Maryland Ensemble Theatre's METLab Festival of New Work Set for Next Month

Maryland Ensemble Theatre's METLab Festival of New Work Set for Next Month

Maryland Ensemble Theatre is proud to announce the creation of a festival of new works in this summer's METLab. The festival will feature a "Plays in Progress" series that will include a full production and staged readings at various levels of development including a chance to see the same work at different stages. The festival will also feature free "Coffee House Readings" staged in a relaxed atmosphere with live music, wine and of course java. All plays are by Maryland natives. MET Artistic Director Tad Janes is enthusiastic about sharing these original works with MET audiences. "METLab was created because the passion for new voices had started spilling over. Our ensemble was ready to create a play development festival that served the needs of the playwright. We aim to give voice to new playwrights and give local artists a space to be heard."

The featured play of METLab's "Play in Progress Series" will be a fully realized production of "The God of this World" by Don Thompson and directed by MET Associate Artistic Director Gene´ Fouche. "The God of this World" is a generational comedy about the tense but often hilarious relationship between a stressed-out, divorced New York lawyer and his unemployed blogger daughter. "The God of this World" playwright, Don Thompson, is also a producer and essayist, whose works have been produced coast-to-coast, including acclaimed productions in New York (off-Broadway) and Los Angeles. He first collaborated with Maryland Ensemble over 10 years ago with 'Democracy: A Work in Progress', and most recently on a staged reading of "The God of This World" in March of last year. "With 'The God of this World' I really wanted to write something light and optimistic," said Thompson. "There are a lot of problems in the world, but sometimes it's good to laugh, and with this play my intent is to show how laughter can provide a fresh perspective on life and the human condition. At least that's my hope." The show will run Thursday through Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm for two weeks from July 9 through July 19. Individual tickets are $17 (all service fees included) or admission is included in a METLab Festival Pass.

The "Plays in Progress Series" will include readings of works by three local playwrights DC Cathro's "Family Holiday", Julie Heifetz's "The Conversion of Light" and Jeff Keilholtz's "Bad Fiction". The plays will have an initial reading after which the playwright, directors and actors will continue to work on the show until the second reading. Audiences have a unique opportunity to witness the progress, because when you purchase a ticket to the first reading of a play, you will receive free admission to that play's second reading. Tickets for these readings are $12 (all fees included) or admission to all readings is included with a METLab Festival Pass.

The first reading of the "Plays in Progress Series" is "The Conversion of Light" by Julie Heifetz and directed by MET Company Member Reiner Prochaska. The play is based on the true story of the Rabbi of a Jewish congregation in Lincoln, Nebraska, who began receiving threatening phone calls and mail from the Grand Dragon of the Nebraska Ku Klux Klan. What happened between the Rabbi and the Klansman is the subject of the play, and offers one difficult, but inspiring response that is possible in the face of hatred. "I have wanted to write this play since meeting Michael Weiser, the Rabbi whose story I learned when meeting him while I was on tour with a one-woman show I had written," said Heifetz. "For many reasons, I put it aside. It is not an easy subject. The Klansman was not an easy character to want to write. But finally, I felt it was time for me to bring the story into the light, and I am so excited that the MET has given me the opportunity to present and develop it." Julie Heifetz is the author of three books, "Jordie's Present", "Oral History and The Holocaust", "Too Young to Remember" and several one-woman shows, the libretto for an oratorio in two musicals, and her work has been nominated for the Emerson Award for Young Audiences and a regional Emmy. The first reading of "The Conversion of Light" will be on July 16 at 8:30pm and the following reading will take place on July 24 at 8:30pm.

Next up in the "Plays in Progress Series" is DC Cathro's "Family Holiday" directed by Jesse Marciniak. The play focuses on RJ who goes home for the holidays to spend a nice relaxing time with his family and best friend. They, however, have other plans. Secrets are revealed and RJ is stuck in the middle of this fast-paced holiday farce for modern times. DC Cathro is an actor, playwright, director and former MET company member. His MET appearances include "Clybourne Park", "Coyote on a Fence", "The Wild Party", "Good People" and "5th of July". As a playwright, he has had readings at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC and had two pieces (one co-written with composer Leo Schwartz) in Chicago's Great Gay Play and Musical Festival in 2015. The first reading of "Family Holiday" will take place on July 17 at 8:30pm and the final reading will be on July 25 at 8:30pm.

The final work in the "Plays in Progress Series" is Jeff Keilholtz's "Bad Fiction" directed by Brandon Scott Boyd. On the eve of a historic election for Attorney General, the play opens in a posh, loft apartment, where Internal Affairs investigator, Freddie Laurenzo, and Deputy Campaign Manager, Quincy Marcus, surround forensics expert, Janus Taylor - and her bloody, swollen face. Once joined by senior legal counsel for the campaign, William Fink - and over the course of one night - these four unlikely souls must endure epic consequences in the exposure of a major crime. "The play is contemporary and clashes together examinations of power and morality in really striking ways. It's fast, dynamic and with pretty extraordinary twists and turns," said Keilhotz who will be familiar to many for his notable onstage appearances at MET but is also an internationally published writer. Keilholtz's written creative works include the Off-Broadway-workshop produced play, "Nightswimming" and his based-on-a-true-story screenplay that is in active Hollywood development. "Bad Fiction" will receive readings on July 18 and 23 at 8:30pm at MET.

