TheatreWorks Launches 9th Annual New Works Festival, 8/8-22

TheatreWorks, the nationally-acclaimed theatre of Silicon Valley, continues its commitment to the creation and development of new works with the 2010 New Works Festival, sponsored by Microsoft. The ninth annual Festival, August 8-22 at TheatreWorks at Lucie Stern Theatre, features fifteen days of new works unveiled to the public, including new musicals, new plays, a cabaret concert, and a panel discussion. This year's festival will feature a developmental production of the funny and inspirational musical FLY BY NIGHT from Kim Rosenstock, Will Connolly, and Michael Mitnick. Additionally announced for this summer's lineup are staged readings of two musicals: GREAT WALL, a vibrant pop musical from Kevin Merritt and Kevin So (with Tony Award-winner David Henry Hwang as a story consultant), and the moving gospel and jazz musical RED CLAY from Jeff Hughes and Scott Ethier. The festival will also feature readings of two plays: HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE, the latest piece from New Works Festival veteran Bill Cain (Equivocation) and VARIATIONS ON A THEME, a luminous drama by Anna Ziegler. Audience members are invited to a Meet the Artists Panel at 7:30pm on August 15. The panel discussion will give an inside look at what it's like to write for the stage. Festival composers, performers, and special guests will share a wealth of new songs and treasured favorites at Festival: Unplugged, Songs in the Key of New, a cabaret concert on Friday, August 20. For tickets (on sale July 16) and info, you may call the box office at (650) 463-1960 or visit

The Festival schedule is as follows:


Book by Kevin Merritt
Music and Lyrics by Kevin So
Story Consultant - David Henry Hwang
Directed by Kevin Merritt
Musical Direction by Ethan Popp
Sunday, August 8, 7pm; Wednesday, August 11, 7:30pm; Saturday, August 14, 8pm

GREAT WALL is a vibrant pop musical telling the story of young Victor Woo, an Asian American R&B artist struggling for acceptance and identity amid a tangle of American dreams. Originally named Victor Woo: The Average Asian American, the musical stars TheatreWorks favorite and Broadway veteran Francis Jue as Victor's father, and is loosely based on the experiences of lyricist and composer Kevin So as an R&B musician and recording artist. It debuted to great acclaim at the New York International Fringe Festival where it played to packed houses. Tony Award-winning playwright and Asian American activist David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly, Yellow Face) consulted with the new writers in the crafting of their play.

Book and Lyrics by Jeff Hughes
Music by Scott Ethier
Directed by Daniella Topol
Saturday, August 14, 12pm; Tuesday, August 17, 7:30pm; Sunday, August 22, 7pm

Set at the dawn of the tumultuous Civil Rights Movement, RED CLAY is infused with jazz rhythms and gospel's soaring emotions. Starring TheatreWorks favorite C. Kelly Wright, this sweeping musical recounts Rosa Parks' historic bus ride and how it ignited tempers and passions across the South. This epic new musical won the Richard Rodgers Award for Chicago Tribune blogger Jeff Hughes and composer Scott Ethier.


By Bill Cain
Directed by Kent Nicholson
Thursday, August 12, 8pm; Sunday, August 15, 4pm

Bill Cain, the award-winning playwright of Equivocation, brings a tender new story to life. A caregiver's autobiography of family, faith, and the struggle of saying goodbye, HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE speaks to the heart about the essence of family. The award-winning playwright previously workshopped Equivocation at the 2006 New Works Festival, which launched the show to a successful run at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, as well as runs Off-Broadway, at the Geffen Playhouse, and at Marin Theatre Company. Bill Cain is also the founder of the Boston Shakespeare Company. His widely-produced play Stand-Up Tragedy earned six LA Critics Awards when it premiered at the Mark Taper Forum, and later garnered four Helen Hayes Awards at Arena Stage before debuting on Broadway.

