Of the 70+ new plays developed at the Playwrights’ Center each year, eight are selected to be part of the public season, giving playwrights expanded workshop time with collaborators and the chance to see their new work on its feet in front of two different audiences. These readings are free to attend and take place at the Playwrights’ Center, located at 2301 E Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.
Reservations for PlayLabs will open approximately a month before the festival.
The 2017-18 season:
PLAYLABS (October 23-29):
- A Humbling in St. Paul by Alice Tuan
- Take Care by Jason Gray Platt
- In the Time of the Volcano by Jen Silverman
- The Overcoat: A Low-Fi Musical by Kira Obolensky (December 4 & 5)
- How The Ghost Of You Clings, The Anna May Wong Story by John Olive (January 8 & 9)
- Three Quarter Inches of Sky by Sherry Kramer (February 5 & 6)
- Tiny Houses by Stefanie Zadravec (March 5 & 6)
- the bandaged place by Harrison David Rivers (April 9 & 10)
Readings in PlayLabs and the Ruth Easton New Play Series feature top local and national actors and incorporate design elements, giving audience members a unique way to experience new work and a chance to be part of the creative process.
“We are living in a time when we need our vital storytellers more than ever,” says Playwrights’ Center Producing Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen. “What is happening in our country currently —the barrage of hatred, systemic racism, misogyny, classism, homophobia and transphobia—insists that our country's artists and storytellers receive deep support. Being a playwright requires sustained attention in a culture of distraction, and seeking out complexity when so many put on blinders. The playwrights in our 2017-18 cohort, including those whose plays are part of the public season, have taken up this call. They are enriching the way communities and individuals talk to each other and, more importantly, hear each other.”
PlayLabs, October 23-29, 2017
For more than 30 years, the Playwrights’ Center’s PlayLabs festival has been one of the nation’s most comprehensive play development programs. Playwrights receive 30 hours of workshop time with a team of collaborators (including designers) and two public readings with time for rewrites in between. Over 65% of the plays featured in PlayLabs over the past decade have gone on to production, and the festival has become a must-attend event for theater leaders and fans both locally and from around the country.
PlayLabs 2017 will feature:
A Humbling in St. Paul by Alice Tuan
Directed by Laurie Woolery
Monday, October 23 at 7 p.m. & Friday, October 27 at 7 p.m.
Olive Chung comes to the Twin Cities to work on a new play and reconnects with her grad school friend Liz Manuel after being out of touch for a decade. While staying with Liz and her wife, Sharine Hopewell, and their pups, Bell and Musco, Olive gets what she thinks is food poisoning. It turns out to be much more mysterious and severe than anyone imagined. A play about the guest/host space, infection, the performance of normalcy, unseen presence, the body rebelling against the mind, optimism, gratitude, and, yes, friendship.
Take Care by Jason Gray Platt
Directed by Tracy Brigden
Tuesday, October 24 at 7 p.m. & Saturday, October 28 at 1 p.m.
Ella gathers her family together for the holidays to have the delicate conversation surrounding her end-of-life plans. But the emotionally strenuous conversation does not go as she had hoped. So the discussion happens again. And again. But each time another family member is missing, and the conversation goes slightly differently, until it becomes apparent that the end of Ella’s life isn’t the only approaching tragedy for which a plan needs to be made. Because time is running out.
In the Time of the Volcano by Jen Silverman
Directed by Jeremy B. Cohen
Wednesday, October 25 at 7 p.m. & Saturday, October 28 at 7 p.m.
Henry has become the janitor at his kids’ high school after losing his job, while his wife Luce struggles to hold onto her own. Meanwhile, their two sons are struggling to understand their own potential as they become ever more aware of their parents’ failures. When strange news from the past reaches Henry, it explodes into all of their lives, changing how they see Henry—and ultimately themselves. A play about what happens when we’re offered a chance at dreams we didn’t even know we had…
Directed by Nicole A. Watson
Sunday, October 29 at noon
Scenes from 2017-18 playwriting fellows Benjamin Benne, Mia Chung, Jessica Huang, Rachel Jendrzejewski, Tim J. Lord, Stacey Rose, Tori Sampson, Mfoniso Udofia and Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay.
Ruth Easton New Play Series, December 2017 – April 2018
The Ruth Easton New Play Series provides selected Core Writers with 20 hours of workshop time to develop a new play with collaborators of their choice: top local and national actors, directors, designers, and dramaturgs. Each play has two public readings, allowing the playwright to experiment and see the play on its feet in front of two different audiences. The Center brings in visiting artistic leaders to see the readings and connect with the playwrights, and more than half of the plays developed in the series over the past decade have gone on to production.
The 2017-18 Ruth Easton New Play Series will feature three Twin Cities playwrights (Kira Obolensky, John Olive, and Harrison David Rivers). The line-up:
The Overcoat: A Low-Fi Musical by Kira Obolensky
Monday, December 4 & Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 7 p.m.
In this musical re-imagining of Gogol’s short story “The Overcoat,” poor beleaguered Charlie Shoe needs a new coat to keep Winter away—she’s there, on the bridge, on the stair, waiting for his body and soul. Funny and tragic, this short musical wonders if empathy and love are really enough to save us from the clutches of coldness.
How The Ghost Of You Clings, The Anna May Wong Story by John Olive
Monday, January 8 & Tuesday, January 9, 2018 at 7 p.m.
A “bioplay” about the great Chinese American actor Anna May Wong (Huang Liu Tsong, 1905-1961). The beauteous Anna lived large, appearing in silents, talkies, in the earliest days of television, in vaudeville shows, on Broadway, on the West End. Anna remains, to this day, the most prolific Asian American actor, ever.
Three Quarter Inches of Sky by Sherry Kramer
Monday, February 5 & Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 7 p.m.
David Copperfield begins, “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life...these pages must show.” Dickens’ novel is the story of a young boy at the beginning of his life. Three Quarter Inches of Sky is the story of Trula, a woman of a certain age, near the end of her life. How will she answer that question, in the time allotted? How will she measure what being the hero of her story is, as she cares for her fading father, whose memory is going, and searches through her own memories for a way to understand her life? A play filled with a childhood that may or may not be true, a lot of movie references, and 7 chicken pot pies.
Tiny Houses by Stefanie Zadravec
Monday, March 5 & Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 7 p.m.
On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 rained down upon a tiny, war-torn village in Eastern Ukraine, shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched by pro-Russian separatists. Bodies and objects alike become fodder for those trying to escape the circumstances in which they were born. Tiny Houses is a comic riff on Pandora’s Box that explores the ripple effect on several women who suddenly realize they can disrupt the status quo.
the bandaged place by Harrison David Rivers
Monday, April 9 & Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 7 p.m.
When a former lover resurfaces, re-opening a painful wound, Jonah Irby is forced to turn to his precocious daughter and his tough love grandmother for support. A brutal and lyrical play about the things we hang on to and the price of moving forward.
The Playwrights’ Center serves playwrights by sustaining careers, developing new work, and connecting playwrights to theaters. Each year at the Center, fellows and Core Writers receive more than $315,000 in direct support, 70+ new plays are workshopped, playwrights connect with 100 producing theaters through partnership programs, and 2,000 member playwrights from around the world find resources to achieve their artistic vision.