Thursday, April 30, 2009

AAPEX: Home of the largest list of African American Playwrights!

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Excuse us while we blow our own horn, but AAPEX now lists 117 African American playwrights and playwrights of the African American Experience. As of this post, 83 have direct links to their websites or the websites of their agents. Good luck to you all!
(Also, AAPEX lists 83 African American theatres with Internet websites.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blackboard Reading Series gets media love

All My Children's Darnell Williams to Star in Bonfire Night Reading
By: Dan Bacalzo · Apr 27, 2009 · New York
Theater Mania

Emmy Award winner Darnell Williams, who plays Jesse Hubbard on ABC's All My Children, will star in a reading of Bonfire Night, at the Cell Theatre, May 6-10. Pat Jones will direct.

Written by Joan M. Baker, this is the first play in a trilogy of works that focuses on the migration of Caribbean peoples to the UK in the 1940s and what has happened to that community since then. The play is the first production of BLACKBOARD reading series, dedicated to telling the stories of the Black Community throughout the Diaspora.

The cast will also feature Toccarra Cash, Verna Hampton, and Kim Weston-Moran.

To read the article on the Theatre Mania website, please click the title's post.

For Women and Minorities, Hollywood Jobs Can be Harder to Come By Than an Available Limo on Oscar Night. Prejudice or Paranoia?

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The May edition of Fade In magazine has a great article on breaking the color and sexism barriers as a writer. To read it, please click the post's title. Illustrations by Tom Richmond.

Lydia Diamond on her life as a playwright

Lydia Diamond

CAMBRIDGE - Playwright Lydia Diamond has been compared to the likes of August Wilson, Lynn Nottage, and Wendy Wasserstein. She's earned rave reviews for her adaptation of Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye," which launched her onto the national stage.

But sipping a cup of coffee at a Cambridge Starbucks, Diamond is level-headed. "It's done huge things for my career but it hasn't defined me," she says. "Plus, I didn't get busier. It was just that my rejection letters came on better stationery."

In "Voyeurs de Venus," now in previews with Company One at the Boston Center for the Arts, Diamond tackles a notorious case of colonialist exploitation: It's the tale of Saartjie Baartman, a 19th-century African woman taken from her home and displayed as a sideshow attraction in Paris under the derogatory nickname "Hottentot Venus."

The true story is chilling.

Baartman's buttocks and genitalia were deemed inordinately large by European standards and thought to signify a primitive sexuality. Compared by French scientist Georges Cuvier to a female orangutan, Baartman eventually became the subject of cartoons and vaudeville plays. She ultimately succumbed to smallpox, and her remains were sliced up and preserved as medical oddities by Cuvier. After much legal wrangling, her body was finally returned to her native South Africa in 2002.

In Diamond's play, Baartman's story intersects with that of a contemporary academic and writer, Sarah, whose life unravels as she wrestles with a publishing deal for a book in which she hopes to tell Baartman's story without further exploiting her.

For Diamond it is the question within the story line that lingers: By doing this play, is she herself exploiting Saartjie Baartman?

"I think not because I'm addressing it," she answers, "but I understand if someone felt differently, and I would accept that."

Diamond, who teaches playwriting at Boston University, smiles as she contemplates her role portraying black experiences in the theater. It is an issue she wrestles with each time she has a story idea - and it keeps her tossing and turning at night.

"I am hyper-aware, " she says, with a deep stare. "I am possibly even presumptuously vigilant in my desire to control and be mindful of the images I put onstage. And I say 'presumptuously vigilant' because when you think of how many people see theater, I lose a lot of sleep making sure I am asking questions that are worthy of the stage - that I am carrying the history of my family and I am aware of the way we, African-Americans, have been historically and even recently been used onstage."

She pauses for a moment.

"I feel the responsibility, " she says, sweeping the dreadlocks from her face, "and to a lesser degree the burden of that."

"Venus" director Summer L. Williams says it's an honor doing a show of this caliber to kick off Company One's 10th season. "I kind of marvel at it everyday," she says of the play. "It's so much fun and so layered."

In one 45-second scene that shows a body being cut up, it is revealed to be Baartman, and suddenly Sarah, the academic played by Kortney Adams, participates in the mutilation."I was looking at it and saying it's horrible, it's awful but it's so beautiful," says Williams. "The scope of this thing is so wide."


