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22-Year Old Playwright Commissioned To Adapt AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS For American Stage


The production will be premiered by American Stage Theatre Company, located in St. Petersburg, FL.

22-Year Old Playwright Commissioned To Adapt AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS For American Stage

American Stage Theatre Company, located in St. Petersburg, FL, has commissioned 22-year old playwright Cris Eli Blak to write an adaptation of Jules Verne's classic novel Around the World in Eighty Days for their upcoming 2021-22 season. American Stage describes the upcoming adaptation as a "refresh with a new adaptation where Phileas Fogg and Jean Passpartout make a mad dash around the world and meet colorful characters along their journey. A newly commissioned play, this production will feature all the excitement and high jinks we love told with a new perspective."

Blak plans on adapting the story with a contemporary twist, removing the more problematic parts of Verne's original story (which was published in 1873) and replacing them with more modern issues and viewpoints.

Blak has also stated that he is committed to writing this adaptation for a cast that is diverse as the world we live in, stating, "This is a classic story told with a contemporary lens. It will reflect Verne's great story while giving the stage to those who would typically be in the background or the punchline of a joke," adding, "This is my first straight up adaptation of a classic, beloved text; it's a monumental undertaking, but that's also the exciting part. There's so many places to go and I'm having fun exploring all those possibilities."

Cris Eli Blak first worked with American Stage Theatre Company in January 2021 when his play Sons of Liberty was one of the shows selected for the 21st Century Voices New Play Festival. In addition to that he has proven himself as an upcoming force of nature in the realm of American theatre, dedicating himself to creating work that speaks to social problems and the lives of people of color. At the age of 22 he has had work performed by theatres around the world, including Off-Off-Broadway, Off-Broadway, on collegiate stages, as well as in London, Australia, Ireland and Canada. He has won awards and honors from companies and organizations such as Negro Ensemble Company, A Is For, Kentucky Playwrights Workshop, Clocktower Players and Worldfest Houston International Film and Video Festival. A shortlisted finalist for the Alpine Fellowship Theatre Prize and playwright-in-residence for Fosters Theatrical Artists Residency, he has also been a participant, finalist or semi-finalist for the Eugene O'Neil National Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and the Downtown Urban Arts Festival, and was spotlighted as Barrington Stage's June Artist of the Month as part of their Black Voices Matter initiative. He credits being raised by a single mother in Houston, Texas as his "anchor," stating, "I had to tell stories, I had to make something of myself. I fell in love with writing and the stage, and I knew I wasn't going to get any handouts, I don't have that kind of privilege, so I went into overdrive to prove that I deserved a seat at the table, and that's what I intend on continuing to do. That's how I was raised." Blak graduated from college this past May.

Blak's commission comes on the heels of American Stage bringing on Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj as their new Producing Artistic Director, prompting what former Producing Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte predicted to be "the beginning of a thrilling new era for American Stage and the Tampa Bay community." American Stage's adaptation of Around the World in Eighty Days is slated to run from October 27-November 21, 2021. More information is provided in the link below.

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