New Jersey Stage

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Premiere Stages 7th Annual Spring Readings Series Features the Region's Most Promising New Plays

(UNION, NJ) -– Premiere Stages at Kean University will hold its annual Spring Readings on Thursday, March 17, Friday, March 18, and Saturday, March 19 at 7:00 pm and Sunday, March 20th at 3:00 pm in the University Center Little Theatre, located on Kean's Central Campus, 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J.  With partial funding from the New Jersey Theatre Alliance's Stages Festival, an additional playwright will be developed through the Festival, increasing the number of play finalist readings to four.

The finalist plays, selected from more than 300 submissions to the Premiere Stages Play Festival, will be given a professional reading and are considered for expanded development as part of the Premiere Stages 2011 summer season. One new play is read and discussed each evening and the public is encouraged to actively engage in the new play developmental process through post-reading dialogues with the writers and written evaluations. With audience response and input from a panel of theatre professionals, two plays are chosen for further development by Premiere Stages. One of the four plays will be selected for an Actors' Equity Association (AEA) staged reading in June, and the most promising play will be awarded a fully produced AEA production in July.   All of the finalists also receive cash awards ranging from $500 to $2000.

The schedule for the readings is as follows: "Floodplains" by Gabe McKinley (Thursday, March 17 at 7:00 pm). When a weathered army veteran learns of his daughter's disappearance in Iraq, he is forced to re-examine his role as both a father and a champion of the war; "Transit" by Kait Kerrigan  (Friday, March 18 at 7:00 pm).  When a Poughkeepsie Transit worker is confronted by an ambitious young reporter about his connection with the death of a Muslim woman, he must choose between uncovering the truth about her life and keeping the secrets she left behind; "Egyptian Song" by James Christy (Saturday, March 19 at 7:00 pm).  A young gifted singer and her sensitive brother struggle to bridge social divides as they search for happiness and independence in a world where tradition comes first; "Follow Me to Nellie's" by Dominique Morisseau (Sunday, March 20 at 3:00 pm).  Follow the road to Nellie's where you will discover five women searching for a new life and the man willing to risk his to show them the way. Set in 1955 Mississippi, at the height of segregation, the play is based on a true story.

The Premiere Stages Play Festival is the heart of the Premiere Stages artistic programming.  With the emergence of multiple venues for writers other than the theatre, and so few producers willing to produce anything but "safe" revivals, it is increasingly important to encourage and acknowledge those playwrights who feel passionately about writing for the stage.  The Premiere Stages Play Festival was created to offer this venue, and in so doing, provide a nurturing environment for the development of emerging playwrights.

 "What makes Premiere unique is that we fast track plays from a sit-down reading to a fully staged production within a few short months, keeping highly topical plays relevant while affording playwrights the benefit of retaining the world premiere rights," stated John Wooten, producing artistic director of Premiere Stages. "Second productions of new plays are extremely rare, and demanding the "world premiere" brand often stops a play dead in its tracks."

The 2010 Premiere Stages Festival Winner, "The Good Counselor" was just named one of only six plays to be a finalist for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award recognizing playwrights for the best scripts that premiered professionally outside of New York City during 2010. The play will be published later this year by Samuel French, Inc. Numerous past finalists have also been published by Samuel French as well as by Dramatists Play Service and Broadway Play Publishing.

The 2011 finalists were selected from a batch of more than 300 submissions. The pool of semi-finalists included Andrea Ciannavei, Chris Cragin, Vincent Delaney, Liz Ellison, Elizabeth Karlin, Anna Moench, Joshua Allen, Julia Marie Myatt, Andrea Stolowitz, and Tom Wolfe.

The Premiere Stages Play Festival is made possible in part through funding from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Provident Bank Foundation, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance's Stages Festival, and through the generous support of individual patrons.

Admission and parking for the Premiere Spring Readings is free. Please call 908-737-4092 for more information or visit Reservations are recommended. Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces. Please call for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times. Publications are available with advanced notice in alternate formats.

PHOTO: (L to R) Susan Louise O'Connor, Edward O'Blenis and Geany Masai in The Good Counselor -- Courtesy of Premiere Stages