O'Neill's National Playwrights Conference Bows Today with Eight New Plays on Tap

News   O'Neill's National Playwrights Conference Bows Today with Eight New Plays on Tap
Tony winner Stephen Karam (The Humans) is the writer in residence.
Stephen Karam
Stephen Karam Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center presents its summer season of plays, musicals and other works in development at the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Puppetry Conference, and Cabaret & Performance Conference.

Eight plays are being developed in the National Playwrights Conference, which is under the artistic direction of Wendy C. Goldberg. Readings are held July 6-30.

Each play, according to press notes, undergoes the "O’Neill’s signature development process, employing acclaimed professional creative and support staff, including directors, dramaturgs, actors, and designers to bring new plays to life." All eight plays to be workshopped were chosen from a pool of more than 1,400 plays received through an open submissions process. Tony Award winner Stephen Karam (The Humans, Sons of the Prophet) was invited to join as a Writer in Residence.

The eight playwrights and plays follow. Play descriptions are adapted from production notes:

Playwright Aurin Squire chats with director Jade King Carroll and company about his new play RUNNING ON FIRE, part of the 2016 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center..JPG
Playwright Aurin Squire with director Jade King Carroll Eugene O'Neill Theater Center

Aurin Squire, Brooklyn, NY - Running on Fire: A young college student is out for a jog when he is implicated in a crime spree. After his property is confiscated by an officer, his attempt to seek justice sets off a chain reaction of events that ripple across the college, surrounding town, and a community seething with tension. What is real and what is not get called into question in this timely play that asks “who are we to ourselves and each other?” July 6 and 7.

Mike Lew, Brooklyn, NY - Teenage Dick: A comic take on Richard III, Shakespeare’s classic tale of power and lust, Teenage Dick re-imagines the most famous disabled character of all time as a 16-year-old outsider in the deepest winter of his discontent: his junior year at Roseland High. Picked on because of his cerebral palsy (as well as his sometimes creepy Shakespearean way of speaking), Richard is determined to have his revenge and make his name by becoming president of the senior class. But as he manipulates and crushes the obstacles to his electoral success, Richard finds himself faced with a decision he never expected would be his to make: is it better to be loved or feared? July 8 and 9.

Actors Ali Stroker and Caleb Foote read Mike Lew's new play TEENAGE DICK as part of the 2016 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. .JPG
Ali Stroker and Caleb Foote Eugene O'Neill Theater Center

Matt Schatz, Los Angeles, CA - The Burdens: Mordy is a struggling musician living in Los Angeles. His older sister Jane is a successful attorney and a mother of three in New Jersey. But when their widowed mother's life becomes emotionally and financially taxed by her terrible, centenarian father, these two adult siblings are drawn together into an elaborate plot to relieve their mother’s burden and their own. Told almost entirely via text messages, The Burdens is a dark family comedy about how technology helps keep us close while still enabling us to keep our distance. It’s sometimes easier to type something than it is to say it face to face. But please, be careful of auto-correct. It can be murder. July 13 and 14.

Kathryn Walat, Savannah, GA - Small Town Values: John and Jane were high school sweethearts. Jane and Maryjane are best friends. Emma is back in the town where she grew up, where nothing ever changes—until suddenly nothing will ever be the same. An unexpected love story about the strange passage of time and what happens when you let go of all the old rules. July 15 and 16.

Sylvia Khoury, New York, NY - Against the Hillside: With the all-too-familiar buzz of American drones in the sky above the Pakistani countryside, Sayid and Reem worry that their son will grow up too quickly in the presence of so much death and destruction. From nearly 8,000 miles away in the New Mexico desert, Matt pilots one of these aircraft, getting so drawn into the lives he observes that his own wife wonders if he’s present enough to start a family. In this newly interconnected world, the aftershocks of each explosion spread far and wide, splintering families, stealing loved ones, and providing more questions than answers. In these wars fought at a distance, who suffers more: the observer or the observed? July 20 and 21.

Actors Kate MacCluggage and Luke Macfarlane rehearse for Aurin Squire's RUNNING ON FIRE, part of the 2016 National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. .JPG
Kate MacCluggage and Luke Macfarlane Eugene O'Neill Theater Center

Kate Tarker, Brooklyn, NY - Laura and the Sea: It’s company outing day, and Laura, one of the top travel agents of her generation, is having the best / worst day of her life. So much so that she decides to end it all. Afterwards, her colleagues try to piece things together on a memorial blog, but how do you mourn someone you didn’t know that well? A comedy about depression, or: a treatise on travel agents who don’t travel. July 22 and 23.

Tegan McLeod, Austin, TX - Girls in Cars Underwater: When newcomer Dusty is hired to do punishing work at one of the toughest bars in the city, she forms an unexpected bond with the hard-edged women who work there. For the first time Dusty feels like she has a chance to create her own family and leave the darkness behind. But the dark has a way of catching up. As allegiances come under pressure, Dusty's newfound happiness begins to unravel as bad decisions prove deadly to those she loves. Girls In Cars Underwater is an unflinching exploration of passion and compulsion, and the power of both to ruin or remake our lives. July 27 and 28.

Keith Huff, Chicago, IL - Up the Hill: Jack and Jill, two 20-something Congressional interns, face an uphill struggle to maintain their youthful idealism in Washington, DC. July 29 and 30.

See Playbill.com's separate story on the National Musical Theater Conference.

For more information visit Theoneill.org/summer-conferences/npc/.

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