Open Fist's FIRST LOOK FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS Runs Through 9/13, Remaining Works Include LaBute's HELTER SKELTER & More

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 remaining works include:

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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