New Plays from Amanda Peet, Jocelyn Bioh and More Set for MCC Theater's 2017 PlayLabs Series

New Plays from Amanda Peet, Jocelyn Bioh and More Set for MCC Theater's 2017 PlayLabs Series

MCC Theater has announced the 2017 PlayLabs reading series, which will feature new works in development by playwrights: 2017-2018 Tow Playwright-in-Residence Jocelyn Bioh, MCC alum Amanda Peet, Charise Castro Smith, and MCC Youth Company alum Lily Houghton.

Readings will be held on September 11, September 25, October 2, and October 16, as shown below, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street). All readings are at 7pm. Full casting will be announced at a later date. Tickets on-sale now are $15, and include a post-reading discussion and reception with the artists and MCC leadership. For tickets and more information, visit www.mcctheater.org.

The PlayLabs reading series invites audiences to engage directly with playwrights as they develop new works for the theater. Each reading includes a post-show reception with wine and refreshments, offering a chance to discuss the work and mingle with the playwrights, actors, MCC leadership, and other audience members.

"Like our entire 2017-18 season, these four writers and their plays speak to the complexities of our shared human experience with an urgency that is electric and provocative. It's thrilling for audiences to come to PlayLabs to engage with new works at this stage in the developmental process and to take advantage of the chance to dive into conversations with actors, directors and writers after the performance." said Co-Artistic Director William Cantler, speaking on behalf of the company's artistic leadership.

Past PlayLabs playwrights include MCC's Playwright-in-Residence Neil LaBute, Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis, Tony® winning Dear Evan Hansen book writer Steven Levenson, Pulitzer Prize finalist Anthony Rapp, and MCC mainstage alums John Pollono (Small Engine Repair and Lost Girls) and Stephen Belber (Don't Go Gentle), among others.


The 2017 PlayLabs Reading Series is as follows:

OUR VERY OWN CARLIN McCULLOUGH
by Amanda Peet
directed by Tyne Rafaeli
Monday, September 11 at 7pm

Carlin McCullough is a tennis prodigy with the chance for greatness, but the adults in her life can't agree on what it takes to succeed in the intense world of competitive tennis. While her long-time coach and troubled mother grapple with their own pasts and failed ambitions, a dramatic encounter forces Carlin to come to terms with her past and face her future head on. Written by MCC alum Amanda Peet.

EL HURACÀN
by Charise Castro Smith
directed by TBD
Monday, September 25 at 7pm

Hurricane Andrew is quickly approaching Miami, and three generations of women prepare for the storm while the matriarch Valeria battles her quickly advancing Alzheimer's disease. Held captive to her debilitating condition, Valeria's memories and inner world are revealed in a journey both tragic and dreamlike. Thirty years later, the family is again threatened by rising waters and an impending disaster as they face each other in the wake of an unforgivable mistake. With allusions to Shakespeare's The Tempest, El Huracànis a magical exploration of one family's multi-generational battle with acceptance and forgiveness. Written by Charise Castro Smith.

HAPPINESS AND JOE
by Jocelyn Bioh
directed by Saheem Ali
Monday, October 2 at 7pm

Happiness and Joe are madly in love and their wedding is the most anticipated event in the (fictional) African country of Upendo. But the rising tensions in the country are becoming harder to ignore and they find themselves, unwittingly, in the center of it. Written by Jocelyn Bioh, whose play School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girl Play will be presented as part of MCC Theater's mainstage season. Bioh is also MCC's 2017-2018 Tow Playwright-in-Residence.

DEAR
by Lily Houghton
directed by Jenna Worsham
Monday, October 16 at 7pm

April has disappeared from her college campus, and her three friends convene in their dorm's shared bathroom to trade theories about her whereabouts and attacks against each other. When April's paper on female serial killers begins to bare striking similarities to their behavior, the students are forced to face their own secrets and rage. Written by MCC Youth Company alum Lily Houghton, Dear explores the violence against and among young women today.


ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS:

Jocelyn Bioh is a Ghanaian-American writer/performer from New York City. NYC acting credits include: In The Blood, Everybody (Signature, Lortel Nomination); Men on Boats(Playwrights Horizons); An Octoroon (Soho Rep); Neighbors (The Public Theater) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which won the Tony® Award for Best Play in 2015. Her plays include: 2015 Kilroys' List selection Nollywoods Dreams which was presented in the Spring of 2017 as part of The Cherry Lane Mentor Project, School Girls (Kilroys' List 2016), Happiness And Joe (2017), African Americans (Ruby Prize Finalist 2011), Goddess (book writer) and The Ladykiller's Love Story, of which she conceived the story and wrote the libretto with music/lyrics by Cee Lo Green. She is a commissioned playwright with MTC and Atlantic Theater Co, is a Resident Playwright at Lincoln Center and is a Tow Foundation Playwright in Residence with MCC for 2017/18. B.A in English/Theatre from The Ohio State University and MFA in Playwriting.

Lily Houghton is a twenty-two year old playwright born and raised in Manhattan. She wrote her first play at age seventeen before completing her B.A. in Theater and Clinical Psychology with a minor in Literature at Bennington College. Her plays have been developed at MCC Theater Company, NYU, 20% Theater Company Chicago, Yale University's Writers' Conference, Bennington College, University of Michigan Theater Conservatory, and the Jermyn Street Theatre in London.

