Philadelphia Theatre Company kicks off its 35th Anniversary Season with PTC@PLAY, a new play festival running October 5-21 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (Broad and Lombard Streets). The Festival, with staged readings of works by established playwrights as well as new voices, features CAsa Cushman, by Leigh Fondakowski in conjunction with the Tectonic Theater Project, Strongman's Ghost by Jeffrey Hatcher, What We're Up Against by Theresa Rebeck, How To Write A New Book For The Bible by Bill Cain and Milk Like Sugar by Kirsten Greenidge. All readings are free with curtain time at 7:00 PM.
"There's no better way to honor our 35th anniversary season than to begin it by celebrating our mission to develop new works by American Playwrights. We are presenting staged readings of new plays in their Early Stages of development by established writers with whom we have had a relationship - they include Moises Kaufman's Tectonic Theater Project, Jeffrey Hatcher and Theresa Rebeck - as well as works from writers new to us that we think are incredibly exciting, including Bill Cain and Kirstin Greenidge," said Sara Garonzik, PTC's Producing Artistic Director. "Each play explores a different aspect of the American experience from the unique perspective of an accomplished playwright. PTC@PLAY is an opportunity for our audiences to be the first to experience the future of American theater and to connect with the writers who will be present at the readings."
PTC@PLAY kicks off with What We're Up Against, a fresh look at the battle of the sexes, written by Theresa Rebeck and directed by Loretta Greco on October 7. Set in a highly competitive architecture firm, What We're Up Against explodes the stereotypes of the workplace, and gives us a funny yet insightful look into what it means to be female in a male-dominated career. In 1989, Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck began her career at PTC as a mentee of playwright Arthur Kopit while writing her hit play, Spiked Heels. Her past New York productions include The Understudy (Roundabout Theatre Company), Mauritius (Manhattan Theatre Club), The Scene, The Water's Edge, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann, and Spiked Heels (Second Stage), Bad Dates, The Butterfly Collection, and Our House (Playwrights Horizons), and View of the Dome (New York Theatre Workshop). Omnium Gatherum was featured at the Humana Festival and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
PTC, which produced the Tectonic Theater Project's plays The Laramie Project, winner of three Barrymore Awards, and Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, will read their newest work, CAsa Cushman, written and directed by Leigh Fondakowski in conjunction with the Tectonic Theater Project, on October 8. This ensemble play tells the story of the life and times of 19th Century American actress Charlotte Cushman who had a huge fan base in Philadelphia that eventually established the Charlotte Cushman Club. One of the most important actresses of her time, Cushman was famous for her interpretation of the leading male roles in Shakespeare.
Cushman continually challenged Victorian notions of gender in her stage portrayals of male characters and of strong, androgynous female characters. When Charlotte Cushman made her last appearance in New York in 1874, a reported 14,000 fans filled the streets at 23rd Street from 5th to 6th Avenues just to catch a glimpse of the actress from her balcony. Leigh Fondakowski was the Head Writer of The Laramie Project and has been a member of Tectonic Theatre Project since 1995. She is an Emmy nominated co-screenwriter for the adaptation of The Laramie Project for HBO, and a co-writer of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Her play, The People's Temple, has been performed under her direction at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Perseverance Theater, American Theater Company and The Guthrie Theater, and received the Glickman Award for Best New Play in the Bay Area in 2005. Another original play, I Think I Like Girls, premiered at Encore Theater in San Francisco under her direction and was voted one of the top 10 plays of 2002 by The Advocate. Tectonic Theater Project, an award-winning company founded in 1991 by Moisés Kaufman and Jeffrey LaHoste, is dedicated to developing innovative works that explore theatrical language and form, fostering an artistic dialogue with our audiences on the social, political and human issues that affect us all.
Jeffrey Hatcher brings his newest work, Strongman's Ghost to PTC, directed by John Rando on October 11. In a war-torn future, a General locks a writer in a room to complete the General's novel. As he writes, his fiction begins to mirror what's happening in reality. Strongman's Ghost is written with Hatcher's signature wit and explores the dangerous line between fact and fiction in a world where the "truth" has become a commodity. PTC has produced four of Jeffrey Hatcher's plays: Murderers (world premiere), A Picasso (world premiere), Three Viewings (Philadelphia premiere), and Compleat Female Stage Beauty (world premiere). His other plays/adaptations include Scotland Road, To Fool the Eye and The Turn of the Screw. His work has been developed and produced at Manhattan Theatre Club, Primary Stages, Yale Rep, Old Globe, Guthrie, South Coast Rep., Intiman, Milwaukee Rep., The Empty Space, Denver Center, and Actors Theatre of Louisville, among others. His adaptation of Kaufman and Hart's The Fabulous Invalid premiered recently at Boston's Majestic Theatre, and he co-authored the stage version of Tuesdays with Morrie. His screenplays include Compleat Female Stage Beauty and Casanova.
