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Eugene O’Neill Theater Center Announces 2010 National Playwrights Conference Selections

Jacob Coakley • Theatre Buzz • April 19, 2010

WATERFORD, CT—The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center has announced the names of seven plays that will be developed at the 2010 National Playwrights Conference. The selected playwrights will spend the month of July at the O’Neill’s Waterford, Conn. campus developing and presenting staged readings of their work during the NPC’s 46th season. The plays, which will undergo the O’Neill’s development process, are:  Creation by Kathryn Walat; The Dream of the Burning Boy by David West Read; Follow Me to Nellie’s by Dominique Morisseau; Close Up Space by Molly Smith Metzler; The Burden of Not Having a Tail by Carrie Barrett; A Devil At Noon by Anne Washburn; and Comes A Faery by James McLindon. The selected works were chosen from among nearly 600 plays received through the O’Neill’s Open Submissions process, which allows any playwright—with or without agent representation—to submit, and utilizes readers from across the country to choose works based on merit, without authorship attribution.

National Playwrights Conference artistic director Wendy C. Goldberg said, “I am excited to welcome these new artists to the O’Neill for the 46th season of the National Playwrights Conference.  All of the work came through our Open Submissions process—a process that this organization takes very seriously. It is always a joy to bring the next generation of theatrical storytellers to our campus to help these artists shape and hone their work for production.”

Goldberg is in her sixth season as artistic director of the National Playwrights Conference. During Goldberg’s tenure, 40 projects have been developed at NPC for the stage, and many have gone on to great acclaim in New York and around the country, including Adam Bock’s The Receptionist, Lee Blessing’s Great Falls, Regina Taylor’s Magnolia, Deborah Zoe Laufer’s End Days, and Julia Cho’s The Language Archive, winner of this year’s Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Executive Director Preston Whiteway remarked, “The seven new plays and playwrights, along with our exciting writers-in-residence, bring topics of relevance to American and international theatre, and represent the best in the rich O’Neill tradition of nurturing exciting new voices which will reverberate for decades to come.  It will be an exciting summer.”

Writers-In-Residence, who will work on their current projects at the O’Neill during NPC 2010 include Alfred Uhry, the only American playwright to have won a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award and Two Tony Awards. Uhry’s plays include Driving Miss Daisy, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and Without Walls.

Writer-in-Residence, Chris D’Arienzo, writer of Broadway’s Rock of Ages, will work at NPC on new projects, collaborating with NPC Artistic Director Wendy C. Goldberg.  Goldberg served as the Creative Advisor on Rock of Ages. 

Yaroslava Pulinovich will join the group of writers, furthering the O’Neill’s deep cultural ties to Russia and Russian playwriting. Ms. Pulinovich won the debut playwriting award from the Et Cetera Theater in Moscow, and at age 22, her works have been performed at theatres in Moscow and London.

The 2010 National Playwrights Conference Selections:

Creation by Kathryn Walat
When a renowned evolutionary biologist suddenly develops an obsession for music, four lives become unexpectedly entwined, in this play about the mysteries of the human mind, the alchemy of the creative process, and the spark that changes everything.

The Dream of the Burning Boy by David West Read
In a high school classroom, a poster on the wall reads: “EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT.” The poster offers little comfort to English teacher Larry Morrow, who is trying to move on after the sudden death of a popular student, but finds himself haunted by a troubling dream.

Follow Me to Nellie’s by Dominique Morisseau
If you follow the footsteps to Nellie Jackson’s Whorehouse, you may discover a hopeless blues singer looking for a way out, a brave freedom fighter looking for a way in, and a house of wounded women, looking for a new day.  In 1955 Mississippi, during the reign of segregation, to get what they’re looking for may cost everything they have.

Close Up Space by Molly Smith Metzler
Paul Barrow is the most feared and powerful book editor in the biz. He reads the dictionary for pleasure and spends his days alone, scouring manuscripts for grammatical errors or anything “schmaltzy” to bludgeon with his red pen. But when his grieving daughter Harper shows up unannounced at his office—having been expelled from boarding school because she refuses to stop speaking Russian—Paul has no idea how to communicate with her. How does a father navigate with only his red pen as a guide?

The Burden of Not Having a Tail by Carrie Barrett
You are invited to an intimate bunker-side chat on how to prep for when “It” happens.  Your discussion leader will be a paranoid woman with a tragic past.   “Think of the worst case scenario and then think of something worse than that.  It’s going to be worse than something that’s worse than that.”

A Devil At Noon by Anne Washburn
A Devil At Noon is a play about a science fiction writer living in the bad part of Berkeley, California in a slightly imaginary 1981.  His novel is going well but his magnets no longer adhere to the refrigerator, he has an ant problem, and the young woman who popped up on his doorstep won’t tell him her last name.

Comes A Faery by James McLindon
A single mother deployed overseas. Her little girl left with a less-than-willing aunt. A cantankerous Irish fairy who may or may not have escaped from a favorite storybook.  Has he come to keep the lonely child company … or steal her soul?

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