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14 Playwrights Set For Ojai Playwrights Conference 2021 Season

Workshop performances of eight New Works Festival plays will be streamed at scheduled times August 5 through 15, 2021.

14 Playwrights Set For Ojai Playwrights Conference 2021 Season

Ojai Playwrights Conference is announcing 14 playwrights to participate in two rigorous programs, the New Works Festival and the Foundry Project, for OPC's 2021 Season. Because of ongoing health concerns, all of OPC's developmental work will be held online for this season.

Workshop performances of eight New Works Festival plays will be streamed at scheduled times August 5 through 15, 2021, over the two weekends, Thursday through Sunday. Each play will be streamed twice. Full festival passes including both weekends, and separate passes for each weekend are available. Limited individual play tickets will be available at a later date.

"The plays we are developing for 2021 are examining our extraordinary and challenging historical moment," states Artistic Director/Producer Robert Egan. "Our OPC team is tremendously excited with the playwrights in this year's programming. They are a powerful collection of the most imaginative, engaging and committed writers today. They are the present and the future of American theatre. Their work will ignite an invaluable pipeline of creativity for theatre communities across the country."

The OPC New Works Festival playwrights and plays include "Corsicana" by Will Arbery (directed by Sam Gold), "Hang Time" by Zora Howard (directed by Zora Howard), "Support" by Elizabeth Irwin (directed by Nikkole Salter), "Regretfully, So the Birds Are" by Julia Izumi (directed by Rebecca Wear), "tiny father" by Mike Lew (directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel), "Good Enemy" by Yilong Liu (directed by Chay Yew), "The Ants" by Ramiz Monsef (directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh), and "Diversity" by A. Zell Williams (directed by Kimberly Senior). Eboni Booth, as Writer-In-Residence, will continue her work on "Primary Trust" (no public presentation).

The OPC Foundry Project will begin in the fall. The plays and playwrights include "Running While Black" by Jahna Ferron-Smith, "The Jungle Project" by Kate Hamill, "that drive through Monterey" by Matthew Paul Olmos, "Tomorrow Will Be Sunday" by Heather Raffo, and "Zakiya Young Project" by Writer-In-Residence Zakiya Young.

The 2021 OPC Youth Workshop will be a partnership between OPC and Almasi Arts Alliance, co-founded by Danai Gurira, bringing students together from the U.S. and Zimbabwe in an international online collaboration aimed at broadening horizons and building artistry, confidence and community. The workshop is planned to take place in the fall.

OPC New Works Festival Plays and Playwrights

"Corsicana" by Will Arbery. In Corsicana, a small city in the heart of Texas, a woman with Down syndrome and her half-brother find themselves unmoored in the wake of their mother's death. BIO: Arbery's "Heroes of the Fourth Turning" was a Pulitzer Finalist and winner of the Lucille Lortel, N.Y. Drama Critics' Circle, Gassner and Whiting awards. Other plays include "Piano," "Evanston Salt Costs Climbing" (developed at OPC) and "Wheelchair."

"Hang Time" by Zora Howard. Three brothers chew the fat under an old, wide tree. BIO: A writer/performer, Howard's plays include "Stew" (Pulitzer Finalist), "AtGN," "Bust," and "Good Faith." She has performed her work on HBO, TV One, PBS and NBC. She co-wrote and starred in the feature film "Premature" (Sundance Film Festival/IFC Films).

"Support" by Elizabeth Irwin. Several women are in a domestic violence support group. They experience the traditional dynamics and limits of therapeutic work, the use of playacting as healing, and what it means to involve those outside the support group circle. BIO: A playwright, public school and prison educator, Irwin's play "My Mañana Comes" (nominee: Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Gassner awards), was critically acclaimed Off-Broadway and played at San Diego Rep, Marin Theatre Company, ArtsWest, Teatro Vista and Stages Repertory.

"Regretfully, So the Birds Are" by Julia Izumi. A farcical tragedy that questions the destructive nature of the American need for identity, while trying to wade through the murky waters of Asian-American-ness. BIO: A writer and performer who makes plays and musicals, Izumi's work has been presented at San Francisco Playhouse, Trinity Rep, the National Asian American Theater ConFest, Dixon Place, and more. She is the recipient of OPC's 2021 Dr. Kerry English Artist Award.

"tiny father" by Mike Lew. Daniel's "friends with benefits" relationship comes to a screeching halt when he suddenly finds himself the new father to a months-premature baby on life support at the NICU. BIO: Lew's plays include "Teenage Dick," "Tiger Style!," "Bike America" and "microcrisis." He and Rehana Lew Mirza co-wrote "The Colonialism Trilogy" and the book to "Bhangin' It" with composer/lyricist Sam Willmott. He has received Kleban, PEN, Lanford Wilson, Helen Merrill and Heideman awards.

