The Denver Center for the Performing Arts Blog

Posts tagged Colorado New Play Summit

2014 Humana Festival: On faith, coupling and the swan song of the intermission

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Andrew Garman in “The Christians,” “a dazzling, challenging play about faith in America,” at the 2014 Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky.

By Douglas Langworthy
Denver Center Literary Manager

The Denver Center’s annual new-play festival, the Colorado New Play Summit, which just turned 9 this year, is one of a number of similar festivals across the country. The granddaddy of them all, the Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky., turns 38 this year. Last weekend, I traveled to Louisville with Colorado New Play Summit Coordinator Emily Tarquin to check out the plays and do a little festival compare-and-contrast.  

One of the main differences between our festivals is that Humana doesn’t do readings of the plays. They do productions, both partially and fully staged. The first show we saw was a bare-bones, in-the-round staging of Partners by Dorothy Fortenberry. Two couples, one married and straight and one not married and gay, lead contemporary New York lives. The action centers around Clare and Ezra’s plan to start a food truck and Clare’s intrusive desire to see Ezra marry his boyfriend. All of the relationships in the play are put to the test and no one is left unscathed in this comedy/drama that feels very current, down to this generation’s love of wordsmithing (my favorite was “monogomish”).

'Victory Jones' actor Curtis McClarin passes away

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Curtis McClarin in the title role of “Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band” at last month’s Colorado New Play Summit reading. Photo by John Moore.

By John Moore

Actor Curtis McClarin, who played the title role in last month’s Colorado New Play Summit reading of Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band, has passed away, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center announced today on its web page. He was 44.

The statement read:

The theater community at large lost a dear, dear friend. Curtis McClarin acted everywhere, but he spent several summers at the National Playwrights Conference. The O’Neill is blessed to count itself among many considered a creative home to a brilliant man.

Relatives said McClarin died in his sleep of an apparent brain aneurysm. The popular actor performed in the hit Broadway musical “Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk.”

Scenesters video: Denver Center brings teen playwrights’ words to life

This video follows the three youth playwriting finalists from rehearsal to  their public readings by professional local actors at the recent Colorado New Play Summit. Video by John Moore.

By John Moore and Alexandra Griesmer

The first phase of the Denver Center’s first Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition culminated at the Colorado New Play Summit with professionally staged readings of the three finalists’ one-act plays. The staff of the Denver Center’s Education Department has now selected Laurain Park’s One-Sided Fish to be fully staged by Denver Center Theatre Academy students. There will be two performances on June 27 at the Conservatory Theatre. 

"Probably most people will have some kind of regret about their school days, and this story is about some of those regrets," said Park, a Korean-born freshman at the Alexander Dawson School in Lafayette. She modestly describes her play as a plain story that explores the thoughts and feelings of a shy girl learning about both assimilation and first love.

Denver Center Theatre Company to open season with new ‘Molly Brown’

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"The Unsinkable Molly Brown" being workshopped at the 2009 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by Seth Holt

By John Moore and Alexandra Griesmer

The Denver Center Theatre Company will open its 2014-15 season with a new adaptation  of Meredith Willson’s classic 1960 musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, it was announced today. Three-time Tony Award nominee Dick Scanlan has overhauled Richard Morris’ original book. Never-before heard compositions from the Willson canon will be added to the existing score, which includes gems like “Belly Up to the Bar, Boys,” “Beautiful People of Denver” and “Colorado, My Home.” Willson also  created the beloved musical The Music Man.

This production will be helmed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall (The Pajama Game, Wonderful Town, Anything Goes).

News from the Colorado New Play Summit: ‘The Most Deserving’ bound for New York

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Jeanne Paulsen and Judith Hawking in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s world premiere production of “The Most Deserving.” The comedy will debut in NewYork on March 30. Casting has not yet been announced. Photo by Jennifer M Koskinen

By John Moore

News and notes from the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit:

The Most Deserving deserves New York:

The name of the game at the annual Colorado New Play Summit is to develop works that will have a continued life in the American theatre. Many of the 37 plays and commissions the Summit has propagated in its first nine years have had significant continued life - namely Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Jason Grote’s 1001, Octavio Solis’ Lydia and others. Hopes are high for this season’s mainstage breakout hit, The Legend of Georgia McBride by Matthew Lopez.

