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Works by Chen, Payne & Silverman Set for Long Wharf Theatre's 2017 Contemporary American Voices Festival

Works by Chen, Payne & Silverman Set for Long Wharf Theatre's 2017 Contemporary American Voices Festival

Long Wharf Theatre's Contemporary American Voices Festival, an annual celebration of adventurous, innovative new plays, will take place October 20-22 on Stage II.

Currently in its third year, the festival is part of a continued initiative to support new work and give theatergoers a first look at some of the most exciting theatrical voices in the country. "New work is the lifeblood of the theatre. It's what keeps the art form vital and alive. And how better to support new work than to give opportunities to today's most exciting young writers?" said Literary Manager Christine Scarfuto, curator of the festival.

This year's festival will include plays by Christopher Chen, Jonathan Payne, and Jen Silverman. Passage by Christopher Chen, directed by Saheem Ali, will be presented on Friday, October 20 at 7 pm. Jonathan Payne's Poor Edward, directed by Tyne Rafaeli, will take place on Saturday, October 21 at 7 pm. All the Roads Home by Jen Silverman, directed by Lee Sunday Evans, will take place on Sunday, October 22 at 3 pm. "Christopher Chen, Jonathan Payne, and Jen Silverman are smart, thrilling writers. The stories they've created here present a bold and nuanced vision of the world, and are screaming to be told," Scarfuto said.

Christopher Chen's plays include The Hundred Flowers Project, The Late Wedding, Mutt, Caught and You Mean To Do Me Harm. Honors include The Obie Award and The Barrymore Award for Caught; The Glickman Award and Rella Lossy Award for The Hundred Flowers Project; the Lanford Wilson Award; The Sundance Institute/Time Warner Fellowship; and the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, through which he was playwright in residence at The Vineyard. Commissions include American Conservatory Theatre, The Aurora, LCT3, Manhattan Theatre Club, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Playwrights Horizons. He is currently resident playwright at Crowded Fire Theatre Company. A San Francisco native, Chris is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, and holds an M.F.A. in playwriting from S.F. State.

Jonathan Payne's work has been produced and developed at the Tristan Bates Theatre (UK), Ars Nova, Fringe Festival NYC, The Bushwick Star, and the Fire This Time Festival. He was a proud fellow at New Dramatists, Playwrights Realm and The Dramatist Guild, as well as an Ars Nova Play Group member 2014-15. Awards include the Princess Grace Award (2015), Holland New Voices Award (2014), Rosa Parks Award (2011), John Cauble Short Play Award (2002). He received a BA from the GSA Conservatoire (UK) and an MFA in Playwriting from Tisch School of the Arts. He now attends the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School.

Jen Silverman's theatre work includes The Moors (Yale Rep premiere, off-Broadway with The Playwrights Realm, Susan Smith Blackburn finalist); The Roommate (Actor's Theatre of Louisville premiere, produced across the U.S. including South Coast Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival and upcoming at Steppenwolf); and Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties (Woolly Mammoth premiere). Jen is a member of New Dramatists, an affiliated artist with the Playwrights Center and SPACE on Ryder Farm, and has developed work with the O'Neill, NYTW, The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, and the Royal Court in London among others. She's a two-time MacDowell fellow, recipient of an NYFA grant, the Helen Merrill Award, the Yale Drama Series Award, and the 2016-2017 Playwrights of New York fellowship. She has a two-book deal with Random House for a collection of stories (The Island Dwellers, May 2018) and a novel. She was educated at Brown, Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and Juilliard. More info can be found at

Tickets are $10 or all three readings for $25. Reservations can be made by calling 203-787-4282 or visiting There will be a happy hour with half off drinks an hour before the beginning of each reading.

The festival is sponsored by the Burry Fredrik Foundation, Helen Kauder and Barry Nalebuff, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


BY Christopher Chen
Directed by Saheem Ali

A riff on A Passage to India, E.M. Forster's eerily prescient 1924 novel on the British occupation of India, Passage recasts the novel as a minimalist contemporary fable on the clash of two imagined cultures, creating an ominous meditation on perception, prejudice, and power.

BY Jonathan Payne
Directed by Tyne Rafaeli

Opal and Eddie are together. She'd call it survival, he'd call it penance. As night descends around their hovel, they grapple to find a way to forge a new life. Inspired by the destruction of a homeless community in San Jose, California, Poor Edward tells a darkly theatrical story of intimacy and survival, and the seductive power of hope.

BY Jen Silverman
Directed by Lee Sunday Evans

Three generations of headstrong women must discover the threads of unspoken secrets, shared dreams, and unflinching determination that bind them together. A funny, poignant play with live music about legacy, sacrifice, and fighting for your dreams.

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