Arden Theatre Co to Participate in Kennedy Center's New Visions/New Voices Festival

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Arden Theatre Company is proud to announce its participation in New Visions/New Voices, a week-long festival to support and stimulate the creation of new plays and musicals for young audiences, hosted by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. At the festival, the Arden will be further developing their commission of The Flea and the Professor, JorDan Harrison's new musical adaptation of the story by Hans Christian Andersen. Following a week of collaborative workshops, The Flea and the Professor will be featured in a series of public readings beginning May 21, 2010.

"We are honored to have master storyteller Hans Christian Andersen's The Flea and the Professor re-imaged by JorDan Harrison as part of the Kennedy Center's prestigious festival," says Terrence J. Nolen, the Arden's producing artistic director. "The Arden's mission is to present the greatest stories by the greatest storytellers, and we are thrilled to foster new work for our growing children's theatre audiences with the New Visions/New Voices Festival."

Based on Hans Christian Andersen's very last tale, The Flea and the Professor, follows a professor and his friend, a very talented flea, around the world performing their circus act. Shipwrecked on a desert island, our show biz heroes encounter pirates, puns, and a cannibal princess. Inspired by the last story from the author of The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, and The Emperor's New Clothes, this new musical odyssey celebrates the excitement of the unknown. The Flea and the Professor is written by JorDan Harrison, with music by Richard Gray, lyrics by JorDan Harrison and Richard Gray, and directed by Anne Kaufman. The Arden commissioned The Flea and the Professor in 2007, the company's first new play commission for Arden Children's Theatre, and will present the world premiere production from May 4 - June 12, 2011 on the F. Otto Haas Stage at the Arden's home in Old City, Philadelphia.

"The Flea and the Professor represents the Arden's ongoing commitment to originating the highest quality work for all audiences," says the Arden's Associate Artistic Director Ed Sobel. "To have a writer of Jordan's experience, imagination, wit and playfulness directing his talents toward the newest theater-goers is not only an outstanding match, but a vital part of paving the way for the future of the art form. By partnering in the play's development with this prestigious national organization, we are continuing our exploration of finding new models for bringing great work to the stage."

Founded in 1991, New Visions/New Voices has assisted in the development of 73 new plays from writers in 47 states and 5 countries. At this year's festival, selected playwrights, directors, music directors, composers, and actors work collaboratively in a weeklong intensive to develop new works. After revisions, rewrites, and rehearsals of the new plays and musicals, the works are presented as rehearsed readings during the three-day national conference for theater professionals, educators, and others interested in the field. New Visions/New Voices concludes with discussions open to festival participants led by Todd London, Artistic Director of New Dramatists in New York.

For more information about New Visions/New Voices, visit

The Flea and the Professor is part of the Arden's commitment to presenting new work, which has led to nearly 30 new plays premiering at the Arden, with many going on to productions around the country. These initiatives are supported by the Independence Foundation New Play Showcase, founded in 1999, through which the company commissions writers, conducts workshops, and presents free public readings. Notable productions that have been developed through the Showcase include My Name Is Asher Lev by Aaron Posner (2009, Brown Martin Philadelphia Award for new work), Something Intangible by Bruce Graham (2009, Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play), Wittenberg by David Davolos (2008, Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play), Opus by Michael Hollinger (2006, Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play, now one of the most produced plays in the country). For more information about the Arden's New Play Showcase, and a full list of plays developed through this program, visit:

Founded in 1988, Arden Theatre Company is dedicated to bringing to life the greatest stories by the greatest storytellers of all time. We stage five productions each season as part of our mainstage series and two productions through Arden Children's Theatre, the city's first resident professional children's theatre program. We create and produce new work through our new-work development program, the Independence Foundation New Play Showcase. The Arden Professional Apprentice program trains future theatre leaders, and our theatre classes through Arden Drama School teach children and teens about the craft of making plays. Our access program, Arden for All, makes our work available to the entire community through subsidized tickets and books for economically disadvantaged young people. We also offer sign language-interpreted, captioned and audio described performances and Pay-What-You-Can final dress rehearsals that benefit other nonprofits.

The Arden has received six Philadelphia Magazine "Best of Philly" Awards, the Arts and Business Council's Arts Excellence Award, five City Paper "Reader's Choice" Awards, four Philadelphia Inquirer "Theatre Company of the Year citations, 52 awards and 234 nominations from the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia's Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, and was named "Best Theatre Company" by Philadelphia Weekly in 2009.

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