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NOLLYWOOD DREAMS and More Slated for Manhattan Theatre Club's 2016 Ernst C. Stiefel Reading Series

Manhattan Theatre Club just announced the lineup for this spring's Ernst C. Stiefel Reading Series, which kicks off next Monday, March 14. Subsequent readings will be held on Mondays through April 4.

Now in its eighteenth year, this rehearsed reading series is dedicated to the support and development of innovative new work. The Ernst C. Stiefel Foundation has supported Manhattan Theatre Club's reading series since 2006.

Several plays developed in this reading series have gone on to full productions at MTC, including David Auburn's Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning Proof, Joe Hortua's Between Us, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Based on a Totally True Story, and Molly Smith Metzler's Close Up Space (Susan Smith Blackburn finalist).

Plays from this reading series that have been produced elsewhere in New York and around the world include Michael West's The Chinese Room, Halley Feiffer's I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard, Joshua Harmon's Significant Other, Heidi Schreck's There Are No More Big Secrets, Stephen Adly Guirgis' The Little Flower of East Orange, Julia Cho's Durango, David Adjmi's Stunning, Naomi Iizuka's Strike-Slip, Adam Rapp's Red Light Winter, Theresa Rebeck's The Scene, Eric Simonson's Fake, Jonathan Caren's The Recommendation, The Civilians' The Great Immensity and Rona Munro's Donny's Brain.

All readings will take place at New York City Center - Stage I (131 West 55th Street). Each reading is free and open to the public, but space is limited and RSVPs are required. To RSVP, visit or call (212) 399-3000 x 4163.

Below is the 2016 Ernst C. Stiefel Reading Series schedule:

March 14 at 4pm: NOLLYWOOD DREAMS
by Jocelyn Bioh, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz

In the 1990s, Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, is on the rise. Ayamma Okafor dreams of leaving behind her job at her parents' travel agency and becoming a star. When she auditions for a new film by the hottest director in Nigeria, tension flares with his former leading lady - even as sparks fly with Nollywood's biggest heartthrob. In Jocelyn Bioh's new comedy, Ayamma discovers that there might be as much drama behind the camera as there is in front of it.

Jocelyn Bioh's plays include Nollywood Dreams (Kilroys List 2015), African Americans, School Girls, and the musical The Ladykiller's Love Story (with music/lyrics by Cee Lo Green). As an actress, Jocelyn's New York credits include The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time (Broadway) and An Octoroon (Soho Rep).

by Sheila Callaghan, directed by Kip Fagan

What's on the menu for the women in Guy's life? Healthy lifestyles, upward mobility, meaningful sex? Or self-loathing and distorted priorities? And why is he so tormented by it all? Inspired by an internet meme depicting stock photography images of attractive women blissfully eating giant bowls of salad, award-winning playwright Sheila Callaghan investigates our image-obsessed culture in Women Laughing Alone With Salad. This raw comedy is served with a large helping of feminism and tossed with abrasive imagery, biting social critique, and devastating humor.

Sheila Callaghan's plays include Women Laughing Alone with Salad (Woolly Mammoth; CTG), Elevada (Yale Rep), Everything You Touch and That Pretty Pretty; or, The Rape Play (Rattlestick), and Lascivious Something (Women's Project/Cherry Lane). She is the recipient of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Whiting Award, among others. She is a founder of the feminist activist group The Kilroys.

*Please note the 12pm start time for this reading.

March 28 at 4pm: THE BLAMELESS
by Nick Gandiello, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch

Diana Garcia is determined to wrangle her family and prepare her home to welcome Drew Davis for dinner, but her task is difficult: a tragic event from the family's past has given them every reason to hate Drew. As the daily chaos of the Garcia home collides with Drew's visit, they all must confront questions that may not have answers, and seek love and grace in the face of loss.

Nick Gandiello's plays include Oceanside (Merrimack Repertory Theatre), The Wedge Horse (Fault Line Theatre), Sunrise Highway, Black Fly Spring, Swept (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Off the Realness, At the Finish, and Teeming Shore. Nick was the 2015 Page 73 Playwriting Fellow. He has taught playwriting for the New School for Drama and Naked Angels.

The Blameless was developed at Ojai Playwrights Conference.

April 4 at 4pm: FALL
by Tom Holloway, directed by Lynne Meadow

In the wake of 9/11, Mark, a NY fireman and first responder, finds his marriage falling apart. He discovers new love with Steph, whose husband was killed in the attacks. Seven years later, Mark and Steph are engaged, but the aftershocks of the atrocity still reverberate through their relationship, and the secrets both have long kept hidden threaten to open a rift between them. Moving back and forth in time, Tom Holloway's moving play examines the private toll taken by public tragedy. The research behind Fall was made possible through the support of Inscription Australia.

Tom Holloway is a multi-award winning Tasmanian playwright. His plays include Forget Me Not (Bush Theatre), Double Indemnity (Melbourne Theatre Company), and Sunshine (Red Stitch Actors Theatre). His play And No More Shall We Part will have its U.S. premiere in August at the Williamstown Theatre Festival starring Alfred Molina and directed by Anne Kauffman.

Manhattan Theatre Club, under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, has become one of the country's most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. Over the past four and a half decades, MTC productions have earned numerous awards including six Pulitzer Prizes and 19 Tony Awards. MTC has a Broadway home at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and two Off-Broadway theatres at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street). Renowned MTC productions include Fool For Love by Sam Shepard, Airline Highway by Lisa D'Amour; Casa Valentina by Harvey Fierstein; Outside Mullingar and Doubt by John Patrick Stanley; The Commons of Pensacola by Amanda Peet; Murder Ballad by Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash; Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney; The Assembled Parties by Richard Greenberg; Wit by Margaret Edson; Venus in Fur by David Ives; Good People and Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire; The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez; Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies; Ruined by Lynn Nottage; Proof by David Auburn; The Tale of the Allergist's Wife by Charles Busch; Love! Valour! Compassion! by Terrence McNally; The Piano Lesson by August Wilson; Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley; and Ain't Misbehavin', the Fats Waller musical to name just a few. For more information on MTC, visit

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