By Anna Ziegler
Directed by Meredith McDonough
Sunday, August 15 at 12pm, Thursday, August 19 at 8pm, Saturday, August 21 at 2pm

The latest work from Anna Ziegler, winner of the 2010 Douglas T. Ward Playwriting Prize, VARIATIONS ON A THEME tells a moving story of love found, lost, repaired, repressed, rekindled, and rediscovered. When April and Josh, a couple who married young, go their separate ways, they each embark on a transformative journey, taking audiences on an intimate and insightful exploration of the mysteries of love. Ziegler's work has been previously developed by the Manhattan Theatre Club, Rattlestick Theatre, Sundance Theatre Lab, McCarter Theatre, the Old Vic New Voices program, and Ars Nova, among many others.


Conceived by Kim Rosenstock
Written by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock
Tuesday, August 10, 7:30pm; Friday, August 13, 8pm; Saturday, August 14, 4pm; Wednesday, August 18, 7:30pm; Saturday, August 21, 8pm; Sunday, August 22, 2pm

Award winning-playwright Kim Rosenstock sheds some light on the 1965 New York City blackout in this developmental production of the indie rock musical FLY BY NIGHT about a hapless sandwich maker who must call upon a well of courage. This developmental production offers a complete, fully-staged musical that grows and changes with each new performance based on the audiences insightful feedback; the actors will be off-book and the production fully staged, yet like the staged readings, the authors will be in residence, continuing to craft the story and characters in response to audience feedback. Rosenstock has previously developed shows with The Kennedy Center, Ars Nova, Portland Center Stage's JAW Festival, The Old Vic's US/UK Exchange at The Public Theater, New York Stage & Film and The Playwrights Realm. Joining her in writing FLY BY NIGHT are award-winning playwright and filmmaker Michael Mitnick and musician Will Connolly.


Festival: Unplugged, Songs in the Key of New
Friday, August 20, 8pm

In a one-night-only cabaret concert, the Festival composers, performers, and special guests share a wealth of new songs and treasured favorites in the not-to-be-missed treat of the summer. Please note, this event is not included as part of the Festival All-Pass. Tickets must be purchased online or by calling the box office at 650-463-1960.

Meet the Festival Artists Panel
Sunday, August 15, 7:30pm

Audiences are invited to meet the artists-in-residence at a Meet the Festival Artists Panel hosted by TheatreWorks Director of New Works Meredith McDonough. Festival participants can look forward to a guided discussion offering an insider's view at the creative process, and the challenges that go into developing a new piece for the theater.

The 2010 New Works Festival is presented by TheatreWorks' New Works Initiative, which seeks out new material, and serves as a collaborative matchmaker for writers and composers. AUCTIONING THE AINSLEYS, which launches TheatreWorks' 41st season was the audience favorite of the 2009 New Works Festival and will conclude its world premiere on the TheatreWorks mainstage on August 8. The smash Broadway hit Memphis by Joe DiPietro and Bon Jovi composer-keyboardist David Bryan, which recently claimed the Tony Awards for "Best Musical," "Best Score," "Best Book," and "Best Orchestrations," was workshopped as a part of the 2002 New Works Festival, before making its world premiere at TheatreWorks in 2004. Several other works developed under the New Works Initiative have made their way to the TheatreWorks' main stage, including Paul Gordon's sparkling adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, Tanya Shaffer's romantic comedy Baby Taj, and GrooveLily's illuminating holiday hit musical Striking 12 which went on to a successful Off-Broadway run. Additional artists who have participated in the New Works Initiative include Tony Award-nominee Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), Tony Award-nominee Andrew Lippa (Addams Family), Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winner Marsha Norman (‘Night Mother; The Secret Garden) and Tony Award-winner Rachel Sheinkin (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee).

With nearly 8,000 subscribers and over 100,000 patrons per year, TheatreWorks has captured a national reputation for artistic innovation and integrity, often presenting Bay Area theatergoers with their first viewing of acclaimed musicals, comedies, and dramas, directed by Award-winning local and guest directors, and performed by professional actors cast from across the country. For Festival tickets ($75 for All Passes, $15 for individual staged readings; $25 for FLY BY NIGHT; $25 for Festival: Unplugged, Songs in the Key of New), you may call (650) 463-1960 or visit

Microsoft is proud to partner with TheatreWorks to cultivate creativity and innovation in the Silicon Valley. Microsoft is a longtime supporter of TheatreWorks and the Founding Corporate Sponsor of the New Works Festival. Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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