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The UCSB Department of Theater and Dance to Kick Off LAUNCH PAD Summer Reading Series

The UC Santa Barbara Department of Theater and Dance is pleased to announce the LAUNCH PAD Summer Reading Series for 2016. The three staged readings, directed by Risa Brainin will feature new plays from Anne García-Romero, Christina McMahon and Joyce Carol Oates.

Every year, the LAUNCH PAD Summer Reading Series invites three professional playwrights to join the UCSB community as artists in residence. The collaboration between LAUNCH PAD Artistic Director Risa Brainin, a team of undergraduate students and the playwrights culminates in public readings. The Summer Reading Series is of exceptional significance not only for students who learn how to work on a play in its earliest stages, but also for the writers and the audience. As actors and Brainin collaborate during rehearsals, the playwrights are able to fully grasp the potential of their characters and the words in an unrestricted environment. On the other hand, audiences are able to be first to witness the birth of new works and shape the further development by giving feedback.

The first reading of the series welcomes Anne García-Romero, a UC Santa Barbara alumna who earned her PhD in Theater Studies at the Department of Theater and Dance. Her plays include Provance, Paloma, Earthquake Chica, Mary Domingo, Mary Peabody in Cuba, and Santa Concepcion. These plays have been developed and produced at the Public Theater, O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, the Goodman Theatre, and others. García-Romero currently teaches at the University of Notre Dame and is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists.

The reading of García-Romero's newest play, Staging the Daffy Dame, will take place on June 23rd at 7:00pm at the Art Museum. The play is set in the present at a public university in California where Lupe, a 30-year-old Latina theater professor, directs a production of the 1613 Spanish Golden Age comedy, La Dama Boba by Lope de Vega. In the midst of budget cuts, diversity protests and faculty opposition, the company addresses issues of race, class and gender in portraying their roles which causes tempers to flare and conflicts to arise. Throughout the story, Lupe's "bare bones" staging of de Vega's comedy challenges the actors and audiences to confront their own prejudices by asking the question: Can love help us overcome our differences and truly lead us to a new kind of knowledge?

The following week, on June 30th, the series will stage STANDBY by Christina McMahon. McMahon is a creative writer, academic and meditation teacher. She is a tenured theater studies professor at UCSB and has co-authored two other plays. This is her first individually authored script and will be her second reading with the LAUNCH PAD new play development program.

The plot of STANDBY boils around Carina and her sister Audra who must fly halfway across the world to the Cape Verde Islands in West Africa to find out what is really going on with their 64-year-old father. For Carina, who has built her career as an anthropologist in Africa, this trip is also a journey back to trauma. She has a memory of a dark hour in Mozambique still fresh in her mind, a memory that has been hidden and left untreated. Travelling back to her "Dark Continent" means battling her own personal and professional demons, soothing childhood wounds and watching her father dance with death.

The series will end with Bad Touch by Joyce Carol Oates reading on July 7th. Oates is considered as one of the most prolific writers of our time. She is not only an award-winning writer of novels, short stories, critical essays and poetry; she is also a playwright whose works have been produced in the United States, France, Italy, and Canada.

Bad Touch examines a journey of an irreverent, outspoken, & deeply idealistic young woman who moves to the Midwest to begin a new life teaching in the "heartland"--but her unbridled tongue & sense of humor get her in trouble. Where integrity is interpreted as a threat to the community -- how can Hypathia Applebaum prevail?

Join us for the LAUNCH PAD Summer Reading Series at the UCSB Art, Design and Architecture Museum and celebrate an inception of new works by incredible women writers. Admission is free. For more information, visit

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