Born Lydia Gartin in Detroit, Diamond was raised by her mother, a musician and academic, and moved from one college town to another, including Amherst; Carbondale, Ill.; and Waco, Texas, where she attended high school.

"I come from a very artistic family," she says. "Both my grandparents were educators and musicians. My grandmother was a pianist and she played piano in church and taught. My grandfather played violin. And he was interim principal of a white elementary school. They both had master's degrees, which is rare for black grandparents. "

Her mother played piano and flute and managed the fine arts center at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where Diamond got to meet prominent figures such as Jean-Pierre Rampal and Marcel Marceau.

An only child whose parents divorced when she was young, Diamond became used to the company of adults. She was an avid reader and took up violin, though that didn't last.

"I didn't get the musical gene," Diamond cracks. "I was in the drama club. That's how I begged off playing the violin. I said, 'Look, it's a legitimate art form. I am not good at the violin thing but I am good at the theater thing, so let me do it.' "

Intent on becoming an actor, in 1987 Diamond enrolled in Northwestern University only to discover playwriting by taking a class with the sole black professor on campus in her junior year.

After graduating, Diamond started a Chicago theater company mightily named Another Small Black Theatre Company with Good Things to Say and a Lot of Nerve Productions. "I produced plays in the basement of a vegetarian restaurant, Café Voltaire, where I worked," she says.

Her first play was "Solitaire," which had won the Agnes Nixon Playwriting Award when she was in college. Encouraged by the critical response, she wrote a couple of one-woman shows and soon became a resident playwright at the Chicago Dramatists. But her writing career only started to grow when she realized she was truly not an actor.

"My husband said to me, 'I noticed when you are acting you are a little crazy . . .' " she says, laughing. "It resonated because it was true! I am too hyper self-conscious to have been a really good actor. And realizing that I was not an actor after a decade of being an actor . . . it was scary. It was also a relief."

But it also meant some hard living, taking temp jobs to make it work. Then her play "The Gift Horse," a drama of troubled individuals, was picked up by Chicago's prestigious Goodman Theatre.

"I had this play at the Goodman, yet I was temping and broke, negotiating to take days off to be in rehearsal," she says with a sigh. "Silly me, I just decided to stay on that career path."

"The Gift Horse" led to another leap in Diamond's career: a commission from Steppenwolf Theatre Company that turned into "Voyeurs de Venus."

She began writing "Stick Fly" and "Voyeurs de Venus" around the same time, and they opened within a week of each other in Chicago. By that time, she'd become a teaching artist at Loyola University and Columbia College.

Married for 12 years to John Diamond, an associate professor of education at Harvard University ("I had to take his last name. How great is Lydia Diamond?"), they have a son, Baylor, now 4.

The couple moved to Boston four years ago, after her husband got the Harvard job. A new mother, and eventually a playwriting fellow at the Huntington Theatre Company, Diamond found it wasn't easy to adjust to being away from the theater community she'd built in Chicago.

"I remember going to the [American Repertory Theatre] to get a ticket for a show," she says. "I had Baylor on my stomach. I said, 'Hi. My husband works here so I came to get a discount ticket.' And they were like, 'Well, you don't work here.' I said, 'But it's a family discount.' They said, 'Well, not without your husband. He'd have to come and get the ticket.' I started crying in the lobby of the ART. For a long time going to the theater was kind of painful because I didn't know anyone."

But she has a community now. In fact, she is writing "Liz Estrada," an adaptation of Aristophanes' s comedy "Lysistrata" about a sex strike to end the Peloponnesian War, which she says could be presented as soon as next season by the Huntington.

"When you are working in the theater for 10 years you should know the other working theater people," she says, smiling. "I'm happy to say I know them now."

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.

To visit the original story at the Boston Globe website, please click the post's title.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kermit Frazier's KERNEL OF SANITY Final Benefit Performance 5/3 (NYC)

Please click the post's title to visit the New Federal Theatre website.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Only 2 Weeks Left to see Kermit Frazier's KERNEL OF SANITY

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The play The New York Times calls "an intriguing mystery."
Write down the promotional code "5683638"
to receive $5 OFF of your ticket!
To purchase tickets, please click the post's title.

