New Kira Obolensky Musical 'THE OVERCOAT' to Kick Off Reading Series at Playwrights' Center

New Kira Obolensky Musical 'THE OVERCOAT' to Kick Off Reading Series at Playwrights' Center

As chilly weather settles into Minnesota, local playwright Kira Obolensky has a wintery new musical to share. "The Overcoat: A Low-Fi Musical" is the first play in the Playwrights' Center's 2017-18 Ruth Easton New Play Series, a long-running series offering Playwrights' Center Core Writers 20 hours of workshop time to develop a new play and giving theater fans a chance to see free public readings of the plays in progress.

Readings of "The Overcoat: A Low-Fi Musical" will take place Monday, December 4 and Tuesday, December 5 at 7 p.m. at the Playwrights' Center, 2301 E. Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis. Reservations are recommended and can be made at pwcenter.org.

Kira Obolensky is a beloved and celebrated playwright, especially in the Twin Cities where she is known for her collaborations with Ten Thousand Things Theater. For "The Overcoat: A Low-Fi Musical," she worked with composer Brian Harnetty on a haunting and minimal score to accompany her reimagining of Nikolai Gogol's short story "The Overcoat." In the play, poor beleaguered Charlie Shoe needs a new coat to keep Winter away-she's there, on the bridge, on the stair, waiting for his body and soul. Funny and tragic, this short musical wonders if empathy and love are really enough to save us from the clutches of coldness.

The workshop and readings will be directed by Seth Bockley, joined by a cast of Eric Sharp*, Katherine Fried, Thomasina Petrus*, Jennifer Baldwin Peden*, Joy Dolo, Skyler Nowinski, Craig Johnson*, and Malick Ceesay (*Member of Actors' Equity Association).

"This musical was originally conceived by Brian Harnetty and me as something simple and stripped down," says playwright Kira Obolensky. "We wanted to make the musical somehow more accessible-to make a theatrical experience with music that didn't require the big guns of orchestration and highly trained voices. The music is seemingly simple and so is the story-but in the lightness we hope to approximate what Gogol's short story does, which is to contemplate the great divide between poor and rich and the ways in which empathy can be born in even the most barren of hearts."

Jeremy B. Cohen, producing artistic director at the Playwrights' Center, says this adaptation is timely in its exploration of empathy within a world of shifting values. He adds, "In our own world today, we are clearly in a struggle to protect our most vulnerable citizens and to find more ways towards warmth, community, and compassion. We invite you to join us December 4 and 5 for the communal experience of sharing story, music, and space with one another."

Kira Obolensky is a Mellon Foundation Playwright in residence at Ten Thousand Things Theater. She has written several plays for that theater, most recently "The Changelings" which premiered in the spring of 2016 and "Park and Lake" which will premiere in February 2018. Her plays have been performed around the country and abroad. She has received many awards and fellowships including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Kesselring Prize and Le Comte de Nuys playwriting fellowship, as well as grants from the Bush, McKnight and Jerome Foundations. Kira has written three books about architecture and design, including co-authoring the national best seller, "The Not So Big House." Her novella, "The Anarchists Float to St. Louis," won Quarterly West's novella prize. A graduate of Juilliard's playwriting program and Williams College, Kira teaches at the University of Minnesota and in Spalding University's low residency MFA program.

The Ruth Easton New Play Series provides selected Core Writers with 20 hours of workshop time to develop a new play with collaborators of their choice: top local and national actors, directors, designers and dramaturgs. Each play has two public readings, allowing the playwright to experiment and see the play on its feet in front of two different audiences. The Center brings in visiting artistic leaders to see the readings and connect with the playwrights, and more than half of the plays developed in the series over the past decade have gone on to production.

The 2017-18 Ruth Easton New Play Series will also feature "How The Ghost Of You Clings, The Anna May Wong Story" by John Olive on January 8 and 9, "Three Quarter Inches of Sky" by Sherry Kramer on February 5 and 6, "Tiny Houses" by Stefanie Zadravec on March 5 and 6, and "the bandaged place" by Harrison David Rivers on April 9 and 10.

All events in the Ruth Easton New Play Series are free and open to the public. Reserve your spots at pwcenter.org/ruth-easton-series or by contacting the Playwrights' Center at (612) 332-7481 or info@pwcenter.org.


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