"Good Enemy" by Yilong Liu. Determined to reconnect with his daughter, Howard embarks on a cross-country road trip that forces him to confront his past as a young cop in China during the 1980s, a period of rapid change in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. BIO: A New York-based bilingual playwright from China, Liu's work has been produced internationally; plays include "The Book of Mountains and Seas," "June is The First Fall," "Joker," "Flood in The Valley, a Bilingual Folk Musical" and "PrEP Play, or Blue Parachute."

"The Ants" by Ramiz Monsef. One stormy night in upper class America, in the hills, a violent uprising of the poor and ignored leaves three people trapped in what they think is the safest, most protected, most secure house possible. BIO: Monsef is co-author of the musical "The Unfortunates" and the author of the graphic novel. His plays include the co-written "The Many Deaths of Nathan Stubblefield," and "3 Farids." An actor, Monsef has appeared in major theatres and on numerous TV series.

"Diversity" by A. Zell Williams. Set in an MMA octagon with thousands of dollars on the line, professors battle over the student they believe is most deserving. BIO: Williams is the recipient of the Terrence McNally Award, the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize, the NNPN's Smith Prize, NYU's Goldberg Playwriting Prize, and the Barrymore Award for Best New Play. He is currently a Resident Playwright with New Dramatists.

"Primary Trust" by Eboni Booth, Writer-In-Residence. (No public performance.) Kenneth is a lonely guy living in a small town outside of Rochester, New York. He's had the same job for 20 years and the highlight of his day is Happy Hour with his best friend, Bert. BIO: A writer/actress, Booth's play "Paris" premiered at Atlantic Theater Company. She has appeared at Playwrights Horizons, LCT3, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ars Nova, and more. She is a graduate of the University of Vermont and Juilliard's playwriting program.

Foundry Project Plays and Playwrights

"Running While Black" by Jahna Ferron-Smith. Nicole is an unmarried, nearly 30-year-old Black Creative living in Brooklyn, New York, in 2019. How does she stay grounded? She runs. BIO: Ferron-Smith is a recently graduated Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow from The Juilliard School. She is also a member of the playwriting collectives, Youngblood and Interstate 73 Writers Group. Her plays include "The Woods" (Lark Venturous Playwriting Fellowship) and "Sir."

"The Jungle Project" by Kate Hamill. A stage adaptation of Upton Sinclair's pro-labor, pro-immigrant rights novel, "The Jungle," through a feminist lens. BIO: Named Wall Street Journal Playwright of the Year in 2017, Hamill is an actor/playwright. Her plays include "Pride & Prejudice" (Primary Stages/HVSF; Off-Broadway Alliance Award nominee), "Sense & Sensibility" (Bedlam; winner, Off-Broadway Alliance Award), "Vanity Fair" (The Pearl; nominee, Alliance Award).

"that drive through Monterey" by Matthew Paul Olmos. Inspired by the life of Olmos' mother, the story of a Mexican-American woman in 1971 Los Angeles as she experiences a first, nerdy love. BIO: Olmos is a three-time Sundance Institute Fellowship/Residency recipient, an Actors' Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival commissioned playwright, Resident Playwright with New Dramatists, a member of Center Theatre Group L.A. Writers' Workshop and Geffen Playhouse Writers' Room, among many other theatre writing programs.

"Tomorrow Will Be Sunday" by Heather Raffo. A theatrical experiment into the future of migration and the global economy. BIO: Raffo is an award-winning playwright and actress whose work has taken her from the Kennedy Center to the U.S. Islamic World Forum, to London's House of Lords. Her anthology "Heather Raffo's Iraq Plays: The Things That Can't Be Said" has recently been released.

"Zakiya Young Project" by Zakiya Young, Writer-In-Residence. The "Zakiya Young Project" is an honest and challenging examination into the relationship between Black silence, the suburbs and the American dream. BIO: Young is an actress, singer and adjunct professor. Acting credits include Broadway, "Stick Fly" and "The Little Mermaid"; Off-Broadway, "Storyville" (Audelco Award nomination); On Camera, "Iron Fist," "Orange is the New Black." She is the first black actress to play Lois Lane.

The OPC New Works Festival Schedule

Weekend One: "The Ants" by Ramiz Monsef on Thursday, August 5; "Good Enemy" by Yilong Liu on Friday, August 6; "Diversity" by A. Zell Williams on Saturday, August 7; "Support" by Elizabeth Irwin on Sunday, August 8.

Weekend Two: "Corsicana" by Will Arbery on Thursday, August 12; "tiny father" by Mike Lew on Friday, August 13; "Regretfully, So the Birds Are" by Julia Izumi on Saturday, August 14; "Hang Time" by Zora Howard on Sunday, August 15.

Full festival passes for all eight plays are $200. Weekend passes are $100 (four plays on same weekend), and single performance tickets are $25 (limited, available closer to performance). Each play will be presented twice, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. PT (7 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET). To purchase, go to

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