Brightening up the long Rhode Island winter will be the first ever Providence New Play Festival, keyed by brand new works from Paula Vogel and Anthony Clarvoe and hosted by Trinity Repertory starting Jan. 30.
Funded by the Chace Fund and Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Festival aims to give patrons "a closer view of the playwriting process and the world of American theatre." Besides the two Trinity Rep productions, the festival will also inaugurate the 1997 Steinberg Festival of New Plays, under the artistic direction of Vogel.
Running Feb. 28-March 23, is Vogel's comedy, The Mineola Twins, which premiered at Alaska's Perseverance Theatre Nov. 15. The theatre describes it thus: "In Mineola, people live in the suburbs, go play bingo, go to the PTA, and salute the flag. Mineola is so dull, people keep their blinds UP because nothing ever happens on a Saturday night."
Dubbed "a politically incorrect comedy of the sexes" by Perserverance director Molly Smith, Mineola Twins spoofs the sexual politics of the last 30 years.
Starting during the Eisenhower administration and spanning three decades in the lives of twins Myrna and Myra (one good, one evil), Mineola was written during Vogel's residence in Alaska. Other Vogel works include Desdemona, The Baltimore Waltz and And Baby Makes Seven. Her next stage project is a stage adaptation of The War Of The Worlds for Anne Bogart's Saratoga International Theatre Institute, scheduled to premiere at Minneapolis' Walker Museum in 1997-98. For the past 10 years, Vogel has directed the MFA playwriting program at Brown University, whicih is collaborating with Trinity Rep's Conservatory on the aforementioned 1997 Steinberg Festival.
Anthony Clarvoe's Ambition Facing West, a sweeping drama of a Croatian family, faces East April 18-May 11. Moving back and forth in time between 1910 and 1980, Ambition explores the struggle of immigrants and those they leave behind. Clarvoe's grants include those from the Guggenheim Foundation, The Kennedy Center Fund For New American Plays and The National Endowment For The Arts. Other Clarvoe plays include The Living, Pick Up Ax, Let's Play Two and Show And Tell.
Eight plays will comprise the Steinberg Festival, running Jan. 30-Feb. 9. The works will be written and produced by Brown University Graduate Playwriting students, directed by Brown & Trinity Rep company members, and performed by Brown and Trinity Conservatory students and local actors. Here's the roster:
Birth Of A Moon by Suzanne Maynard, directed by Ronn Smith.
Lunatic Grace by Elana Greenfield, directed by Brian McEleney
The Bride Who Became Frightened When She Saw Life Open by Alva Rogers, directed by Ed Shea
Leavetaker by Ed Lee, directed by Telia Anderson.
Briar Rose by Gina Gionfriddo, directed by Neal Baron
Mall by Alice Tuan, directed by Dydney Erickson-Feinstein
Passion Play by Sarah Ruhl, directed by Peter Dubois
Death Of A Ho by Jake-Ann Jones, directed by Mark Lerman.
Tickets for Steinberg Fest plays are only $5 and available on a first come, first served basis on the day of performance.
Other events in the Providence Festival include new play readings, a roundtable discussion on "The Playwright's Journey," and a town meeting on the Providence Arts scene. Names mentioned as possible participants in these events include Vogel and Clarvoe, Trinity artistic director Oskar Eustis, Americn Repertory artistic director Robert Brustein, Trinity artist-in-residence David Henry Hwang (Golden Child, M. Butterfly, Sound Of A Voice), and "Cambridge Guide To American Theatre" author, Don Wilmeth.
For information on the Providence New Play Festival (single tix $24-$32, passes $20-$45) call (401) 351-4242.
-- By David Lefkowitz