Kirsten Greenidge will be working with PTC for the first time with the reading of Milk Like Sugar, directed by Rebecca Taichman on October 18. On her sixteenth birthday Annie's friends present her with a challenge - get pregnant fast so they can have babies together. Milk Like Sugar is an exhilarating new examination of the American Dream in the 21st Century. As a recent NEA/TCG Theatre ResidenCy Grant recipient Kirsten Greenidge wrote The Curious Walk of the Salamander at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. She is the author of Bossa Nova which will be produced at Yale Repertory Theatre this fall, 103 Within The Veil, Rust, Sans-Culottes in the Promised Land, and The Gibson Girl. Her work has been developed and produced at Madison Rep, Humana Festival of New American Plays, New Dramatists, Mark Taper Forum, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Huntington Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Boston Playwrights Theatre and The Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center. She has received commissions from La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, the Kennedy Center, the Guthrie Theater, the McCarter Theatre, Clubbed Thumb, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Huntington Stage Company.
The Festival concludes with a new work from a playwright also new to PTC -- Bill Cain, with How To Write A New Book For The Bible, directed by Hal Brooks on October 21. In How To Write A New Book For The Bible Bill returns home in his 40s to care for his elderly mother whose body is failing but spirit is still passionately alive. This moving and poignant drama is a caregiver's emotional autobiography of family, faith, and the struggle to say goodbye. This spring, Bill Cain was awarded the prestigious Steinberg Commission to develop a new play with South Coast Repertory Theatre. His most recent play, Equivocation, has been a hit across the country from the Geffen in L.A. to Manhattan Theatre Club in NYC and won the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. His widely-produced play Stand-Up Tragedy earned six LA Critics Awards in its premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. Stand Up later garnered four Helen Hayes Awards at Arena Stage in Washington, DC before its 1990 Broadway engagement, where it received the Joe A. Callaway Playwriting Award. He is the recipient of a George Foster Peabody Award for Outstanding Achievement in Television for the series Nothing Sacred, which he co-created, wrote and produced for ABC. He is the founder of the Boston Shakespeare Company, where he was Artistic Director for seven seasons.
Each playwright will be in-residence at PTC for their reading, and every reading will conclude with a public talk back with the playwright and director. In addition, PTC will be facilitating a conversation about new play development and the role of the playwright in the 21st Century.
PTC's 35th Anniversary Season also includes the multiple Tony Award winner The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee with music and lyrics by William Finn (November 12 - December 12, 2010), the Philadelphia premiere of Anna Deavere Smith in her one-woman, award-winning show Let Me Down Easy (March 18 - April 10, 2011), the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined by Lynn Nottage (May 20 - June 12, 2011), and a fourth play to be announced soon (January 21 - February 13, 2011).
Founded in 1974, Philadelphia Theatre Company is a leading regional theater company whose mission today is to produce, develop and present entertaining and imaginative contemporary theater focused on the American experience that both ignites the intellect and touches the soul. By developing new work through commissions, readings and workshops-alone or in collaboration with others-PTC generates projects that have a national impact and reach broad regional audiences. Sara Garonzik has been PTC's Producing Artistic Director since 1982, and Diane Claussen became its Managing Director in 2007. Under their leadership, PTC supports the work of a growing body of diverse dramatists and takes pride in being a home to scores of nationally recognized artists who have participated in more than 130 world and Philadelphia premieres. In October 2007, PTC moved into a home of its own, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on Center City Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts, solidifying the Company's status as a major player on the American theater scene.
PTC@PLAY FACT SHEET
WHAT WE'RE UP AGAINST
Written by Theresa Rebeck
Directed by Loretta Greco
Thursday, October 7
Written and directed by Leigh Fondakowski
In conjunction with the Tectonic Theatre Project
Friday, October 8
Written by Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by John Rando
Monday, October 11
MILK LIKE SUGAR
Written by Kirsten Greenidge
Directed by Rebecca Taichman
Monday, October 18
HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE
Written by Bill Cain
Directed by Hal Brooks
Thursday, October 21
All readings are at 7:00 PM at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (Broad and Lombard Streets)