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PlayPenn Adds Readings of Two Plays by Local Playwrights

Stage Directions • Theatre Buzz • July 8, 2010

PHILADELPHIA—PlayPenn, Philadelphia’s professional new play development organization, has added readings of two plays to its 2010 New Play Development Conference. Bruce Graham’s play Outgoing Tide will be read on Thursday, July 15, and Matt Ocks’ play Cowboy/Indian will be read on Tuesday, July 20. Both will be read at the Adrienne Theatre.

Graham’s Outgoing Tide takes place in a summer cottage on Chesapeake Bay, where Gunner has hatched an unorthodox plan to secure his family’s future but meets with resistance from his wife and son, who have plans of their own. As winter approaches, the three must quickly find common ground and come to an understanding-before the tide goes out. This new drama hums with dark humor and powerful emotion.  

A partnership with Chicago’s Northlight Theatre, PlayPenn is offering modest resources to see the project through its next stage of development.  Northlight’s Artistic Director BJ Jones will be directing the short workshop/reading and the cast will include local actors Carla Belver and Scott Greer.

Graham has written more than a dozen plays, most of which have been premiered in Philadelphia.  Coyote on a Fence was the winner of the Rosenthal Prize and recently opened on London’s West End starring Ben Cross. His one-man show The Philly Fan was recently revived for a third run.  His feature film credits include Dunston Checks In, Anastasia, and Steal This Movie, and his television movie Ring of Endless Light was the 2003 Humanitas Award Winner – Best Children’s Teleplay.  Graham has received grants from the Pew Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and was a recipient of the Princess Grace Foundation Statuette Award.

In Ocks’ Cowboy/Indian, Emmy, an American cowboy, and Vas, a non-American Indian, have just missed the last train to Delhi.  They would be perfect targets for Kama, the Hindu Cupid, to strike them with his bow and arrows – if only he hadn’t been reincarnated as your typical, harried stage manager.  Can the magic of the theatre substitute for divine intervention?  East meets western in this tale of falling in love and the forces that may or may not control it.

Ocks is the Manager of Institutional Giving at Arden Theatre Company.  Additional plays include Herschel the Handless (Cardboard Box Collaborative, Philly Fringe 2008), Cheesesteak Latkes (MOTH Theatre) and Summer Boys, about to have its first reading in the Philadelphia Dramatist Center’s Readings in Restaurant Series.  Assistant Director to Terry Nolen on Arden Theatre’s The History Boys and the Barrymore Award-winning world premiere of Something Intangible, Ocks is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and first studied playwriting with Bruce Graham.

PlayPenn’s 2010 symposium takes place Friday, July 24 at 6:00 pm and is entitled “Do We Tell Stories Or Do They Tell Us?”  Moderated by PlayPenn’s Artistic Associate Michele Volansky the panel will be made up of Paul Grobstein, neurobiologist from Bryn Mawr; Michal McCall, a sociologist from Macalester College; and Mindy Reynolds, a molecular biologist from Washington College.  The panel will foster discussion around the question “where do stories come from—do we create them or are they part of our neuro-cellular nature?”

Staged readings from the two-week intensive Conference of six works-in-progress by James J. Christy (Love and Communication); Kara Lee Corthron (Etched in Skin on a Sunlit Night); Dan Dietz (Clementine in the Lower Nine); Samuel D. Hunter (The Whale); Charlotte Miller (Raising Jo); and Philadelphia playwright Nicholas Wardigo (Hum) will be held on July 22-25. All events take place at the Adrienne Theatre, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia.

PlayPenn is an artist-driven organization dedicated to improving the way in which new plays are developed. Employing an ever-evolving process, PlayPenn creates a relaxed tension within which playwrights can engage in risk-taking, boundary-pushing work free from the pressures of commercial consideration.

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