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Margo Seibert and More Star in O'Neill Center's National Playwrights Conference Readings, Starting Tonight


The eight new plays in development at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference will feature Broadway actress Ali Stroker (Spring Awakening the Deaf West Broadway revival, The GLEE Project), Drama Desk Award-nominee Margo Seibert (ROCKY on Broadway), television's Jeremy Bobb (The Knick, House of Cards, Hostages), Luke MacFarlane (Brothers & Sisters, Mercy Street), and Melanie Nicholls King (The Wire).

A founding program of the O'Neill, the National Playwrights Conference began as a retreat for playwrights eager to have their voices heard. Since 1964, it has developed hundreds of new works for the stage and played host to thousands of award-winning artists. Notably, the Conference launched the careers of actors Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, Judith Light, Danny DeVito, Angela Bassett, Swoozie Kurtz, Al Pacino, Linda Lavin, Cynthia Nixon, and Courtney B. Vance.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg, now in her 12th season, the famed Conference will develop eight new plays with support from an award-winning slate of actors and directors. 2016 Tony Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Stephen Karam (The Humans, Sons of the Prophet) will join the conference as Writer-in-Residence.

"These eight new plays, selected from a record-breaking pool of 1,450 submissions, come to us at a period of remarkable success for the National Playwrights Conference. O'Neill-developed plays will have premieres this season in London, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York." comments Ms. Goldberg. "I am thrilled at the return of our many alumni actors and also eager to welcome spectacular new talent to the O'Neill. We are grateful for such decorated and versatile artists who join us in service to the process. Without them, the transformational work that takes place each summer may never be."

Public staged readings will be held July 6-30 at the two-time Tony Award-winning Eugene O'Neill Theater Center on the Connecticut shore.

The eight new works, with casts and creative teams are:

Running on Fire
By: Aurin Squire
Directed by: Jade King Carroll
Cast includes: Segun Akande, Eric Berryman, Kate MacCluggage, Luke MacFarlane, Nedra McClyde, and Terrell Donnell Sledge

Synopsis: A young college student is out for a jog when he is implicated in a crime spree. After his property is confiscated by an officer, his attempt to seek justice sets off a chain reaction of events that ripple across the college, surrounding town, and a community seething with tension. What is real and what is not get called into question in this timely play that asks 'who are we to ourselves and each other?

Readings: Wed., July 6; 8:15pm & Thurs, July 7; 8:15pm

Teenage Dick
By: Mike Lew
Directed by: Henry Wishcamper
Cast includes: Caleb Foote, Jessica Digiovanni, Christopher Imbrosciano, Melanie Nicholls King, Ali Stroker, and Liesel Allen-Yeager

Synopsis: A brilliantly hilarious take on Shakespeare's classic tale of power lust, Teenage Dick re-imagines the most famous disabled character of all time as a 16-year-old outsider in the deepest winter of his discontent: his junior year at Roseland High. Picked on because of his cerebral palsy (as well as his sometimes creepy Shakespearean way of speaking), Richard is determined to have his revenge and make his name by becoming president of the senior class. But as he manipulates and crushes the obstacles to his electoral success, Richard finds himself faced with a decision he never expected would be his to make: is it better to be loved or feared?

Readings: Fri., July 8; 7:15pm & Sat, July 9; 7:15pm

The Burdens
By: Matt Schatz
Directed by: Tyne Rafaeli
Cast includes: David Ross and Miriam Silverman

Synopsis: Mordy is a struggling musician living in Los Angeles. His older sister Jane is a successful attorney and a mother of three in New Jersey. But when their widowed mother's life becomes emotionally and financially taxed by her terrible, centenarian father, these two adult siblings are drawn together into an elaborate plot to relieve their mother's burden and their own. Told almost entirely via text messages, The Burdens is a dark family comedy about how technology helps keep us close while still enabling us to keep our distance. It's sometimes easier to type something than it is to say it face to face. But please, be careful of auto-correct. It can be murder.

