Eight plays (from more than 600) were chosen from the submissions received by the Waterford, Connecticut company. The selected playwrights will spend the month of July developing their respective works with actors, directors and dramaturgs, before they are presented in readings.
Included in the summer lineup are two collaborations — one with Chicago's Goodman Theatre (artistic director Robert Falls) and Galway, Ireland's Druid Theatre Company (artistic director Garry Hynes).
"In my third season, I am excited to create new partnerships in tandem with our commitment to the O'Neill's open submission process," National Playwrights Conference artistic director Wendy C. Goldberg said in the announcement. "The eight plays in the season represent the next generation of playwrights whose stories emerge as timely and poignant. These writers hail from various regions of the country and abroad."
The O'Neill 2007 National Playwrights Conference selections (schedule subject to change) follow:
"Sixteen year old Rachel Stein is having a bad year. Her father hasn't changed out of his pajamas since his narrow escape from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Her mother has begun a close, personal relationship with Jesus. Her new neighbor, a 16-year-old Elvis impersonator, has fallen for her hard. And the Apocalypse is coming Wednesday. Her only hope is that Stephen Hawking will save them all."
"Mr. Smith is a high school English teacher who used to know this for sure: He loves his students, his wife, his poetry. When a single event unravels his world and sends him free-falling into a crisis of faith, a Boy Scout named Virgil mysteriously arrives to take him on a soul-searching trek through a haunted wilderness that begins in an empty church and ends on a front porch with a red door."
"A tale of two worlds: the small town of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and the grim reality of Guantanamo Bay. It's Jimmy's last day before joining the military: He's addicted to glue, his mom is seeing visions in the sweet potato casserole, and his wheelchair-bound dad can kick his ass. He turns to God for answers, and finds… an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. A dark comedy that blurs the lines between black and white, right and wrong."
"During a barbecue in Chicago, Jasper is faced with the toughest choice of his life: whether or not to become a father. Will he follow his heart, or follow the crowd?"
"Prep school senior Brandon Hardy is every parents' dream: captain of the football team, straight-A student, accepted to Dartmouth, Early Decision. But when a disturbing video tape is found on campus, the 17-year-old's world starts to crumble and his mother is forced to question everything she believed about her son..."
"The intricate rules and relationships of a book club are challenged when the tightly-knit group invites a new member to join. A comedy about people who read books, people who say they read books, and people who prefer books to other people."
"'I'm making a list of everything we have. Because we have everything. We have more than everything.' Conor and Molly, a young couple in Belfast, have been married for less than two years. But already their marriage is falling apart, and neither knows why—or what to do to save it."
The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza (July 26 and 28)
"Chicago, 1955: Emmett Till is lynched, and the modern civil rights movement begins. Anchored by interviews with friends, family and witnesses, this provocative new drama explores the powerful truths at the heart of the story, creating a work of vibrant theatricality and music, a poetic elegy pierced with the poignancy of real life." Guardians is the collaboration with the Druid Theatre Company. The Ballad of Emmett Till is the work with the Goodman Theatre.
Tickets go on sale June 13 through the O'Neill Box Office at (860) 443-1238. Outdoor performances are moved indoors in the event of rain.
The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center was founded in 1964 and is based in Waterford, CT. Programs at the Center include the Puppetry Conference, Playwrights Conference, Critics Institute, Music Theater Conference and the National Theater Institute. The Monte Cristo Cottage, O'Neill's childhood home, is also owned and operated by the group.
For more information, call (860) 443-5378 or visit the website at www.theoneill.org.