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Trademark Presents Audioplay Of 2018 Hit UNDERSTOOD; Plans For Digital Workshops In 20/21 Season

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The company is also commissioning three additional projects from local creators.

Trademark Theater is announcing their re-imagined 2020-2021 season today. The season includes an audio play version of the company's 2018 interpersonal/socio-political drama Understood written by local playwright Tyler Mills, as well as two workshops of commissioned new works by David Darrow, Kira Obolensky and Harrision David Rivers, each presented digitally.

The company is also commissioning three additional projects from local creators: a new play by JuCoby Johnson, a musical by Keith Hovis, and a spoken-word-meets-rock-and-roll performance by local rock band Kiss the Tiger all to be developed during the 20-21 season.

"These extraordinary times have upended our industry. After a lot of planning and conversations with our board and community of artists, we are thrilled to keep working when many stages remain dark," says Artistic Director, Tyler Michaels King.

"We know that we will come out strong on the other side of the pandemic if we continue to support artists creating new work. With this nimble approach, we are able to stretch our creativity into new formats, share excellent works of art in the coming months, and set more projects in our pipeline for future production. We are embracing the moment."

Trademark's 2018 production of Understood produced in lead-up to the midterm elections was reviewed as "thrillingly of the moment" and a play that "points us in the right direction."

Now, two years later, playwright Tyler Mills is reworking the play for an audio format and to reflect the changing political and social landscape. "There were several elements of the script that I wanted to update but the one that felt most important was bringing the ideas of race and racism into the piece," says Mills. "It is vitally important for white people to be talking to each other about racism so that the full burden of that conversation does not fall on BIPOC shoulders. I hope that these new parts of the play will help demonstrate to our white listeners how crucial those conversations are and encourage all of us who identify as white to talk about anti-racist philosophies and action steps with our friends and family."

The shift in format also provides an exciting new direction for the company. States Michaels King, "The audio play setting allows the messages in the play to resonate in an entirely new way through a pair of headphones. It gives us an even deeper intimacy. And, in a broader sense, the format allows Trademark's work to be shared with a greater number of listeners and an ability to shift between a more diverse set of producing models in the future." Returning to the project are Sasha Andreev and Adelin Phelps, the original cast members from the 2018 production, as well as sound designer Katharine Horowitz. The Understood audio-play will be available on Trademark's website beginning October 1st through election day, Nov 3rd.

Announced in April of 2020, Trademark's new commissioning platform invited two new projects under the Trademark umbrella. The two projects are Four Measures, a new musical by Kira Obolensky and David Darrow, inspired by the real-life experiment conducted by Dr. Duncan MacDougall in 1907 in which patients' body mass were measured as the died from tuberculosis to discern if the human soul has weight, and What You Can't Keep, by Harrison David Rivers, a new play that features intensely human stories told through monologues that weave together art, relationships, trust, and memory. Both workshops will be presented in the 20/21 season to the public in a digital format. "With the future still uncertain, we want to make sure that audiences can interact with the plays and that our artists can engage with those audiences," Says Michaels King. "We may present these projects as additional audio-plays, pre-recorded readings, or edited videos of scenes and songs. As the artists work, we are by their side helping to determine the best format for their projects." The flexible approach is allowing the company to continue to drive forward its mission to create, develop and produce new works. "We might find out that, 'wow, this play really works as a podcast, or a web series,'" Michaels King continues. "Our current times are allowing us to have those conversations where we wouldn't have before."

Trademark will partner with Playwrights' Center on the workshop and digital reading for Four Measures in their upcoming season.

Beyond the public presentations of Understood and Trademark's digital workshops, the new works company is commissioning three brand new projects to be workshopped in future seasons. With these new commissions Trademark is investing in emerging and seasoned artists that will create a diverse range of adventurous new stories for the stage.

The first project, Five, written by local playwright and actor JuCoby Johnson is a new play that centers around a convenience store run by two young men, one black and one white. When a real estate developer arrives with an offer to buy the property, the young mens' relationship quickly declines. When the store and their livelihoods are put in jeopardy, how will the men navigate their unstable future? Five deals with race, money ownership, how friendship is challenged by each, and how the end of the world never feels that far off.

Keith Hovis, creator of Park Square Theatre's hit Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pagent, writes and composes Trademark's second new commission titled Outlaws, or three righteously wretched and perverse conspirators of Corcoran County [a queer western about the redundancy of subtitles]. Outlaws puts a new spin on the classic western trope and explores the queer body presence in epic American tales. Cast as outsiders, villains, or merely powerless citizens, how do queer folks step into the narrative placed upon them, and how do they rebel against the stories created by others? Defined as a "queer western, dark-comedy musical" in sung-through style with little dialogue, the piece will feature influences from contemporary folk and classic Americana while also playing into the epic musical form present in many current Broadway hits.

The third commission in Trademark's line-up comes from local rock band Kiss the Tiger. front woman Meghan Kriedler and lead guitarist Michael Anderson lead the creative process for Stone Baby, a mythological origin story that explores a young woman's unbridled liberation through her journey into rock and roll. A spoken-word/rock-show mashup about a girl born of stone and born to rock, this genre-bending production will be presented as a live rock show with theatrical, story-driven flair. Stone Baby is an energetic, fast, loud, blood-pumping, live performance experience.

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