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Novelist Chris Bohjalian, Women Artists Writing Group Debut New Digital Work From Dorset Theatre Festival

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Novelist Chris Bohjalian, Women Artists Writing Group Debut New Digital Work From Dorset Theatre Festival

Dorset Theatre Festival has announced release dates for two new virtual events. A collection of short pieces written by the Festival's Women Artists Writing Group will be available on-demand starting July 31, and an online reading of New York Times best-selling author Chris Bohjalian's play, Wingspan, will stream August 3-9.

The Women Artists Writing Group (DTFWAW) typically holds a free annual public presentation of new work in New York City each spring. This year, Grace, an evening of short pieces and works-in-process written in response to the word "grace," will be available on Dorset's Youtube channel starting at 7:00 PM EDT Friday, July 31. The group's first online project, Exquisite Collaboration, is already available.

"Grace is one of the many ways the Festival has been remaining very active during the pandemic. With the Playhouse closed this summer, we are excited to be sharing more of our new play development process, which takes place year-round," said Dina Janis, Dorset's Artistic Director. DTFWAW, a group of actresses and theatre artists who are expanding their artistry through writing with institutional support from Dorset Theatre Festival, went from meeting twice a month to meeting up to three times per week during the pandemic.

"In all the upheaval of the past few months, it's been a great relief and solace to have DTFWAW as an artistic home base," said Donna Eis, a member of the Women Artists Writing Group. "On my own, it's felt nearly impossible to write through the stress and uncertainty of the moment, but the women in this group have shown me again and again that it can be done."

Begun in 2016, the group has expanded to include 18 members and two annual retreats in Dorset, VT. In 2018 the group had their first public presentation in NYC, Pages in Process, presented in conjunction with Primary Stages and the Einhorn School of Performing Arts. A full house gathered for the 2019 event, A Sense of Sanctuary - an evening of short plays written in response to the word "sanctuary."

Grace features work by Heidi Armbruster, Mary Bacon, Carolyn Baeumler, Purva Bedi, Maggie Diaz Bofill, Donna Eis, Laura Gómez, Elizabeth M. Kelly, Katie Kreisler, Sharahn LaRue, Mariana Newhard, and Nandita Shenoy. DTFWAW also includes Jessica Bauman, Michelle Beck, Michelle Bossy, Twinkle Burke, Mathilde Dratwa, Cheri Magid, and Dale Soules. More information can be found at: dorsettheatrefestival.org/grace.

Originally scheduled as part of Dorset's Pipeline Series of New Plays, Wingspan by Vermont author Chris Bohjalian, will be available to stream online from August 3-9. Bohjalian is the New York Times best-selling author of Midwives and The Flight Attendant, among others. His collaboration with Dorset has included working with Dina Janis and director Lisa Rothe on a new version of the three-character play set in the "post-Covid future."

"I wrote Wingspan - originally Grounded - about the same time I was writing my novel, The Flight Attendant. The novel and the play have absolutely nothing to do with each other, except for my fascination with aviation and the people who fly for a living," said Chris Bohjalian. "What I love about Wingspan is that it seems at first like a lighthearted, comic play: a young flight attendant with a desperate fear of flying is making her first overseas flight. But it morphs into something that is, I hope, deeper and more heartbreaking."

Directed by Lisa Rothe, the cast for the reading of Wingspan includes actors Mary Bacon, Grace Experience, and Sathya Sridharan. The stage manager is Carolynn Richer, with stage directions read by LaToya Lewis.

"I am so grateful to Dina Janis and Lisa Rothe and the team at the Dorset Theatre Festival. They're both brilliant and have been instrumental in helping me turn a one-act into a complete drama," said Bohjalian.

Access to Wingspan is available by making a tax-deductible donation of any size through Dorset Theatre Festival's website. More information and access to Wingspan can be found at: dorsettheatrefestival.org/wingspan

Dorset's Pipeline Series typically brings playwrights to Dorset for week-long workshops each summer, uniting each writer with a director and cast of professional actors. The week ends with a staged reading at the Dorset Playhouse. "The Pipeline is an opportunity for the writers in our community to fully engage in their creative process," said Dina Janis. "The week ends with a public reading, but a finished product is not necessarily the point. We love sharing plays in their early stages because it means our audience actually gets to participate in the development of the piece."

The Pipeline Series evolved out of the Festival's acclaimed New Play Reading Series. Since 2018, the Pipeline has featured plays written by Kate Cortesi, Melissa Ross, Frank Harts, Sofia Alvarez, Matthew Paul Olmos, and Sarah T. Schwab, as well as actors including Treat Williams, Estelle Parsons, and Karen Allen.

For more information, visit dorsettheatrefestival.org.


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