Portland Stage Announces 2018 Little Festival Of The Unexpected

Portland Stage will celebrate 29 years of nurturing playwrights and new work from May 8-12, 2018 during the Little Festival of the Unexpected. Little Festival is a week-long event dedicated to public readings of new American plays. Each May three playwrights are in residence at Portland Stage throughout the week developing their scripts with input from actors, dramaturgs, and directors. Staged readings are performed by the Affiliate Artists and other professional actors, and followed by an open discussion with the audience. All readings are held in our intimate Studio Theater, 25A Forest Avenue, $10 suggested donation. For reservations, visit portlandstage.org or call the Portland Stage Box Office at 207.774.0465.

"Little Festival of the Unexpected has been at the heart of Portland Stage's commitment to presenting new plays for the past twenty-eight years," says Anita Stewart, Executive & Artistic Director of Portland Stage. "In that time span, we've brought so many scripts developed at the festival to our Mainstage, and developed relationships with playwrights who are doing exciting work here and around the country. It's an unparalleled way for Maine audiences to see new plays taking shape first-hand, and I can't wait to see where this year's plays and writers will take us next."

Since its debut in 1990, the Little Festival of the Unexpected has established a tradition of nurturing artists, invigorating audiences, and exploring new voices, and new visions of theater. Bringing playwrights together for the week-long festival builds a creative incubator for developing new ideas. Often, the writers are hearing their play performed by a company of professionals for the first time. Little Festival audiences are encouraged to delve into the creative process by sharing their feedback with the artists during open discussions following each reading.


The Absentee by Julia Doolittle

Far out in the Milky Way, "Beacons" serve as lighthouses for warping spaceships around the galaxy. When a U.S. Space Forces ship explodes near Beacon 44.AR.90, its Operator finds herself alone in deep space with only her ship's A.I. for companionship. That is, until a persistent canvasser calls, desperate to convince her to vote absentee in the 2088 election.

The Half-Light by Monica Wood

Join us for the first look at playwright and novelist Monica Wood's latest play. Can anyone be trained to see the dead? A college secretary's dogged pursuit of an answer leads to more earthly challenges when a colleague is felled by grief. This heartwarming drama about love and purpose that examines the ghosts that live within us all.

Things That Are Round by Callie Kimball

Tetherly, a dentist specializing in existential terror, and Nina, an opera singer who just might be the worst babysitter ever, square off in a strange ballet of truth or dare. But is this a game anyone can even win? Thelma and Louise meets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? On steroids.


Tuesday May 8th, 7:00 pm
The Absentee by Julia Doolittle | Directed by Todd Brian Backus

Wednesday May 9th, 7:00 pm
Things That Are Round by Callie Kimball | Directed by Daniel Burson

Thursday May 10th, 7:00 pm
The Half-Light by Monica Wood | Directed by Sally Wood

Saturday May 12th, 12:30 pm
The Absentee by Julia Doolittle | Directed by Todd Brian Backus

Saturday May 12th, 3:30 pm
Things That Are Round by Callie Kimball | Directed by Daniel Burson

Saturday May 12th, 7:30 pm
The Half-Light by Monica Wood | Directed by Sally Wood

Julia Doolittle (The Absentee) is thrilled to be bringing The Absentee to Portland Stage. Most recently, her work was seen at South Coast Repertory's Pacific Playwrights Festival, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. Her work has also been seen at Victory Gardens Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Sam French Off-Off Broadway Festival, Rattlestick Playwright's Theatre, The Tank, Tiny Rhino, The Women's Project, Urban Stages, and Rogue Machine Theatre. She's a proud recipient of the Elizabeth George Commission from South Coast Rep, a finalist for the Neukom Award, a semi-finalist for the O'Neill Summer Conference, and a finalist for the 2017 Heideman Award at the Humana Festival. She is a newly minted member of the Obie-Award winning playwrights' group, Youngblood.

Monica Wood (The Half-Light) is a novelist, memoirist, and playwright. Her most recent novel, The One-in-a-Million Boy, has been published in 22 languages in 30 countries and won a 2017 Nautilus Award (Gold) and the New England Society Book Award. She is also the author of When We Were the Kennedys, a New England bestseller, Oprah magazine summer-reading pick, and winner of the May Sarton Memoir Award and the 2016 Maine Literary Award. Her novel Any Bitter Thing was an ABA bestseller and Book Sense Top Ten pick. Her other fiction includes Ernie's Ark, which has been excerpted on NPR's "Selected Shorts" and selected by several towns and cities as their "One Book, One Community" read; My Only Story, a finalist for the Kate Chopin Award; and Secret Language, her first novel. Her widely anthologized short stories have won a Pushcart Prize and been featured on public radio. She also writes books for writers and teachers. Her nonfiction has appeared in Oprah, New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Parade, and many other publications. Her first play, Papermaker, debuted at Portland Stage in an extended run, its bestselling play ever. Her second play, The Half-Light, will debut at Portland Stage in 2019.

Callie Kimball (Things That Are Round) is a MacDowell Fellow, a two-time winner of the Rita & Burton Goldberg Award, a finalist for the O'Neill, a semifinalist for the Princess Grace Award, and a four-time nominee for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Her plays have appeared in NY, Chicago, LA, and DC, at the Kennedy Center, Portland Stage Company, Lark Play Development Center, Dramatic Repertory Company, Halcyon Theatre, Stoneham Theatre, Echo Theatre, The Brick Theater, Project Y Theatre, Team Awesome Robot, Washington Shakespeare Company, Mad Horse Theatre, and more. She is currently writing a commission for ShadowCatcher Productions inspired by the letters of her grandparents during World War II. Things That Are Round will have its world premiere this November at Rep Stage. Plays include: Sofonisba (Clauder Gold Prize Winner, Kilroys' List), Rush, Alligator Road, Dreams of the Penny Gods.

As the leading professional theater in Northern New England, Portland Stage is committed to creating great art, passionate about using the theater to educate, and dedicated to enriching our community. Founded in 1974 as the Profile Theater, Portland Stage today serves an annual audience of 50,000 people through mainstage performances and educational programs with a balance of classics and new works for the stage.

The audience Portland Stage serves is as diverse as the population of New England, and the theater seeks to stimulate the imaginations of our community with equally diverse programs. Portland Stage offers encouragement and inspiration to playwrights by hosting the Little Festival of the Unexpected and the Clauder Competition for New England playwrights. Together, these programs bring some of the freshest and most innovative voices writing for the American theater to Portland.

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