Florida Rep Announces 6th Annual PlayLab Festival Line-up
Florida Repertory Theatre's 2019 PlayLab Festival of New Plays and Emerging Voices kicks off May 9 with readings of five new plays and one musical, a command performance of the world-premiere play for young audiences, "Refugee," and a Keynote Address from literary agent, Susan Gurman.
The 2019 PlayLab lineup reflects Florida Rep's mission to produce a wide variety of work by emerging and well-established writers. The selected works are "Good Americans" by Bruce Graham, "Death of a Driver" by Will Snider, "The Last Buckley" by Nathan Cann, "Loving and Loving" by Beto O'Byrne, "The Circle Game" conceived and arranged by Victoria Casella with a book by Michael Bias, and "Safety Net" by Daryl Lisa Fazio.
Sponsored by Lee Moore and Dee Whited, the sixth annual PlayLab Festival runs May 9-12 in the ArtStage Studio Theatre, and tickets are $20 per reading or $99 for an all-access pass that includes six admissions, and the Keynote Address/Playwrights' Panel. New this year is a $125 VIP pass which allows for reserved seating at each reading. Tickets for the performance of "Refugee" are $10 in the Historic Arcade Theatre.
The selected plays were chosen from an open call for submissions to affiliated artists with the National New Play Network, PlayLab alumni playwrights, and literary agencies. Florida Rep's reading committee, made up of 40 theatre professionals and sponsors, began reading and evaluating 75 scripts this fall before the final selections were made in earlier this month.
Each of the festival playwrights works with a professional director and a professional cast of actors and receives 15 hours to workshop and develop their piece before it has one public reading during the intensive weekend festival. The plays are each in consideration for a future premiere production in a subsequent Florida Rep season, and every year since its inception, the theatre has chosen one or two of the plays for production.
Earlier this year, "Damascus" by Bennett Fisher had its Southeast United States premiere in the ArtStage Studio Theatre after having been read on the 2017 PlayLab. Also, in an announcement due out next week, the Florida Rep's 2019-2020 season includes the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of "Alabaster" by Audrey Cefaly, which was read in the 2018 PlayLab last May.
Also as part of the 2019 festival, audiences will have the opportunity to see Florida Rep's world premiere production of "Refugee" by Eric Coble based on the bestselling novel by Alan Gratz. Commissioned in early 2018 by Florida Rep's Education department, "Refugee" tells the story of three children separated by the decades as they flee violence and persecution in search of the same thing: home. On tour across Southwest Florida schools, "Refugee" marks the third theatre collaboration with Eric Coble, a playwright in residence at the Cleveland Playhouse.
Each reading and performance includes a talk-back and a discussion with the playwrights, directors, and actors. The audience feedback is instrumental in the development process and helps the playwrights perfect their scripts and helps guide Florida Rep as it decides whether to include one of these plays in a future season.
The festival will feature many of Florida Rep's ensemble artists, professionals from across the state of Florida, and local actors familiar to Southwest Florida audiences.
2019 PlayLab Festival of New Works and Emerging Voices
GOOD AMERICANS by Bruce Graham
May 9 at 7 pm
In 1949 America, a film director attempts to protect his actors from the Red Scare. They realize they're in over their heads when a government agent arrives and reveals a secret that none of the Western movie stars could have anticipated. Bruce Graham's play "Gary" was read in the 2018 PlayLab.
Sponsored by Noreen Raney
DEATH OF A DRIVER by Will Snider
May 10 at 4 pm
An American engineer moves to Kenya to build a road and befriends her charismatic African driver. When a dispute over a local election lands him in jail, she questions the integrity of their alliance. A powerful and unexpected thrill-ride.
THE LAST BUCKLEY by Nathan Cann
May 10 at 8:30 pm
One of the country's most prominent political families is gathered to celebrate their son's birthday on the eve of his first congressional race. When a long-buried secret is brought to light by a tenacious reporter, the family is shaken to their foundations and the future of their political dynasty in question. Nathan Cann's play, "A Pier at the Edge of the World" was read in the 2016 PlayLab.
Sponsored by Judy & Marvin Weiner
LOVING AND LOVING by Beto O'Byrne
May 11 at 2 pm
Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple from Virginia, were arrested in 1958 for being married. Beginning in the present day and flashing back to the 1950s and '60s, this historical story is told from a 21st Century perspective and puts a human face on this famous court case and the impact it had on the arc of history.
Sponsored by Guy Almeling and Linda Sebastian
Keynote Address by Susan Gurman & Playwrights' Panel
May 11 at 7 pm
The 2019 keynote speaker is a giant in the field of literary and talent management. Susan Gurman is the head agent of Gurman Agency LLC, a theatrical, literary agency that represents playwrights, composers, lyricists, directors, and designers all over the world. Notable clients of Gurman's include Mark St. Germain and Audrey Cefaly both PlayLab alumni playwrights!
REFUGEE May 12 at 10:30 am
Adapted by Eric Coble | From the New York Times Bestseller by Alan Gratz
Commissioned by Florida Rep's Education Department, "Refugee" is a world-premiere adaptation of a novel for teens that swept the nation in 2017. This compelling story tells the story of three different refugees separated by time who are fleeing for their lives in search of the same thing: home. On tour now to schools across Southwest Florida, PlayLab audiences will get an exclusive look at the FULL PRODUCTION of this important new play!
Sponsored by LCEC
THE CIRCLE GAME | May 12 at 2:30 pm
Conceived and Arranged by Victoria Casella | Book by Michael Bias
A loving and touching musical about family, young love, growing old together, and new beginnings, featuring pop music that defined the Baby Boomer generation. The first musical showcased in the PlayLab, The Circle Game was conceived and arranged by Victoria Casella, whose work was an arranger and musical director includes "Fascinatin' Gershwin" and "Night and Day"!
SAFETY NET by Daryl Lisa Fazio May 12 at 5:30
Chris Dove is the first-ever female fire captain in an Alabama town at war with opioids. When a childhood friend and recovering addict, Val, drifts back into her and her spit-fire mother's lives, they find themselves at a tipping point between what's safe and what saves. Daryl Lisa Fazio's plays "Split in Three", and "The Flower Room" were seen in the 2014 and 2017 PlayLab festivals and Fazio was the 2018 Keynote speaker.
Sponsored by Emily Eason & Cos
Florida Rep is proud to be an Associate Member of the National New Play Network in Washington, DC, the country's alliance of nonprofit theaters that champion the development, production, and continued life of new plays, and has worked closely with the Network to develop relationships with playwrights, other theatre professionals, and theatres that champion new works.
Florida Repertory Theatre performs in the Historic Arcade Theatre and the ArtStage Studio Theatre on Bay St. between Jackson & Hendry with limited free parking in the Fort Myers River District. Visit Florida Rep online at FloridaRep.org.