Open Fist Theatre's FIRST LOOK FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS Runs Through 9/13

The Open Fist Theatre Company presents their First Ever, FIRST LOOK FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS, with new works written by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Steven Haworth, Karen Hartman, Julie Hebert, Neil LaBute, Rick Pagano and directed by Bjorn Johnson, Neil LaBute, Marya Mazor, Charles Otte and Randee Trabitz. The Festival began on Thursday, July 23 and will run through Sunday, September 13 at The NEW Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd. (former home of The Actor's Gang) in Hollywood.

The festival is a 2 month celebration of contemporary American theatre and music. Material has been carefully selected from around the country, and ten new works will be represented in production or in staged reading/concert format. There will be four full productions and six staged reading and concert events.

The works include:

STAGED PRODUCTIONS:

FERNANDO by Steven Charles Haworth

Directed by Charles Otte

Remaining Performances: August 7 at 8pm; Sunday, August 15 at 3pm & 7pm

Zachariah Smythe, an art scholar of no reputation, recovering alcoholic, and whose wife has committed suicide, goes to Madrid. He thinks a missing artist, Fernando De La Cruz, is the greatest Spanish painter of the twentieth century. No one agrees. Enter Teresa Flores, a beautiful and brilliant curator driven to fury by love and art. Is Teresa trying to help Zach or kill him? Is Zach falling madly in love or does he merely have a death wish? Is Fernando's true genius his ability to remain mysteriously absent and still drive Zach and Teresa toward either ruin or salvation? And why does everyone, even a Blind Man, know Zach is American before he even opens his mouth?

STEVEN CHARLES HAWORTH (Playwright) wrote [home] or The Quest for the Lost Tablet of Ur for Zoo District in Los Angeles which received five LA Weekly Award nominations. He freely adapted Mikail Bulgakov's Flight for the Open Fist Theatre also in Los Angeles. In New York his play Little Fishes was produced by Abingdon Theater, Dark Age by Project 3 Ensemble Theatre and The White Cave by Penumbra Productions. Two Tribes was performed in the Carnegie Mellon Showcase of New Plays. In New Zealand he was one of four playwrights contributing to the Big Kahuna project directed by Christine Sang. He has seen his plays developed by A.S.K. Theatreworks, Echo Theatre, E.S.T. Los Angeles, Abingdon Theatre, Circle West, Carnegie Mellon Showcase of New Plays. Steven was also a founding member and Associate Artistic Director of the Project 3 Ensemble Theatre in residence at the Ohio Theatre, Soho, NYC, where he directed The Grand Ceremonial, by Fernando Arabal and performed in many productions. As an actor he has performed in numerous productions in New York, Los Angeles and regional theatre. His play Little Fishes was a finalist in the San Francisco Playwright Competition, he is a recipient of the Carnegie Mellon WCDAC Michael Goldberg award. MFA in playwriting from Carnegie Mellon Univeristy.

Charles Otte (Director) began his career with some of the top organizations in the country, including the ALLIANCE THEATRE, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Lincoln Center, the Guthrie Theatre, the A.R.T, and the Savoy Theatre. His work as a producer and director developed in New York where he was the founding Artistic Director of Project III Ensemble Theatre. This theatre company was in residence at the Ohio Theatre in Soho and Mr. Otte's productions received front page reviews and feature articles in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. In 1984, Mr. Otte began an association with the Oscar nominated composer, Philip Glass. In 1995, he directed Mr. Glass's multi-media opera La Belle et La Bete, which received its premier at The Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music. Additional work with Mr. Glass included staging the international tour of Einstein on the Beach (for Robert Wilson), staging the Lincoln Center production of Songs from Liquid Days, staging The Civil Wars at Carnegie Hall (again for Robert Wilson), and staging Mr. Glass's opera The Juniper Tree (for Andrei Serban) at the Houston Opera.