Summit Spotlight: ‘Benediction’

By John Moore

Set in the high plains of Eastern Colorado, Benediction completes the trilogy of playwright Eric Schmiedl’s stage adaptations of the popular novels by Kent Haruf.

Following Plainsong and Eventide, Benediction introduces audiences to new characters at the crossroads in the fictional town of Holt. Among them are dying old man who dreams of a reconciliation with a son he violently chased out of town more than 30 years before; a young orphan girl who is befriended by an elderly woman and her daughter; and a renegade big-city teacher who has been banished to Holt with his unhappy family.

While playing with the narrative form — Schmiedl largely sets aside the direct-address that marked his first two stage productions — there is something deeply familiar and resonating with the continuation of this Denver Center tradition. Though the characters are knew, the feeling is familiar.

Director Kent Thompson, whose commitment to bringing Haruf’s works to the stage dates back to 2006, describes Benediction as “an Our Town for our times.” 

Here’s our inside look at the making of this epic new work that rounds out the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit.

Featured in this video are Schmiedl and a cast of more than 15, including Mile Hartman, Joyce Cohen, Brian Shea, Lynnda Ferguson, Billie McBride, Tara Falk, Michael Santo and Tricia Moreland.

Favorite line: Lorraine: “You are not afraid … to be alone with him?”

Mary: “Oh, honey. This is my husband. I’ve been with this man most of my life. I know him better than I know anybody else in the world. There’s nothing here to scare me.”

Video by John Moore.

Please enjoy our other 2014 Summit Spotlight videos:

The Comparables

Appoggiatura

Zenith

Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band

Summit Spotlight: ‘Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band’

By John Moore

Set in the percussive world of break beat music, Colorado Springs playwright Idris Goodwin tells the story of a talented young woman who aims for stardom, so she tracks down her long-lost father, a one-hit wonder in the 1980s. This is the second of Goodwin’s planned trilogy of break-beat plays with an “ear-to-the streets” portrait of American pop culture.

Hip-hop turns 40 years old this year (Can you believe it?) and “Victory Jones” makes plain its cultural impact across several American generations. But it is, at its heart, a universal story of a daughter reconnecting with her estranged father. 

Here’s our inside look at the making of this innovate new work that incorporates live and recorded looping technology to infuse the Colorado New Play Summit with a refreshing new form of theatrical storytelling. (The sound is by Craig Breitenbach.)

Featured in this video are Goodwin, Goldberg and actors Curtis McClarin, chandra thomas, Amy Luna, Brian Quijada, Jessica Austgen, Ben Morrow and Janet Noble.

Favorite line: “Don’t talk about it. Be about it.”

Video by John Moore.

Please enjoy our other 2014 Summit Spotlight videos:

The Comparables

Appoggiatura

Zenith

Summit Spotlight: ‘Zenith’

By John Moore

It seems hardly a day goes by when the media isn’t calling our attention  to yet another unspeakable act done by someone onto someone else … somewhere. Most often, such headline-grabbing crimes serve only to make us search in vain for an understanding of reprehensible human behavior. Kirsten Greenidge’s Zenith humanizes one such shocking crime, and explores the complex reasons why we do what we do.

Greenidge, who wrote “Zenith” as a Denver Center commission, was drawn to the real-life story of a woman who drove nearly 2 miles down the wrong way of a highway, causing a head-on collision that killed eight people, including herself and her children. 

"I started to think abut piecing together that life, and what happened, and why someone would decide to do that," Greenidge said. "No one knows exactly what went wrong, but it seems like it was a conscious decision on some level."

