Staged readings for the 2015 National Playwrights Conference begin this week at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Wateford, Conn. The conference will develop eight new plays, selected from a pool of 1,300 submissions.
Jane Kaczmarek (Lois on "Malcolm in the Middle"), Tony Award- and Olivier Award-winning Michael Beresse (director/choreographer of "[title of show]") and Tony nominee Reed Birney are cast in the Wendy MacLeod new play "Slow Food." Songwriter Duncan Sheik and playwright Steven Sater ("Spring Awakening") are reunited in the development of "No One's Sonata," with a cast led by Laila Robins and Frank Wood and directed by O'Neill artistic director Wendy C. Goldberg.
"These eight new plays come to us at a period of remarkable success for the National Playwrights Conference. Seven projects developed over the last few years will premier during the 2015 and 2016 off-Broadway seasons, at Atlantic, Roundabout, MCC, Women's Project Theater, and Manhattan Theatre Club," said Ms. Goldberg in a statement.
The play "End of Shift" is a reunion for director Daniella Topol and Pittsburgh actor Nick Lehane ("This is Our Youth" on Broadway), who worked together on Quantum Theatre's "The Electric Baby."
The full slate and casting for 2015 National Playwrights Conference, July 1-25:
"Leftovers" by Josh Wilder, directed by Reginald Douglas. Synopsis: In inner city Philadelphia, an abnormally huge dandelion has grown through the sidewalk in front of the house of Jalil and Kwamaine, two brothers who are waiting for the arrival of their father. Leftovers tells the story of the brothers as they figure out their journey to discovering the reality of their dreams. A poignant, poetic, gritty play full of family, magic, and Cliff Huxtable.
Casting: Starla Benford, Eric Berryman, Christopher Livingston, Morocco Omari, Jefferson A. Russell, Vladimir Versailles.
"Good Ol' Boys" by Joe Waechter, directed by Mike Donahue. Synopsis: Three Southern businessmen rent a hunting cabin for a weekend of shooting some guns, drinking some beer, and hopefully finding the mysterious giant deer that lurks in the forest. When one of the men brings his son along, things take a turn for the worst. Secrets bubble up to the surface, and with all that testosterone, all that camouflage, and all those bags full of guns, someone's bound to get hurt.
Casting: Andrew Garman, John Kroft, Paul Niebanck, Stephen Barker Turner.
"End of Shift" by Jenny Connell Davis, directed by Daniella Topol. Synopsis: It's the end of a long day washing dishes at the Spurwink Country Kitchen, and friends-for-life Jesse, Ben, and Max are on a mission to create a fitting memorial to their fallen hometown hero. But when the prettiest girl in town shows up on their doorstep, everything the boys know about love, life and loyalty gets called into question.
Casting: Michael Angarano, Reyna De Courcy, Nick Lehane, Alec Shaw, Erin Wilhelmi.
"No One's Sonata" by Steven Sater, directed by Wendy Goldberg, music by Mahler and Beethoven, reimagined by composer Duncan Sheik; music direction by Benjamin M. Rauhala. Synopsis: Can we mediate our family pain with language? Can music help relieve us of our past? On a mound of broken glass, grown children gather -- to celebrate the 45th anniversary of their Viennese immigrant parents, and to try and bridge the distance that they feel from their father's death.
Casting: Kieran Campion, Laila Robins, Kristen Sieh, Amy Spanger, Frank Wood.
"Cardboard Piano" by Hansol Jung, directed by Liz Diamond. Synopsis: Northern Uganda on the eve of the millennium: The daughter of American missionaries and a local teenage girl steal into a darkened church to seal their love in a secret, makeshift wedding ceremony. But when the surrounding war zone encroaches on their fragile union, they cannot escape its reach. Confronting the religious and cultural roots of intolerance, Cardboard Piano explores violence and its aftermath, as well as the human capacity for hatred, forgiveness and love.
Casting: Segun Akande, Deonna Bouye, Mattie Hawkinson, Terrell Donnell Sledge.
"Halftime With Don" by Ken Weitzman, directed by Giovanna Sardelli. Synopsis: Retired NFL player Don Devers has had over forty surgeries, experiences violent outbursts, and relies on a blizzard of yellow Post-It notes lining barcalounger in order to offset his ravaged memory. When a long-time fan appears at his doorstep, Don seeks to salvage his life with a single act of heroic self-sacrifice.
Casting: Cassie Beck, Scott Drummond, Michael Gaston, Makela Spielman.
"Nomad Motel" by Carla Ching, directed by Bart DeLorenzo. Synopsis: Alix lives in a cramped motel room with her entire family. Mason lives alone in an empty house while his father runs jobs for the Hong Kong Triad. When both of their parents disappear, Mason and Alex develop an unlikely friendship, struggling to survive on their own. A play about Motel Kids and Parachute Kids living at the poverty line in a land of plenty.
Casting: Nadia Bowers, Shahine Ezell, Ruy Iskandar, Nelson Lee, Gabriella Rhodeen.
"Slow Food" by Wendy MacLeod, directed by Kent Nicholson. Synopsis: A vacationing couple celebrates their anniversary at a Greek restaurant in Palm Springs - but will the marriage survive the service? As a needy waiter insinuates his way into their meal - and their lives - the couple examine their past and their future together. A tender, uproarious comedy that delves deeply into what we hunger for.
Casting: Michael Berresse, Reed Birney, Jane Kaczmarek.