BOSTON, MA – March 12, 2019 –  The Huntington Theatre Company’s 2019 Breaking Ground festival of new plays will be held April 12 – 14, 2019 at the Huntington’s home for new work, the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The festival is a vital part of the Huntington’s new play development efforts and highlights the work of locally-based Huntington Playwriting Fellows and national writers in partnership with the Huntington.Over the last decade, Breaking Ground plays have gone on to appear at the Huntington as well as theatres in Boston, across the country, and internationally.  

Readings are free and open to the public, though not to reviewing members of the press. Advance reservation is required. RSVP at

The three-day festival will include:

  • The Kritik written by Brenda Withers, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
    Friday, April 12 at 8pm; South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

  • Mr. Parent written by Melinda Lopez & Maurice E. Parent, directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
    Saturday, April 13 at 8pm; South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
  • Deal Me Out written by MJ Halberstadt, directed by Rebecca Bradshaw
    Sunday, April 14 at 7pm; South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

 Of this year’s festival, Huntington Theatre Company’s Director of New Work, Charles Haugland says, “The new plays in this year’s Breaking Ground festival each highlight their playwright’s distinct voice – from Brenda Withers’ riotous and insightful send-up, to MJ Halberstadt’s clever and surprising comedy, to Maurice Parent and Melinda Lopez’s arresting look at education and identity. We look forward to showcasing these brilliant writers from the Boston community and to spending an evening in the company of each of their plays.”

Breaking Ground is supported by The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Harry Kondoleon Playwriting Fund, and the Stanford Calderwood Fund for New American Plays.


The Kritik

Written by Brenda Withers
Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
Friday, April 12 at 8pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

In an imagined corner of 19th century Russia, a provincial theatre critic struggles to write his first honest review. A send-up and celebration of the theatre, the truth, and all things Chekhovian, The Kritik joyfully examines how candor, corruption, and community affect the creative process.

Brenda Withers is a playwright, actor, and founding member of the Harbor Stage Company on Cape Cod.  Her plays includeThe Deer and the Antelope, Northside Hollow (with Jonathan Fielding),The Ding Dongs, and String Around My Finger, and have been developed and presented at places such as Portland Stage, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Urbanite Theatre, Amphibian Stage, and Gloucester Stage.  Onstage she has appeared at theatres including Actors Theatre of Louisville, McCarter Theater Center, PS122, the Folger, and Hartford Stage.  Her work has been awarded an Edgerton Award and the Clauder Prize, and she’s enjoyed playwriting residencies with New Georges and the Camargo Foundation. She studied drama and religion at Dartmouth College.

Mr. Parent

Written by Melinda Lopez & Maurice E. Parent
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Saturday, April 13 at 8pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

When an actor turns to teaching for a steady paycheck, he learns that it's less of a job and more of a constant, visceral reminder of one's own success and/or failure.Mr. Parent is a hilarious, joyful, and heartbreakingly honest peek into the kids, adults, and systems of the Boston Public Schools. Based on the real-life adventures of favorite Boston actor Maurice Parent, Mr. Parent asks, "What does it mean to show up for our kids — and ourselves?"

Melinda Lopez is the playwright-in-residence at the Huntington Theatre Company, a Huntington Playwriting Fellow, and is currently working on a new translation ofYerma to be produced by the Huntington May 31 – June 30, 2019. She is also developing a radio drama, Mariel, set in 2018 and 1980, during the Mariel Boatlift. She is the author ofMala, (ArtsEmerson, Guthrie Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Elliot Norton Award for Best New Play, Arts Impulse Award for Best Solo Performance: Emerson Stage) now available on Audible;Back the NIght (Boston Playwrights Theatre); Becoming Cuba (Huntington Theatre Company, North Coast Rep); andSonia Flew (Elliot Norton Award, Huntington Theatre Company, and many others). Ser Cuba and Sonia Se Fue are available in Spanish translation and were presented at the 2018 National Theatre Festival in Camaguey, Cuba.