Actress/Producer Dee Spencer now on TWO radio shows

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Dee Spencer who, during Black History Month, took Gregory S. Carr's GIMME WINGS! on the road performing in airports around the country, is now appearing on two radio shows. Among other things.

DeeWorks Live! is on New Jersey's #1 radio staion, EliteRadio 97.5FM. The show covers music, theatre, business and more with Kevin Foushee and DJ DMix every Sunday from 7pm to 10pm. Because it's streamed at listeners can participate in the discussions from just about anywhere in the world through the station's toll free phone number (1-866-626-5662).

Dee will also join & Black Prince on the "cyber-couch" for the third season of The b.r. burns Show. The show will have new segments, new issues and new hot music! Log on and join the fun as they kick-off another great season: You are invited to call and comment at 1-347-215-7727 or email them at: They will be chatting, tweeting, Skyping and so much more.

CALL-IN Number: (347) 215-7727
Y! IM: brburnshasissues

Black Play, White Director

Race an Issue in Wilson Play, and in Its Production
New York Times

In life, the playwright August Wilson had an all-but-official rule: No white directors for major productionsof his work, which was one reason that a film was never made from his10 plays about African-American life in the 20th century. “Fences,” oneof the two awarded the Pulitzer Prize, foundered in Hollywood because of his insistence on a black director.

Yet in the years since Wilson died in 2005, an increasing number of white directors have staged his plays, and last week came a milestone: “JoeTurner’s Come and Gone,” which opened on April 16, is the first Broadway revival of a Wilson play since his death and the first ever on Broadway with a white director, the Tony Award-winning Bartlett Sher.

The selection of Mr. Sher by the producer, Lincoln Center Theater, has prompted concern and even outrage among some black directors, who say this production represents a lost opportunity for a black director, for whom few opportunities exist on Broadway or at major regional theaters. Wilson himself felt that black directors best understood his characters, and he saw his plays as chances to give them high-profilework. Wilson’s widow, Constanza Romero, however, approved Mr. Sher as director.

This production of “Joe Turner” also stands as an unusual collaboration, and by all accounts a happy one, between a white director and an almost entirely black cast on Broadway, a rarity itself. At times the actors were directing the director, as they discussed the ways that black Americans relate to one another and to their white neighbors and nemeses.

“I’ve learned more from this cast than any group that I’ve ever worked with,” said Mr. Sher, who won a Tony for “South Pacific.” “But I also learned an enormous amount about the lack of opportunity in theater today. More Ibsen should be directed by black directors. More Shakespeare. More Chekhov.”

Several black directors, in interviews, raised the same issue, but also expressed sharp disappointment in commercial and nonprofit producers for failing to create those opportunities.

“Straight up institutional racism” was how one black director of Wilson’s plays on Broadway, Marion McClinton, described Lincoln Center Theater’s selection of Mr. Sher, to a Minnesota newspaper this winter. In an interview this week, Mr. McClinton said choosing white directors for Wilson plays not only denied opportunities for black directors, but also reflected a double standard because so few black directors were chosen for major
productions of canonical works by white playwrights.

Kenny Leon, the Broadway director of the last two works in the 10-play Wilson cycle— “Gem of the Ocean” and “Radio Golf” — said Broadway lacked “a level playing field” for black directors.

“I have to work with my agent to remind people that, yes, I direct comedies, I do musicals, I do plays about all races of people just like other directors do,” said Mr. Leon, who earned a Drama Desk directing nomination for his one other outing on Broadway, “A Raisin in the Sun”in 2004.

Several other black directors have written or called André Bishop, the artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater, expressing similar concerns, Mr.Bishop said. “It’s not so much about Bart, but about wanting to work,” he said. “This experience has started a conversation about opportunities for black directors, and I’m taking it very seriously.”

This revival of “Joe Turner,” originally produced on Broadway in 1988, started with Mr. Bishop’s looking for another play to do with Mr. Sher, who became resident director at Lincoln Center Theater last year. Mr. Bishop said he was drawn to the play not only “as a magnificent piece of writing,” but also as a match for Mr. Sher. Just as Mr. Sher’s“South Pacific” mixes xenophobia and powerfully symbolic characters like Bloody Mary with deep emotion and a naturalistic environment, so is “Joe Turner” rich in both racial and social metaphors.

