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American Stage Announces 2019 21ST CENTURY VOICES: NEW PLAY FESTIVAL


American Stage Announces 2019 21ST CENTURY VOICES: NEW PLAY FESTIVAL

American Stage is excited to continue their support of the next generation of American Playwrights with their 2019 21ST CENTURY VOICES: NEW PLAY FESTIVAL. This festival is a core component of our 21stCENTURY VOICES: EMERGING PLAYS, dedicated to discovering, developing, and introducing audiences to new works for the stage. A diverse committee of 40 community members works alongside our Producing Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte each year to read and evaluate over 500 new play submissions from up-and-coming playwrights across the globe.

"Theatre is a truly collaborative art form. It is an honor for American Stage to provide our 21st Century playwrights with access to the actors, directors and audiences who will help shape their stories for future artists and audiences to experience in the years to come." -Stephanie Gularte, Producing Artistic Director

From this selection process, this festival includes live staged readings of four new plays from four featured playwrights. These staged readings give audiences the opportunity to contribute to the plays' development through talk-backs following each reading, providing meaningful feedback to the playwrights.

"21st Century Voices is putting American Stage on the map as an incubator for new works. It's a thrilling process to go from receiving submissions from playwrights all over the world, reading and discussing the plays with our committee, and watching the plays come to life at the festival. Often times, this is the first instance playwrights get to hear their work aloud with professional actors. It's a special experience for our local artists and audiences to get to be a part of the early stages of a play's development. Every full production of a play you see, whether on our own mainstage or Broadway, has to start somewhere and American Stage is a great place for new works to begin and grow." -Colleen Cherry, Community Outreach Associate

New to the 2018-19 season, our PLAYWRIGHT-IN-RESIDENCE, Natalie Symons (LARK EDEN; THE BUFFALO KINGS; & NAMING TRUE) is developing a new play in collaboration with American Stage leadership and artists. Beginning with a series of private readings with professional actors over the course of the season, the play will now be presented to an audience in a staged reading closing this year's festival.

"I'm thrilled to have an 'artistic home' for the 2018/19 season, LIFE. OUT LOUD. where, with the support of the entire American Stage community, I will have the opportunity to develop my new play. It's through these collaborative efforts that never-before-produced work transitions from the page to the stage and ultimately finds its legs." -Natalie Symons, Playwright-in-Residence

21st Century Voices: 2019 New Play Festival Schedule:
Thursday, 1/3 at 8pm THE COLONY by Gina Stevensen
Friday, 1/4 at 8pm SHRUTI GUPTA CAN TOTALLY DEAL by J.Stephen Brantley
Saturday, 1/5 at 2pm THE FLORA AND FAUNA by Alyson Mead
Saturday, 1/5 at 8pm THE DIARY OF ANNIE MAE FRANKLIN by Crystal V. Rhodes
Sunday, 1/6 at 2pm THE PEOPLE DOWNSTAIRS by Natalie Symons

Thursday, January 3 at 8pm
by Gina Stevensen

In 1924 Virginia, a dirt-poor young woman named Carrie Buck is brought to a mysterious medical facility. No one will tell her why she's here, or where her two-month-old daughter is. All she knows is that her mother lives here - the mother who abandoned her when she was a child. The Doctor in charge is a charming progressive, a student of the new science of heredity and genes. In Carrie, he finds the missing link his entire movement has been searching for, placing her at the center of an unbelievable chain of events that will lead all the way to the Supreme Court. Based on true events, THE COLONY asks the question: how does our society, past and present, determine the value of its female bodies?

Gina Stevensen
Gina Stevensen's plays include THE COLONY (Semifinalist: Austin Film Festival Playwriting Competition, Off-Broadway Reading: Urban Stages, Finalist: The Kennedy Center's MFA Playwrights Workshop), CRUEL SISTER (Semi-Finalist: O'Neill National Playwrights Conference), KIDS (Williamstown Theatre Festival), and BOOK OF ESTHER (Reading: Hartford Stage, Top Ten Finalist: Jewish Playwriting Contest, Semi-Finalist: Princess Grace Award). Gina is a nominee for the OBIE Award-winning Mentor Project at the Cherry Lane Theatre. She teaches playwriting through Tribeca Performing Arts Center's Writers in Performance Workshop and The Writer's Rock. She recently assisted playwright, performer, and activist Eve Ensler on the New York premiere of her solo show IN THE BODY OF THE WORLD at Manhattan Theatre Club. BFA Drama: NYU Tisch. MFA Playwriting: Columbia University.

