Moss & Kitty Carlisle Hart New Play Initiative Winners to Run In Rep At GTC Burbank
Moss Hart & Kitty Carlisle Hart New Play Initiative 'Silver Medallion' winners get L.A. productions
Suzanne Bradbeer's 'Confederates,' Wendy Graf's 'Exit Wounds'vie for the Gold and off-Broadway premiere at NYC's 59E59 Theaters
Two new character-driven relationship plays, both by award-winning women writers and both inspired by events currently at the forefront of our national consciousness, beat out 1241 other submissions in the inaugural Moss Hart & Kitty Carlisle Hart New Play Initiative. Hart NPI artistic director Christopher Hart will direct Silver Medallion-winning plays Confederates by Suzanne Bradbeer, opening Nov. 9, and Exit Wounds by Wendy Graf, opening Nov. 16, at Grove Theater Center in Burbank, where the two plays will continue to run in repertory through Dec. 16. One will be named the Gold Medallion winner and open on March 13, 2019 for a six-week, off-Broadway run in the 196-seat "Theater A" at 59E59 Theaters in New York City.
The Moss Hart & Kitty Carlisle Hart New Play Initiative is unique because it offers writers fully staged productions on both coasts for a truly national impact. Out of 1,243 submitted scripts, four were selected as Bronze winners and received readings last summer at 59E59 Theaters in New York. Of those, Confederates and Exit Wounds were selected to receive full productions at Grove Theater Center, and one will return to premiere at 59E59 next year.
"This is the only program of its kind," says Hart. "Each of the playwrights we've selected tells her story from a new and unique point of view. Good writing just stands out."
According to Grove Theater Center artistic director Kevin Cochran, who spearheaded the creation of the Hart New Play Initiative together with Christopher Hart and GTC executive director Charles Johanson, "What's fascinating is that throughout the six-month selection process, our readers consistently rated these two plays at the top."
The Los Angeles premiere of Confederates is an often funny, often devastating look at today's high stakes political media landscape. Melissa R. Randel (original Broadway cast of A Chorus Line, co-chair of Theater Arts at Glendale Community College) stars as a seasoned, embedded reporter on the road with a newly declared presidential candidate. When her young and ambitious colleague (Daryl C. Brown – Master Harold...and the Boys at Portland Stage Company, recurring roles on Days of our Lives and The Young and the Restless) uncovers a compromising photo of the candidate's teenage daughter (Miranda Lichtman, a recent graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts), the two must decide whether to publish or bury it. Confederates was workshopped at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto and at the Lark Play Development Center and LAByrinth Theatre Company in New York City before receiving its world premiere at TheatreWorks in a production that was nominated for seven Bay Area Critics Circle awards; the play was also nominated for the 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award, and it received honorable mentions from the Kilroys two years in a row. The San Francisco Chronicle called it "part comedy, part thriller and part morality play."
Bradbeer says that her focus is on the relationships between her characters rather than on political commentary. "I like to put interesting, complicated people in ethical dilemmas, to tell a good story with high stakes," she explained in an interview.
Bradbeer's other plays, including The God Game (Pulitzer nomination), Naked Influence, Shakespeare in Vegas, Lone Star Grace, Full Bloom and more, have been produced across the U.S. Her work has been published by Playscripts, Samuel French, Applause Books, HowlRound, Connotation Press and appears in multiple Smith & Kraus anthologies. She is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, the EST Playwrights Unit, the Dramatists Guild and is a regular moderator at The Actors Studio Playwright/Director Workshop.
The world premiere of Wendy Graf's Exit Wounds explores the effects of a national tragedy on three generations of the perpetrator's family. How do you find redemption when someone you love has committed a terrible crime? A story of healing, hope and compassion, Exit Wounds unravels slowly, as a mystery: what was the tragic event that caused hoarder Linda Sadowski (Suanne Spoke, seen in Athol Fugard's The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek at the Fountain, recurring roles on General Hospital and Switched at Birth, and films including Whiplash and upcoming festival award-winner Wild Prairie Rose) to retreat from life, and her son, Matt (Marshall McCabe – Showpony and Graf's Unemployed Elephants at the Victory) to become estranged? How can Linda stem the ripple effect of the family's painful past and save the 17-year-old grandson (Dor Gvirtsman –The Chosen at the Fountain) she's never met?