At the same time, Mr. Bishop said he “thought a lot” about whether to hire a white director. “Obviously I was very aware that the Wilson estate might say no, and I also didn’t want to risk offending people,” he said. He added that Mr. Sher was the only white director he would have chosen. It fell to Mr. Sher to seek the rights to the play, and here he had some advantage. He had been artistic director of the Intiman Theater in Seattle, where Wilson lived; the two had met on a few occasions, and Mr. Sher had become close to Wilson’s widow, Ms. Romero, the executor of his estate.

“I called Constanza and told her I wanted to direct ‘Joe Turner,’ and the only thing I asked was that she not answer me for three days,” Mr. Sher said.

“I wanted to give her time to think it all through,” he said.

Ms. Romero, who was born in Colombia, said in an interview that she and her husband had talked about who should direct his work. Wilson was widely known as a passionate advocate for blacks in theater and film; in the1990s, he and the director and writer Robert Brustein sparred at length in print and in person about the role of race in everything from a playwright’s vision to casting.

“While August had been this heavyweight champion of black culture and the African-American experience on stage, that was his work when he was alive,” Ms. Romero said.

“My work is to get these stories out there,” she said, “and to help ensure that audiences walk out of the plays with a deeper understanding for these American stories and for the ways our cultures intertwine.”

Mr. Sher’s experience on “Joe Turner,” set in a boarding house in Pittsburgh in 1911, has been an object lesson in this regard. His cast and Ms. Romero offered advice and insights on everything from the kind of coat that a central character would wear to the staging of the juba, an African dance at the end of Act I.

“When they told me Bart was directing, my first response was, ‘But isn’t he white?’ — so I was intrigued,” said LaTanya Richardson Jackson, who plays the boarding-house matron Bertha. “And from the start he was so collaborative. He would say, ‘I know this,’ and we would say, ‘Yeah, but you don’t know this.’ ”

“As directors go,” she said, “he was an amazing listener.”

Still, the choice of Mr. Sher has set a precedent in the eyes of some veterans of Wilson’s plays — a precedent that they believe the playwright would not like.

“August told me himself that the reason he did not want white directors was because if one ever had a chance to do one of his plays on Broadway, it would be very unlikely that a black director would ever be chosen again to direct his plays on that level,” said Charles S. Dutton, who starred in the original production of “Joe Turner” at Yale Repertory Theater in 1986.

“We’ll see what happens now that Mr. Sher is being lauded as a major new interpreter for August’s work,” Mr. Dutton added.

It is up to Ms. Romero to sign off on future productions of Wilson’s work, on Broadway and off, and she said she had no plans to apply a racial litmus test to directors.

“It’s the quality of the work that matters now,” she said.

Click the post's title to read the original article and the 97 responses to it (as of this date) on the New York Times website.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Red Harlem Readers

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Audiences LOVE "Sheila's Day" (New Brunswick)

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Please click post's title to purchase tickets.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Call for Plays Deadline: 5/8


The first Where Eagles Dare Festival of Ten-minute Plays is on the subject of Love and Death, and if it works out, they'll repeat it every month. The rules are easy:• Send no money!• E-mail your script in Word format only to The next production dates are 5/16 - 17, absolute submission deadline 5/8.
Performances will be Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 7, with a tech rehearsal at 2pm Saturday and 1 pm Sunday for plays going up the same evening. Each play will be performed once. These dates leave you no time for second thoughts - better get cracking!

• Plays should fit on no more than 10 pages, in standard playscript format. Standard playscript format for them means the characters' names in the middle, with stage directions indented, in 12 pt Times Roman with 1-in. margins all round. There should be a blank line above each centered character name. Add a title page with your name on it, the title of the play, contact info, and copyright notice. (Also put the title at the top of the playscript.) If the play is all monolog, better make it no more than 5 pages. (They're aiming for that ten-minute limit, but it's not an absolute requirement.)

You produce your play, recruiting a director and cast, paying for rehearsal space, etc. (Where Eagles Dare will give you a hefty discount if you rehearse here.)