New York productions include Flood by Guntar Grass, Moliere's Imaginary Invalid, Brecht's Baal, Mikhail Bulgokov's Bliss, The Cuchulain Cycle (based on the writings by W.B. Yeates), and the multi-media production This is a Test. In Los Angeles, work includes Travesties by Tom Stoppard (LA Weekly Award Winner for best direction), Bulgakov's Flight, Brecht's Threepenny Opera, Gozzi's King Stag, David Rabe's Goose and Tomtom, and new plays by Bradley Smith, Steven Haworth, Rick Pagano, and John Bishop. .
In 1996 Otte produced and directed the CD-ROM game, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. For this work he was named one of the Top 100 producers of 1996 by AV-Multimedia Producer magazine. From 1997 to 2000 he produced the Los Angeles Screenplay Reading Series for The Sundance Institute, as well as developing scripts for The Mojave Group. His screenwriting and film directing credits include Blind Faith, I am Not a Ghost, and Mission Invisible for Click Productions (Roger Corman). In 2005 Otte finished work on the design and direction of the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. 

Employed as a Creative Director at BRC Imagination Arts in Burbank, California, Otte spent 4 years working with a team of writers and designers to create a unique museum that focuses on the life and times of Abraham Lincoln. Otte directed five major shows for the museum, and oversaw the production of all original art, music, graphics, and displays. Additional work at BRC included directing the Award winning Spirit of Texas for the Texas State History Museum.

GOLIATH by Karen Hartman

Directed by Marya Mazor

Remaining Performances: Saturday August 8 at 3pm & 8pm; Sunday, August 9 at 3pm; Thursday, August 13 at 8pm; Friday, August 14 at 8pm; Sunday, August 16 at 3pm

In the contemporary Middle East, who is David and who is Goliath? On a single tense day during the 2005 Israeli pullout from Gaza, an American settler, her teenage zealot son, their Palestinian employee, an Israeli Army commander, and a young Ethiopian soldier face off over ideals, economics, and home.
Karen Hartman is an award-winning playwright and librettist whose work has been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the N.E.A., the Helen Merrill Foundation, a Daryl Roth "Creative Spirit" Award, a Hodder Fellowship, a Jerome Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship to Jerusalem, a New Dramatists residency, and Core Membership at the Playwrights Center.
Karen's play Leah's Train premiered this season at NAATCO (National Asian-American Theater Company, directed by Jean Randich. Karen wrote the musical book for Sea Change, score by AnnMarie Milazzo, with a workshop this season directed by Leigh Silverman, starring Melissa Errico, produced by Amanda Guettel of The Araca Group. Carmen, La Gitana, a pop musical from Bizet's opera for which Ms. Hartman co-wrote the book, is scheduled for a commercial run in Madrid next season. Goliath, a drama set in the Gaza Strip (winner of the Dorothy Silver Playwriting Prize, commissioned by the Foundation for Jewish Culture with McCarter Theater, workshops at the Public, McCarter, and others), will be produced by Open Fist Theater in Los Angeles this summer. Donna Wants, a contemporary female Don Juan comedy, was commissioned and developed by A.C.T. in San Francisco.

Other plays include Gum (Women's Project, Center Stage, Magic Theater, published by TCG and DPS); Going Gone (N.E.A. New Play Grant, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); Anatomy 1968 (Summer Play Festival on Theater Row); Girl Under Grain (Best Drama in NY Fringe, upcoming publication by NoPassport Press); ALICE: Tales of a Curious Girl (Music by Gina Leishman, AT&T Onstage Award, Dallas Theater Center, published by Playscripts, Inc.), Troy Women (Yale School of Drama premiere, published by Playscripts, Inc., and anthologized in Divine Fire, Backstage Books, Caridad Svich, Ed.), and many others. She wrote the libretto for the opera MotherBone, composed by Graham Reynolds (Loewe Award in New Music Theater, Salvage Vanguard Theater). Karen (B.A. Yale University, M.F.A. Yale School of Drama) has taught playwriting in a wide range of settings, including four years at the Yale School of Drama.

