Denver Center Re-Ignites New-Plays Program, Under Director-Playwright Nagle Jackson

News   Denver Center Re-Ignites New-Plays Program, Under Director-Playwright Nagle Jackson Playwrights and literary agents, take note: Denver Center Theatre Company has not given up on new American plays.
Nagle Jackson
Nagle Jackson

The Tony Award-honored resident company in Colorado is recommitting to a new-plays program after the loss of its annual new-works festival in 2002 due to economic issues. Facing budget cuts at the time, the troupe chose to focus on its mainstage, public works rather than what was in development.

Playwright Nagle Jackson, an artistic fixture at the Colorado company as both a director and playwright (he's a "DCTC associate artist"), will head the new initiative, called WorkingStages, DCTC artistic director Donovan Marley announced Aug. 20.

The purpose of WorkingStages will be "to identify dramatic properties deemed worthy of concrete, active development in professional workshops. These workshops will culminate in fully rehearsed and staged public performances, followed by a revision period if deemed necessary, followed by further performances. The workshops will be professionally staffed and will employ the same caliber of actors and directors utilized by the DCTC in subscription season productions. No ticket revenues will be derived from these workshop performances."

Sponsorship and funding will be sought, and workshops are expected to begin in the 2004-05 season.

Many of Jackson's own new works have received Denver Center world premieres including last season's Bernice/Butterfly: A Two-Part Invention. With his new appointment as director of new play development, Jackson will be responsible for identifying and recommending new work. He will also serve as administrator, advisor and artistic consultant to the playwrights and workshop directors."

Submissions for WorkingStages will be through agents or professional recommendation only.

"The DCTC does not have the resources to review literally thousands of unsolicited submissions as has been our experience in the past," Marley said in a statement. "As Director of New Play Development, Nagle is charged with seeking out significant new work through agent interviews, personal visitations to professional venues nationwide, active correspondence with co-workers in the field, and whatever else it takes."

The 2003-2004 year of operations will be dedicated to inaugurating, scheduling and selecting dramatic properties for development in the 2004-2005 season. Properties developed in WorkingStages will be considered for full productions in subsequent DCTC seasons.

Of Jackson, artistic director Marley said, "Nagle is ideally suited to head the restructured program — he brings a wealth of talent and experience as an artistic administrator, a director, a dramaturge and a writer. He has a name that will get him through the door of any literary agency and his phone calls will be promptly returned from any theatre organization in the country. He already has personal relationships with several very important agents and with the three most prominent play-publishing houses. And of most importance, he knows what a good play looks, feels and smells like."

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Jackson is the first American to garner an Onassis Foundation International Playwriting Award, presented to him by the President of Greece in Athens for his play, The Elevation of Thieves. The play premiered in 1999 at the Denver Center Theatre Company. His play The Quick-Change Room, had its US WEST World Premiere here in Denver in 1995 and has since been performed in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Taking Leave premiered at the DCTC in the 1997-98 season and was nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award. Six of Jackson's plays, including The Quick-Change Room, Taking Leave and A Hotel on Marvin Gardens, have been published by Dramatists Play Service.

Jackson was artistic director of the McCarter Theatre in Princeton from 1979-1990, and before that of the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. He has been a guest director at major regional theatres across the U.S. and has directed in Norway and Russia.

Last season at DCTC, Jackson directed his new translation of Scapin or the Con Artist and the world premiere of his new play Bernice Butterfly: A Two-Part Invention. Jackson lives in Princeton Junction, NJ with his wife, Sandy. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild, The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, studied Theatre in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar, and holds an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Whitman College.