Friday, January 4 at 8pm
by J.Stephen Brantley

Shruti Gupta is a Dreamer, a DACA recipient in her senior year of medical school at CUNY. She lives very efficiently in the apartment above her uncle's jewelry store on 74th Street in Jackson Heights, and leaves the drama to her brother Raj, the soon-to-be-married prince of the family. But when Irish actor Liam appears in Shruti's patient communications simulation exam, a cross-cultural romance threatens to upend all her practical plans. As their unlikely relationship blossoms in the late summer of 2017, they find themselves having to navigate cultural traditions, DACA tweets and ICE raids, newly unfettered racism, and what it means to be 'American'.

J.Stephen Brantley
J.Stephen Brantley is a playwright and performer whose work includes BILLY BAAL, THE EMILIES, EIGHTYTHREE DOWN, FURBELOW, THE JAMB, and SHRUTI GUPTA CAN TOTALLY DEAL. Theatre 167's production of his play PIRIRA was named Outstanding Premiere Production at the 2014 New York Innovative Theatre Awards before transferring Off-Broadway, and then opening regionally at Luna Stage. Brantley has also written in collaboration with Theatre 167 on The Jackson Heights Trilogy plays and The Church Of Why Not. His acclaimed one-man autobiographical 'recovery cabaret' CHICKEN-FRIED CICCONE: A TWANGY TRUE TALE OF TRANSFORMATION, directed by Obie-winner David Drake, played to audiences in New York, Dublin, Provincetown, and East Hampton. He is an eight-time NYIT nominee, a member of the Indie Theatre Hall Of Fame, and recipient of the 2017 Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. More at

Saturday, January 5 at 2pm
by Alyson Mead

Ginnie and Adele's friendship was forged under a dark secret. But 28 years later, an inescapable event puts them both in jeopardy again. Can they help each other move on from loss before it's too late?

Alyson Mead
Alyson Mead studied at Yale, the Slade School of Art in London, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and with iO West, UCB and Tectonic Theatre Project. Her plays include THE FLORA AND FAUNA (Princess Grace Award finalist, Henley-Rose Award winner, Bridge Initiative New Work winner, WAM Theatre, Magnolia Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Project Playwright semi-finalist), THE PULSE PROJECT (Steppenwolf, Emerald Theatre, Stage Q), THE QUALITY OF MERCY (Urban Stages Emerging Playwright Award finalist, Bay Area Playwrights Festival semi-finalist, Elephant Theatre, Skylight Theatre), THE HONOR SYSTEM (Cimientos/IATI Theater finalist, Manhattan Theatre Works' Newborn Festival semi-finalist, Pasadena Playhouse), THE FLOWER (Kenneth Branagh Award for New Dramatic Writing finalist, NEWvember New Plays Festival finalist, Rough Writers New Play Fest), and PUNK ROCK MOM (Venus Theatre), among others. Alyson was awarded residencies and fellowships through Ragdale, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, Can Serrat and the Women's International Study Center, and her work has been developed and commissioned by Kenyon Playwrights Conference, Playwrights Center San Francisco, 360repco, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and the 365 Women a Year Playwriting Project. She's published by Original Works Publishing, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Ammunition Theatre's Writing Workshop, the Ensemble Studio Theatre's Playwriting Unit and the Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative.

