Boston Court Pasadena Announces Selections for New Play Reading Festival

Boston Court Pasadena Announces Selections for New Play Reading Festival

Boston Court Pasadena announced the full details of its 14th annual New Play Reading Festival, July 19 - 28. Curated by Literary Manager Emilie Beck, in concert with Artistic Directors Jessica Kubzansky and Michael Michetti, the New Play Reading Festival is a key component of Boston Court Pasadena's commitment to nurturing playwrights and new work, and continues the company's core mission of developing and programming works that are inherently theatrical, textually rich, and visually arresting. This year's Festival features four female playwrights.

The plays for the 2018 New Play Reading Festival are How the Light Gets In by E.M. Lewis, Pairi Daizaby Nahal Navidar, Ladies by Kit Steinkellner and Drunk at the Base of the Bodhi Tree by Julie Hébert. Additional finalists were Three Girls Never Learnt the Way Home by Matthew Paul Olmos and The Chinese Lady Performs for Us by Louisa Hill.

"This year, we received 230 submissions for our New Play Reading Festival," said Boston Court Pasadena's Literary Manager, Emilie Beck. "We are thrilled that three of the four playwrights are based in Los Angeles and all four are women. While we read without attention to gender, we were drawn to these voices, which speak to a wide array of underrepresented female experiences."

Each play will receive a four-day workshop, culminating in final public reading. Since Boston Court Pasadena opened in 2003, the theater has mounted 60 productions, 33 of which have been world premieres - 18 of those world premieres were first discovered as part of the New Play Reading Festival.

In addition to the readings, each Thursday night during the Festival will feature a preview of the coming weekend's plays, a discussion of what makes a "Boston Court Pasadena play" and an inside look at the play development process. Literary Manager Emilie Beck and Artistic Directors Jessica Kubzansky and Michael Michetti will be joined by the festival playwrights for a lively discussion and an audience Q&A.

The New Play Reading Festival is open to the public and free-of-charge, but reservations are recommended. Information and reservations are available online at, by calling 626-683-6801. The New Play Reading Festival is supported in part with funds received from the Pasadena Tournament of Roses® Foundation and the Playhouse District Association.

About the Playwrights

E. M. Lewis is an award-winning playwright, teacher, and librettist. Her work has been produced around the world, and published by Samuel French. She received the Steinberg Award for Song of Extinction and the Primus Prize for Heads from the American Theater Critics Association, the Ted Schmitt Award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for outstanding writing of a world premiere play, an L.A. WeeklyAward for Production of the Year, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a playwriting fellowship from the New Jersey State Arts Commission, and the 2016 Oregon Literary Fellowship in Drama. Her play Now Comes the Night was part of the Women's Voices Theater Festival in Washington DC, and was published in the anthology Best Plays from Theater Festivals 2016. The Gun Show premiered in Chicago in 2014, and has since been produced in nearly thirty different theaters across the country, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland; it was published in The Best American Short Plays 2015-2016. Other plays by Lewis include: Infinite Black Suitcase, Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday, Reading to Vegetables, True Story, Apple Season, and You Can See All the Stars (a play for college students commissioned by the Kennedy Center). In 2018, Lewis' epic Antarctica play, Magellanica, premiered at Artists Repertory Theater in Portland - it received both the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and an Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights Grant. This spring, Lewis spent five weeks in residence at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, teaching playwriting and working with students on a workshop production of a big, new political play set in her home state of Oregon called The Great Divide. In addition, Lewis premiered Town Hall, a new opera written with composer Theo Popov, at the University of Maryland Opera Studio. Lewis is a proud member of LineStorm Playwrights, ASCAP, and the Dramatists Guild. She lives in Oregon.

Nahal Navidar is an Iranian-born playwright raised in upstate New York. Her plays are motivated by the exploration of social issues while employing magical elements to awaken the expanse of human emotion. Nahal's plays have been developed at Silk Road Rising, Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA, The Vagrancy's Writer's Group, Troy Foundry Theatre, Couerage Theatre's Colab Play Development, Rogue Machine's Dramaturge's Table, Company of Angels, The Last Frontier Theatre Conference, Pasadena Playhouse, Golden Thread Productions, Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Kennedy Center, and SUNY Albany. Nahal holds an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from the University of Southern California and is a member of the Dramatist's Guild of America.

Kit Steinkellner is the creator and executive producer of the forthcoming Facebook Watch half-hour series Sorry for Your Loss starring Elizabeth Olsen, Janet McTeer, Kelly Marie Tran, Jovan Adepo, and Mamoudou Athie. She has also developed with Showtime and wrote on the Amazon series Z: The Beginning of Everything. As a playwright, her work has been produced Off-Broadway at Playwright's Horizons Peter Jay Sharp Theater, at the San Diego Old Globe, and at the Kennedy Center. Her plays have been praised by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and L.A.Weekly. Steinkellner is the author of the graphic novel Quince which won the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards Award for Best Graphic Novel and has been nominated for a 2018 Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic.

Julie Hébert is a writer and director of theater, film and television. She has twice been honored with the PEN Award for Drama for The Knee Desires the Dirt and Tree. Her plays have been produced widely and she has directed for theaters including Steppenwolf, the Magic, the Women's Project, and LaMaMa. Her work has been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, the Gerbode Foundation, the California Arts Council and others. She is an alumna of New Dramatists, where she won the distinguished In theSpirit of America Award from the MacLean Foundation. Hébert adapted her musical play Ruby's Bucket of Blood for Showtime with Angela Bassett; her film Female Perversions, with Tilda Swinton, was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. With John Wells, she co-directed a 9/11 documentary, In Their Own Words, which was honored with the George Foster Peabody Award. Hébert has written and directed for several highly regarded television series from The West Wing to American Crime. Currently, she is developing a series with Fox and writing/producing for the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle, based on a Philip K. Dick novel. Hébert is also the Executive Director and creative force behind Look What SHE Did!, a non- profit organization creating video interviews promoting untold stories of amazing women. Drunk at the Base of the Bodhi Tree was written in two workshops; Erik Ehn's silent retreat in Bolinas and at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming. Hébert is working on a new play under commission for San Francisco Playhouse.

Photo: New Play Reading Festival 2017. Courtesy of Boston Court Pasadena.

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