MTC's "7@7" Reading Series Spotlights Works By Greg Pierce, Ethan Lipton, Ben Ockent, Sharon Kenny and More

By Kenneth Jones
12 Feb 2013

Manhattan Theatre Club will give voice to dramatists Ayad Akhtar, Greg Pierce, Jonathan Caren, Ethan Lipton, Ben Ockrent, Janine Nabers, Sharon Kenny and Rachel Bonds in its spring Ernst C. Stiefel "7@7" Reading Series.



The reading series begins Monday, March 4 at 7 PM. The titles will be read on consecutive Mondays through April 15 at New York City Center - Stage I at 131 W. 55th Street. All readings are free and open to the public, but space is limited and RSVPs are required. To RSVP, click here or call (212) 399-3000 ext. 4163.

Now in its 15th year, this rehearsed reading series is dedicated to the support and development of innovative new work. The Ernst C. Stiefel Foundation has supported Manhattan Theatre Club's reading series since 2006.

Here's the spring 2013 Ernst C. Stiefel "7@7" Reading Series at a glance:

March 4
The Who & The What
By Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch

"Zarina has a bone to pick with the place of women in her Muslim faith, and she's been writing a book about the Prophet Muhammad that aims to set the record straight. When her traditional father and sister discover the manuscript, it threatens to tear her family apart. With humor and ferocity, Akhtar's incisive new drama about love, academia and religion examines the chasm between our traditions and our contemporary lives."

Ayad Akhtar's play Disgraced played at Lincoln Center's Claire Tow Theater (LCT3) in 2012, and will premiere at the Bush Theater in London in May 2013. Disgraced won the Jeff Equity Award for Best New Play in 2012.

March 11
Odyssey Room
By Greg Pierce
Directed by Daniel Aukin

"Three estranged friends meet at their condemned middle school on the day before its demolition. A little more than memories come out of the woodwork in this vivid, honest and haunting tale."

Greg Pierce's play Slowgirl was the inaugural production at Lincoln Center's Claire Tow Theater (LCT3). The Landing, his musical written with John Kander, will be produced at the Vineyard Theatre next season.

March 18
The Morning the Sun Fell Down
By Jonathan Caren
Directed by Evan Cabnet

"Brandon returns home to get his mother's engagement ring so he can propose to his girlfriend and move on with his life. But there is a massive hole in the ceiling and a rift in his family that threatens to draw him right back in. An insightful, hilarious and timely story about the power of grief and the strength it takes to move on."

Jonathan Caren has had his work produced and developed at numerous theatres, including The Roundabout Underground, Ensemble Studio Theater, The Lark, New York Stage and Film, The Keen Company and The Old Globe.

March 25
Tumacho
By Ethan Lipton
Directed by Leigh Silverman

"In a small frontier town in the Old West, the men are dropping like flies at the hands of no good gangster Big Bill Yardley. But when the demon ghost Tumacho rolls back into town, all the rules will change. An uproarious tale about cowboys, coyotes, and chronic halitosis. Yeehaw!"

Ethan Lipton's plays include No Place To Go (Joe's Pub); Red-Handed Otter (Cherry Lane); Luther (Clubbed Thumb); Goodbye April, Hello May (HERE); The Barber and The Farmer (3LD); and 100 Aspects of the Moon (The Ohio).

April 1
Provenance
By Ben Ockrent
Directed by Trip Cullman

"After the death of their mother, four siblings gather at their family home to divvy up the property. When one of them reveals the truth behind an old family painting, alliances are formed and battle lines are drawn. A suspenseful drama about the true price of art and family."

Ben Ockrent is a British writer who writes for television and theatre. His play Honey was nominated for an Olivier Award.

April 8
Ms. Hughes
Book by Janine Nabers
Music and lyrics by Sharon Kenny
Directed by Kate Whoriskey

"Sylvia Plath's and Ted Hughes' tempestuous marriage is one of legend. Fueled by passion and poetry, Sylvia was certain she had found her soul mate. But Ted's wandering eye could not be stayed, and the love triangle that ensued was destined to end in tragedy. This poignant musical explores the ardent affair that catapulted these poets into history."

Janine Nabers is a 2012 New York Theatre Workshop playwriting fellow. She is working on commissions from Playwrights Horizons and Berkeley Repertory and is a Lila Acheson Wallace playwriting fellow at Juilliard.

Sharon Kenny is a songwriter who has performed sold out shows at Joe's Pub and Le Poisson Rouge among other venues. She received a MAC nomination for her piece "Leaky Ceiling."

April 15
Five Mile Lake
By Rachel Bonds
Directed by Daniella Topol

"Jamie lives a quiet life in his small Pennsylvania town, fixing up his grandfather's old lake house and pining after Mary, his troubled coworker. When his brother comes back to town with his new girlfriend, Jamie's peaceful world is turned upside down. A quiet story about those who stay and those who go away."

Rachel Bonds is an Affiliated Artist of New Georges, a Member of EST's Youngblood, an Alum of Ars Nova's Play Group, and a recent winner of the 2012 Sam French Short Play Festival.

For more information, visit ManhattanTheatreClub.com.

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Several plays developed in "7@7" have gone on to full productions at MTC, including David Auburn's Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning Proof, Joe Hortua's Between Us, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Based on a Totally True Story and Molly Smith Metzler's Close Up Space (Susan Smith Blackburn finalist).

"7@7" plays that have been produced elsewhere in New York and around the world include Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Good Boys And True, Heidi Schreck's There Are No More Big Secrets, Stephen Adly Guirgis' The Little Flower of East Orange, Julia Cho's Durango, David Adjmi's Stunning, Naomi Iizuka's Strike-Slip, Adam Rapp's Red Light Winter, Theresa Rebeck's The Scene, Eric Simonson's Fake, Jonathan Caren's The Recommendation, The Civilians' The Great Immensity and Rona Munro's Donny's Brain.