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Florida Rep Announces Casts And Directors For 2019 PlayLab Festival

By: Apr. 18, 2019
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Florida Rep Announces Casts And Directors For 2019 PlayLab Festival  Image

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. Each of these plays was chosen from an open call for submissions to affiliated artists with the National New Play Network and other literary agencies.

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 and $15 in the Historic Arcade Theatre.

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. The readings include a talk-back and a discussion with the playwrights, directors, and actors, which is instrumental in the development process for the theatre and the playwright.

The festival features professional actors and directors from New York City, Southwest Florida, and regional theatres and markets across the state of Florida.

Florida Rep's Artistic Director, Greg Longenhagen, directs Bruce Graham's play, "Good Americans" after recently appearing in the 2018 PlayLab and directing in each of the previous festivals. Longenhagen is a founding company member with Florida Rep, and his work as both an actor and director has been seen extensively over the past 21 seasons.

Regional theatre director, performer, and educator, Lauren Caldwell, directs "Death of a Driver" by Will Snider making her Florida Rep debut. Caldwell comes to Fort Myers after a 23-year tenure as Artistic Director at the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville, where she directed hundreds of productions and shaped the artistic landscape of the city.

Orlando Shakespeare Theatre's Associate Artistic Director, Kristin Clippard also makes her Florida Rep and PlayLab debut directing Nathan Cann's play about a political dynasty, "The Last Buckley." No stranger to new play development, Clippard plays a key role in planning and facilitating Orlando Shakespeare's popular PlayFest, where she recently directed "#godhatesyou" by Emily Dendinger.

Sonya McCarter returns to PlayLab, this year as a director for "Loving and Loving" by Beto O'Byrne, after appearing in the 2016 and 2017 festivals as an actor. McCarter is the community engagement coordinator at the Lee County Alliance for the Arts, and recently began directing August Wilson's American Century Cycle plays at Theatre Conspiracy, most recently with "Joe Turner's Come and Gone."

Florida Rep's Associate Director, Jason Parrish, directs the festival's first musical with "The Circle Game" by Michael Bias and Victoria Casella. Parrish is a longtime ensemble actor and director with Florida Rep and has overseen PlayLab since its inception in 2014, and most recently directed the theatre's hit musical, "Million Dollar Quartet" earlier this spring.

Another of Florida Rep's longtime ensemble members, Maureen Heffernan, returns to direct "Safety Net" by Daryl Lisa Fazio in the 6th annual PlayLab. Heffernan's work at Florida Rep includes "Sylvia," "The Miracle Worker," and the 2017 National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of "Doublewide" by Stephen Spotswood, which began is Florida Rep journey in the 2016 PlayLab. Heffernan is a New Jersey-based director and educator whose work for Florida Rep has been singled out by "The Wall Street Journal" multiple times.

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. Directed by Florida Rep Education Director, Kody C Jones, the play was commissioned in early 2018 by Florida Rep's Education department. "Refugee" tells the story of three children separated by 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 whose work has been seen all over the country, in Florida Rep's 2016 PlayLab, and recently on Broadway with "The Velocity of Autumn."

PlayLab 2019 is Generously Sponsored by Lee Moore and Dee Whited

GOOD AMERICANS by Bruce Graham
Directed by Greg Longenhagen
Featuring: Craig Bockhorn*, Ian Merrill Peakes*, Brendan Powers*†, Gregg Weiner*, and Genevieve Tankosich
Thursday, May 9 at 7 PM • Sponsored by Noreen Raney

DEATH OF A DRIVER by Will Snider
Directed by Lauren Cadwell**
Featuring: Robert Richards* and Emily Shain*
Friday, May 10 at 4 PM • Sponsored by Bruce & Janet Bunch

Directed by Kristin Clippard**
Featuring: Jake Berne, Lauren Didato*, Ryan Didato*, Carol Halstead*, and V Craig Heidenreich*†
Friday, May 10 at 8:30 PM • Sponsored by Judy & Marvin Weiner

Featuring: Zolan Henderson*, Angela Pierre, and Jennifer Paredes*
Saturday, May 11 at 2 PM • Sponsored by Guy Almeling and Linda Sebastian

KEYNOTE ADDRESS by Susan Gurman & Playwrights' Panel
Featuring literary and talent manager, Susan Gurman
Saturday, May 11 at 7 PM

REFUGEE adapted by Eric Coble | From the novel by Alan Gratz
Directed by Kody C Jones
Featuring: Jake Berne, Patrick Mounce, Mikey Reichert, Genevieve Tankosich, and Sydney Torres, and Tova Volcheck
Sunday, May 12 at 10 AM • Sponsored by LCEC

THE CIRCLE GAME a New Musical Revue
Written by Michael Bias and Victoria Casella | Musical arrangements by Victoria Casella
Directed by Jason Parrish**†
Featuring: Joseph Brauer, Patrick Mounce, Carolann M. Sanita*, Sydney Torres, Gerritt VanderMeer*, and Tova Volcheck
Sunday, May 12 at 2:30 PM • Sponsored by Mary Denison

SAFETY NET by Daryl Lisa Fazio
Directed by Maureen Heffernan*†
Featuring: Rachel Burttram*†, Daryl Lisa Fazio, and Sara Morsey*†
Sunday, May 12 at 5:30 PM • Sponsored by Emily Eason & Cos

*Member AEA • ** Member SDC • †Member of Florida Rep's Ensemble of Artists


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