Recent productions at Connecticut Repertory Theatre have included Dancing At Lughnasa, Big River and Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Appealing choices, but not exactly home-grown.
Now CRT is making an effort to bring new plays to to the fore. Under the direction of Susan V. Booth, director of New Play Development at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, Connecticut Rep has initiated the CRT Playwrights' Lab, to workshop and develop a series of new plays every summer. Not only will the Lab work in conjunction with the University of Connecticut's theatre department, but plays will be generally selected once another theatre has already expressed interest in eventually producing it.
Plays selected for the Lab's inaugural year include Migdalia Cruz's Vishnu's Dream (commissioned by CRT), about the effects of war on children; and Ellen Lewis' Eatsville, about a white ex-Quaker and a black ex-slave who find themselves holding Harriet Tubman hostage. CRT is also talking with the Goodman and CT's Long Wharf Theatre about other Lab projects.
[For more information on Vishnu's Dream, please see the news story, "Connecticut Rep Commissions Cruz For Kids & Carnage Drama."]
In one month's time, the Lab will workshop four plays for two weeks apiece. Each play will get two open-to-the-public readings. Said CRT artistic director Gary M. English of coordinator Booth, "Susan is an insightful artist and a valued collaborator...she has her finger on the pulse of virtually all new play development activity in this country."
Booth is currently co-artistic director of Chicago's Theatre on the Lake series and is scheduled to direct Beast On The Moon at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 1998.
Previous world premieres at CRT include 1994's Open Window by Brad Korbesmeyer, and 1996's Stages by Tania L. Katan.
-- By David Lefkowitz