Review: MODERN WORKS FESTIVAL at Urbanite Theatre

By: Oct. 15, 2018

Review: MODERN WORKS FESTIVAL at Urbanite Theatre

The Urbanite Theatre hosted their inaugural Modern Works Festival from October 2 though October 14 - a playwriting contest, a reading festival and a celebration of women in theatre.

About 100 submissions from around the country were sent in. The best three plays were selected and finalists were given professionally staged readings at the Urbanite. With the help of the audience, one playwright was awarded the festival's grand prize of $5000.

The finalists were:

The Space In Between by Mercedes White

Cameron has sworn off romance after a run of bad luck, but a new upstairs neighbor turns her life upside down. Awkwardly charming and sweetly poignant, The Space In Between is an old-fashioned love story in a complicated, cross-cultural modern world.

Stalking by Jayne Hannah

After serving 27 years for a violent offense, George is released from prison to return to society. His therapist, Magda, arranges a mysterious meeting that reveals George's rehabilitation isn't what he expects. In a series of suspenseful, fragmented scenes, Stalking explores the history and repercussions of George's offense, and questions whether the cycle of violence ever truly ends. Featuring

The Violet Sisters by Gina Femia

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Pam returns home to a storm-ravaged Brooklyn to make arrangements after her father's death. Her dilapidated childhood home hosts a fiery confrontation with her sister, as the two women are forced to deal with years of secrecy in this darkly humorous and affecting portrait of family forgiveness.

If you have never participated in a reading like this, treat yourself to an insider's view of the process of development. Often, as in this case, the readers/actors are so good; you will overlook the lack of scenery, props, stage lighting and the likes. Just pure raw emotions draw you in to their characters and the storyline they will unfold for you. One really awesome aspect about readings is the audience has input after the presentation. One of the readings I attended was for The Space Between Us. We were delighted to have playwright Mercedes White in the audience. After the reading the audience had the opportunity to ask Ms. White questions specific to the characters development, plot twists and dialogue exchange. I think it is creative and thought-provoking for the audience to offer input and valuable for the playwright to further explore characterizations, dialogue and perhaps a new direction or ending for the play. It's fascinating to listen and come to understand the various complexities of the script that people discern and can vocalize in a setting such as this.

And the winner is...

The Space Between Us by Mercedes White, featuring Vaishnavi Sharma, Sarah Sumner, Olivia Luera and Cindy De La Cruz. Congratulations on an impassioned reading and a superb play. (I wouldn't change a thing.)

I look forward to next year's Modern Works Festival.

For more information on Urbanite Theatre and their upcoming season of plays visit


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