Long Beach Playhouse to Present 26th New Works Festival

On April 1, 2016, the Long Beach Playhouse kicks off its 26th New Works Festival (NWF) in its Studio Theatre.

New Works is a national competition for plays that have never been produced. Playwrights submit their works to a Playhouse committee that reads all of the plays and chooses the two it thinks have the best chance to eventually go on to full productions.

The festival spans two weekends. The first weekend, the two best submissions each receive a one-time staged reading that includes a facilitated discussion with the audience and a written critique by local theater professionals. The second weekend features a two-night production workshop staging of one of the plays that won in 2015. It also includes a facilitated talk back with the author and audience.

"Because these plays are done as staged readings, the focus is on the words and inflection. There's nothing to distract from the script. The audience pays attention in a different way," said Andrew Vonderschmitt, Executive and Artistic Director of the Long Beach Playhouse. "After the reading, the feedback and discussion between the actors, director and audience can be lively and thought-provoking. It's a chance for the audience to see the artistic process from many perspectives."

On Friday, April 1st at 8pm The Long Beach Playhouse New Works Festival will present Pie in the Sky written by Lawrence Thelen and directed by Mitchell Nunn. It is an endearing comedy about an aging mother and daughter who live together in Abilene, Texas. Melinda Parker Weinstein and Elaine Herman portray a mother and daughter who spend an afternoon making the perfect apple pie while engaging in a series of heart to heart conversations.

The following evening, Saturday, April 2nd at 8pm we present Adam and Eve...And Adam And Steve, written by Jason Gordon and directed by Gigi Fusco Meese. It's a comedy that ponders what might've happened if there were two couples in the Garden of Eden, one straight and one gay. As each couple explores their new physicality, they compare notes and arrive at some profoundly funny truths. The cast for this reading is: Lawrence Adler, Brianna Michelle Hill, Miguel Solorio, Doug Seagraves, Mark Eggert, Gordon J. Marhoefer, Cort Huckabone and Bob Fetes.

The second weekend of the festival - Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9 featuresSHE, which was one of the 2015 winning submissions. The play takes place in a small working class town where children play out doors and respect their elders. The story follows the life of She Sojorner Freeman, a thirteen year old African American poet who hopes to use her talents as a writer to take her out of her small town existence.

"Our winning playwright from last year is Marlow Wyatt for her play SHE. Marlow spent the past year refining her script based on what she learned in the 2015 staged reading. Now we're at the next step in the process," said Anna Kate Mohler, Chair of the New Works Committee.

"For the workshop production we work with the playwright, director and actors to further move the script forward. We think about staging and dig deeper into the characters. The playwright, actors and director all work together to polish the script and as it continues its journey to publication.

"SHE is an incredibly strong piece. I believe it has a very good chance of going forward to publication and a full production."

Mohler is directing SHE with Phie Mura serving as assistant director. Cast in the production are: Dominique Johnson, Liliana Carrillo, Te'Vari Jenkins, Derek Shaun, and Gabriella Dormiere.

The Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m. and tickets for are $10 for each night.

Long Beach Playhouse is located at 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, CA, 90804, right across from the Recreation Park golf course. The Playhouse is community-supported theatre with programs and events that cut across age, gender, ethnic, and cultural boundaries.

The box office is open Wednesday-Saturday from 3:00-8:00 pm and Sundays from 1:00-2:00 pm on scheduled matinees.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.lbplayhouse.org or call 562-494-1014.

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