MARYA MAZOR (Director) is a critically acclaimed director of theatre and film whose work has been seen across the country. She was one of eight women chosen to participate in the AFI Directing Workshop for Women, where she directed The Winged Man, featuring Ana Ortiz, written by Academy-Award Nominee Jose Rivera (Motorcycle Diaries). The Winged Man, which premiered in 2008 at the prestigious Rhode Island International Film Festival, has since played at festivals around the country and abroad.
Favorite theatrical productions as a director include the west coast premiere of Philip Kan Gotanda's Day Standing On its Head at the Berkeley Repertory Theater and the Asian American Theater Company; Kia Corthron's Come Down Burning at the Long Wharf Theater; and the world premiere of Cary Wong's Mirrors Remembered at the New York Stage and Film Company. Her work has been seen at Nada, Dixon Place, the Boston Court Theater, Circle X, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival (with Philip Seymour Hoffman), among many other venues.

Marya founded Voice & Vision, a professional theater in New York City, and she served as its Artistic Director for eleven years. During her tenure, Voice & Vision developed and produced the work of some of America's leading artists, including Olympia Dukakis, Kia Corthron, and Lynn Nottage. With Voice & Vision, Marya directed Jocasta, an opera based on the libretto by Helene Cixous; FireDance by Chiori Miyagawa; and The Fall and Repentance of Mary at the Metropolitan Museum Cloisters, among many other works. In 2004, Marya came to The Walt Disney Company to direct large-scale stage shows. Marya is a recipient of the 2003-2004 National Endowment of the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Directing Fellowship, and she has taught at The New School, Vassar College, and Fordham University. Marya holds an M.F.A. in directing from the Yale School of Drama.

THE NEW TESTAMENT & HELTER SKELTER

Two One-Acts by Neil LaBute

Preview; Thursday, August 20 at 8pm;

Performances Friday, August 21 at 8pm; Saturday August 22 at 8pm; Sunday, August 23 at 3pm; Sunday, August 30 at 3pm;

Thursday, September 3 at 8pm; Friday September 4 at 8pm and Saturday, September 12 at 3pm & 8pm

THE NEW TESTAMENT

A World Premiere by Neil LaBute

Directed by Bjorn Johnson

On the eve of a broadway production, a writer and his producer try to recast an important role in a new play, much to the chagrin of the original actor.
HELTER SKELTER

Written and directed by Neil LaBute

A husband and wife meet for coffee during the Christmas shopping rush. An attempted cellphone call opens a gaping wound in the side of their seemingly happy relationship.
Neil LaBute (Writer/Director) received his Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic writing from New York University and was the recipient of a literary fellowship to study at The Royal Court Theatre. His film credits include In The company of Men, which won the New York Critics Circle Award for Best First Feature and the Filmmakers' Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival, Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty, Possession The Shape of Things, The Wicker Man and Lakeview Terrace. His most recent film, Death at a Funeral, which stars Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan, is currently in post-production.

LaBute's extensive list of stage plays include "bash: latter-day plays," staged in New York in 1999 and London in 2000, both directed by Joe Mantello; "The Shape of Things," which LaBute directed for London and New York in 2001; "The Distance From Here," which ran at the Almeida Theater in London in 2002 (directed by David Leveaux) and in New York in spring 2004 (directed by Michael Greif); and "The Mercy Seat," directed by LaBute in New York in 2002.

In 2004, the MCC Theater performed five of LaBute's one-act plays, collectively titled "Autobahn." Later the same year, they staged LaBute's play "Fat Pig," directed by Jo Bonney. In 2008, the play was presented in London at Trafalgar Studios and then the Comedy Theater with LaBute directing the London premiere. In 2005, his play "This is How It Goes" premiered at New York's Public Theater, directed by George C. Wolfe. In May of that year, the play debuted at The Donmar Warehouse in London, directed by Moises Kauffman. At the same time, LaBute's play "Some Girl(s)" premiered on London's West End, directed by David Grindley.

