Female Playwrights Take Center Stage in 10th Annual National Jewish Playwriting Contest

The ten video excerpts were produced by JPP Artistic Producer William Steinberger and edited by Janet Bentley.

By: Apr. 14, 2021

Female Playwrights Take Center Stage in 10th Annual National Jewish Playwriting Contest

The Jewish Plays Project has announced its second annual digital contest as part of the 10th Annual Jewish Playwriting Contest. The contest opens on April 15th, going live at jewishplaysproject.org, allowing audiences to view filmed excerpts of ten finalist plays and vote on their favorite. This year, nine of the 10 finalist plays are written by women, the most in the JPP's history.

"We were excited that our blind reading process, under the direction of Contest Dramaturg Heather Helinsky, led us to a cohort that is 90% women," said Artistic Director David Winitsky. "It wasn't necessarily intentional, but it was clear that the most exciting and diverse plays, the ones that are stretching the boundaries of what Jewish theater can and should be, happened to be written by a fantastic group of women, plus the inimitable Eric Marlin."

An exciting group of established and emerging directors crafted the excerpts, including Lila Rachel Becker (Golden at Actors Theatre), Teddy Bergman (K-Pop), Raz Golden (Macbeth at HVSF), Christina Franklin (Don't Stay Safe), Yehuda Jai Husband (Sh'ma Theatre Group), Nikki Meñez (Holy Sh*t That Was Scary: The Cloud), Sara Rodriguez (Trudy and Max in Love at UC Irvine), Joshua Silverstein (The Late Late Show's "Drop The Mic"), William Steinberger (meet you at the Galaxy Diner. for the Tank & New Light Theatre Project), and Mia Walker (Jagged Little Pill).

The ten finalists are:

· ARISTAEUS by Elizabeth Savage, directed by Christina Franklin: Aristaeus is the story about a young urban beekeeper who lives in the Bronx. His rooftop is his respite, his bees a solace from the world below.

· GO DOWN, MOSES by Dana Leslie Goldstein, directed by Raz Golden: When a controversial speaker visits a liberal college campus, racist incidents follow, forcing every character to reevaluate their role in the struggle for justice.

· LEO AT YESHIVA by Emma Horwitz, directed by Teddy Bergman: A Shabbos ascent into the multi-million-dollar industry of lice-picking. Three women ferociously feed on their hairiest dreams while swimming in tubs of Pantene.

· OKLAHOMA SAMOVAR by Alice Eve Cohen, directed by Sara Rodriguez: In 1887, two Latvian teenagers flee Russia and become the only Jews in the Oklahoma Land Run. A century later, their daughter reinvents their story, aided by ghosts, blintzes and strong Russian tea.

· PART by Mariel Eve Berlin-Fischler, directed by Yehuda Jai Husband: This Shabbat, one mother must choose between family connection and family protection.

· SH@MED by Joanna Castle Miller, directed by William Steinberger: An aspiring writer's public shaming reveals a dark secret and forces her family to face the past in a new way.

· there will come a time for vengeance by Eric Marlin, directed by Lila Rachel Becker: Within the horrifying chambers of the Christian imagination, four Jews chart the psychological violence of internalized anti-Semitism. A revenge adaptation of The Merchant of Venice.

· WHAT WE FOUND by Molly Olis Krost, directed by Nikki Meñez: A new play about mixed-raced identity, how we choose to define "family," and what we keep hidden away in our garage.

· WHO BY FIRE by Talisa Friedman, directed by Mia Walker: Over six holidays, the members of a Jewish family grapple with how - or whether - to maintain their religious identity in the modern era.· THE WRONG QUESTION by EllaRose Chary, directed by Joshua Silverstein: A series of anti-Semitic incidents at a wealthy, predominately white synagogue in a gentrifying low-income black neighborhood, change Vashti and Lita's friendship forever.

The JPP will conduct this year's contest online, a format that allowed it to reach numerous first-time viewers around the country and the world through its 2020 digital contest last March. The festival also culminates in a live national celebration on Sunday, June 13th at 5 pm EST.

Viewers go to jewishplaysproject.org to vote for their favorite play. Online votes combine with those cast in regional contests hosted by JPP partners in Hartford, Chicago, Silicon Valley, Northern Virginia, Israel, and Houston to determine this year's top play.

The ten video excerpts were produced by JPP Artistic Producer William Steinberger and edited by Janet Bentley. Together, the works feature acclaimed actors including Clea Alsip (M. Butterfly), Gus Birney (Dickinson), Twinkle Burke (Gotham), Grantham Coleman (The Great Society), Erica Ewell (Blaseball) Jacob Heimer (Beautiful), Kathryn Kates (Many Saints of Newark), Chloë Levine (The OA), Maeve Press (Everything's Gonna Be Okay), Noah Robbins (Lewiston & Clarkston), Bruce Sabath (Fiddler in Yiddish), Liba Vaynberg (New Amsterdam), and Madeline Weinstein (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child).The writers who penned the final plays for this year's contest are an impressive group. Their works have been presented at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Ars Nova, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Clubbed Thumb, Page 73, WP Theater, New Georges, The Cherry Lane and the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center.

Find full information on all of the plays, including writer or agent contact information, at the JPP's website: www.jewishplaysproject.org. Interested producers, agents, and literary managers can email plays@jewishplaysproject.org.

Celebrating its 10th year, the JPP has a proven track record of success as both a hub for artists and an international launching pad for new plays. In 2020, the JPP proudly saw a contest finalist premiere off-Broadway, with Cary Gitter's The Sabbath Girl presented at 59E59 in a production from Penguin Repertory Theatre. Over 250 playwrights from forty states and eight countries submitted plays to the contest.


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