She added, however: “This is not her story. I just borrowed from that and put my own Kirsten Greenidge spin on it.”

Here’s our inside look at the making of this gripping new work that debuts with readings at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit Feb. 7-9, 2014. Featured are Greenidge and actors April Matthis, Gabra Zackman, Candy Brown, Jason Bowen, Tony Todd and Allison Watrous.

Favorite line: “Glug, glug. That’s you drinking the Kool-Aid. That’s you dying the slow death of the mini-van.”

Video by John Moore.

Please enjoy our other 2014 Summit Spotlight videos:

The Comparables

Appoggiatura

Summit Soliloquies, Day 8: Kirsten Greenidge

By John Moore

Today, we continue “Summit Soliloquies,” our video series leading up to the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. Here, playwrights past and present talk to you about writing, the Denver Center, the Summit and more.

Day 8: Kirsten Greenidge, whose “Zenith” will be read at 3:30 p.m. today (Friday, Feb. 7) in the Ricketson Theatre. It’s about a wife and mother  who buys fully into the American Dream until, for reasons that escape her loved ones, she throws it all violently away.

Summit Soliloquies, Day 7: Eric Schmiedl

By John Moore

Today, we continue “Summit Soliloquies,” a week-long video series leading up to the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. Here, playwrights past and present talk to you about writing, the Denver Center, the Summit and more.

Part 7: Eric Schmiedl, whose “Plainsong Trilogy” culminates with his adaptation of acclaimed novelist Kent Haruf’s “Benediction,” which will be read at the 2014 Summit at noon on Sunday, Feb. 9 in the Space Theatre.

Summit soliloquies, Day 6: Matthew Lopez

By John Moore

Today, we continue “Summit Soliloquies,” a week-long video series leading up to the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. Here, playwrights past and present talk to you about writing, the Denver Center, the Summit and more.

Part 6: Matthew Lopez, whose “The Legend of Georgia McBride” was read at the 2013 Summit and is now being fully produced through Feb. 23. “It’s a model that should be replicated around the country,” Lopez tells us.

Photos: 2014 Colorado New Play Summit, Day 1 

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"Victory Jones" Director Wendy C. Goldberg and actor Ben Morrow

By John Moore

The 2014 Colorado New Play Summit opens Friday, but the work began in earnest today as the casts and creative teams for all five new readings gathered, met … and got to work.

Now in its ninth year, the Colorado New Play Summit has become one of the most important new-play festivals in America. Last year, four Summit readings earned their way onto the 2013-14 season.

Summit Soliloquies, Day 5: Michael Mitnick

By John Moore

Today, we continue “Summit Soliloquies,” a week-long video series leading up to the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. Here, playwrights past and present talk to you about writing, the Denver Center, the Summit and more.

Part 5: Michael Mitnick, whose “Ed, Downloaded” was read at the 2012 Summit and fully produced the next year. “It’s the kind of work that would scare off most theatres,” Mitnick tells us. Among many other projects, Mitnick is writing the libretto for the upcoming “Animal House” Broadway musical.

Summit Soliloquies, Day 4: Idris Goodwin

By John Moore

Today, we continue “Summit Soliloquies,” a week-long video series leading up to the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. Here, playwrights past and present talk to you about writing, the Denver Center, the Summit and more.

Part 4: Colorado College Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Idris Goodwin, whose “Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band” will be read at the 2014 Summit. “Time is the most important element in the alchemy of creating any new work,” Goodwin tells us.

Denver Center youth playwriting finalists begin New Play Summit preparations

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Victoria Capraro, left, with Denver Center Theatre Academy mentor Steven Cole Hughes

By John Moore

This morning (Sunday, Feb. 2), three creative teams went to work at the Denver Center on preparations for a special feature at next weekend’s  Colorado New Play Summit. The three recently named finalists in the Denver Center’s inaugural Regional Youth Playwriting Workshop and Competition will have their one-act plays read alongside the pros’ submissions at the eighth annual New Play Summit.