In 2005, LaBute directed the premiere of his one-man, one-act play "Wrecks" in Cork, Ireland. In 2006, "Some Girl(s)" had its New York debut at the Lucille Lortel Theater. MCC Theater staged and Jo Bonney directed. In October 2006, LaBute once again directed "Wrecks," this time for the New York premiere at The Public Theater. In June of 2007, MCC premiered his play, "In a Dark Dark House," directed by Carolyn Cantor. The play then transferred to London's Almeida Theatre in November 2008 with Michael Attenborough directing. His most recent play is "reasons to be pretty," which MCC presented in June 2008. In April 2009, the play transferred to Broadway and received three Tony nominations, including Best Play.

LaBute is also the author of several fictional pieces published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Playboy, among others. A collection of his short stories titled "Seconds of Pleasure" was published by Grove/Atlantic in 2004. 

ST JOAN AND THE DANCING SICKNESS

by Julie Hebert

Directed by Randee Trabitz

Previews Thursday, August 27 at 8pm;

Performances Friday, August 28 at 8pm, Saturday, August 29 at 8pm, Saturday, September 5 at 3pm & 8pm; Sunday, September 6 at 3pm; Thursday, September 10 at 8pm, Friday, September 11 at 8pm;

Sunday, September 13 at 3pm

Jeannette LeBlanc is a troubled teenager with a gift-- a contemporary Joan of Arc with a message that connects with the public and goes viral. Exploited by the media, politicians and the Church, and then betrayed... Jeannette and her small band of true believers refuse to go away.

JULIE HEBERT (Playwright) is a writer/director working in theater, film and television. She started in San Francisco with Eureka Theater, Magic Theater and Intersection for the Arts, then went on to work throughout the country with Los Angeles Theater Center, San Diego Rep, Steppenwolf, Provincetown Playhouse, Circle Rep, La MaMa and many others. She was an early member of the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and a long-time member of Padua Hills Playwrights Festival. She also served as Artistic Director of Theater at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans for four years. Her plays include: Touch The Water, Tree, Abe Lincoln's Dog The Knee Desires The Dirt, Almost Asleep, True Beauties St. Joan And The Dancing Sickness, In The Privacy Of Strangers, and Ruby's Bucket Of Blood, which she also adapted into a film for Showtime, starring Angela Bassett. Julie wrote the screenplays for "Female Perversions" (October Films), "All-American Girl: The Mary Kay LeTourneau Story" (USA), and "Lying Awake," (HBO) adapted from the novel by Mark Salzman.
In 2002, Julie received a Peabody Award for "In Their Own Words", a documentary of interviews with survivors of the 9/11 attacks in New York. She has received grants from the NEA, TCG, AT&T new Plays, the Rockefeller Foundation and the California Arts Commission for writing, directing, and inter-disciplinary arts. Playwriting honors include the Pen Award for Drama, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, first runner-up, the Bay Area Critics Circle Best Play, NAACP nomination, several Drama-Logues and a cover article in American Theater magazine. She served as a dramaturge for the 2005 O'Neill Playwrights Conference.

Her plays are published by Dramatic Publishing, Plays in Process, and in the Best Of The West anthology. She is an alumna of New Dramatists and Alternate ROOTS. In television, Julie has written and directed for "Third Watch," "ER" and "The West Wing." Currently, she is a Co-Executive Producer for "Numb3rs." Cornerstone Theater is currently producing Julie's new play about the Los Angeles River, Touch The Water. This fall her play, Tree, will be produced by the Ensemble Studio Theatre- LA as part of the Ford Winter Partnership through the L.A. County Arts Commission.

