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Orlando Shakespeare Kicks Off PLAYFEST This Weekend

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Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF dares audiences to take a risk on new plays at PlayFest from this weekend, November 1 - 3, 2014. Presented by Harriett's Charitable Trust, the fast-paced weekend is packed with lively discussions, engaging playwright panels, and new play readings, along with a keynote speech from playwright Mark St. Germain. This season's event marks the twelfth festival of new plays at the Theater.

Tickets to individual PlayFest readings ($8), as well as PlayFest Festival Passes ($35), may be purchased by calling (407) 447-1700 ext. 1, online at www.orlandoshakes.org, or in person at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 East Rollins Street.

PlayFest is a nationally recognized program, representing one of the strongest commitments to new plays in the United States. Since it's inception in 2003, PlayFest has helped nurture and develop over 100 new plays - many of which have received subsequent productions in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Audience favorites from PlayFest are hand-selected and developed into full productions in the Theater's Signature Season.

PLAYFEST READINGS:

Moses, the Author by Andrew R. Heinze|
Today, November 1 at 12:00 p.m.
Directed by Jason Loewith - Artistic Director, Olney Theatre Center for the Arts

CAST: Mark Ferrera (Moses), Meghan Moroney (Zippy), Karel K. Wright (Yohoved), Christopher Joel Onken (Thusie), and Charlie A. Wright (Gershy).

Once God has given Moses word that he will die, Moses must scramble to finish the good book. A comedy of farcical proportions, Moses, the Author shows us how the Old Testament could have been written while gently poking fun at modern conceptions of religion. And we look at Moses as a creative force-a writer with the ultimate editor.

All That is Seen and Unseen by Rob Keefe|
Today, November 1 at 3:00 p.m.
Directed by Eleanor Holdridge - Head of MFA Directing Program, The Catholic University of America

CAST: Sheryl Carbonell (Julia), Riley Clermont (Patrick), Avis-Marie Barnes (A Clerk), Corey Allen (A Doctor), and Jean-Michel Rousseau (Lt. Voss).

All That is Seen and Unseen is a fantastical journey of the constructs of third world democracy, American foreign relations, and the bitter pressures of marriage, parenting, and adoption. Teetering between drama, comedy, and suspense, Keefe masterfully explores modern issues through relatable and fallible human beings.

Dancing Lessons by Mark St. Germain
Tonight, November 1 at 8:00 p.m.
Directed by Jim Helsinger - Artistic Director, Orlando Shakespeare Theater

CAST: Ginger Lee McDermott (Senga Quinn) and Philip Nolen (Ever Montgomery).

When a socially awkward professor is forced to attend an awards ceremony where he has to dance, he seeks out an injured Broadway dancer for help. As their relationship unfolds, they're caught off-guard by the surprising discoveries - both hilarious and heartwarming - that they make about each other. Mark St. Germain brings us a modern odd couple, telling a comic love story while exploring the reality of disabilities, autism, and Asperger's disorder.

Annie Jump and the Library of Heaven by Reina Hardy
Sunday, November 2 at 12:00 p.m.
Directed by Michael Marinaccio - Festival Producer, Orlando International Fringe Festival

CAST: Sarah Caroline Billings (Annie Jump), Eric Pinder (Dr. Jump), AJ Nickell (KJ), Angela R. Damato (Althea), and Liz Mignacca (Mrs. Gomez).

Annie Jump and the Library of Heaven is an exploration of the fine line between insanity and belief, and the human capacity to comprehend something truly greater than ourselves. Told through the eyes of a very special fourteen year old girl, Hardy's piece interweaves humor, tragedy, and suspense with a great deal of intellect and whimsy.

Gloucester Blue by Israel Horovitz
Sunday, November 2 at 4:00 p.m.
Directed by Mark Routhier - Director of New Play Development, Orlando Shakespeare Theater

CAST: Dan Bright (Stumpy), Gene D'Alessandro (Latham), Lisa K. Bryant (Lexi), and Kenny Babel (Bummy).

On the coast of Massachusetts, an extreme home remodeling leads to a darkly comedic conflict of morality. As Stumpy and Latham, two dirtbag townies, attempt to repair a home, it becomes evident the problems lie more with the homeowners than with the house itself. When sex is involved, who really has the power and how do they wield it?

There be Dragons by Aleshea Harris
Sunday, November 2 at 7:00 p.m.
Directed by Be Boyd - Associate Professor, Theatre UCF

CAST: Jamil Mangan (Duke), Trenell Mooring (Queen), Danielle Reneè (Milk Maid), Ahmed Brooks (Cobbler), Joshua Goodridge (Contrary Dwarf), Raleigh Mosely (Guard), Gordon Adams (Crier), Steve Olivier (Crooked Giant), and Waneka Leary/Cherise James/Brianna Joseph (Listener).

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, an urban assembly of characters created a very modern fairytale. Complete with a queen, milkmaid, guard, cobbler, and dwarf, Harris paints a recognizable landscape colored with modern language, humor, and if all goes well, a wedding.

Blackberry Winter by Steve Yockey
Monday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m.
Directed by Ryan Rilette - Artistic Director, Round House Theatre

CAST: Suzanne O'Donnell (Vivienne Avery), Jennifer Christa Palmer (White Egret), and John Connon (Gray Mole).

Forced to deal with a mother suffering from Alzheimer's disease, Vivienne shares her journey from the moment of diagnosis to the present. Accompanied by an origin story of her own creation, Vivienne invites the audience into the world of this strange and debilitating disease. Yockey attacks difficult subject matter through a wild and beautifully creative lens.

PLAYFEST SPECIAL EVENTS:

Keynote Speaker: Mark St. Germain
Saturday, November 1 at 7:00 p.m. (FREE)

Keynote address by award-winning playwright, Mark St. Germain (Freud's Last Session and The Best of Enemies).

Playwright Panel with Nan Barnett
Sunday, November 2 at 2:15 p.m. (FREE)

Nan Barnett, Executive Director of the National New Play Network, discusses the new play landscape in America, from NNPN, the New Play Exchange, and beyond.

A PlayFest Festival Pass offers admission into all seven readings for $35. To purchase a Festival Pass, call the Box Office at (407) 447-1700 ext. 1 or visit www.orlandoshakes.org.

PlayFest Patrons receive an exclusive all-access pass to all seven PlayFest readings with VIP reserved seating, a private event with the playwrights and keynote speaker, and recognition for their special contribution in programs, curtain speeches, Orlando Shakespeare Theater's website, and more! For more information, contact the Director of Development at (407) 447-1700 ext. 206 or email development@orlandoshakes.org.

Founded in 1989, Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF produces classic, contemporary, and children's plays and musicals. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Jim Helsinger and Managing Director PJ Albert, Orlando Shakes has grown into one of the region's most acclaimed professional Equity theaters, garnering national recognition from The Wall Street Journal's Terry Teachout. "Hence the high quality of Orlando Shakespeare, a company that deserves to be far more widely known outside Florida." With ambitious, high-caliber productions like 2014's The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Parts I & II or 2008's chilling Macbeth performed "in the round", the Theater continues to provide an innovative world-class theatrical experience to its guests, while showcasing William Shakespeare's legacy as the cornerstone of the company. Orlando Shakes also offers immersive educational programming that serves Central Florida schools and the local community at large. For more information visit www.orlandoshakes.org.

Pictured: Philip Nolen (Jericho Tree, PlayFest 2013) and A. Ross Neal and Sophie Bell (For the Loyal, PlayFest 2013). Photo by Landon St. Gordon.


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