3rd Annual SHEEN CENTER THEATER FESTIVAL Celebrates The Voices of Catholic Playwrights
The third annual Sheen Center Theater Festival takes place June 20 - 23 at The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture (18 Bleecker Street, at the corner of Elizabeth Street, NYC). Celebrating the voices of established Catholicplaywrights in staged reading presentations, this year's full-length plays feature works by playwright Caridad Svich(OBIE Award Winner), Nathan Yungerberg (Cherry Lane mentee under Stephen Adley Guirgus), William Baer (Guggenheim Fellowship recipient), and Erik Ehn (Whiting Award winner).
"Since its inception two years ago, The Sheen Center Theater Festival has proudly given Catholic playwrights a platform to present exciting, theatrically vibrant, and well-crafted works of theatre," says Kelley Girod, curator of The Sheen Center Theater Festival. "This year's festival features a program of plays by promising, award and prize-winning playwrights that tackle provocative, political, spiritual, and above all, human themes. Caridad, Nathan, William and Erik are writing exciting theater for today's audiences. The Sheen Center is proud to continue its mission of developing relevant new theater and shining a spotlight on the talent creating it."
The Festival schedule:
Thea by Nathan Yungerberg
Directed by Zhailon Levingston
Thursday, June 20 at 7PM
An Afro-surrealist fantasy for anyone who feels they have run out of hope. A fantastical otherworld journey of a fifteen-year-old girl inspired by the love and light of Sister Thea Bowman. During the early hours of March 30, 1990, a young black girl whose life is saturated with hopelessness finds herself situated in the sky, which isn't really the sky but because it felt like a place that was high above everything, the sky was the best way she could describe it. In the tradition of American oral storytelling, fantasy and folklore, Theafollows fifteen-year-old Josephine on a fantastical otherworld journey where she encounters wicked trees, a kaleidoscope of butterflies, and Sister Thea Bowman and her ancestral guardians who are accompanying Thea "home" as she nears the final hours of her life.
Red Bike by Caridad Svich
Directed by Kate Bergstrom
Friday, June 21 at 7PM
What kind of future will you have living in these here United States? Remember when you were eleven years old and you had a bike, one that made you dream about a world bigger than the one in which you live? This is that memory. Except it is now. Cities change. People change. Get on your bike and ride.
The Weak and the Strong by Erik Ehn
Directed by Glory Kadigan
Saturday, June 22 at 7PM
Inspired by Paul's letters to the Romans and Hebrews, the play is a contemporary look at the mysterious compulsions that lead us to do what we wouldn't and avoid what we would. A rodeo rider, too old to be riding, rides, as his mind and body slip, and his family struggles with the right ways to care.
Three Generations of Imbeciles by William Baer
Directed by Kathy Gail MacGowan
Sunday, June 23 at 2PM
He won't be able to prevent 70,000 forced sterilizations, but maybe he can prevent one. After forced sterilizations are approved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1927, David Prescott, a young lawyer in Delaware, fights against all odds to prevent the sterilization of a helpless sixteen-year-old girl. At the Delaware Colony for the Feebleminded (1927), Dr. John Campbell is forcibly prevented from sexually mutilating Abigail Smith against her will. Eventually, David Prescott, a former prosecutor, agrees to try and prevent Abby's forced sterilization, assisted by Eugenics expert Rebecca Dawson. The historical background of this play is the U.S. government's involvement in the forced sterilizations of genetic "defectives" - over 70,000 Americans - made possible by the Supreme Court's Buck v. Bell decision to prevent future "generations of imbeciles."
The Gospel of John
Adapted by Ken Jennings
Directed by Kathy Gail MacGowan
Sunday, June 23 at 6:30PM
Drama Desk-winning Broadway actor Ken Jennings (Sweeney Todd, Grand Hotel, Sideshow) started memorizing the Gospel According to John as a spiritual practice during a difficult time in his life. He always had an affinity for the Gospel of John, which seemed to him to be a firsthand account by a man who was actually there. So he memorized it. To make it theatrical, he made a few cuts for time, which he cleared with a Jesuit priest, an Episcopalian priest, a Baptist minister, and a nun of The Order of the Sacred Heart - all of who encouraged him to go on with his presentation. St. John must have told this story over and over again before it was in written form. Ken hopes to tell it to the audience as it might have first been heard.
The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture (www.sheencenter.org) is a New York City arts center located in NoHo that presents a vibrant mix of theater, film, music, art and talk events. A project of the Archdiocese of New York, The Sheen Center serves all New Yorkers by presenting performances and artists that reflect the true, the good, and the beautiful. Named for the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, best remembered as an inspirational author, radio host and two-time Emmy Award-winning television personality, The Sheen Center reflects his modern-day approach to contemporary topics. The Sheen Center is a state-of-the-art theater complex that includes the 270-seat off-Broadway Loreto Theater, equipped with five-camera high-definition TV and live-stream capability and a multi-track recording studio; the 80-seat off-off-Broadway Black Box Theater; four rehearsal studios; and an art gallery.