RANDEE TRABITZ (Director) is an award winning Los Angeles based free-lance director. Local work includes: many extravaganzas with puppeteer Paul Zaloom including, ABCDarium, The Mother of All Enemies, Mighty Nice and Velvetville. Happy End at MOCA, The Mystery of Irma Vep at the Tiffany, She Haw at Largo, Duel at the Hollywood Court, Jennie Webb's Remodeling Plans at the El Portal and lots of shows in lots of venues with John Fleck, including Nothin' Beats Pussy, Dirt, The End of Me, Me, etc.

Out of town, Randee has presented work in NYC at PS 122, In Atlanta at Actor's Express and for Disneyland and the Disney Cruise Line. Out of this world, was the experience of bringing her own adaptation of Sophocles' Electra to Delphi Greece. She has written and directed plays and an opera for the education departments at the L.A. Philharmonic and the L.A. Opera.

Remaining STAGED READING AND CONCERTS:

IT WAS THE END OF THE AFFAIR

AND THE BEGINNING...

Written and Directed by Rolfe Kent

SUNDAY, AUGUST 9 at 7pm

This musical presentation is a concert born out of the work of a collective of writers and composers under the creative leadership of Rolfe Kent. Using song, story and dance, 10 different tales come to light in an party like atmosphere.

ROLFE KENT (Writer/Director) The unexpected textures and sounds of instruments are the hallmarks of musician Rolfe Kent, composer of more than thirty films, including Sideways, About Schmidt, Election, Mean Girls, Nurse Betty, Legally Blonde, Wedding Crashers, Just Like Heaven, The Matador, Thank you for Smoking, Reign Over Me, and The Hunting Party.
SAM AND LUCY by Brooke Berman

Directed by Caitlin Moon

SATURDAY, AUGUST 22 at 3pm & SUN., AUG. 23 at 7pm

Lucy, clad in vintage Gucci, confronts ghosts, family stories and Saturn Return while lunching with her mother's ex-lover. The play deliciously, playfully explores layers of family mythology and questions about the nature of love until reaching its final, heartbreaking end-note. When Lucy runs out of stories, the narrative can change. A dark comedy about fathers and longing and suede skirts and the intersection between memory and reality, and a story about creating the world through the stories we tell.
Brooke Berman (Playwright) Stage Productions: Primary Stages, WET, The Second Stage, The Play Company, Steppenwolf Theatre (Chicago); The Humana Festival, New Georges (NYC) and Naked Angels (NYC); Readings, workshops: MCC, Naked Angels, Williamstown Theater Festival, Pentabus Theatre in the UK, The National Theatre Studio in London, The Royal Court Theatre in London, ASK Theater Projects, The O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, Cape Cod Theater Project, HERE, The Womens' Project, The Children's Theatre Company (MN), The Denver Center Theater Company, the Hourglass Group, and others.
Awards and grants: Berilla Kerr Award, Helen Merrill Award, two Francesca Primus Awards, two Lecompte du Nouy awards and a commissioning grant from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Brooke was a MacDowell Colony fellow in 2008. Brooke's plays are available through Broadway Play Publishing and Playscripts. Her short film, All Saints Day, directed by Will Frears is currently on the festival circuit, most recently at Savannah (where it won Best Narrative Short) and Tribeca. Other screenplays include the feature adaptation of her play SMASHING for Natalie Portman. She is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, where she also serves on the Board of Directors, and a member of PEN, the Dramatists Guild, the MCC Playwrights Coalition and the Primary Stages New American Playwrights lab. Brooke spent five years as the Director of the Playwrights Lab for the MCC Youth Company where she taught playwriting to New York City public high school students. Brooke is a proud graduate of The Juilliard School. Her memoir NO PLACE LIKE HOME will be published by Harmony Books, a Random House imprint, in 2010.

