The weekend will include staged readings, panel discussions, and world premiere mainstage performances. Playwrights represented in readings over the weekend include Carlyle Brown, Keith Josef Adkins, Allison Moore and Janece Shaffer.
ASF associate artistic director Bruce Sevy has taken on the leadership of the Southern Writers' Project, which was established in 1991 by producing artistic director Kent Thompson to celebrate the rich heritage of the South.
Sevy said in program notes, "The South has a particular and distinct voice, and there is a long tradition of storytelling and great writing that has come out of the Southern experience that has had a tremendous impact on American literature as a whole."
Sevy, who was in charge of New Play Development at the Denver Center Theatre Company, hopes to build on the success of last season's festival. "His experience at DCTC put him in contact with many exciting contemporary playwrights and allowed him to foster relationships with literary agents in New York and across the country," according to the Montgomery-based ASF.
The Festival of New Plays includes two fully produced productions, The Fula from America by Carlyle Brown and the world premiere of Disguises by Craig Warner. According to Sevy, "Disguises, which was read last year in the Festival of New Plays, is one of the best new plays to come along in quite a while, and I am thrilled that it will receive its premiere here at ASF. I believe this play has a great future in front of it, and I think audiences will love it as I do. Also, Carlyle Brown's The Fula from America, which was also read in last year's SWP Festival, will be produced in the Octagon. It is an amazing piece of theatre, fascinating, warm and funny." ASF calls itself "the largest professional theatre currently developing and producing new works by Southern playwrights."
Said Sevy, "I love the fact that our audiences can be stimulated by our new work and our classic work occurring side by side in the same season — what a great cross pollination of the creative theatrical impulse across centuries of human experience. Theatre is a living, and ever-changing reflection of the world, and we need to support the Shakespeares of today and tomorrow and make sure these voices are heard."
Endowed by an anonymous donor, the Southern Writers' Project is supported nationally by generous grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and Theatre Communications Group. On the state level, SWP is supported by the Alabama State Council on the Arts. The Southern Writers' Project Festival schedule is:
3 PM Reading: Hazard County by Allison Moore
6 PM Opening Reception
8 PM Performance: The Fula From America by Carlyle Brown
10 PM Playwrights Slam
9 AM Readings: Young SWP 2003 Winners
10 AM Reading: The Patron Saint of Peanuts by Keith Josef Adkins
1:30 PM Playwrights/Producers Panel
3 PM Reading:Pure Confidence by Carlyle Brown
8 PM Performance: Disguises by Craig Warner
10 AM Reading: Suspended in Amber by Janece Shaffer
For more information about Alabama Shakespeare Theatre, call (800) 841-4ASF or visit www.asf.net.