Broadway And Television Veterans Create New Stage Works At UC Davis

Broadway And Television Veterans Create New Stage Works At UC Davis

The third annual Ground and Field Theatre Festival (GFTF), "Play on the Brink," spotlights new plays and musicals written by local, national and international playwrights and composers, including Broadway veterans Mindy Cooper and Matt Gumley. The main performances take place beginning Sept. 26 on the UC Davis campus and in community venues. All are free.

This year GFTF offers a preview of the new works and an opportunity to meet the creative team at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.

The UC Davis College of Letters and Science's Department of Theatre and Dance produces the festival with the Theatre and Dance Ensemble and a new collaboration with Bike City Theatre Company.

During a month-long intensive, artists develop new works under the guidance of the festival's co-artistic directors: Cooper (Broadway's "Titanic," "Chicago") and award-winning director/producers Tom Burmester, Lisa Quoresimo and Danika Sudik. A unique collaboration among scholars, guest artists and a student-led ensemble, the festival nurtures the playwrights' vision while developing narratives around environmental, social and economic sustainability.

The performance festival begins with the punk rock musical, "Fat Kid Rules the World," conceived and directed by Marc Eardly, book and lyrics by Jay Falzone and additional music and lyrics by Gumley ("Mary Poppins," "The Addams Family")and Evan Jay Newman. The piece is based on the award-winning young adult novel by K.L. Going. Troubled, overweight Troy is about to throw himself under an oncoming subway train, when punk rock guitarist, Curt, stops him. The duo begins their unlikely kinship by forming a punk rock band. In spite of their personal problems including grief, bullying, abusive home life and addiction, Curt is desperate to keep his band together and won't let their issues stop him.

"Ranked, A New Musical" features an original book by Kyle Holmes with music and lyrics by David Taylor Gomes and is directed and choreographed by Cooper. In a dystopian high school world brutal academic competition defines each student's worth. In this intense culture of performance, Lily must come to grips with her place in the status quo as she watches friends and enemies alike destroy themselves and each other to score their way to excellence. The cast includes guest artist Shelby Wulfert, best known for her role as Maddie 2 in the Disney Channel's sitcom "Liv and Maddie."

"Burst," by award-winning playwright Rachel Bublitz and directed by Burmester and Sudik, opens week two. The play centers on Sarah Boyd who has built a fast-growing tech company with the goal of saving the planet. While pursuing new funding, Sarah must persevere through a late night interview with a tough reporter, a lawsuit aimed at a person from her past, and the waffling of her CTO.

"Sustain Me," by Washington Post journalist and playwright Sarah M. Vander Schaaff, is directed by Burmester and Sudik. In the play, Jacey has embarked on the yoga path and Michael is working on an organic farm. Both are desperate to sustain faith in humanity as rudeness and waste overtake what they thought were pristine oases. Facing their worst fears, they find a connection within themselves and each other. Is it enough to sustain them ­- or the world?

GFTF's reading series, "Off the Page," offers works read by actors in a simple setting with playwrights present. The series begins with a reading of "Shining," an exploration of myth and parenting, by Aidaa Peerzada and directed by Quoresimo. Shining and Spark are the son and daughter of Greek gods Helios and Clymene and they have a lot of questions. Are their parents really who they say they are? Why do boys have to go to school, and why isn't Spark allowed to spark?

A reading of "Over There Outside," by screenwriter and playwright Janine DeMaria, is directed by Bike City Theatre Company's artistic director J.R. Yancher. Abby, a first-time mother at 40, feels trapped by her new role and begins living vicariously through the young couple across the street, until tragedy strikes, propelling her back into her own reality.

GFTF productions contain adult situations and language.

For details about these and other events and to reserve seats for performances and preview, visit

2019 Ground and Field Theatre Festival Schedule

Ground and Field Theatre Festival - Preview, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m., Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

"Shining," Sept. 14 at 7 p.m., Della Davidson Performance Studio in Nelson Hall

"Over There Outside," Sept. 16 at 7 p.m., RePower Yolo at 905 5th Street, Davis

"Fat Kid Rules the World," Sept. 26-28 and Oct. 3-5 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 28 and Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. Wyatt Pavilion Theatre

"Ranked, A New Musical," Sept. 26-28 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 28 at 2 p.m., Main Theatre in Wright Hall

"Burst," Oct. 3-5 at 7 p.m. Lab A Theatre in Wright Hall.

"Sustain Me," Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. Wyatt Deck in the UC Davis Arboretum. Other venues to come.

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