Julie Taymor will be among those honored for outstanding work in theatre for young audiences during "New Visions 2000: One Theater World" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In honor of the new millennium, the Center will host an ambitious festival and symposium spotlighting American theatre for children and youth, May 31-June 3, 2000.
The event combines the Kennedy Center's biennial "New Visions/New Voices" national working forum for plays-in-progress with the third "One Theatre World" festival of the International Association of Theatre for Children and Youth/United States Center (ASSITEJ/USA).
Activities for the approximately 500 participants will include roundtable discussions and a keynote speech by Ben Cameron, Executive Director of Theatre Communications Group. In the style of the popular poetry slam, there will be two Playwrights' Breakfast Slams, during which leading American playwrights will read five minutes from their latest scripts. Medallions for significant contributions will be presented to Taymor and others by the Children's Theatre Foundation at a Friday night reception.
Derek Gordon, Vice-President of Education at the Kennedy Center, sees the conference as a "time of tremendous energy," and a unique opportunity for theatre artists, producers, and educators to network. Such conferences are rare because theatre for youth is a "labor of love," he said, in which financial and educational resources are frequently not commensurate with the commitment to excellence. The primary goal is "to raise respect for theatre for youth, both for those who create the work, and for the audience," he said.
The Kennedy Center initiated "New Visions/New Voices" in 1991. Interested theatres submit projects, of which six to eight are selected for development. The playwrights, representatives of their sponsoring theatres, and their artistic teams spend a week at the Kennedy Center, working with dramaturgs and casts provided by the Center. The works-in-progress are presented as staged readings. Feedback is given by respondents, who include middle and high-school students. In 1998, "New Visions/New Voices" was honored by the American Association for Theatre and Education with its Monte Meacham Award for Outstanding Service. This year's plays include:
The Beggars' Strike -- a Musical by Carlyle Brown; director: Peter C. Brosius; The Children's Theatre Company: Minneapolis, MN
The Emperor's New Clothes: An Opera for Children by Ric Averill; director: Graham Whitehead; Seem-To-Be Players: Lawrence, Kansas
Tommy J and Sally by Mark Medoff; director: Bob Devin Jones; Kennedy Center: Washington, D.C.
Lake of Panthers by Eric Coble; director: William Hoffman; The Cleveland Playhouse: Cleveland, OH
Salt and Pepper by Jose Cruz Gonzalez; director: David Saar; Childsplay: Tempe, AZ
Shim Ch'ong Chon: A Korean Folktale by Doug Kaback; Director: Shishir Kurup; Cornerstone Theater Company: Los Angeles, CA
Full productions selected by ASSITEJ/USA are:
Iceman by Nicholas Kryah; Metro Theater Company: St. Louis, MO
The Wrestling Season by Laurie Brooks Gollobin; The Coterie Theater: Kansas City, MO
Cyrano adapted by Jo Roets; Seattle Children's Theater: Seattle, WA
Villains and Clowns by Will Rhys; The National Theater of the Deaf, Chester, CT
Black Butterfly, Jaguar Girl, Pinata Woman and Other Super Hero Girls Like Me by Alma Elena Cervantes, Sandra C. Munoz, Marisela Norte, adapted by Luis Alfaro and Lisa Peterson; Mark Taper Forum's P.L.A.Y.: Los Angeles, CA
Free Like Br'er Rabbit by Caleen Sinette Jennings; BAPA's Imagination Stage: Bethesda, MD
Amazwi Omoya ("A Message on the Wind") by Bheki Mkhwane and Ellis Pearson, adapted by Barry Kornhauser; Actor's Company of Pennsylvania: Lancaster, PA
Conference information is available at 615-254-5719 or USASSITEJ@aol.com.
The public is invited to attend three performances. Villains and Clowns and Amazwi Omoya will be presented free on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage June 2-3 at 6 PM. Zoe's Play, a cross-over from the Kennedy Center's concurrent "Arts from Ireland" festival, will be performed on June 3 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 PM. Commissioned by The Ark: A Cultural Centre for Children in Dublin, Ireland, Zoe's Play by John McArdle has been described as a "prequel to Little Red Riding Hood." Tickets are $10.00. For information, call (800) 444-1324.
-- by Barbara Gross