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ASF's 22 HOMES Puts New Work By Southern Playwrights Online

22 Homes

Alabama Shakespeare Festival has commissioned 22 Southern playwrights to create original monologues on the theme of "home." Since the 2020 Southern Writers Festival (SWF) was canceled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Artistic Director Rick Dildine commissioned a diverse group of playwrights to craft original pieces, which will be performed by actors from around the country. The "22 Homes" project will launch April 21 at ASF.net/PlayOn.

"Since 1991, ASF has developed new works through its Southern Writers Festival," said ASF Artistic Director Rick Dildine. "'22 Homes' allows us to advance our vision of growing the American theatre canon with Southern stories steeped in specificity and reflective of the past, present, and future diversity of the region. Despite the devastating effects of this global pandemic, we found a way to keep telling the stories of our people and dramatizing our shared histories and unique narratives. This roster of playwrights represents many Southerners who are writing of, by, and for the South today."

The "22 Homes" playwrights are Will Arbery, Audrey Cefaly, Pearl Cleage, Gloria Bond Clunie, Quinton Cockrell, Lisa D'Amour, Daryl Lisa Fazio, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Lauren Gunderson, Jireh Holder, Evan Linder, Addae Moon, David Lee Nelson, Jonathan Norton, Mary Lynn Owen, Topher Payne, Christina Quintana (CQ), Dana L. Stringer, Malcolm Tariq, Korde Arrington Tuttle, and Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder. The project's playwrights represent Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

For "22 Homes," playwrights wrote short monologues around the theme of "home." They were encouraged to incorporate specific "ingredients" in their work, including a Southern dish that everyone asks for; an Amazon package; a broken promise from long ago; the playwright's state flower; a sudden interruption; or a lasting change on a group of people, a land, or a culture.

Playwrights had one week to write their selections, and actors had one week to develop and film their monologues. Like the playwrights tapped for the project, the pool of actors reflects the diversity of the South and includes several actors whose ASF productions were postponed or canceled due to COVID-19.

Dildine encouraged actors and playwrights to collaborate through consultation on the work, much as they would in the SWF development process for bringing new work and characters to the stage.

"The slate of playwrights is as diverse as the South," said Dildine. "More than half of these commissions went to women and people of color. There's also a strong representation from LGBTQIA voices. Their careers span established voices to new voices. Lauren Gunderson is currently one of the most produced playwrights in America. Lisa D'Amour is a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Pearl Cleage is one of our most revered American writers."

Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the State's theatre, builds community by engaging, entertaining, and inspiring people with transformative theatrical performances and compelling educational and community programs. "22 Homes," along with other online programming developed by the theatre while closed because of the pandemic, allows ASF to continue to introduce audiences, including the thousands of K-12 students it serves each season, to Shakespeare and theatre. ASF will premiere new videos, workshops, and other creative projects at ASF.net/PlayOn, as well as via YouTube and Facebook.

Despite the obstacles that not-for-profit organizations like ASF will face in the coming months, ASF is providing this content free of charge. However, donations of any size to help ASF "Play On!" and come back strong are welcome at ASF.net/donate.

 



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