Ashland New Plays Festival 2015 brings winning playwrights to town

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Ashland New Plays Festival, an annual event that presents a unique and exciting form of theatre to the Rogue Valley, is bringing this year’s four winning playwrights to town for ANPF 2015, October 21 to 25. The winning playwrights will spend a week in Ashland, rehearsing with their casts and seeing their plays performed as staged readings by actors from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the community.

Three of the four playwrights—Skye Robinson Hillis, Beth Kander, and Meridith Friedman—are prolific women writers with impressive bodies of work; this is the first play written by Brian Mulholland. The winners were selected through a months-long process of reading 572 blinded submissions. Playwrights will hear their work in both rehearsal and live readings performed by some of our finest actors and observe an audience react to their work, often for the first time. Those famously discerning Ashland audiences provide insightful feedback during the talkbacks after each performance. Previous winning playwrights without exception have said they find this process to be invaluable in their creative efforts to bring their work to full production.

The staged readings are Wednesday through Sunday, October 21 to 25, with two readings of each winning play at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. All performances are followed by a talkback moderated by ANPF 2008 winner and returning host playwright EM Lewis.

And Vaster by Hillis, a playwright, director, and dramaturg in Chicago, examines the upheaval and self-examination that occur in response to sudden and unexpected life-altering information. Directed by OSF Dramaturg Lydia Garcia, it features Terri McMahon, David Kelly, Sara Bruner, Al Espinosa, Stephanie Neuerburg, and Kaitlin J. Henderson.

The Bottle Tree by Kander, a writer originally from the South but currently living in Chicago, explores the topical issue of gun violence in America through the story of the lingering traumatic effect that a tragic shooting continues to have on the residents of a small Mississippi community. Emily Serdahl, Josiah Polhemus, Amy Prosser, Galen A. Molk, Liisa Ivary, Britney Simpson, Truett Felt, Dominique Francis, and Samuel L. Wick will perform under the direction of Jackie Apodaca, head of performance at Southern Oregon University.

The Luckiest People by Friedman, a multi-award-winning New York playwright, tells the story of an elderly father, his son, and their intense conflict when confronted by the realities, and suspicions, following the death of their wife and mother. The explosive drama is directed by ANPF Artistic Director Kyle Haden and features Rex Young, James Edmondson, Paul Michael Garcia, Kate Berry, and Erin O’Connor.

The Return of Tartuffe by Mulholland, a native New Englander now living in Cincinnati and a former actor at OSF, is a clever and inventive sequel to Molière’s classic comedy—written, like the original, in rhyming couplets—in which Tartuffe finds himself exiled to the American colonies, where he targets the famous Boston minister Cotton Mather as the mark in his next big con game. Dawn Monique Williams, an artistic associate at OSF, directs the large cast, which includes Barret O’Brien, Bruce A. Young, Kimberly Scott, Savanna Padilla, Allison Buck, Cesar Peres Rosas, Rafael Untalan, and Robin Waisanen.

Tickets are $15 and available now at AshlandNewPlays.org and at Paddington Station from October 1 to 19. All events are at the Unitarian Center, 87 4th Street in Ashland.

Festival Week will also include a playwriting workshop, Finding the Key, on Saturday, October 24, from 9 a.m. to noon, taught by the ANPF 2015 winning playwrights and moderated by Lewis. Cost is $10 at the door. RSVP to gray@ashlandnewplays.org.

The Luckiest People is underwritten by Jane and Bill Bardin. The Bottle Tree is underwritten by James L. Auchincloss. The Return of Tartuffe is underwritten by Norma and Fred Wright. And Vaster is underwritten by Linda and Rick Young.

For more information visit AshlandNewPlays.org.