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New Jersey Theatre Alliance And NJPAC Partner In Fifth Year Of Premiering New Play Readings

New Jersey Theatre Alliance, in partnership with New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, announces the return of NJPAC Stage Exchange for a fifth year. The program gives established playwrights an opportunity to hear commentary from the public about their new works at a special sneak peek reading event on Friday, March 8 at NJPAC.

The creative process also involves two additional script readings with public conversations at NJPAC on April 5 and May 3. The program then concludes with world premieres of each work that will be produced at two professional member theatres of the Alliance in the future. The playwrights selected this year are Erlina Ortiz and Marlena Lustik.

"How a new play comes to fruition is one of the great mysteries of the theatre for many patrons," says John McEwen, Executive Director of New Jersey Theatre Alliance. "Audiences can now enjoy this unique opportunity to experience the creative development of the playwright at the beginning stage - a reading - which is being hosted so generously again by our partner NJPAC."

In 2014, NJPAC established the NJPAC Stage Exchange program, which presented staged readings of plays-in-progress by notable New Jersey playwrights. An educational component was added during the following year to deepen the impact of the new plays and support the producing theatres.

"For the first time in NJPAC Stage Exchange's five-year history, a new musical work will be presented and we couldn't be more excited," said Julia Kraus, NJPAC's Producer of Artistic Development. "This year's works-in-progress also tackle themes of acceptance and empowerment, which resonate in New Jersey and throughout our greater global community. We encourage audiences to join us, hear the plays, share their experiences, and be part of the development process."

Erlina Ortiz' musical, Silueta, follows the unlikely friendship of two women who were ripped from their roots and planted in New York City, and is inspired by the life and work of Cuban-American performance artist, Ana Mendieta. A full reading of Silueta will be held at NJPAC on Friday, April 5th, at 7:00 p.m. with music provided by Aleksandra Weil and lyrics by Eloise Govedare. The entire musical will be produced by Passage Theatre Company in Trenton.

Marlena Lustik's play Mother of the Bride? is the tale of two families, one from northern New Jersey, the other from Texas with traditional views on life who find that their children have decided to wed and face life as a transgender couple. A full-script reading of Mother of the Bride? will take place at NJPAC on Friday, May 3, at 7:00 p.m. The finished play will be produced by Cape May Stage in Cape May.

The Stage Exchange kick-off on Friday, March 8 is free to the public and will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Chase Room of NJPAC in Newark, NJ. Guests will learn about the Stage Exchange program and enjoy excerpts of the two productions followed by a Q&A with the cast and creative teams. Advance registration is required. Tickets for all readings can be reserved at or by calling 1-888-GONJPAC (1-888-466-5722).

Stage Exchange is presented by NJPAC in partnership with New Jersey Theatre Alliance, with support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Additional generous support is provided by ADP, official Community Engagement Partner of NJPAC.

Kick-Off Event
Friday, March 8, 2019 6:30 p.m.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Chase Room, 1 Center Street, Newark
The public is invited to listen to the artistic staff of the participating theatres discuss the process of writing and developing a new play, and the unique aspects of the NJPAC Stage Exchange program. There will also be a sneak peek of Erlina Ortiz's commissioned musical: Silueta and Marlena Lustik's commissioned play, Mother of the Bride?

Lyrics by Eloise Govedare / Music by Aleksandra M. Weil / Book by Erlina Ortiz
Full Reading: Friday, April 5, at 7:00 p.m. at NJPAC
Co-commissioned with Passage Theatre Company in Trenton
Quiet, conservative Xiomara and eccentric activist Ishtar aren't a roommate match made in heaven in the musical "Silueta." But in 2016, as the Cuba embargo lifts and anti-immigrant sentiment boils over, nothing is as it seems. Plagued by the ghosts of their pasts, Xiomara and Ishtar struggle to find meaning, laughter, and family away from home.

Erlina Ortiz (Book Writer) is a Dominican-American playwright, performer, and theatre maker from Reading, PA based in Philadelphia. Her plays on gentrification, domestic violence, and rape culture have been produced with Power Street Theatre Company where she is proud to be resident playwright. Erlina is a member of Philly emerging playwrights lab The Foundry and New Pages with Azuka Theatre Company. Erlina has received the Amtrak Writer's residency, the Signal Fire Outpost Residency on Mount St. Helens. She has also twice been a finalist for the Leeway Transformation Award, and her play She Wore Those Shoes had a developmental reading at Theatre Exile's Studio X-hibition Series.

C. Ryanne Domingues (Director) became Passage Theatre Company's Artistic Director in 2017. She has worked for a number of theatres on both the East and West Coasts, including The Wilma Theater, InterAct Theatre Company, Plays & Players Theatre, South Coast Repertory, California Shakespeare Theater, and Utah Shakespeare Festival. She also co-founded and served as the Producing Artistic Director of Philadelphia's Simpatico Theatre from 2004-2010. Ryanne has directed for a number of universities including LaSalle, Bloomsburg, and most recently, Princeton's Triangle Show.

Trenton's premiere professional theatre, Passage Theatre Company is committed to creating and producing socially relevant new plays and arts programming that deeply resonate with and reflect their community. Through professional productions, educational programs, and community engagement, Passage has gained national recognition for its productions of both new and established plays that appeal to the diverse communities of New Jersey's State Capitol.

"Mother of the Bride?"
Playwright: Marlena Lustik
Full Reading: Friday, May 3, at 7 p.m. at NJPAC
Co-commissioned with Cape May Stage
"Mother of the Bride?" is the comic investigation of a trans-gender (female to male) groom and his cisgender bride at a wedding in Cape May, New Jersey. The couple and their families are from different worlds leading to conflicts in planning the wedding. In the end, modern technology plays a role and love conquers all.

Marlena Lustik (Playwright) was born in Wisconsin but lived in Manhattan for most of her life until moving to Cape May, New Jersey, over a decade ago. She is an accomplished director and translator of Chekhov plays having studied Russian at Columbia University. Her full-length play "The Private Resource" has been done in workshop at Muhlenberg College, at the Fremont Centre Theatre in Pasadena, at the Workshop Theatre in New York City and recently as a staged reading at the Eagle Theatre. New York credits include: a co-adaption of "An Everyman for Today" performed on site at the Church of the Holy Trinity. She is an accomplished actress having appeared on Broadway and Off-Broadway and in the nation's leading theatres like The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Long Wharf Theatre and Goodspeed Opera. She was also a show girl at the Copa and danced in Broadway musicals.

Roy Steinberg (Director) has directed Anne Jackson, Kim Hunter and Alvin Epstein in "The Madwoman of Chaillot" by Jean Giraudoux at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. He has also directed "Othello" on Theatre Row in New York and directed the premieres' of "Second Summer," starring Joan Copeland, "How To Make A Rope Swing" starring Lynn Cohen and "The Shuck" starring Kim Zimmer. He has directed "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Our Town" for Muhlenberg College, "American Buffalo" for Lehman College of the Performing Arts, "Private Lives" for Mount Holyoke College, and "The Importance of Being Earnest" for the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. He has directed at scores of regional theatres and for the past ten years has been the Producing Artistic Director of Cape May Stage.

Cape May Stage is the premiere Equity theatre in south Jersey and just celebrated thirty years of bringing contemporary plays with world class artists to the residents and visitors of Cape May. Finding Tony Award winning artists in an intimate venue that is on the National Register is indeed a rarity and why so many people refer to Cape May Stage as a "hidden treasure." For more information, visit or call (609) 770-8311.

New Jersey Theatre Alliance And NJPAC Partner In Fifth Year Of Premiering New Play Readings

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