Cram, Blessing, Dietz and Lowe Will Get Plays Read at 2008 Denver "Summit"

News   Cram, Blessing, Dietz and Lowe Will Get Plays Read at 2008 Denver "Summit" The Tony Award-honored Denver Center Theatre Company has announced titles and authors of four new plays to receive readings at the third Colorado New Play Summit Feb. 14-16, 2008.

The summit already includes previously announced productions of three world premieres — Our House, conceived by Theresa Rebeck and Daniel Fish, written by Theresa Rebeck; Plainsong by Eric Schmiedl, based upon the novel written by Kent Haruf; and Lydia by Octavio Solis.

Added to that list are readings of the following:

  • Inana by Michele Lowe (A DCTC Commission): "On the eve of the U.S. invasion of Baghdad, an Iraqi museum director is desperate to preserve an ancient and valuable statue from the looting he fears is on the horizon. Making a deal with the devil, he flees to London with his young bride. His hopes for a new life are cut short, though, as he finds he must sacrifice his own safety for the sake of his wife and the preservation of the statue of Inana, the Goddess of War."
  • Shooting Star by Steven Dietz (A DCTC Commission): "Ex-lovers, stranded at a snowed-in airport, meet by chance after 20 years. Their reunion is bumpy, as they discover to their dismay that their youthful dreams and ideals have been dramatically altered by the years. A comedy with a bittersweet heart, Shooting Star will speak to the romantic in everyone."

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  • Perilous Night by Lee Blessing (A DCTC Commission): "Pulitzer Prize nominee Lee Blessing strips away the myths of the madhouse in this harrowing allegory of truth, power and racism in a world gone awry. Patients in a squalid mental hospital engage in a Machiavellian power struggle to defend their status inside a glass cage. A masterwork from a veteran dramatist."
  • Dusty and the Big Bad World by Cusi Cram: "'Dusty' is the most popular animated PBS children's television show in America. But when Dusty — the genial hero of the program — goes to visit a family with two daddies, the big bad world brings the hammer down — hard. Based on actual events, Dusty is a hilarious, no-holds-barred dramatization of the clash between freedom of speech, art (or at least kids' TV) and politics." DCTC associate artistic director and director of new play development Bruce K. Sevy and dramaturg and literary manager Douglas Langworthy are leaders of DCTC's play commissioning program. The hope is that plays seen at Colorado New Play Summits will eventually be seen in full productions at the Denver Center and on other national stages.

    Michele Lowe is the author of String of Pearls, which received an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play and appears in "New Playwrights/The Best Plays of 2005" (Smith & Knaus, 2006). She is also the author of The Smell of the Kill (Broadway debut), Mezzulah, 1946 (City Theatre) and Backsliding in the Promised Land (Syracuse Stage). She wrote the book and lyrics for the musical Hit the Lights! (Vineyard Theatre).

    Denver native Steven Dietz's more than 20 plays and adaptations have been widely produced regionally and Off-Broadway, as well as internationally. He received the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award for Still Life with Iris, and also for Fiction — produced Off-Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company; the 1994 PEN USA West Award in Drama for Lonely Planet; and the 1995 Yomuiri Shimbun Award (the Japanese "Tony") for his adaptation of Shusaku Endo's novel, "Silence." His latest plays include Last of the Boys (Pulitzer nominee, finalist for the American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award); Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure (winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play); and Honus and Me (adapted from the novel by Dan Gutman). Current projects include several recently completed commissions — City of Ghosts (McCarter Theatre, Princeton), Near Aberdeen (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago), and Becky's New Car (ACT Theatre, Seattle).

    Lee Blessing's play A Walk In The Woods was produced on Broadway and London's West End. Off-Broadway credits include Going to St. Ives (Outer Critics Circle Award/Best Play, Obie for Ensemble Performance), Thief River (Drama Desk nomination/Best Play), Cobb (Drama Desk Award/Best Ensemble), Chesapeake, Eleemosynary and Down The Road. In 1992-93 Signature Theatre's season boasted Fortinbras, Lake Street Extension, Two Rooms and the world premiere of Patient A. Recent regional world premieres include A Body of Water at the Guthrie Theater and The Old Globe; Lonesome Hollow, Flag Day and Whores, all at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival; The Scottish Play at La Jolla Playhouse; Black Sheep at Florida Stage; and The Winning Streak at George Street Playhouse. Other plays include Independence, Riches, Oldtimers Game, Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music and Perilous Night. He has been nominated for Tony and Olivier awards, as well as for the Pulitzer Prize.

    Cusi Cram's plays have been produced and developed at The O'Neill Playwrights Conference, Williamstown Theater Festival, The Public Theater, South Coast Repertory, Manhattan Class Company, The New Group, New York Theatre Workshop, Humana Festival, New Georges, Miranda Theater, PS122 and the Dag Hammarskjold Theater at the United Nations. Her play Fuente is the recipient of the 2004 Herrick Theater Foundation New Play Prize and was produced at Barrington Stage Company. Her play All the Bad Things was part of LAByrinth Theater Company's 2005-6 season at the Public Theater. And Lucy and the Conquest was produced on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theater Festival in 2006. In spring 2007 Cram performed in LAByrinth's production of Pretty Chin Up, also at the Public. Dusty and the Big Bad World was workshopped at Juilliard in September of 2007. Cusi has also received two Emmy award nominations for her work on the animated children's program "Arthur" and currently writes for the show in addition to several other animated programs produced by PBS.

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    Other playwrights currently working on Denver Center commissions include Constance Congdon — author of the widely produced Tales of the Lost Formicans, who is writing a new play about "water rights in the West"; Ami Dyan — Boulder playwright commissioned to translate and adapt the award-winning Israeli play Conviction by Oren Neeman, after the novel "Confession" by Yonatan Ben-Nachum; José Cruz González — author of September Shoes; Jason Grote — author of the 2007 Summit's critically-acclaimed world premiere 1001; Steven Cole Hughes — a company member and author of Slabtown and cowboyily; Julie Marie Myatt — author of Boats on a Riverand The Joy of Having a Body; Rogelio Martinez — author of Comrades and Worms and They Still Mambo in Havana; and Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder — author of Gee's Bend (on the Denver Center's 2007-08 season) and First Day of Hunting Season.

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    Theatre professionals, critics and playwrights from around the country have been invited to Denver on Feb. 14, 15 and 16, 2008, to explore the next great American plays. "We called the event a 'summit' because of the glorious Rocky Mountains, but also have built this event into a 'peak' experience — we have created a new play festival that we feel is a must-see event for theatre professionals from across the United States," stated artistic director Kent Thompson.

    The 2008 Colorado New Play Summit will also include a nationally-known panel of playwrights discussing "Switch-Hitters: Writing for the Stage and Television." Panelists include playwrights and television writers Keith Josef Adkins, Bridget Carpenter, Theresa Rebeck and Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder.

    For more information visit www.denvercenter.org/summit.