Jersey City New Play Festival Returns To Love By Going Online

By: May. 06, 2020

Jersey City New Play Festival Returns To Love By Going Online

It might be a few weeks later than usual and in a different technological format, but one of the signature series of Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) - Jersey City New Play Festival - returns in a new online format on May 13: JCTC New Play Festival Online: Return to Love.

Now in its fourth year, the play reading series features "new" plays by new and emerging playwrights. Following a public submission process, selected plays are presented in professionally directed staged readings.

Held every spring in the black box theater at Merseles Studios, the festival is an annual tradition that showcases new work while inviting JCTC audiences to play an essential role in the theater development process. Several plays that had their stage-reading debut at the Jersey City New Play Festival have gone to full-productions, by both JCTC as well as other theater companies.

The COVID-19 global pandemic may have placed a moratorium on public events, but JCTC has reimagined the festival's live stage reading experience by presenting the series in an interactive, online format unfolding in real time. JCTC New Play Festival Online: Return to Love premiers on May 13 - 7:00pm-8:30pm EST.

The festival runs on consecutive Wednesdays (5/13. 5/20, 5/27) through May and is free of charge. Audience members can access each episode live via JCTC's Facebook Page or

Unlike physical theater, seating is unlimited. However, it's suggested that audience members reserve tickets via the event page so they can receive a festival reminder prior to each episode. Please click here.

"COVID-19 pushed us to stay at home, but it also opened up different opportunities for us as artists," said Olga Levina, Artistic Director, JCTC. "We like to look at this as a new opportunity to connect playwrights to new audiences and other artists. This pandemic has proven we can no longer ignore what's going on in other parts of the world, we're one global community. By presenting the festival online, we can truly have a global audience, we're not limited to the number of seats in the theater. JCTC programming explores issues that are universal in scope but relevant to the community, and through cultural exchanges, we erase political and borders and all realize our common humanity."

JCTC New Play Festival Online: Return to Love features a diverse range of playwrights and plays.

Levina, along with Mark Cirnigliaro, a seasoned theater director who has directed several JCTC productions. The series is again curated by Catalina Florina Florescu, a Professor of Theater and Comparative Literature at Pace University. Although she chose the Return to Love theme for several reasons, it eventually turned out that the love of theater motivated the entire JCTC crew to find a way to make theater during a global pandemic.

"Theater is a labor of unconditional love," said Florescu. "This year I wanted to curate plays that touched upon the great and universal theme of love. When I first had that theme in mind I knew 2020 would be a very important year since America is voting for president. Even before the pandemic, we were living under a lot of stress and since the arts usually helps us bring balance to our lives, I thought A Return to Love was much needed. What I did not know when I sent out the call for plays was that this year we would be put on lockdown globally. Now that we're in this place, a return to love is probably our best way out of this pandemic."

Besides greater audience reach, the roster of playwrights has an international flavor as well with writers from Canada and Mexico alongside a diverse array of American writers. Audience feedback and community dialogue - essential components of every New Play Festival - will be part of the online version, with each episode featuring Q & A with the actors, the directors, the playwrights, and the audiences. Although the staged-readings will be an engaging and thought-provoking entertainment, the series is also collaborative as audiences and artists interact, discuss and exchange ideas.

"We will witness together the labor of unconditional love I feel theater is," said Florescu. "Maybe we will learn how to make art when there is so much loss around us. This is not a time to waste on regrets and what ifs; this is, I believe, a time to return to love."


May 13

7:00pm - 8:30pm

Ashes of the Revolution by John Patrick Bray

The Star of David by J.J. Steinfeld

May 20

7:00pm - 8:30pm

Bring Me Back, Berkshires by Amy Oestreicher

Colombo Calling by Cristina Bejan

The Other by Megan Moodie

May 27

7:00pm-8:30 pm

This One or That? by Geoff Hargreaves

Rewrite by Sheila Cowley

War Dog by James McLindon

All festival readings are free and open to the public.
JCTC requests you RSVP by clicking here.

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