Your play, if chosen, will go into 1 of 2 evenings of about 12 10-minute plays, for a total of about 24 plays per weekend. Each evening will comprise 2 acts of about 6 plays, with an intermission. Where Eagles Dare will provide shared scenery - rehearsal cubes, tables, chairs, etc. You must provide any hand props, which must be small enough to bring on - and take away after your show is over.• Where Eagles Dare will promote your play, but you should too.

• Tickets for anyone but the playwright and director are $20. The playwright is comped, natch (to the program that contains his/her show only). The director will also be comped. If there aren't enough seats to accommodate all patrons, they might seat playwrights and directors only for the act in which their plays appear. Tell all your friends and relatives to buy tickets in advance - they expect to sell out!• There will be no Equity showcases. There will be no reserved comps except press. There will be no other reservations except for tickets sold in advance through SmartTix.

• Where Eagles Dare will endeavor to publish your play, unless you decline permission, in an anthology, at no charge to the playwright. (Royalties will be paid.)• When possible, a videographer will record the proceedings. Copies are $25 for a whole evening, with titles and credits, including an individual video file of your play (also with titles and credits) suitable for posting on the Web. So get that ten-minute play in to the first Where Eagles Dare Ten-minute Play Festival right away! Time's a-wasting!

Source: TRU

Call for Plays

Algonquin Theater is accepting submissions for their One-Act Festival (dates to be determined). The theme for this year's Festival is marriage. Marriage means different things to different people. Algonquin theater is looking for scripts about marriage - literal, metaphorical, conceptual, social or political. Scripts should be no longer than 20 minutes. Please email script in a single word document (no separate title pages or bios). Please do not send hard copies - they will not be read. Multiple scripts are accepted. Contact Deborah Grimberg at

Source: TRU

Lynn Nottage wins Pulitzer for Drama!

There must be something in the Lake Michigan water. For the second straight year, a play originating in Chicago has won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. This year's winner is Lynn Nottage's "Ruined."

In an interview Monday afternoon, Nottage described herself as "jubilant" at the honor.

"I don't write a play expecting to get produced," she said, "let alone win a Pulitzer Prize."

"Ruined," commissioned and first produced by Chicago's Goodman Theatre, is a hard-hitting homage to Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage," with the action moved to a bar and whorehouse in the crossfire of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite the Brechtian nods, it is an intensely original work.

"Ruined" becomes the first Goodman commission , and the first play to premiere at the Goodman, ever to win the Pulitzer. David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," which had its American premiere at the Goodman, won the Pulitzer in 1984. But that play premiered in London.

Following its Chicago premiere last November, "Ruined" moved to the Manhattan Theatre Club, where it currently plays through May 10. Nottage said Monday that aside from small nips and tucks, the play did not change between Chicago and New York. Nottage said the play's development and premiere at the Goodman "was one of those rare, beautiful experiences that you sometimes have in the theater."

"We were involved with this play right from its beginnings three or four years ago," said Goodman artistic director Robert Falls. "It was clear right away that this was an extraordinary new American play."

The play's central character is a businesswoman named Mama Nadi who strenuously avoids taking sides in the searing African conflict, but is forced to confront to what extent she protects the young woman in her care and to what extent her own lack of a moral position sends them all down the river.

"We've spent the last eight years being told not to engage with the world,' Nottage said, explaining why she thinks audiences reacted so strongly to the play. "I think there is a great hunger now to do so."

Source: Chicago Tribune

UpDate (4/21/09): In addition, the Outer Critics Circle announced their 2008-2009 nominees for New York City productions, and Off-Broadway shows were very well-represented. Ruined racked up five nods, tying for the most of any non-musical production, on or off Broadway!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Meshaun Labrone Arnold's THE HATE U GAVE US: THE TUPAC SHAKUR STORY Today & 5/1 & 2 (Miami)

Meshaun Labrone Arnold

Miami's sizzling Ground Up & Rising theater company has performed in a number of venues in its short history, and now the group is reaching out to audiences in two different communities. The Hate U Gave: The Tupac Shakur Story, a powerful biographical play about the late rapper, is launching a Ground Up & Rising season in Homestead and getting a four-performance run on Miami Beach.

Written by and starring Meshaun Labrone Arnold, the play debuted last summer at Miami Dade College's Kendall campus. It has one performance at 3 p.m. Sunday at ArtSouth, 240 N. Krome Ave., Homestead, with tickets priced at $15 ($10 for students, seniors and military personnel). Performances at the Byron Carlyle, 500 71st St., Miami Beach, are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and May 1 and 2. Those tickets are $25 and $40 ($20 for students, seniors and military).

