WINTER PEOPLE Comes to Boston Playwrights' Theatre

Boston Playwrights' Theatre (BPT) continues its 2018-19 season with Winter People by Laura Neill. Running from December 6-16, this new drama is directed by Avital Shira.

Set in the exclusive enclave of the Hamptons-the idyllic summer playground to the rich and famous on New York's Long Island-Winter People focuses on the fates of five local families after a fire destroys one of the island's summer mansions. Playwright Neill says the work is inspired by the Long Island summer town where she grew up.

"Winter People is a play about the people who actually make up the fabric of the Hamptons, a simmering melting pot that bubbles over with wealth disparity and prejudice," she says.

Each actor plays an entire family and represents one of five key communities on the island.

"I'm exploring the heritages, both physical and emotional, that each family and community carries...and how one's birth plays directly into one's fate.," Neill says. "With this workshop production, I'm excited to explore the triple-casting and find out how it emphasizes the stories of the play. I'm honored to be working with such a talented team, a mix of professional, graduate, and undergraduate artists who come from varied backgrounds and bring their own unique perspectives to the rehearsal room."

A post-show conversation with Winter People's playwright, director, and cast members will follow the Dec. 8 performance.

Neill is a member of the Boston University M.F.A. Playwriting Program class of 2019. Her play DIVAS was commissioned by OperaHub and premiered last summer, and Don't Give Up the Ship was produced by Fresh Ink Theatre Company in 2017. She is currently one of the playwrights commissioned for SpeakEasy Stage Company's The Boston Project to write Just Cause, a horror comedy about gentrification. Director Shira is currently an M.F.A. directing candidate at Boston University and a founding company member of Sycamore Theatre Company. Shira's recent directing credits include Cymbeline (Boston University), Intimate Apparel (Boston University), Lifeboat (Corrib Theatre), Between Friends (Sycamore Theatre Co @ The Brick), and Love's Labours Lost (Post 5).

All of this season's plays were written by the Boston University M.F.A. Playwriting Program class of 2019. These Actors' Equity Association productions will be co-produced with the Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre as part of the New Play Initiative.

BPT's season continues in February with Laughs in Spanish (formerly titled Wynwood) by Alexis Scheer and Dead House (in April) by Beirut Balutis.

ABOUT BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS' THEATRE

Founded in 1981 at Boston University by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, Boston Playwrights' Theatre (BPT) is an award-winning professional theatre dedicated to new works. At the heart of BPT's mission is the production of new plays by alumni of its M.F.A. Playwriting Program, the latter in collaboration with Boston University's renowned School of Theatre. The program's award-winning alumni have been produced in regional and New York houses, as well as in London's West End. BPT's productions have been honored with numerous regional and Boston awards, including numerous IRNE Awards for Best New Script and Boston Critics' Association Elliot Norton Awards.

ABOUT THE BOSTON UNIVERSITY NEW PLAY INITIATIVE

The BU New Play Initiative (NPI) expresses the Boston University College of Fine Arts' commitment to the School of Theatre's participation in the development of new work. This special initiative provides playwrights, directors, designers, and actors with a variety of developmental options to support the collaborative creation of new work for the theatre. Students, faculty, alumni, and guest artists are given the opportunity to utilize the creativity of the rehearsal room to develop their plays, which are then presented through workshop productions. The life of these new plays doesn't end on the BU stages. Many New Play Initiative productions are often later fully produced by member companies of our Professional Theatre Initiative, including the School of Theatre's professional extension-Boston Center for American Performance. www.bu.edu/cfa/npi

INSTITUTIONAL BIOGRAPHY

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized private research university with more than 30,000 students participating in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school's research and teaching mission. Established in 1954, Boston University College of Fine Arts is a top-tier fine arts institution. Comprised of the School of Music, School of Theatre, and School of Visual Arts, CFA offers professional training in the arts in conservatory-style environments for undergraduate and graduate students, complemented by a liberal arts curriculum for undergraduate students.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

LAURA NEILL writes ambitious woman-centered plays. She is under commission by SpeakEasy Stage Company to write Just Cause, a horror comedy about gentrification. Previous productions include DIVAS, commissioned and premiered by OperaHub; Skin and Bones, workshopped with the Wilbury Theatre Group; and Don't Give Up the Ship, premiered by Fresh Ink Theatre. Laura was an affiliate of the 2016 Company One PlayLab. She was the WomenWorks playwright-in-residence at the University of Tulsa in 2017 with her play The End Will Hurt. Laura will receive her MFA in Playwriting from Boston University in January 2019. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the New England New Play Alliance, for which she co-edited the New England New Play Anthology. Laura has taught at Boston University and will teach at Boston College and Emerson College in Spring 2019. She works with artists at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design as a writing specialist. Learn more at http://laurajneill.wixsite.com/home or read her work at https://newplayexchange.org/users/1933/laura-neill.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

AVITAL SHIRA's work focuses on building and empowering communities through sharing stories. Avital is particularly drawn to language-rich, ensemble-driven work that encourages us to embrace the cultural traditions that preceded us, while crafting art that speaks to the here and now. Currently an M.F.A. directing candidate at Boston University, Avital is also a founding company member of Sycamore Theatre Company. Avital's recent directing credits include Cymbeline (Boston University), Intimate Apparel (Boston University), Lifeboat (Corrib Theatre), Between Friends (Sycamore Theatre Co. @ The Brick), and Love's Labours Lost (Post 5). Avital also has a strong interest in developing new work and has worked with British poet Joel Kelly on the development of his piece What is Left. She is currently in the process of developing two new works: Bisand and Bly by Susannah Jones and Marialena DiFabbio and Winter People by Laura Neill. A community organizer and political activist, Avital worked for two years leading community engagement strategy on the ground in Colorado for the Markle Foundation's Skillful initiative. Avital holds a degree in Theatre Studies and English literature from Yale University, where she was awarded the James S. Metcalfe Prize for theatre and the Branford Arts Prize. Avital is an associate member of the SDC and a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. She was named Best Director at the 2012 Portland Outdoor Shakespeare Festival for her production of Twelfth Night.

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