's Park (Victory Gardens Ignition Festival, Chicago); Yit, Ngay (published in Plays and Playwrights 2006); Neanderthal Love (Sloan commission); Bury the Iron Horse; and Paper Gods. His shorts include Tenure (24 Hour Plays on Broadway); Roanoke (Humana Festival, Louisville); In Paris You Will Find Many Baguettes but Only One True Love (Humana Festival, Louisville; InspiraTO Festival Winner, Toronto); Moustache Guys (Second Generation, NYC); Virtual Congress (Keen Company commission); The Roosevelt Cousins, Thoroughly Sauced Sam French Festival winner); and Magician Ben Vs. The Wizard Merlin (published by Smith & Kraus). Several of his short plays are published by Playscripts.

Mike is a Heideman Award winner and a four-time finalist four years in a row, and winner of the 2007 Battle of the Bards. Along with his wife Rehana Lew Mirza, he is co-director of the Ma-Yi Writers' Lab, the largest collection of Asian-American Playwrights ever assembled in the history of recorded time. Other memberships/residencies include Ensemble Studio Theatre, Old Vic New Voices, At Play Productions, Youngblood (alum), and TCG Young Leaders of Color. Training: Juilliard (2012), Yale (2003). Check out his website at

Founded in 1968, the ALLIANCE THEATRE has become the lead producing theatre in the Southeast, creating the powerful experience of shared theatre for diverse people on two stages. The Alliance values excellence, pursued with integrity and creativity, and achieved through collaboration. Reaching more than 200,000 patrons annually, the Alliance delivers powerful programming that challenges adult and youth audiences to think critically and care deeply. Under the leadership of Susan V. Booth, Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, the ALLIANCE THEATRE received the Regional Theatre Tony Award in recognition of sustained excellence in programming, education and community engagement.

Known for its high artistic standards and national role in creating significant theatrical works, the Alliance has premiered more than 70 original productions including Tony Award winners "The Color Purple," by Alice Walker, "Aida," by Elton John and Tim Rice, and Alfred Uhry's "The Last Night of Ballyhoo." The Alliance has a reputation for developing important American musicals with a strong track record of Broadway, touring, and subsequent productions including the world premieres of "Sister Act: The Musical," "Bring It On: The Musical" and Stephen King and John Mellencamp's "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County." The Alliance also creates and nurtures the careers of playwrights through the Alliance National Graduate Playwriting Competition, producing a premiere for the competition winner as part of the regular season with national networking opportunities for four finalists. The works produced by the Alliance allow locally based artists the chance to create on a nationally watched stage, building and sustaining Atlanta's artistic community.

Each year, the ALLIANCE THEATRE Acting Program and Education Department reaches close to 50,000 students through performances, acting classes, drama camps, and in-school initiatives. The Alliance creates and produces plays for young audiences at every age level: from the Collision Project, where high school artists create and perform new work based on a classic text, to the ground breaking Theatre for the Very Young, creating interactive work for infants and toddlers. The Alliance also offers community education classes for all ages and abilities of theatre interest; and adult student productions of unproduced plays in development (working with local and national playwrights).

An active participant in Georgia classrooms, the Alliance has developed programs using theatrical techniques to aid in student learning through storytelling and problem solving. The ALLIANCE THEATRE Institute for Educators and Teaching Artists equips teachers with theatrical techniques that link directly to school curriculum, align with the Georgia Performance Standards, and increase student learning. Other programs include GA Wolf Trap, a nationally recognized professional learning program that focuses on literacy skills for children in Pre-K - 2nd Grade, and Dramaturgy K-12, a unique program that empowers students to create research material that both informs Alliance productions and prepares peer audiences. Twice recognized by the Federal Department of Education as leaders in the field of arts education, these programs reflect the Alliance's commitment to city wide arts access.

The Alliance continuously delivers the finest talent, art and educational opportunities for Atlanta audiences-proving once again that the Alliance is where great theatre lives. For more information, visit or call 404.733.4650

Pictured: Playwright Mike Lew

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