Philadelphia Theatre Company presents PTC@Play, a two-week festival of new work on February 18-March 3 at PTC's home at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (Broad and Lombard Streets). The festival will feature staged readings of four new plays by both established and emerging playwrights, a new play with music in development starring Tony and Barrymore Award winner Forrest McClendon as African American vaudeville legend Bert Williams, and an evening of short plays, FuturePhilly@Play, by seven emerging playwrights. Each playwright will be in-residence at PTC for their reading, and every reading will conclude with a reception where audiences and artists can meet. All events are free with curtain time at 7:30 PM. A highlight of PTC@Play will be the February 18th announcement of the winner of the Terrence McNally New Play Award, a $10,000 cash prize given annually to recognize a new play that celebrates the transformative power of art.
"In just three years PTC@Play has established itself nationally as an important opportunity for writers to develop their work and for audiences to hear new plays and get closer to the development process," said PTC's Producing Artistic Director Sara Garonzik. "Philadelphia Theatre Company has been a committed and consistent developer of new work since the company's inception in the mid-1970s. PTC@Play helps establish our city as a vital center for incubating new works."
PTC@Play begins on Monday, February 18 with a reading of Bruce Graham's Stella & Lou about two middle-aged people finding love in a South Philly bar. The reading, directed by longtime collaborator James Christy, will include Scott Greer, Richard Poe, and Marcia Saunders, who received a Barrymore Award for PTC's production of Graham's The Outgoing Tide. PTC has also produced the world premiere of Graham's According to Goldman which was nominated for a Barrymore Award for Best New Play.
The Terrence McNally New Play Award presentation will also be held on Monday, February 18 immediately prior to the reading of Stella & Lou. The reading will be followed by a champagne reception in celebration of new work.
Participating for the second year in PTC@Play, Bruce Graham (Playwright) is the recipient of The Rosenthal Prize and two Drama Desk nominations for Coyote on a Fence. Something Intangible and Any Given Monday won consecutive Barrymore Awards in 2009 and 2010 for Best New Play. In the early 1980s, he spent eight years as Playwright-in-Residence at the Philadelphia Festival Theater for New Plays and has seen his work produced locally at Theatre Exile, Arden Theatre Company, and People's Light & Theatre Company and regionally at George Street Playhouse, the WPA, Urban Stages, the Hudson Guild, Capital Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, and Long Wharf. His film credits include Dunston Checks In, Anastasia, the Abbie Hoffman bio-pic Steal This Movie and Ring of Endless Light which was the Humanitas Award Winner for Best Children's Screenplay. Graham has received grants from the Pew Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Princess Grace Foundation (Statuette Award Winner) and the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative. He is a two-time winner of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. The author of The Collaborative Playwright with PTC's former dramaturg Michele Volansky, Graham teaches film and theatre courses at Philadelphia's Drexel University.
Tuesday, February 19, will see a reading of an excerpt from Unvarnished, which won the inaugural Terrence McNally New Play Award last year for Bill Cain. Unvarnished delves into the complex life of Philadelphia artist Thomas Eakins, through his years at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, his difficult marital relationship, as well as his controversial works of art. The reading will be followed by a talkback with the playwright and PTC's Literary Manager Carrie Chapter about his process, his inspiration, and his research for a play of this scope.
Bill Cain's play How to Write a New Book for the Bible was developed at PTC's 2011 PTC@Play Festival and received its world premiere at Berkeley Rep and Seattle Rep this season. His widely-produced play Stand-Up Tragedy earned six LA Critics Awards, including best production and distinguished writing in its premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. It later garnered four Helen Hayes Awards (including outstanding production) at Arena Stage in Washington, DC before its 1990 Broadway engagement where it received the Joe A. Callaway Playwriting Award. Equivocation, the recipient of two Edgerton grants and, subsequently, the Steinberg New Play Award, received its world premiere production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival before transferring to Seattle Rep and Arena Stage. It was also produced by the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles where it received an Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play (Large Theatre and Featured Actor in a Play), Marin Theatre Company, and Manhattan Theatre Club. 9 Circles was awarded the Sky/Cooper Prize and subsequently received the Steinberg New Play Award making Cain the only author to receive the award two years in a row. Following its premiere at Marin Theatre Company, it has been produced around the country including the Publick of Boston, Renegade Theater, Curious Theater and the Bootleg in Los Angeles where it received three LA Drama Critic nominations.