Amanda Peet is an actress and playwright who most recently starred in the IFC series "Brockmire". Before that she could be seen in the HBO series "Togetherness" created by the Duplass Brothers, as well as the movies Please Give, The Whole Nine Yards, Igby Goes Down, Something's Gotta Give, Changing Lanes, and Syriana. She wrote a play called the Commons of Pensacola that ran at MTC starring Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Charise Castro Smith is a playwright, television writer and actor originally from Miami. Her playwright credits include Feathers and Teeth (Goodman Theatre/developed at Atlantic Theatre Company), Estrella Cruz (Ars Nova/Halcyon Theatre), The Hunchback of Seville (Washington Ensemble Theatre/Trinity Repertory Company), Washeteria (Soho Rep), and Boomcracklefly (Miracle Theatre). Smith is a recipient of a Van Lier Fellowship at New Dramatists, and is an alumna of Ars Nova's Play Group and The New Georges Jam. She is currently a Supervising Producer on The Haunting and prior to that, she was a Producer on "The Exorcist" for FBC/20th. Her pilot "The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez" was shot for ABC/ABCS with Fazekas & Butters Executive Producing. She holds an M.F.A from Yale School of Drama.

In addition to the PlayLabs series, the 2017-18 MCC Theater Season will include the NYC premiere of Charm, (August 31 - October 8, 2017) a play by Chicago-based, Jefferson Award-winning playwright Philip Dawkins to be directed by Helen Hayes Award winner and 2017 Lucille Lortel Award nominee Will Davis; School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play (November 2 - December 10, 2017) by 2017-2018 Tow Playwright-in-Residence Jocelyn Bioh and directed by 2017 Tony® Award winner Rebecca Taichman, developed last year at MCC's PlayLab series; Relevance (February 1 - March 11, 2018) by JC Lee and directed by Tony® Award nominee Liesl Tommy; Transfers (April 5 - May 13, 2018) by MCC Youth Company Playwriting Lab Director Lucy Thurber and directed by Jackson Gay; and the world premiere of MCC Playwright-in-Residence Neil LaBute's new play, Reasons to be Pretty Happy (August 16 - September 23, 2018), to be directed by MCC alum Leigh Silverman.

MCC Theater broke ground on its first permanent home- a two-theater complex on West 52nd Street and 10th Avenue-on March 22, 2016. Set to open in 2018, the space will unite MCC's diverse roster of programs under one roof for the first time in the company's three-decade history. The new facility will also allow MCC to expand its programming and establish it as a cultural anchor within the Clinton neighborhood. The $35 million project is funded by a public-private partnership between the Theater and the City of New York, which has contributed $25.7 million to the project. The campaign has raised $30 million to-date.

MCC Theater's playwright development program, PlayLabs, helps foster the MCC artistic community by providing writers intensive dramaturgical support, as well as the opportunity to work alongside professional directors and actors to engage public audiences in the development of new work. The PlayLabs reading series incorporates informal post-show gatherings for conversation between artists and audiences that enliven and stimulate the often solitary and insular writing and development process. Plays developed as part of PlayLabs have gone on to full productions at MCC, as well as at other nonprofit theaters in New York and overseas, adding vibrant new works to the contemporary theatrical canon.

The company's education initiatives serve more than 1,200 public school students throughout New York each year through a mix of programs for students and teachers inside and outside the classroom. Employing the tools of theater alongside traditional academic and career-readiness, the programs empower young people to find and express their own voices, and become engaged citizens throughout and beyond their academic careers. Dedicated mentors provide students with support as they explore acting, writing, directing, and theater production alongside professionals in the field, and provide college- and career-readiness opportunities to complement the theater-focused initiatives.

The centerpiece of the institution's education programs is the MCC Theater Youth Company, the first free, after-school company of its kind associated with a professional theater. Since its founding in 2001 as an eight-member ensemble, the Youth Company has grown to serve more than 100 students each year and now includes a flagship Youth Company and satellite groups developed in partnership with schools in Washington Heights and Brooklyn.

MCC Theater is one of New York's leading nonprofit Off-Broadway companies, driven by a mission to provoke conversations that have never happened and otherwise never would. Founded in 1986 as a collective of artists leading peer-based classes to support their own development as actors, writers and directors, the tenets of collaboration, education, and community are at the core of MCC Theater's programming. One of the only theaters in the country led continuously by its founders, Artistic Directors Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey, and William Cantler, MCC fulfills its mission through the production of world, American, and New York premiere plays and musicals that challenge artists and audiences to confront contemporary personal and social issues, and robust playwright development and education initiatives that foster the next generation of theater artists and students.

Plays and musicals developed by the company have gone on to stagings around the globe. Notable productions over the course of the company's 30-year history include Robert Askins' Hand to God, nominated for five Tony® Awards and transferred to London's West End; Sharr White's The Other Place, starring Laurie Metcalf; The Submission by Jeff Talbot, winner of the inaugural Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award for new American plays; Bryony Lavery's Frozen, a 2004 Tony® nominee for Best play and winner for Brian F. O'Byrne's performance; Wit by Margaret Edson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1999; the classic cult musical Carrie, which has gone on to international productions since the Theater's extensive redevelopment work and staging in 2012, the first in more than two decades; and eight plays by Playwright-in-Residence Neil LaBute, including Fat Pig; Reasons to Be Pretty, a 2009 Tony® nominee for Best Play; and reasons to be happy. Blake West joined the company in 2006 as Executive Director. MCC will open its first permanent home in 2018 in Manhattan's Clinton neighborhood, unifying the company's activities under one roof for the first time and expanding its producing, artist development, and education programming. The Theater is currently in the midst of a $35 million campaign to support its expansion and growing artistic operations, with $30 million raised to-date.

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