O'Neill Center's National Playwrights Conference Begins July 3

News   O'Neill Center's National Playwrights Conference Begins July 3
The Near East, Magnolia and Smudge are among the plays featured in the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's 2008 National Playwrights Conference, which begins July 3.

Eight plays have been selected for development at the O'Neill Center, with directors including O'Neill artistic director Wendy C. Goldberg, Passing Strange director Annie Dorsen, Red Bull Theater artistic director Jesse Berger, Obie-winning Drama Dept. member Lisa Peterson, former Soho Rep artistic director Daniel Aukin, Asolo Rep associate director Greg Leaming and Jackson Gay.

The O'Neill line-up follows:

The Near East by Alex Lewin (July 3 and 7)
Directed by Lisa Peterson
"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."

Cast features Scott Drummond, Daoud Heidami, Marjan Neshat (The Seagull), Joseph Parks (Eurydice), Jon Norman Schneider (Queens Boulevard), Matt Seidman and Karim Sioud.

Box Americana: a dream of WalMart by Jason Grote (July 4 and 6)
Directed by Jackson Gay
"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." Set for the cast are Quincy Tyler Bernstine (The Misanthrope), Ross Bickell (Noises Off), Matteo Eckerle, Don Guillory, Angela Lewis (Sand), David Ross and Makela Spielman (Apparition).

Smudge by Rachel Axler (July 10 and 12)
Directed by Daniel Aukin
"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."

The company comprises Maria Dizzia (Eurydice), Mike Doyle (The New Century) and Jonathan Walker (Fran's Bed).

Magnolia written and directed 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."

Cast includes Tyla Abercrumbie, Tory Davis, Ted Deasy, Harriett D. Foy (Mamma Mia!), Mattie Hawkinson, Stephen Henderson (Drowning Crow), Brandon Miller, Caitlin O’Connell, Tim Rhoze, David Ross, Stephen Schnetzer (The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?) and Makela Spielman (Apparition).

Thunder Above, Deeps Below by A. Rey Pamatmat (July 17 and 19)
Directed by Jesse Berger
"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?"

The play features Rey Lucas (The Rainmaker), Curtis McClaren, Stephen Conrad Moore, Jon Norman Schneider (Queens Boulevard), Maureen Sebastian and Heather Alicia Simms (Gem of the Ocean).

Mistakes Were Made by Craig Wright (July 18 and 29)
Directed by Wendy C. Goldberg
"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."

Featuring Maggie Lacey (Inherit the Wind) and Michael Shannon (Bug).

The Legend of Minnie Willet by Ann Marie Healy (July 24 and 26)
Directed by Annie Dorsen
"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."

The cast comprises Mary Bacon (Rock 'n' Roll), Ross Bickell (Noises Off), Charlotte Booker (Born Yesterday), Johanna Day (Peter and Jerry), Kevin Geer (Side Man), John Jellison (Passion), Ryan King (Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow) and Laura Leigh.

Without You by Ursula Rani Sarma (July 25 and 27)
Directed by Greg Leaming
"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."

Featuring Jeremy Bobb (Is He Dead?), Maggie Lacey (Inherit the Wind), Annie Parisse (Prelude to a Kiss) and Paul Sparks (Take Me Out).

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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