WITNESS TRUTH Season Announced At Bay Area Playwrights Festival

Playwrights Foundation, the West Coast's premiere launchpad for exceptional plays and playwrights, is thrilled to announce the lineup for the 2019 Bay Area Playwrights Festival (BAPF), featuring playwrights Terence Anthony, Jeesun Choi, Candrice Jones, Tori Keenan-Zelt, christopher oscar peña, and Jonathan Spector. The 2019 Bay Area Playwrights Festival runs July 19-28, 2019 at Potrero Stage, 1895 18th St in San Francisco. In addition to twelve staged readings, the Festival will offer a Theater Professionals weekend 7/27-29, panels, lectures and a kick-off party. Tickets on sale starting June 1st.

2019 Bay Area Playwrights Festival features the plays House of the Negro Insane by Terence Anthony, a story of defiance and redemption in the Jim Crow south of 1935; The Seekers by Jeesun Choi, a poetic drama on migration, displacement and freedom; FLEX by Candrice Jones, putting loyalty, truth and honor to the test within an all female and black basketball team in rural Arkansas; How The Baby Died by Tori Keenan-Zelt, grand Guignol hijinks take center stage in this absurdly comic play about a nanny, a baby, and its daddies; how to make An American Son by christopher oscar peña, a play about the complexities of privilege, status, sexual identity and legal status within a newly wealthy immigrant family; Siesta Key by Jonathan Spector, a media-saturated dystopia that investigates the complexity, personal cost and elusiveness of moral absolutism.

Departing Artistic Director Amy Mueller remarks "The Festival includes everything that's exciting to me about theater - absurdist hijinks, post-apocalyptic visions and supernatural phantoms alongside an action fueled story about the stark realities for young black female athletes in the American south; the prophetic, the transnational and the gritty. More than than ever before in this country, sharing stories in a room I.R.L. (in real life) together about our challenging, divisive world, has become an act of resistance and an act of faith - faith in the future, faith in ourselves. Indeed, being in the room when a play is raw and unfinished is an intimate invitation to witness the power of truth."

The six plays in #BAPF2019 were selected from more than 700 submissions. This year's line-up includes a widely diverse and artistically challenging group of playwrights; all six are emerging talents. The illusive, shifting nature of truth, the cyclical nature of historic oppression, the fierce power of bravery under pressure, and the quest for freedom despite its cost take the stage in this year's Bay Area Playwrights Festival (BAPF). These six playwrights are delving into the most pressing issues of our times in a wildly diverse array of stylistic genres - from historical drama to a media saturated futurist investigation; from the unseen world of magical realism to the absurdist world of Grand Guignol; from the lives of immigrants - the newly wealthy and the undocumented, to the lives of black teens in Arkansas aspiring to the WNBA, the festival covers a widely diverse array of topics, themes and stylistic approaches

"I'm thrilled that my BAPF swansong is such a rich and complex, multi-faceted journey into the theatrical wilderness," says artistic director Amy Mueller. Every year Festival plays and playwrights go on to productions around the Bay Area and the nation. By coming to the Festival, you get to be there at the beginning."

Many of the plays in the 2019 Festival use rigorous theatrical genres to explore the ways in which storytelling carries a complex plot forward with humor and (in some cases) deep tragedy. For example, in Siesta Key, Spector uses a futuristic media rich environment to explore moral ambiguity and the nature of truth; whereas in FLEX, Jones employs the 4-quarter structure of a basketball game to explore the limits of life for black female athletes in the deep south; in The Seekers, Choi reveals the hidden lives of the displaced and forgotten who exist outside the time/space continuum of our world, while in House of the Negro Insane, Anthony presents a very real, very tangible danger is explored in an authentic, well researched historical context; and absurdist theatricality of How the Baby Died by Keenan-Zelt fuels its wildly bloody and darkly humorous story about motherhood, pain and the theater, while peña's naturalistic, snappy high-paced dialogue in how to make An American Son underscores the hyper awareness of an immigrant family working to maintain a hard-won position. Together, these six plays paint a vivid landscape of a world in profound transition, and offer up some alternative realities -- depending upon the choices made -- that we're just beginning to imagine (or fear).

THE PLAYS

House of the Negro Insane by Terence Anthony: It's 1935. The Taft State Hospital, created by southern whites for 'insane and idiotic negroes', is overcrowded and understaffed - a toxic mix of the downtrodden and the mentally ill. Attius - an inmate resigned to his fate - has carved himself a safe haven from the mayhem, taking pride in his woodwork, when the fierce and defiant young Effie invades his sanctuary and radically alters his future.

The Seekers by Jeesun Choi: Ilhan is a Somali high school student living in Minneapolis on the verge of deportation when she is visited by figures from far flung places: the Arctic, European fringes, and an African refugee camp. They draw her into an unseen and forgotten world that exists just beyond reality and appeal to her for the sanctuary of their souls. A poetic drama on migration, displacement and freedom.

FLEX by Candrice Jones: It's 1997 and Cynthia Cooper rules the WNBA. It's no wonder every player on Plainnole's Lady Train wants to "go pro," and none more than Point Guard Starra Jones. And they're damn good. However, the realities and pressures of life for black women in rural Arkansas threaten to tear them apart, and with it, their chance for the life they so crave. A play divided over 4-quarters of the game.

How The Baby Died by Tori Keenan-Zelt: When the hapless, unemployed actress Stace opts out of her marriage, she becomes (rather suddenly) a live-in nanny for her best friend, his husband, and their newborn baby. But then she gets the chance of a lifetime: an audition for a French Horror Theater. Hilarity, mayhem and Grand Guignol hijinks ensue with the only prop available. Baby, it gets bloody. A dark, absurdly comic play about parenting and performing invisible pain.

how to make An American Son by christopher oscar peña: A "Model Immigrant" and business mogul, Honduran born Mando's cleaning empire is bracing for a downturn and he must rein in his over-privileged American son Orlando -- who is living large on his dime. To teach him a lesson, he puts Orlando on the floor with the cleaning team, but in the wake of a personal gay-bashing, Orlando suddenly finds himself responsible for the fate of a treasured undocumented worker and the future of his father's entire enterprise. A play about the complexities of privilege, status, sexual identity and legal status within a newly wealthy immigrant family.

Siesta Key by Jonathan Spector: It's Florida...sometime in the future. Violent militia rule is followed by violent resistance. Years later, the atrocities of this period are filtered through a rich cinematic lens and the distant memories of those perceived as perpetrators or victims -- in an attempt at revealing The Truth, and achieving reconciliation. Through shifting time, ambiguous TV-style interviews, and unreliable narrators, Siesta Key investigates the complexity of moral absolutism, its personal cost, and the elusiveness of truth in acts of hate.



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