Info at 305-529-6233 or

Source: The Miami Herald

Friday, April 17, 2009

Low Budget Filmmakers NEED Your Plays!

Playwrights, filmmakers are looking for the things you write for the stage. Take a look at some of the latest requests from InkTip, a website for screenwriters:


We are looking for completed feature-length ultra-low budget scripts with stories that take place in no more than 2 or 3 locations, with no more than 10 actors, and little or no VFX. Submissions must be for contemporary material, so please feel free to submit a pitch for thriller, sci-fi, drama, or even high-concept horror stories. We are not interested in western, animation or fantasy stories at this point in time. We're looking to shoot within 2 months if we can find the right script.

Budget will not exceed $200K. Only non-WGA writers should submit at this point in time.

For more information on gaining access to this lead, please see

We are looking for completed feature-length horror or thriller scripts set in an isolated location that is adaptable to Southern Ireland. We are looking to shoot a feature in a remote house or cottage in the countryside, so the setting must make use of an isolated location such as in the case of “Night of the Living Dead,” “Straw Dogs” or “Children of the Corn.” However, we are looking for psychological creepy scares and not gore horror - i.e. stories in the vein of “The Orphanage,” “The Others,” “Funny Games,” “The Wicker Man” or “Wait Until Dark.”

Budget will not exceed $200,000. WG and Non-WG writers may submit.

For more information on gaining access to this lead, please see

Most first-time filmmakers or independents, want simple stories that happen ideally in one location with no special effects. Each time filmmakers have to take down one lighting setup and then go to another location to do the same thing all over again makes the film that more expensive. YOU have stories that usually take place in one location with very few if any set changes. Instead of waiting around for theatres to choose your play, why not get pro-active and start submitting them to filmmakers looking for stories that emphasize single locations and character development over explosions and special effects.

InkTip offers a free service for short scripts here and a weekly notice of at least someone looking to produce a low budget (and sometimes big budget) movie. If you want more than one lead a week, it will cost you. To find out more about InkTip, please click the post's title.

Another source is Online Writing Jobs.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Red Harlem Readers (NYC)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chameleon Theatre, Ltd seeking producing partners (NYC)

Chameleon Theatre, Ltd.
Seeks Co-Producing Partners

A small but growing, New York City-based 501(c)3 non-profit, is seeking Co-Producers for its first commercial ventures through a “wholly owned” subsidiary.

Two of the shows we have been developing over the past few years are ready to go into production; our status will enable us to take advantage of the concessions made by the various theatrical unions to similar organizations, at least as we begin the process.

The partners will be chiefly responsible for fundraising, either in the form of tax-deductible cash and in-kind contributions, or as investments in the for-profit transfer. Based upon the amount of money each raises, he or she will receive a percentage of the net income of both shows.

“Anything for a Laff!” a 1930s Hollywood ‘Casting Couch’ Musical Comedy, will first be presented as a workshop—performed strictly for non-paying industry audiences to determine its viability—or under a Special Agreement with Actors’ Equity, to the general public, for a limited engagement, which will help defray some of the expenses involved. After that, we plan on moving the show either to Broadway or to another major market.

“Vacation Bible School: the Musical” was presented in October 2006 for 4 “souled-out” performances at the Kraine Theatre in New York City’s East Village; it has since been expanded from its original 45-minute running time to twice that length, with 3 additional songs, with the intention of moving it directly to a small-to-medium-sized Off Broadway theatre.

“This show has something to offend absolutely everyone: Catholics, Protestants of all denominations, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, atheists…liberals conservatives, reactionaries…men, women…straight, gay, undecided…and hamsters!

“It is also snort-out-loud-laughing, pee-in-your-pants-funny!”

For further information, please contact:

10-Minute Play Workshop 4/19 (NYC)

That will inspire, stimulate, and help you complete your next exciting play.

Please join Playwright Cassandra Medley
Sunday April 19th at
The Ensemble Studio Theatre
549 West 52nd Street, 6th floor

Noon to 3PM

The $10.00 fee will be used to help in producing the ten plays selected for Going to the River 2009 Festival of ten minute plays.
Please come and invite your sister writers to this workshop and explore this very hot dramatic form. Going to the River is a program of The Ensemble Studio Theatre. Your attendance helps the entire organization.