Graf wanted to look at the human story behind the "ripped from the headlines" sensationalist story of a horrific tragedy. "We always hear about the families of the victims, but what happens to the families of the perpetrators?" she asks. "Can they ever live a normal life again? I wanted to explore how entire families can become defined by the actions of one member, and how the fallout from one person's act can affect future generations."
The multiple award-winning Graf's recent plays include Unemployed Elephants–A Love Story (Victory Theatre –Stage Raw Top Ten; Stage Scene LA "Scenie" awards for outstanding production and two-hander); Please Don't Ask About Becket (Electric Footlights at Sacred Fools Theatre); All American Girl (InterAct Theatre Company – Stage Raw Top Ten and 2015 award nominations for playwriting and solo performance, LA Weekly "GO!", Stage Scene LA "Scenie" award for outstanding solo performance production, Better Lemons "Best of 2015" list); Closely Related Keys (Lounge Theatre, directed by Shirley Jo Finney – NAACP award for lead performance); No Word in Guyanese for Me (2012 GLAAD Award, Helen Hayes Award-recommended); Behind the Gates; Lessons (L.A. production directed by Gordon Davidson); and Leipzig (LADCC nomination; Garland Award for playwriting; Dorothy Silver finalist). Ms. Graf is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA and Pacific Resident Theatre writing units, and of the Dramatists Guild of America.
The creative team for both plays includes Ovation nominated set and costume designer Leonard Ogden, Ovation nominated lighting designer David Darwin and sound designer Hunter Stephenson. The dramaturge is Kevin Cochran. The Grove Theater Center produces in association with the Colony Theatre Company.
Director Christopher Hart is a multiple Tony award-winning producer, director and playwright whose Broadway producing credits include Tony award-winning revivals of Porgy and Bess and Hair. Chris was intimately involved with the premiere of the stage adaptation of his father's autobiography Act One at Lincoln Center, which received five Tony nominations including one for best play. For television, he adapted his father's play, You Can't Take It With You, as a series starring Harry Morgan, and he directed for the series Tales from the Crypt. His play, Swifty, based on the life of Swifty Lazar, premiered at Grove Theater Center and was co-produced by multiple Academy Award-winner David Brown (Jaws, The Sting, A Few Good Men). Chris served as the artistic director of the Malibu Stage Company and his work as a director has been seen across the country, including at California Repertory Company, Grove Theater Center, West Coast Ensemble, LA Theatre Works, the Royal George Theatre in Chicago and The Geffen Playhouse.
Grove Theater Center has produced over 150 productions since being founded by Kevin Cochran and Charles Johanson in 1994, including 12 seasons at the GTC Gem and Festival Amphitheater in Orange County, five summer seasons of Theater on the Green in Fullerton, and continuous productions at GTC Burbank since 2001. In 2004, GTC inaugurated the GTC New Play Initiative. Plays and musicals developed through the program have won Ovation awards for both Best New Musical (Blake… da Musical by Rick Batalla and Henry Phillips) and Best New Play (Film Chinois by Damon Chua), and The Accomplices by Bernie Weinraub was nominated for New York's prestigious Drama Desk Award. Six NPI shows have moved on to productions in New York City and five have subsequently been published.
Founded in 2002, 59E59 Theaters presents off-Broadway productions by not-for profit companies from across the United States and around the world. In 2008, they were the recipient of a Drama Desk Special Award for "creating a stimulating environment to nurture a diverse range of artists." The other recipients that year were Playwrights Horizons, James Earl Jones and Edward Albee.
Confederates by Suzanne Bradbeer opens for press on Friday, Nov. 9, and Exit Wounds by Wendy Graf opens on Friday, Nov. 16, with both plays running in repertory through Dec. 16: To find a schedule of which play performs when, scroll down or visit www.hartnpi.org. Preview performances take place on Sunday Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. (Confederates), and on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. (Exit Wounds). Single tickets are $38, or see both plays for $60; discounts are available for students, seniors and members of the entertainment unions. The Grove Theater Center (GTC Burbank) is located at 1111-b West Olive Ave., Burbank, CA 91506. Free parking is available on-site. To purchase tickets, call (800) 838-3006 or go to www.hartnpi.org/tickets.