Ms. Lopez is one of the Mellon Foundation National Playwright Residents (at the Huntington) and a Mass Cultural Council Fellow in Dramatic Writing (2019), and is also an actress. She is active in providing humanitarian aid for the people of Cuba and was mentioned by President Obama in his speech to the Cuban and American people in 2016. Mayor Martin J. Walsh declared October 29, 2016 “Melinda Lopez Day in the city of Boston” in her honor.

Maurice Emmanuel Parent is a Boston-based actor, director, educator, and arts administrator with nearly 20 years of experience. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Front Porch Arts Collective, a professional, black-led theatre company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theatre. As an actor, Mr. Parent has performed across the nation and overseas, working with artists such as Leslie Uggams, Jonathan Groff, and director Liesl Tommy. In Boston he’s performed on nearly every professional theatrical stage, winning two Elliot Norton Awards, three Independent Reviewers of New England Awards (IRNE), and one Arts Impulse Award. Mr. Parent’s directorial debut Breath and Imagination was recently nominated for a 2019 IRNE Award. He has been an educator for 14 years, having spent nearly six years as a performing arts specialist in the Boston Public School system. Mr. Parent is currently a professor at Tufts University and Boston University, and is the 2018-2019 Monan Professor in Theatre Arts for Boston College.

Deal Me Out
Written by MJ Halberstadt
Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw
Sunday, April 14 at 7pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA

Before beginning their longstanding weekly board game night, a group of social outcasts sets out to kick out the friend who has been grating on their nerves. A play about what happens when friendships are at odds with firmly held beliefs, Deal Me Out has the risky conversations people are afraid of having.

MJ Halberstadt is a playwright and teacher, and can usually be found knitting geometric patterns on his couch in Brookline, MA. His work seeks humor within social commentary, often as it relates to LGBTQ stories and privilege. He is a 2017-19 Huntington Playwriting Fellow, recipient of the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding New Script (The Launch Prize), commissioned playwright at SpeakEasy Stage, and adjunct professor of screenwriting at Emerson College. His work has been produced by Arctic Group, Bridge Repertory Theater, Fresh Ink Theater, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Pingree School, and others. He has received  support from Assets 4 Artists, BU’s Creative Writing Global Fellowship, Company One’s PlayLab, Flat Earth Theatre, KCACTF, Last Frontier Theatre Conference, Museum of Science Boston, and NOMTI. He is a Playmaker Emeritus of Bridge Repertory Theater, alumnus of Emerson College (BA) and Boston University (MFA), and a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Inc. Learn more at


The Huntington Theatre Company is a national leader in the development of new plays and has produced 120 world, American, or New England premieres. The cornerstone of activity is the Huntington Playwriting Fellows (HPF) program, a two-year fellowship for selected local writers. A three-year, $245,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation adds local playwright Melinda Lopez to the Huntington’s full-time staff as playwright-in-residence. The annual two-week Summer Workshopand Breaking Ground Festival of new plays allows selected HPFs and national writers to develop their plays in two and three dimensions.

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 between local artists. Huntington productions of plays by HPFs includeSonia Flew, Becoming Cuba, and Mala by Melinda Lopez; Milk Like Sugarand Luck of the Irish by Kirsten Greenidge; A Guide for the Homesick by Ken Urban;The Atheist, Brendan, and The Second Girl by Ronan Noone; Stick Flyand Smart People by Lydia R. Diamond; Ryan Landry’s “M” and Psyched by Ryan Landry; Before I Leave You by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro;The Cry of the Reed by Sinan Ünel; and Shakespeare’s Actresses in Americaby Rebekah Maggor.

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 annual Summer Workshop and Breaking Ground festival of new plays. 

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 Workshop, which began in 2012, was developed from conversations at convenings with HPFs past and present to solicit ideas about how to improve and expand the program.

Since 2009, the Huntington has instituted an open application process with submissions from any writer primarily based within commuting distance of Boston; applications are currently solicited every 18 months. The theatre selects two to three writers whose terms overlap with adjacent cohorts.


The Huntington Theatre Company is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Huntington brings together superb local and national talent and produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions. The Huntington 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 has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts, and will remain so on a permanent basis with plans to convert the Huntington Avenue Theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with expanded services to audiences, artists, and the community. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit

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