METLab's "Coffee House Readings" will feature three plays over two nights in a relaxed atmosphere where you can sip on a glass a wine or a caffeinated cup of jolt. Admission is free and there may be additional entertainment so it is a perfect opportunity to drink in some drama. All plays in the "Coffee House Readings" will be directed by Bethanie Herman, a Theatre graduate of Towson University who has worked with MET for the past six years in various roles.

The first "Coffee House" on July 15 at 7pm will feature the play "Lies" by Lydia Hatfield and "Car Games" by DC Cathro. "Lies" author Lydia Hatfield writes, acts and tells stories. She trained with MET's Ensemble School as a teenager, and has performed with Snapshot! Improv in Philly, and at Berkeley, CA's The Marsh. In 2012 she took a solo show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012 and after stints in CA, PA, MA, and the UK, Lydia is thrilled to tell "Lies" in Frederick. The first "Coffee House" on July 15 will also feature a second work in the festival by DC Cathro, "Car Games". In the play a young man and woman are on a long drive. Tension is high, so she tries to distract the man from their destination by engaging him in a series of car games, until the audience finds out where they are headed, and why.

"Lenny was Here" by Michael Perrier will be the featured play at the second "Coffee House" on July 22 at 7pm. In the play, Greg Lewis is retiring and with all his newfound free time he feels the need to make something and so he does, a giant paper maché monster lovingly called "Lenny." Then brutal murders start happening in the neighborhood always accompanied by the message "Lenny Was Here". "I'd say people should see my piece if they're fans of Criminal Minds and Arthur Miller. It's a blend of the family secret drama, a neighborhood comedy wrapped inside a surreal murder mystery. It's fun but also dangerous and gritty," according to playwright Michael Perrier. Michael is a New York based actor, playwright and composer whose plays have been seen in NYC, Colorado, Virginia, and Maryland including most recently "The Un-Authorized Biographie of Billy Shakespeare" (CAGE Theatre Co.), "An Evening With the World's Greatest Actor" (Boulder Fringe Festival), "CHINASHOP, MEET BULLS" (Playwrights at the Grand), and "The Raven Doesn't Talk" (STF 2014). Michael is the founder of Him & Her Theatre Company, and a member of The Drawing Board NYC.

The festival will run from July 9 through July 25 at Maryland Ensemble Theatre located in the historic FSK Hotel at 31 W Patrick Street in downtown Frederick, MD. The festival is made possible through the generous support of Nextpix Productions and The George L. Shields Foundation. Festival passes which include a ticket to "God of This World" and all the readings in the festival are just $35 and can be purchased at, or by calling the MET box office at (301) 694-4744.

METLab Festival Fact Sheet

Where: Maryland Ensemble Theatre, 31 West Patrick Street, Frederick, MD 21701

Ticket Prices:
God of This World - $17 (includes $2 service fee)

Plays in Progress Readings (The Conversion of Light, Bad Fiction, Family Holiday) - $12 (includes $2 service fee), (One ticket will get you into both readings of an individual play.)

Coffee House Readings - Free

Festival Pass - $35 (includes a ticket to "God of This World" and Plays in Progress Readings)

Box Office: 301-694-4744 or at the MET (Tuesday- Thursday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. and 1 hour before each show.)

METLab Festival Schedule

Thursday, July 9th @ 8pm
"God of this World"

Friday, July 10th @ 8pm
"God of this World"

Saturday, July 11th @ 8pm
"God of this World"

Sunday, July 12th @ 3pm
"God of this World"

Wednesday, July 15th @ 7:00pm
"Car Games" - Coffee House Reading
"Lies" - Coffee House Reading

Thursday, July 16th @ 8pm
"God of this World"

Thursday, July 16th @ 8:30pm
"The Conversion of Light" - Plays in Progress Reading

Friday, July 17th @ 8pm
"God of this World"

Friday, July 17th @ 8:30pm
"Family Holiday" - Plays in Progress Reading

Saturday, July 18th @ 8pm
"God of this World"

Saturday, July 18th @ 8:30pm
"Bad Fiction" - Plays in Progress Reading

Sunday, July 19th @ 3pm
"God of this World"

Wednesday, July 22nd @ 7:00pm
"Lenny Was Here" - Coffee House Reading

Thursday, July 23rd @ 8:30pm
"Bad Fiction" - Plays in Progress Reading

Friday, July 24th @ 8:30pm
"The Conversion of Light" - Plays in Progress Reading

Saturday, July 25th @ 8:30 p.m.
"Family Holiday" - Plays in Progress Reading

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