FYI: Other 10minute play festivals.
1. 15th annual 10 minute play festival/ Santa Cruz County Actor's Theatre
2. Ten Minute New Play Festival/ Fusion Theatre Co./ deadline: 5/1/09
3. Center of the World Festival/California Family Counseling Network, Inc./deadline: 5/31/09
4. Ten Minute Play contest/ 517 Playwrights/ deadline 7/31/09
5. Ten Minute Play Festival/Future Tenant Theatre/deadline: on going
6. 2009 Ten minute play contest/theatre Oxford

To visit The Ensemble Studio Theatre website,
please click the post's title.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why Should You Come See KERNEL OF SANITY? (NYC)

This is a great example of how a playwright and a theatre can, without spending a dime, bring global attention to their productions. Props to New Federal Theatre for using free resources like YouTube to spotlight KERNEL OF SANITY, its theatre, and the people behind the production. Good luck to you all.

To buy tickets, please click the post's title.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tim Toyama & Aaron Woolfolk's BRONZEVILLE Opens 4/17 (LA)

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To visit the Robey Theatre Company and to order tickets,
please click the post's title.

Cleveland School of the Arts 8th Annual New Play Festival

The Cleveland School of the Arts 8th Annual New Play, Film and Poetry Festival

The Cleveland School of the Arts (CSA) 8th Annual New Play, Film and Poetry Festival is unique in the country, providing students with a forum to present original plays, films and poetry to student audiences and the general public.

This year CSA will present 12 fully produced plays, 11 student films, a dozen poets from CSA and another dozen poet- finalists from the Playhouse Square SlamU Contest, four 10-minute plays written by students from other Cleveland schools, a musical cabaret and a multimedia dance piece based on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. No other school in the nation provides a festival of student work of this scope, originality and professionalism. Our students see the Festival as their own; a forum to tell their stories and “speak” from the heart about their passions, fears and dreams, inviting them to make sense of and communicate truths about the world.

Come once, come twice, come four times to see all the work presented in this year’s Festival. With the generous support of the Ohio Arts Council and the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, the Festival will be presented to the general public over a two-week period in two separate locations:

The Cleveland Play House Brooks Theater
85th and Euclid Ave.
Wednesday, April 22 at 7:00 pm
Thursday, April 23 at 7:00 pm
Friday, April 24 at 7:00 pm
Saturday, April 25 at 3:00 pm
Saturday, April 25 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 26 at 4:00 pm
For tickets at the Cleveland Play House call: 216-421-7690
Ticket prices: Adults: $12; Students: $6

Karamu Performing Arts Theater
89th and Quincy Ave
Friday, May 1 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, May 2 at 3:00 pm
Saturday, May 2 at 7:30 pm
For tickets at Karamu call: 216-795-7077Ticket prices: Adults: $12; Students: $6

To visit the Karamu House Theater website, please click the post's title.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Towne Street Theatre Staged Reading Series On Tour (LA)

Towne Street Theatre, LA's Premiere African American Theatre Company, announces the next stop of TST On Tour!

A THOUSAND VARIATIONS ON A LIE TOLD ONCE is the second staged reading of the series.

TST On Tour is an exciting 2009 Staged Reading Series. Six readings of plays, from classic to contemporary, are being presented at theaters, throughout the City of LA. The second stop on the "tour" is Mid - City Los Angeles. Towne Street Theatre is proud to present A THOUSAND VARIATIONS ON A LIE TOLD ONCE, by Stacey Lane. This new, contemporary comedy will be performed, one night only, at Stage 52, 5299 W. Washington, Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016. Show time is at 8:00PM on Monday, April 13, 2009.

A THOUSAND VARIATIONS ON A LIE TOLD ONCE is the funny, warm-hearted story of three sisters, their mother's new lover, the lingering ghost of their father, and their own hidden hostilities. It shows us the underlying comedy inherent in all families. Directed by Kila Kitu, the acting ensemble features Emayatzy, Leslie LaRaine, Dan Martin, Nancy Renee, Vanja Scholls and Veronica Thompson.

