The Rose Theater to Host 'New Play Development Conference', 2/8

Theater artists from across the region will convene for a play development conference at The Rose Theater on Saturday, February 8, from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. The conference is being presented in collaboration with Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA).

Workshop sessions will include information on developing puppetry centered productions, devising works for students on the autism spectrum, creating community- based theater and converting Broadway musicals into family-friendly productions. Presenters include artists from the Omaha Theater Company, Coterie Children's Theater of Kansas City, Missouri; Sturgis Youth Theatre, a program of the University of Northern Iowa Department of Theatre; and Great Plains Theater Conference of Omaha.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to learn how these innovative theaters are taking a creative approach to bringing new plays into the field of Theater for Young People," said Brian Guehring, education director at The Rose Theater.

Conference attendees will experience the Omaha Theater Company's new play development model through a performance of The Grocer's Goblin & The Little Mermaid, a multimedia, puppetry-based production of two classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. Following the performance, there will be a discussion of Omaha Theater Company's model and collaborative process led by Company Artistic Director Matt Gutschick, playwright Brian Guehring, and show director Stephanie Jacobson.

Jeff Church, Artistic Director at The Coterie Children's Theater in Kansas City will present information on converting popular Broadway titles into productions appropriate for family audiences. Church has worked with many of Broadway's top composers and writers through The Coterie Lab for New Family Musicals, a program he started to inject talented and accomplished playwrights from Broadway into the world of 90-minute family musicals.

Gretta Berghammer, professor of the University of Northern Iowa Department of Theatre, will discuss the process of developing shows specifically for students on the Autism Spectrum. Berghammer will draw on the work of Tim Webb and the Oily CArt Theatre to talk about her process for helping undergraduate theatre majors create highly visual, low-language productions designed to engage this special audience.

Kevin Lawler, will lead a conversation about grass roots, community-based work and how to positively engage both artists and community in soulful ways. Lawlor is the Producing Artistic Director of The Great Plains Theatre Conference, a co-founder of the award-winning Blue Barn Theatre, the founder and Artistic Director of the National Institute For The Lost, and the founder and host of the monthly storytelling gathering "The Stories of O." He has helped to write, produce, direct, design, and act in many seasons of theater, including numerous premieres and original works.

The New Play Development Conference is open to the public. Registration for members of Theatre for Young Audiences is $25, and general admission is $35. Fees include breakfast, lunch, four sessions, and a viewing of The Rose Theater's original production, The Grocer's Goblin & The Little Mermaid with follow-up discussion. To register, visit or call The Rose box office at (402) 345-4849.

Located in downtown Omaha, The Rose Theater is committed to enriching the lives of children and families through live theater and arts education. The theater has produced a number of world-premiere shows including Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, The Wolf and Its Shadows, Where the Red Fern Grows, and The Little Engine That Could. In addition to producing original work by its company playwrights, the theater has worked with renowned playwrights including James Still, Mark Medoff, Y York, Joe Sutton, and Robert Bly. It is home to the Omaha Theater Company - the only resident, touring, professional theater company in Omaha and one of the largest in the country. The Omaha Theater Company was the recipient of the prestigious Sara Spencer Artistic Achievement Award from The Alliance for Theater and Education (the primary national organization for professional children's theaters in the U.S.) in 1990.

Theatre for Young Audiences USA is a national service organization whose mission is to promote the power of professional theatre for young audiences through excellence, collaboration and innovation across cultural and international boundaries. TYA/USA is the only theatre organization in the United States which has the development of professional theater for young audiences as its primary mandate. TYA/USA sponsors national and international festivals and forums; and facilitates interchange among theatres and artists in order to promote quality theater for young public; gathers and disseminates information on a national and international level; serves as a liaison with other professional organizations and government agencies; and coordinates advocacy. TYA/USA has members in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

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