Saturday, January 5 at 8pm
by Crystal V. Rhodes

The Franklin family lives in the small town of Jerome, Arkansas, during World War II where the United States government has imprisoned Japanese Americans in "Relocation Camps". Some of the black residents in Jerome helped build the camp, but the people imprisoned there are completely foreign to them. Yet, the racial injustice that has put them there is all too familiar.
When fourteen year old Adam Sato escapes from the "camp" he encounters a twelve year old black girl named Annie Mae Franklin. Without her family's knowledge, she hides him. When Adam is discovered the family faces a dilemma. Should they hide him and face treason charges or turn him in and be complicit with his immoral imprisonment? While the debate rages, tragedy strikes. Annie Mae's fifteen year old sister, Maggie, kills a white man who tried to rape her. He is the son of the town's most prominent resident, and the best friend of Otis Franklin, Annie Mae's father.
The death spells disaster for the Franklin household. With their backs against the wall, the family's solution is escape, as its members-and their unexpected guest-become forced migrants and head North.

Crystal V. Rhodes
Crystal V. Rhodes is an award-winning playwright and author whose plays have been produced in theatres throughout the United States. She has written over two dozen plays, two of which were co-written with fellow playwright/author L. Barnett Evans. Rhodes served as the first Playwright in Residence for the Connor Prairie Interactive History Park in Fishers, Indiana. Her most recent play, THE DIARY OF ANNIE MAE FRANKLIN, was selected for placement on the A List of plays to be read at the 2017 National Black Theatre Festival.
Rhodes has been nominated for numerous awards, including The Jefferson Award (Chicago) for Best Original Writing (Stoops), and the Black Theatre Alliance Association Awards (Chicago) for Best Writing of a Play (The Trip). She is the recipient of the Black Theatre Alliance Association Award (Chicago) for Best Original Writing of a Play Drama or Comedy (Stoops). Her play The Trip has been included in two play anthologies. Her play, GRANDMOTHERS, INCORPORATED, co-written with fellow writer, L. Barnett Evans, enjoyed a successful run Off Broadway, while STAKEOUT, a second play co-written with Evans, was one of the Top 10 Grossing plays in the 2014 Indianapolis Fringe Theatre Festival.
A prolific writer, Rhodes has received numerous accolades as an author. Written Word Magazine named Crystal V. Rhodes as one of the Ten Up and Coming Authors in the Midwest. She has written for stage, television, radio, newspapers and magazines. A native of Indianapolis, Indiana she has a Masters degree in Sociology.

Playwright-in-Residence (NEW this season)

Sunday, January 6 at 2pm
by Natalie Symons

Set in a hoarder's nest in the Black Rock neighborhood of Buffalo NY, Miles, an aging funeral home custodian with a taste for whiskey and a taste for laughter, lives with his daughter Mabel, a middle-aged agoraphobic who spends her days writing letters to prison inmates. When a court-appointed guardian threatens to take away their home, their rights, and their stolen poodle, Miles takes action and sets out to find a 'good guy' for Mabel. Enter Todd, an inept mortician who lives with his mother and pet hamster Stanley Kowalski. It is a father's fierce determination not to accept his daughter's fate that ignites an endearing human comedy about love, loss, loneliness, and the healing power of laughter.

Natalie Symons
Natalie is thrilled to be the playwright-in-residence at American Stage for the 18/19 LIFE. OUT LOUD. season. Her plays have been developed and produced in theatres around the country, including ACT Theatre, Aurora Theatre, American Stage, freeFall Theatre, Theater Schmeater, New American Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Bridge Street Theatre, Theatre22, Amas Musical Theatre, New Century Theatre, and Urbanite Theatre.

She's the author of LARK EDEN, which has won the hearts of Tampa Bay audiences since 2011 and continues to play on stages around the country. THE BUFFALO KINGS premiered at freeFall Theatre in 2015 and received three Broadway World awards including Best Play. NAMING TRUE, which premiered at Urbanite Theatre in 2017, is part of the inaugural plays featured at Ashland New Play Festival's Play4Keeps.

Other awards and honors include: Palm Beach Dramaworks Dramaworkshop Prize Winner, ACT & Theatre22 Construction Zone New Play Festival, Bridge Initiative Women in Theatre Playwright of the Year Award Finalist, Hope and Optimism Cornell University and University of Notre Dame Finalist. Natalie is a recipient of the 2018 Creative Pinellas Professional Artist Grant. She is the author of the upcoming novel, LIES IN BONE.

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