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Boise Contemporary Theater Announces Selections for the Inaugural BIPOC Playwright's Festival

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The festival will take place August 2-14th at the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts.

Boise Contemporary Theater Announces Selections for the Inaugural BIPOC Playwright's Festival

Boise Contemporary Theater, the only professional theater in the state of Idaho that focuses entirely on new and contemporary plays, has announced the selections for its inaugural BIPOC Playwrights Festival, made possible by the Idaho Women's Charitable Foundation and the Morrison Center Endowment Foundation. The festival will take place August 2-14th at the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts.

Lily Yasuda, Festival Director says, "BCT's mission is to inspire our community to examine our perspectives and better understand ourselves, each other, and the world around us by creating thought-provoking stories of the human experience. This festival allows us to bring new stories, penned by artists from all over the country, to Boise. BCT is committed to ensuring that all aspects of the human experience are explored on its stages. We are thrilled to have such a stellar line up of talent for the first iteration of this festival. Our very accomplished selection committee - made of up theater artists from all over the country - reviewed all submissions and committed themselves to a detailed selection process. The interest in the festival was overwhelming, and I am so excited to watch this festival grow in future years so that we can feature more of the writers we heard from this year, and from new writers entering the field."

Benjamin Burdick, Producing Artistic Director of BCT, explains the festival offerings as, "time for playwrights to develop their work in partnership with some of the best directors and performers in the American Theater. Week one will give the writers, actors and directors time and space to work on the new scripts. That work will culminate in several readings on the Morrison Center Stage on August 6th and 7th. The festival will include a playwright's panel on Tuesday, August 10th, moderated by Lily Yasuda and featuring all of our playwrights. We are also excited to bring a fully produced, new play with live music - M'Balia Singley's, Turn - to the stage in the final weekend of the festival."

BCT is proud to announce the participation of the following playwrights and directors in the festival. Casting is underway and will be announced soon.

Jaime Castañeda, Director of Middle of the World, has directed several world premiere productions for La Jolla Playhouse, and was the Associate Artistic Director there for many years. Select directing credits also include The Canadians by Adam Bock (South Coast Repertory), Vietgone by Qui Nguyen (American Conservatory Theater), The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz (Dallas Theater Center), The Royale by Marco Ramirez (American Theater Company, Jeff Award directing nomination), Chimichangas and Zoloft by Fernanda Coppel (Atlantic Theater Company), Jaime has received a Princess Grace Award, a Drama League fellowship.

Juan Alfonso, playwright of Middle of the World, spent 20 years as a media executive before writing his first play, An Educated Guess, based on his own experience as an immigrant to the United States. The play was developed at New York Theatre Workshop and Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. Juan is writing his next two plays in residency at The Geffen Playhouse's Writers' Room program. In his day job, Juan is a television producer who has worked on over 25 shows, including the Emmy-winning American Crime from Academy Award winner John Ridley and Marvel's Agent Carter; as well as documentaries like The Clemente Effect and L'Arbitre, winner of the United Nations prize at the New York Festivals in 2010.

Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters, playwright of Half of Chopsticks, is a Barrymore nominated actor, playwright, and teaching artist in Philadelphia. She is an InterAct Theatre Core Playwright and the Lead Artist on the Philly Asian Performing Artists' Playwrights Project. She earned a spot on the 2020 Kilroy's List and Table Work Press Recommended list.

Jeff Liu, Director of Half of Chopsticks, is a writer and director for theater, film and web, was the former Literary Manager for East West Players, and is a member of the O'Neill National Directing Fellowship cohort of 2016. He is currently a Resident Dramaturge for the Ojai Playwrights Conference.

M'Balia Singley, playwright of Turn, is a Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary artist who explores the human condition through story, song and audience engagement. She has self-produced three albums of her original music and she can be heard on John Legend's Grammy-nominated debut album, Get Lifted and Orrin Evans' #knowingishalfthebattle. M'Balia was selected as a 2017-2018 Kimmel Center Jazz Resident as co-composer of Doug Hirlinger's Dear Philadelphia and she composed music for Nadine George-Graves' children's music, Anansi,The Spider King, which debuted at The University of California, San Diego. She is the creator of Jams For Junior Jawns, an online children's music program, and she produced Meet Me On The Moon, the podcast that celebrates the influence, legacy and sound of the iconic singer-songwriter Phyllis Hyman through the lived experiences of some of Philadelphia's finest Black women vocalists.

M'Balia is a graduate of Yale University, and she will begin pursuing her Master's in Social Service this fall at Bryn Mawr College.

The following are the selections for the 2021 BCT BIPOC Playwright's Festival:

MIDDLE OF THE WORLD

By Juan Alfonso

Directed by Jaime Castañeda

A New York investment banker, at the top of his game, steps into an Uber car service. He is on the verge of closing the biggest deal of his career. As he starts chatting with the driver, he finds her smarter and more interesting than the usual person who takes you from point A to point B. He learns that she used to be someone in "management", someone with power, a person at the top- she was the president of Ecuador. Middle of The World centers around the unlikely friendship between Glenn and Victoria. He grew up in the projects and now has everything he ever wanted. Yet somehow, he feels deeply unfulfilled. Conversely, Victoria was the leader of a nation, democratically elected as the one who would turn the country around. She now lives exiled in disgrace, with her assets frozen and her family estranged, but with an unwavering determination to clear her name and return home.

HALF OF CHOPSTICKS

By Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters

Directed by Jeff Liu

Emmy Young's dad was the King of Koreatown until the day he was swallowed by a hole. It's not just the ghost of her dad that cracks the plaster off the walls of Young's Chopsticks - Traditional Korean Take Out and Delivery. Emmy's half-secret, half-white, half-brother shows up with half the deed to her dead dad's restaurant, and everything Emmy thought she knew about her home, family, and father begins to crumble.

TURN

By M'Balia Singley

Using themes from Shakespeare's Othello, M'Balia Singley confronts her experience as a Black woman in America with equal parts humor and honesty in this brand-new theatrical work. Turn weaves original songs, Singley's deft humor, insight, and engrossing stories into a performance that is both sweeping and intimate. From societal expectations to relatable family dysfunction, Singley turns to the unlikely 16th century play and finds connections to our 21st century lives.

For more information about BCT, please visit https://bctheater.org/


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