Palm Beach Dramaworks Announces Second Annual New Year/New Plays Festival
Five fascinating, evolving plays will receive readings by some of South Florida's finest actors from January 10-12, when The Dramaworkshop hosts Palm Beach Dramaworks' second annual New Year/New Plays Festival. A huge hit during its inaugural season, the Festival provides playwrights with the invaluable opportunity to hear their words performed in front of a live audience, which is instrumental to the development and growth of a play. Audiences not only share in the excitement of seeing something brand new, but have the chance to offer feedback to the playwrights.
The plays are The People Downstairs by Michael McKeever (3pm Friday, January 10), Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom by Padraic Lillis (7pm Friday, January 10), The Standby Lear by John W. Lowell (3pm Saturday, January 11), As I See It by Jenny Connell Davis (7pm Saturday, January 11), and The Hat Box by Eric Coble (3pm Sunday, January 12). In addition, all five dramatists will participate in a Playwrights Forum at 1pm on Saturday, which is free with the purchase of a ticket to any of the plays. The Festival concludes with a Champagne Toast at 6pm on Sunday, which is also free with the purchase of a ticket to any play. Earlier in the day, at 12:30pm, there is a Lunch with the Artists for an additional charge.
"New play development is so important to the theatre," said Bruce Linser, manager of The Dramaworkshop. "As the world evolves, our stories and the voices that tell those stories must evolve with it. While theatrical themes are universal, the way those themes are presented must speak to a wide cross-section of audiences if the art form is to thrive. There is nothing like live theatre to bring people together in the same space to share a collective experience and help us find our common ground. And I can't think of anything that the world needs more, especially right now."
Each season, The Dramaworkshop accepts new, unpublished, unproduced scripts from some of the finest playwrights and literary agents in the business. All submissions are screened, and the top 25 scripts are read and assessed by The Dramaworkshop's resident artists, a committee of theatre professionals with decades of experience in acting and directing. Ten make the final cut, and a robust deliberation ensues in order to help Producing Artistic Director William Hayes select the works for the Festival. One of the plays, McKeever's The People Downstairs, was commissioned by PBD for a future mainstage production.
The People Downstairs
by Michael McKeever
For two years and one month, Anne Frank and seven others hid in four small rooms concealed behind a bookcase in the building where her father worked. Her diary revealed their ordeal to the world. But what of the people who hid them, got them food, and kept them informed? This play explores the complex challenges faced by these brave individuals on their journey of rebellious morality during the horrors of the Holocaust.
Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom
by Padraic Lillis
Giovanni Montorfano, a third-generation artist, has been commissioned by the Duke of Milan to paint the Crucifixion. The fresco will adorn the wall facing another commission, Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. As Montorfano works on the painting with his apprentice, keenly aware of da Vinci's genius, he grapples with his craft, his faith, and his place in the world.
The Standby Lear
by John W. Lowell
Augie, an aging actor understudying the role of King Lear, is given an opportunity most actors only dream about: he's going on for the star that evening. But Augie is paralyzed with fear, uncertain that he's still got what it takes to step into one of theatre's most daunting roles. His wife, Anna, a retired actress, tries desperately to keep Augie from walking out. What happens when the last great moment in an actor's life arrives, and the actor is afraid that it may be too late?
As I See It
by Jenny Connell Davis
Painter Alice Neel is tired of working in obscurity at the fringes of the New York art scene. Poet Frank O'Hara, curator for MoMA and gay playboy, is its gatekeeper. Neel convinces him to let her paint his portrait and over the course of five sittings these two forces of nature test each other, best each other, and reveal themselves in ways they never imagined. Inspired by real people and events - and paintings - this play is a rendering of two brilliant outcasts clawing their way to fame in Mad Men-era NYC.
The Hat Box
by Eric Coble
Do we ever really know our parents? Do we ever really want to? Two sisters are about to find out when they discover a hat box hidden in the back of their recently deceased father's closet. What sits inside sends them off to visit eccentric Aunt Esther and on an increasingly wild ride down memory lane. With surprising twists and hilarious turns, this comedy of family lore revels in the bizarre and beautiful mysteries that make up a life.
For more information, visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org/program/newplaysfestival i??or contact the box office at (561) 514-4042.