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Huntington Theatre Company's Third Annual Summer Workshop Includes New Plays By Burgess, Kaufman, Ünel, and Obolensky & Bensussen

(BOSTON) — The Huntington Theatre Company's annual Summer Workshop is underway and will culminate in public readings of four new plays on July 19 and 20, 2014. The retreat allows selected members of the Huntington Playwriting Fellows program two weeks to participate in an artist-driven intensive, developing new plays. The workshop and public readings will take place at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.

Murmur Rock

by MJ Kaufman
Directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh
Saturday, July 19 at 5pm


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Chatal

by Sinan Ünel
Directed by Melinda Lopez
Saturday, July 19 at 7pm


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The Bluebeard Project

Co-written by Masha Obolensky
and Melia Bensussen
Directed by Melia Bensussen
Sunday, July 20 at 1:30pm


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Start Down

by Eleanor Burgess
Directed by Shawn LaCount

Sunday, July 20 at 4pm


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**Please note that readings are open to the public, but not to reviewing members of the press. An RSVP is required to attend.

"Only in its third year, this annual development retreat has quickly become an important cornerstone for our new play activities," says Artistic Director Peter DuBois. "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 and other Boston companies, and I'm excited to see how these plays evolve this summer."

Modeled after the Sundance Theatre Lab, the Summer Workshop is an extension of the Huntington's Playwriting Fellows program and Breaking Ground Reading Series. Huntington staff members Lisa Timmel (Director of New Work) and Charles Haugland (Artistic Programs & Dramaturgy) support the writers in development; dramaturg Amissa Miller is participating in the workshop of MJ Kaufman's Murmur Rock. The festival is produced by Huntington Associate Producer M. Bevin O'Gara and workshop producing associates Rebecca Bradshaw and Daniel Morris.

 

About the Plays & Playwrights

Murmur Rock by MJ Kaufman

by MJ Kaufman
Directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh
Saturday, July 19 at 5pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA 

RSVP

An American family is determined to have a fun vacation reconnecting with their roots in a small German village, but it's hard to have fun when nothing goes as expected. Grandfather's house is gone and the family graves aren't in the cemetary. Why are all the tour guides so weird? Is this even the right town?

Originally from Portland, Oregon, MJ Kaufman attended Wesleyan University and recently received an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. He has received awards and commissions from the Program for Women in Theater, the Playwrights Foundation, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, Young Playwrights Inc., New Harmony Project, Global Age Project, and the Huntington Theatre Company, where he is also a Huntington Playwriting Fellow. MJ was awarded the 2010 Jane Chambers Prize in Feminist Theatre for his play A Live Dress. His work has also been produced by Fresh Ink Theatre, the Yale School of Drama, and performed in Russian in Moscow. He received the 2013 ASCAP Cole Porter Prize in Playwriting, and is currently a member of the Clubbed Thumb Emerging Writers Group, The Falcons.

(As of June 2014)

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Chatal by Sinan Ünel

by Sinan Ünel
Directed by Melinda Lopez
Saturday, July 19 at 7pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA 

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When an invitation arrives to visit Çatalhöyük (Chatalheuyuk) — a 9,000-year old Neolithic settlement in Anatolia — Joan, once a respect archeologist but now disgraced and discredited, is both curious and unsettled. Joan's friend Alice, site director of the dig, invites her to lead the human remains team, and Joan has to re-examine her past, her insecurity, and her passions. Chatal is a story of discovery and ambition driven by ancient burials, sexual politics, and philosophy.

Sinan Ünel's (playwright) Pathetique (2004) has been produced at the Huntington as part of the Breaking Ground festival of new plays, as well as Last Flight Out (2012) in the Emerging America festival and The Cry of the Reed (2007). Mr. Ünel's plays have also been produced at the Long Wharf Theatre, the Arcola Theatre (London), Boston Playwrights' Theatre, the Lark Theatre Company (New York), the Gate Theatre (London), Provincetown Theatre Company, Provincetown Theatreworks, Landes-theater (Germany), Theater Kosmos (Austria), and Theatre at Boston Court (Pasadena, CA). He has been awarded the John Gassner Memorial Award, the Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award, and was a Huntington Playwriting Fellow. His script Race Point is the winner of the 2001 New Century Writer Award for best screenplay. He divides his time between New York and Cape Cod, and teaches at Lesley University.

(As of June 2014)

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The Bluebeard Project by Masha Obolensky & Melia Bensussen

Co-written by Masha Obolensky and Melia Bensussen
Directed by Melia Bensussen
Sunday, July 20 at 1:30pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

RSVP

The Bluebeard Project reimagines Bluebeard, a classic fairy tale, in a contemporary landscape. A young woman who is eager to enter the music scene struggles to assert herself separate from the relationship she has with her photographer mother, with whom she is deeply and destructively entwined. The play tracks the inevitability of the fairy tale as the young woman and her mother both fall into unforeseen darkness and struggle to survive and overcome.

