That's right, our 2014 Summer New Play Workshop is officially under way! This year, we'll be developing and presenting staged readings of four new plays by Huntington Playwriting Fellows (and other Huntington family members). The playwrights hit the beach last Tuesday at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, where they will continue to edit, hone, and revise their work in collaboration with a talented team of directors, actors, dramaturgs, and designers. The plays will be presented as staged readings on Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20; and what's more, these events are free and open to the public.
The Calderwood Pavilion looks just like this, except not at all.
Free staged readings are a great opportunity to get an insider's scoop on the play development process, and maybe even have your voice heard as the play approaches its premiere production (no guarantees, of course). Also, and I may be a little biased here, but regardless of the play, it's just fun to be involved in the creative process, and get a sneak peek at the work-in-progress. Plus you can totally brag to your friends that you saw an iteration of the play before it was finished, which is like seeing something before it was cool, only better.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Summer Workshop, the program was launched in 2012 as a two-week retreat for new plays in development, culminating in a public reading. Modeled after the Sundance Theatre Lab, the program was born out of conversations with our Huntington Playwriting Fellows, who were looking to develop new work in a safe and artist-driven environment. The Summer Workshop gives writers an opportunity to collaborate not only with actors and directors, but designers as well — many of the readings feature some slight design elements, such as music or video projections. Says Artistic Director Peter DuBois, "Only in its third year, this annual development retreat has quickly become an important cornerstone for our new play activities. Local playwrights participate in all levels of the process — the original design, the annual selection process, and this year, even directing one of the individual workshops. Plays from previous years have gone on to production both by the Huntington (Becoming Cuba) and other Boston companies (A Future Perfect, coming up at SpeakEasy Stage), and I'm excited to see how these plays evolve this summer."
Did you know that Brian Wilson once filled his living room with sand so that he could twinkle
his toes in it while he composed songs for the Beach Boys? Our Playwriting Fellows aren't so lucky.
This year's workshop offers four very different plays from five (yes, five) singularly unique theatrical perspectives. Directed by Huntington newcomer Pirronne Yousefzadah, MJ Kaufman's new play Murmur Rock deals with a family on vacation trying to re-connect with their German roots. Except maybe they're in the wrong village? Or maybe not. MJ is a rising star in the playwriting world, and his play Untitled Play About Dead Bodies was also presented at the Huntington's 2012 Summer Workshop. You can catch Murmur Rock this Saturday, July 19 at 5pm.
Back in 2008, the Huntington presented the world premiere of The Cry of the Reed, a fantastic new play by Sinan Ünel about journalism, terrorism, and whirling dervishes. A reading of his newest play, Chatal, will be presented on Saturday, July 19 at 7pm. Chatal is about archeology, but literally and metaphorically, and a rare visit to the historical Çatalhöyük, a 9,000-year old Neolithic settlement in Anatolia. This reading will be directed by Melinda Lopez, thereby securing her position as a Huntington Triple-threat (having both written and acted in past Huntington productions).
Melinda Lopez is not the only Huntington artist to be trying out a new role in the summer heat. Our third Summer Workshop play is The Bluebeard Project, a contemporary re-imagining of the classic fairy tale of Bluebeard, co-written by Masha Obolensky and Melia Bensussen, who will also be directing. Melia previously directed Luck of the Irish and Circle Mirror Transformation at the Huntington, and she'll be directing our upcoming productions Awake and Sing! this fall. The Bluebeard Project marks her first collaboration with us as a (co-)writer, and we couldn't be more excited about it — especially in her pairing with the inimitable Masha Obolensky, whose play Marvelous Fruit was featured as part of our Breaking Ground Reading Series. You may have also caught her play Not Enough Air at the Nora Theatre in Central Square in 2010, which was selected as one of The Boston Globe's "10 Best of 2010." The staged reading of The Bluebeard Project will take place on Sunday, July 20 at 1:30pm.
Last but certainly not least is Start Down, a new play by HPF Eleanor Burgess that explores the risks and rewards of the start-up world, and makes modern economic trends hit home in unexpected ways. You may have caught the staged reading of her play All Times last spring as part of our Breaking Ground Reading Series. We're particularly excited to welcome Company One Artistic Director Shawn LaCount to the Huntington as the director of the Start Down reading, which will take place on Sunday, July 20 at 4pm. Shawn has been a powerhouse in the Boston theatre community over the past fifteen years, establishing Company One is a veritable theatre institution at the forefront of challenging and diverse new plays, and we sure that he'll bring that same sharp eye in presenting Eleanor's work for Huntington audiences.
You can find out more about the plays and playwrights over at the 2014 Summer Workshop page; otherwise, we hope to see you at the readings!
Unfortunately, Samuel Beckett declined the Huntington's offer to workshop his new play, Seriously? It's Been Like Fifteen Hours, Is This Godot Guy Ever Actually Going To Show Up Or Are You Just Screwing With Me?, on account of he's no longer alive. On an unrelated note, I think this might be the happiest picture that anyone took of the man.