PlayPenn Announces Conference Slate

by Jacob Coakley
Six plays will be rehearsed and produced as staged readings at the PlayPenn annual conference in July.
Six plays will be rehearsed and produced as staged readings at the PlayPenn annual conference in July.

PlayPenn, Philadelphia’s professional new play development org, has announced the titles of the plays it will be presenting at its seventh annual New Play Development Conference July 8-July 24. The conference will devote two and a half weeks to rehearsing and developing six plays, culminating in staged readings of the works. The plays chosen are: American Wee-Pie, by Lisa Dillman; Slip/Shot, by Jacqueline Goldfinger; Nerine, by Brian Quirk; A Man, His Wife, and His Hat by Lauren Yee; Another Girl by John Yearley; and The Electric Baby, by Stefanie Zadravec.

PLAYPENN PRESENTS SEVENTH ANNUAL NEW PLAY DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE

Conference Culminates in Free Staged Readings on July 21, 22, 23, and 24

PlayPenn, Philadelphia’s professional new play development organization, will hold its seventh annual New Play Development Conference on July 8-July 24 at the Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom Street) in Philadelphia.  The Conference will feature two-and-a-half weeks of intensive work on six works-in-progress by Lisa Dillman (American Wee-Pie); Jacqueline Goldfinger (Slip/Shot); Brian Quirk (Nerine); Lauren Yee (A Man, His Wife, and His Hat); John Yearley (Another Girl);  and Stefanie Zadravec (The Electric Baby).

The Conference will culminate in staged readings of the plays on July 21, 22, 23 and 24, which are free and open to the public.  Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 215-253-8838 beginning July 1st.

“The goal of the conference is the development of plays, through a process of collaboration, experimentation, rehearsal and rewriting, rather than offering fully realized productions of finished works. We focus on playwrights’ needs by providing a laboratory environment and the necessary tools for playwrights, making the fundamental work of the theatre possible without the constraints and pressures of production, promotion and commercial consideration,” said Paul Meshejian, Artistic Director of PlayPenn.

In The Electric Baby by Stefanie Zadravec, when a car accident kills a young man, a group of fractured souls encounter a magical dying baby and begin to rewrite the stories of their lives. Folktales and folklore weave throughout this story of sad endings, strange beginnings and the unlikely people that get you from one place to the next.  The Electric Baby, directed by Daniella Topol and dramaturged by Carrie Chapter, will be read on Thursday, July 21 at 8:00 PM.

A comedy about grief, success, and America’s national pastime, overconsumption, American Wee-Pie by Lisa Dillman is a journey of self-discovery and reinvention. While back in his hometown to bury his mother, Tim “Zed” Zedlicki meets up with a high school acquaintance who runs a cupcake emporium. Although he is caught up in grief and regrets, he moved back to the childhood home he once hated and signed on as an apprentice cupcake chef. When a competing bakery moves in on Le Petite Gateau’s turf, Zed sets out to create a brand new bubble in the single-serving gourmet-treat industry.  American Wee-Pie, directed by Jackson Gay and dramaturged by Michele Volansky, will be read on Friday, July 22 at 8:00 PM.

Nerine by Brian Quirk follows a gifted teenage girl, on the cusp of her adolescence who moves to a housing project in Los Angeles with her mentally unstable mother and her over-protective “Oma.”   Unable to go to school, Nerine channels her energy into creating a garden from the dust. But when her mother becomes pregnant, Nerine’s hopes for the future begin to collapse.  Nerine, directed by Casey Stangl and dramaturged by Sarah Mantell, will be read on Saturday, July 23 at 4:00 PM.

Another Girl by John Yearley is a story about choices and consequences, and the parts of your past you can never outrun.  Aidan, an almost famous musician, returns to the home she has not seen in over 20 years. She expects to see the sister she has not spoken to in years, but not the young neighbor who idolizes her, or the mysterious man who is living in her mother’s attic. By the end of Aidan’s visit, all of their lives will be changed forever.  Another Girl, directed by Lucie Tiberghien and dramaturged by R.N. Sandberg, will be read on Saturday, July 23 at 8:00 PM.

Slip/Shot by Jacqueline Goldfinger is a new play about the malleability of truth, and how we re-imagine history to protect the ones we love.  In the neon glow of the Red Hen Bar & Grill, Kitty and Clem fall in love and find an escape from their dysfunctional families in each other. But when a party devolves into a terrible shooting, they tear themselves apart trying to figure out what went wrong.  Slip/Shot, directed by Ed Sobel and dramaturged by Rebecca Wright, will be read on Sunday, July 24 at 2:00 PM.

A Man, A Wife and His Hat by Lauren Yee is a klezmer-inspired love triangle between a man, his wife, and his hat.  Hetchman loves his hat. Oh, and his wife, too. When both go missing, the retired hatmaker vows to stop at nothing to find them, if he can ever muster the strength to leave the comforts of his armchair. However, the arrival of a talking wall and a hungry golem threatens to derail his endeavor.  A Man, Wife & A Hat, directed by Hal Brooks and dramaturged by Rick DesRochers, will be read on Sunday, July 24 at 5:00PM.

There will also be readings of two plays which need to be heard by an audience, but whose writers may not need or benefit from the intensive writing support from the rest of the Conference.  These readings will take place at 7:00PM on Monday, July 18 and Tuesday, July 19.

The Conference will also host a Symposium on Friday, July 22 at 6:00 PM titled “Two Actors and a Board?” bringing together artists and thinkers whose work has persistently crossed boundaries, taken risks, and sought new audiences and forms.  Moderated by Rick DesRochers, the conversation will also include Stephen Belber, playwright and member of both Tectonic Theatre Project and Labyrinth Theatre; David Dower, Associate Artistic Director at Arena Stage;  and playwright/director KJ Sanchez, CEO of American Records Theater.

For more info about PlayPenn, please visit www.playpenn.org.