Masha Obolensky was a Huntington Playwriting Fellow in 2011-2012. She was a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in 2011 and received the Pen New England Discovery Award in 2010. Other awards include the Kennedy Center Michael Kanin Award (2010, Girls Play), a WordBridge fellowship (2010, The Girl Problem), the Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award (2006), and the Robert Pinsky Global Playwriting Fellowship (2010). Her play Not Enough Air was produced by Chicago's Timeline Theatre and was nominated for 5 Joseph Jefferson Equity Awards including Best New Play and Best Production. Not Enough Air was also produced by the Nora Theatre in Cambridge (directed by Melia Bensussen) and was listed in The Boston Globe's "10 Best of 2010." Her most recent play Marvelous Fruit was a PlayPenn Conference finalist (2013), a Eugene O'Neill Theatre Festival semi-finalist (2013), and a Source Festival DC finalist. Her plays have also been produced by the Boston Theatre Marathon, the Samuel French OOB Play Festival, ArtsEmerson, HERE Arts Center, Access Theatre, and Source Festival DC. She has an MFA in playwriting from Boston University.

(As of October 2018)

Melia Bensussen previously directed We All Fall Down (2020), Yerma (2019), A Doll's House (2017)Awake and Sing! (2014), Luck of the Irish (2011), and Circle Mirror Transformation (2010) at the Huntington. Other directing credits include work with Shakespeare & Company, Trinity Repertory Company, Sleeping Weazel, Actors' Shakespeare Project, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Baltimore Center Stage, Hartford Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York Shakespeare Festival, MCC Theater, Primary Stages, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and many others. She has received two directing awards from the Princess Grace Foundation, including their top honor, the Statue Award for Sustained Excellence in Directing. Ms. Bensussen’s edition of Langston Hughes' translation of Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding is published by Theatre Communications Group, and she is featured in Rebecca Daniels’ Women Stage Directors Speak, Nancy Taylor's Women Direct Shakespeare, and in Jews, Theatre, Performance in an Intercultural Context. An Obie Award-winning director, she is on the executive board of the Society of Directors and Choreographers and serves as chair of the Arts Advisory Board for the Princess Grace Foundation. A longtime Emerson College faculty member, Ms. Bensussen is the incoming artistic director of Hartford Stage.

(As of February 2020)

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Start Down by Eleanor Burgess

by Eleanor Burgess
Directed by Shawn LaCount
Sunday, July 20 at 4pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA 

RSVP

A San Francisco programmer latches on to an idea for a startup that will automate some of the work teachers do in a classroom. But as the idea begins to take off, it becomes clear that Will's new company may threaten his fiancé's job. Start Down makes larger economic trends hit home.

Eleanor Burgess is a Huntington Playwriting Fellow. She recently wrote The Niceties (2018) at the Huntington. Her work has been produced at Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre Center, Alliance Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Portland Stage Company, and Centenary Stage, and developed with The New Group, New York Theatre Workshop, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Page 73, The Civilians, Salt Lake Acting Company, the Lark Play Development Center, and the Kennedy Center/NNPN MFA Playwrights Workshop. She grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, and studied history at Yale College and dramatic writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

(As of October 4, 2018)

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About the Huntington Playwriting Fellows Program

The Huntington Playwriting Fellows (HPF) program creates relationships between a local community of writers and a nationally prominent producing theatre, forges those bonds through authentic conversation and artistic collaboration, and encourages dialogue among local artists.

Since 2003, the HPF program has invited writers to participate in two-year residencies, during which playwrights receive a modest honorarium, join in a biweekly writers' collective with artistic staff, attend Huntington productions and events, and are eligible for readings and support through the Breaking Ground reading series.

The primary focus of the program is creating relationships with writers at all stages of their careers, from emerging talent to established professionals. The program provides a framework for an in-depth, two-year artistic conversation and a long-term professional relationship. The Summer Workshopm, which began in 2012, was developed from conversations at convenings with Fellows past and present to solicit ideas about how to improve and expand the program.

In 2009, the Huntington instituted an open application process with submissions solicited each spring from any writer primarily based within commuting distance of Boston. The theatre selects two to four writers whose terms overlap with adjacent cohorts.

Huntington productions of plays by Fellows include Smart People and Stick Fly by Lydia R. Diamond; Becoming Cuba and Sonia Flew by Melinda Lopez; Luck of the Irish by Kirsten Greenidge; Before I Leave You by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro; The Cry of the Reed by Sinan Ünel; Shakespeare's Actresses in America by Rebecca Maggor; Psyched and "M" by Ryan Landry; and The Atheist, Brendan, and the upcoming The Second Girl by Ronan Noone.

 

About the Huntington

Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston's leading theatre company since its founding in 1982. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current. Led by Artistic Director peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington creates award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington is in residence at Boston University. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.

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