OLD ACTOR FIGHTS by Rick Pagano

Directed by Alex Wright

SATUDAY, AUGUST 29 at 3pm & SUNDAY, AUG. 30 at 7pm
"In a not-so-distant nightmare future, the hot new reality show on TV is Old Actor Fights which pits two aging actors (ie. anyone over 35) in a ring with a set of sides to wrestle for. The victor doesn't get the role; he (or she) merely wins the chance to engage in an endless obstacle course of auditions and call backs in which demented "judges" make arbitrary casting choices to fill the roles in yet one more episode of (fill in blank with favorite 14th-season TV show).

When the loser of this game show decides to avenge himself upon Hollywood's power elite, he and his "senior" colleagues learn that knocking off the competition is often the shortest path to a successful career in show business."

RICK PAGANO (Playwright) Since 1985, Mr. Pagano has worked as President and CEO of Pagano/Manwiller, Inc. His company has cast more than 70 feature films, including "X Men 3," "Hotel Rwanda," "Rudy," :Drugstore Cowboy," "Alien Resurrection." "Point Break." "Gas, Food And Lodging." "Say Anything" and most recently, "88 Minutes," "Stardust," "Nobel Son," and "Bottle Shock."

His company has also worked in television, casting such hit shows as "24", "Picket Fences", and "Chicago Hope", winning two Emmy's for casting. Pagano/Manwiller has also cast over 100 productions for theater around the U.S. including the Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center, and Broadway, including the original Tony-Award-winning production of Big River.
As writer/director, Mr. Pagano has directed his own plays Goose Amid The Revolt, My Italian Café, Ybgd?, Ten Tricks, Eldon Corvet's Karaoke And Career Counseling Weekend Retreat, Hanging Alice, And Sex And Work; Robert Litz's Mobile Hymn and Rope Of Smoke; J.D. Johnston's All Good Horses; Eugene Ionesco's EXERCISES DE CONVERATION...with the playwright in residence at STAGES L.A. Last year, he co-directed (with collaborator Charles Otte) a critically-acclaimed adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the Odyssey Theater in Los Angeles, as well as directing his latest play, Women With Dogs. Mr. Pagano recently completed post-production for the feature film adaptation of "10 Tricks" for Shoreline Entertainment; and he is currently developing feature film versions of "My Italian Café," "Hanging Alice" (to be produced by Richard Donner) and "Sex And Work" (which he hopes to direct in the late fall of 2009). Mr. Pagano has a B.A. from Middlebury College and completed his doctoral studies in dramatic literature from Columbia University. He has taught at such world-renowned universities as UCLA, NYU, Columbia University, and the National Theater Conservatory in Lodz, Poland.

LIDLESS by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig

Directed by Martha Demson

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 at 7pm & MON., SEPT. 7 at 7pm
In Lidless, a former Guantanamo detainee dying of liver disease journeys to the home of his former U.S. Army interrogator fifteen years after their time together to demand half her liver for the damage she wreaked on his body and soul during her interrogations.
Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig - Her honors include the 2009 Yale Drama Series Prize, the 2008 Glimmer Train New Writer's Award, and grants from the Playwright's Center, Interact Theatre, Santa Fe Art Institute, the Ragdale Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. In 2009 her work will be appear at the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, PlayPenn, the Alley, Open Fist Theatre, and Yale Rep. In 2010 her work will be published by Glimmer Train and Yale University Press. She received her MFA in Writing from the James A. Michener Center for Writers, her BA in Sociology from Brown University, and a certificate in Ensemble Created Physical Theatre from the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre. She was raised in Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, Okinawa, Taipei and Beijing.

PRICING for FIRST LOOK FESTIVAL

TICKET PRICES for the FIRST LOOK FESTVIAL are as follows:

Single ticket price for one show: $23.00

Single ticket sale for two shows: $30.00

PRODUCTION PASS: For all four productions: $45.00

Preview Prices are $15.00.
All performances take place at The NEW Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd. (former home of The Actor's Gang) in Hollywood.

For tickets, please call (323) 882-6912 for details or visit www.openfist.org to purchase tickets online or to view complete schedule. 

 



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