Readings: Wed., July 13; 8:15pm & Thurs, July 14; 8:15pm

Small Town Values
By: Kathryn Walat
Directed by: Wendy C. Goldberg, NPC Artistic Director
Cast includes: Brian Hutchison, Angela Reed, and Margo Seibert

Synopsis: John and Jane were high school sweethearts. Jane and Maryjane are best friends. Emma is back in the town where she grew up, where nothing ever changes--until suddenly nothing will ever be the same. An unexpected love story about the strange passage of time and what happens when you let go of all the old rules.

Readings: Fri., July 15; 7:15pm & Sat, July 16; 7:15pm

Against the Hillside
By: Sylvia Khoury
Directed by: Portia Kreiger
Cast includes: Jeremy Bobb, Mattie Hawkinson, Daoud Heidami, Pomme Koch, Omar Koury, Marjan Neshat, Daniel Plimpton, Samip Raval, and Charles Socarides

Synopsis: With the all-too-familiar buzz of American drones in the sky above the Pakistani countryside, Sayid and Reem worry that their son will grow up too quickly in the presence of so much death and destruction. From nearly 8,000 miles away in the New Mexico desert, Matt pilots one of these aircraft, getting so drawn into the lives he observes that his own wife wonders if he's present enough to start a family. In this newly interconnected world, the aftershocks of each explosion spread far and wide, splintering families, stealing loved ones, and providing more questions than answers. In these wars fought at a distance, who suffers more: the observer or the observed?

Readings: Wed., July 20; 8:15pm & Thurs, July 21; 8:15pm

Laura and the Sea
By: Kate Tarker
Directed by: Michael Rau
Cast includes: Chris Bannow, Bruce McKenzie, April Matthis, Alex Moggridge, Emily Walton, and Joleen Wilkinson

Synopsis: It's company outing day, and Laura, one of the top travel agents of her generation, is having the best / worst day of her life. So much so that she decides to end it all. Afterwards, her colleagues try to piece things together on a memorial blog, but how do you mourn someone you didn't know that well? A comedy about depression, or: a treatise on travel agents who don't travel.

Readings: Fri., July 22; 7:15pm & Sat, July 23; 3:15pm

Girls in Cars Underwater
By: Tegan McLeod
Directed by: Caitlin McLeod
Cast includes: Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Paloma Guzmán, Hugh Kennedy, Anna O'Donoghue, Yakima Rich, Jamie Ann Romero, Jenna Rossman, and Michelle Wilson

Synopsis: When newcomer Dusty is hired to do punishing work at one of the toughest bars in the city, she forms an unexpected bond with the hard-edged women who work there. For the first time Dusty feels like she has a chance to create her own family and leave the darkness behind. But the dark has a way of catching up. As allegiances come under pressure, Dusty's newfound happiness begins to unravel as bad decisions prove deadly to those she loves. Girls In Cars Underwater is an unflinching exploration of passion and compulsion, and the power of both to ruin or remake our lives.

Readings: Wed., July 27; 8:15pm & Thurs, July 28; 8:15pm

Up the Hill
By: Keith Huff
Directed by: Will Frears
Cast includes: Emma Geer, Rebecca Gordon, Rick Gow, Emma Kikue, Regan Moro, Blair Prince, and Graham Techler

Synopsis: Jack and Jill, two 20-something Congressional interns, face an uphill struggle to maintain their youthful idealism in Washington, DC.

Readings: Fri., July 29; 7:15pm & Sat, July 30; 7:15pm

Tickets and more information is available by calling (860) 443-1238 or visiting

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, founded in 1964 in honor of Eugene O'Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and America's only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, is the country's preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theater. The O'Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and 2,500 emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O'Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway, off-Broadway, and major regional theaters.

O'Neill programs include the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, the Cabaret & Performance Conference, and National Theater Institute - which conducts semester-long intensive theater training, and a six-week summer program, Theatermakers. In addition, the O'Neill owns and operates Monte Cristo Cottage as a museum open to the public. Childhood summer home of Eugene O'Neill, the Cottage is a National Historic Landmark. The O'Neill has received two Tony Awards - including the 2010 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the National Opera Award, the Jujamcyn Award for Theatre Excellence, and the Arts and Business Council Encore Award.

For more information, visit the O'Neill website,

Photo Credit: Mario Elias Photography

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