Pulitzer Winner Letts to Be O'Neill Artist in Residence; Playwrights Conference Announced

News   Pulitzer Winner Letts to Be O'Neill Artist in Residence; Playwrights Conference Announced Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts and Blackburn Prize winner Lisa Loomer will be the artists in residence for the O'Neill Center's 2008 National Playwrights Conference.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The O'Neill Center has again selected eight plays for development at the Waterford, CT hub. The Center will also continue with its second year of artistic partnership with Chicago's Goodman Theatre, with a production of Regina Taylor’s Magnolia.

"The eight plays in the season represent the next generation of playwrights," said Conference artistic director Wendy C. Goldberg in a statement. "These writers were selected from nearly 800 submissions. These writers hail from various regions of the country and abroad. This summer, we welcome back Ursula Rani Sarma, a playwright from Ireland, as well as Regina Taylor in a collaboration with The Goodman."

Goldberg and Manhattan Theatre Club artistic director Lynne Meadow have both been confirmed to direct at the 2008 Conference.

The O'Neill line-up follows:

The Near East by Alex Lewin (July 3 and 7)
"An American archaeologist teams up with an Arab activist to unearth 'Mother of Books,' the oldest scripture, from its resting place in the desert between Mecca and Medina. But their controversial mission affects a number of other characters, including a secretly gay Arab radical, a British spy, and the ghost of a precocious 13-year-old boy." Box Americana: a dream of WalMart by Jason Grote (July 4 and 6)
"Box Americana follows Kelly, a perky and passionate cheerleader for Wal-Mart, and Danae, a devoted mother escaping a violent past, as they seek the Promised Land of retail abundance. Sam Walton, wandering the earth as a spirit of late capitalism, haunts them as they try to make their lives in the epicenter of Sprawlville, USA."

Smudge by Rachel Axler, directed by Lynne Meadow (July 10 and 12)
"When a young couple's first child doesn't turn out as expected, they're forced to revise their notions about what constitutes a life, and figure out — in their own, specific ways — how to be parents. A very, very, very dark comedy."

Magnolia by Regina Taylor (July 11 and 13)
"Magnolia is set in winter, 1963, as the schools, stores and real estate markets of Atlanta, Georgia are beginning to desegregate—much to the resentment of the white community. Lily, a white landowner, returns from Paris to find the Forest Estate, her family’s land, on the brink of ruin. Thomas, a successful businessman and the descendent of former slaves to the estate, has a plan to save the land: turn it into subdivisions and sell it to the white families fleeing the city. Tensions build as members of the estranged family reunite to try and save their beloved land—magnolia trees and all."

Thunder Above, Deeps Below by A. Rey Pamatmat (July 17 and 19)
"Three homeless young friends — a Filipina-American with a hidden past, a Filipina transsexual, and a Puerto-Rican hustler — struggle on the streets of Chicago to scrounge up enough cash to bus it to San Francisco before the winter cold hits. All is going according to plan until Theresa dreams of a bearded man searching for her on Lake Michigan, a mystery man in sunglasses stalks Gil after he becomes the star performer at a drag club, a wealthy john appears to be falling in love with Hector, and Marisol — the assistant manager of a doughnut shop — begins practicing magic on them with her cups of far-too-strong coffee. With their hopes and friendships put to the test, will the trio be able to spare some change?"

Mistakes Were Made by Craig Wright, directed by Wendy C. Goldberg (July 18 and 29)
"Felix Artifex is a small-time Broadway producer struggling to launch The Machine, his pet project about the French Revolution. Trouble is, he's trying to bring into alignment the diverse agendas of a cranky writer, a not-too-bright movie star, dozens of agents, the American military in Iraq, members of the insurgency, tile salesmen, airplane pilots — wait! I thought this guy was a producer! He's that and much more in this metaphysical journey into the mind that makes — and unmakes — the world."

The Legend of Minnie Willet by Ann Marie Healy (July 24 and 26)
"Ladies everywhere doing all sorts of strange things: Taking and being taken, passing on and being passed up, falling in love and falling apart. What begins as a rollicking winter season of sexual abandonment ends with a chilling blood wedding for the legendary Minnie Willet: town maverick, town eccentric and, ultimately, town martyr."

Without You by Ursula Rani Sarma (July 25 and 27)
"All Simon ever really wanted was to have someone to love…but you should be careful what you wish for. Without You looks at the wonder and chaos of love and asks how much we are willing to sacrifice for it."

Tickets begin sale June 11. For tickets phone (860) 443-1238 or visit www.theoneill.org.

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.

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