Next up on Wednesday, February 20 at 7:30 PM is Wake Up, Mrs. Moore by Julie Marie Myatt, directed by Sheryl Kaller who directed PTC's world premiere musical Adrift in Macao. While campaigning for Women's Lib with her sister, the young Mrs. Moore is knocked unconscious, rendering her comatose for many decades. Suddenly awakening in the present-day, she has a new outlook on who she is and what she wants - and it's not to be Mrs. Moore!
Julie Marie Myatt's play, The Happy Ones won the LA Drama Critic Circle's Ted Schmitt Award for Outstanding New Play after its premiere at South Coast Rep, which also premiered her play My Wandering Boy. Boats On A River, which premiered at The Guthrie, was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her work has been developed or seen at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Kennedy Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Seattle Rep, Cherry Lane, A.S.K. Theatre Projects, LAByrinth Theater Company, Denver Center Theatre Company, and ACT Seattle, among others. She received a Walt Disney Studios Screenwriting Fellowship, a Jerome Fellowship at The Playwrights' Center, and a McKnight Advancement Grant. She is currently working on commissions for Roundabout Theatre, Yale Rep, and Center Theatre Group.
The first week of the Festival comes to an end on Saturday, February 23 with a reading of Red Speedo by Lucas Hnath about men who wear Speedos, swim fast, and take drugs so they can swim even faster. Red Speedo will be directed by Linsay Firman, Hnath's frequent collaborator and former Associate Director of Soho Rep.
Lucas Hnath's plays include A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay about the Death of Walt Disney, produced at Soho Rep; nightnight, part of the 2013 Humana Festival; Isaac's Eye, presented by Ensemble Studio Theatre; Death Tax, part of the 2012 Humana Festival and The Courtship of Anna Nicole Smith at Actors Theatre of Louisville. His other plays have been seen in readings or productions at Carolina Actors Studio Theatre, Prelude Festival, University of Miami, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Cleveland Public Theatre, Target Margin, and the Ontological Theatre. Lucas is a two-time winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant for screenwriting. He is also a recipient of an EST/Sloan Project commission and is currently working on a commission for Actors Theatre of Louisville.
PTC@Play continues the following week on Monday, February 25 with Nobody, No Time, written and directed by Carlyle Brown with music direction by frequent PTC collaborator Eric Ebbenga. The cast features Forrest McClendon who won a Barrymore Award last season for his work in PTC's production of The Scottsboro Boys. He will be joined by local favorites Brian Anthony Wilson, Ross Beschler, Jillian Pirtle, Danielle Herbert, and Carl Clemons-Hopkins. A play with music, Nobody, No Time explores the politics of the career of entertainer Bert Williams, one of the most popular Vaudevillian performers, as well as the first African American lead on a Broadway stage.
Carlyle Brown is a writer/performer and artistic director of Carlyle Brown & Company based in Minneapolis, which has produced The Masks of Othello: A Theatrical Essay, The Fula From America: An African Journey, Talking Masks, Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been... and Therapy and Resistance. He has received commissions from Arena Stage, the Houston Grand Opera, The Children's Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Goodman Theater, Miami University of Ohio and the University of Louisville. He is recipient of playwriting fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Theatre Communications Group and the Pew Charitable Trust. He has been a teacher of expository writing at New York University; African-American literature at the University of Minnesota; playwriting at Ohio State University and Antioch College; African American theater and dramatic literature at Carlton College as the Benedict Distinguished Visiting Artist, and "Creation and Collaboration" at the University of Minnesota Department of Theater. He has worked as a museum exhibit writer and story consultant for the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the 2006 recipient of The Black Theatre Network's Winona Lee Fletcher Award for outstanding achievement and artistic excellence, a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2010 recipient of the Otto Rene' Castillo Award for Political Theatre, and 2010 United States Artists Friends Fellowship.