Please join Towne Street Theatre as we present a new comedy for the second stop of TST On Tour !
A THOUSAND VARIATIONS ON A LIE TOLD ONCE. All tickets are $5.00. To reserve your seat, please call 213-624-4796 or email

You can find out more about Towne Street Theatre by clicking the post's title.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Owa's A PARADISE LOST opens 4/23 (NYC)

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Please click the post's title to visit the New Heritage Theater website.

Call For Plays

Material: Full-Length and Short Plays
Deadline: Open

At the risk of opening the floodgates before we’re really ready...I wanted you to know that I’m now the Artistic Director of a new small 50-95 seat blackbox theatre that specializes in new works. We just got our 501c3 and expect our certificate of occupancy any day now. That theatre is Studio Roanoke.

We are set up primarily to be an experiential learning lab for the students in the MFA playwriting program I run, but I also believe that our students benefit from working on and working with other playwrights who might not be in the program. Also, in the full disclosure department, being in the program is no guarantee of a production if their play is not production ready.

In addition to the monthly developmental workshop productions, our theatre will be doing something similar to the Mill Mountain CenterPieces free public readings, but calling them Lunchboxes.

We also are trying to build an audience closer to the Downtown Scene from New York in the 80’s than the commercial theatre audience that Mill Mountain was catering to, so pieces can have more of an edge than MMT was looking for. (I worked in one of those theatres in the 80’s--HOME for Contemporary Theatre and Art with Randy Rollison. That’s our model and Randy, Morgan Jenness, Paul Meshejian, and Bonnie Metzgar are all on our Board of Advisors).

We gots no money. Seriously. Although our founding patron bought the building and did the renovations to convert it to a theatre space, we haven’t yet got the dough for rigging it out, seats, equipment, or other important stuff. We have a projected start up cost of about $100,000 to get all that stuff and are looking for the first 100 people to donate $1000 to do so. To date we have raised $9,000. Our annual operating budget is expected to be around $180K. We haven’t raised any of that yet. I liken this leap of faith to signing up for a production date before you start writing. I used to do that a lot in college. Nothing motivates like a deadline and we have scheduled our first performance for April 28th. Biology Lesson and Other Experiments by Sandy Dietrick.

We do have some creative partnerships, like the University, and a lot of people willing to donate sweat equity even if they have no cash to donate.

Our budget includes a $65 per performance playwright royalty for productions, $25 for readings with a DVD of the event and moderated talk back. I’ll always make sure playwrights get paid first...even if it means getting chased down the street by my angry exploited staff of interns and volunteers. Angry playwrights run too fast.

You don’t need to hear all the terrors I have about budgets, just know that I’m committed to treating writers well, have made writer’s royalties a priority, and my own salary pretty far on the back of the list...I’m willing to exploit myself on behalf of the theatre we’re starting here and the work we’re hoping to do.

Anyway, on to what you are reading this for--the submission guidelines!

Studio Roanoke takes submissions year round for consideration in our regular season of new works, readings, and even referrals to other theatres better suited to your submission whenever that is the case.

LUNCHBOX SUBMISSIONS: Short, unpublished plays (25-35 minutes in length) with an emphasis on family friendly material that is appropriate for a general audience at lunchtime. While your gripping drama about assisted suicide might be great writing, if people won’t feel like going back to work after hearing it, it isn’t right for this series. Small cast, minimal production requirements preferred. Plays should be complete works, no cuttings of longer material. No adaptations or musicals, please. Writer paid $25 and provided with DVD of the reading and moderated talk back. No provision for travel to attend rehearsals or the reading.

GENERAL SUBMISSIONS: Unpublished full-length and one-act plays of any style or genre except adaptations. Preference given to small casts with minimal production requirements. Writer paid $65 per performance if selected for production. While we will attempt to accommodate the writer in rehearsal and at performance, no promise of accommodations or travel expenses is extended.

PRESENTATION PROPOSALS: If you have a suitcase piece which is self contained and currently touring that might fit both our mission and space, let us know! Send a complete project description with supporting materials, press kit, and other useful information (accommodations requirements, dates available, minimal compensation, etc) and if we’re interested in hosting your show, we’ll see what we can work out in order to make that happen.

For example, we’re hoping to bring Sean Lewis’ KILLADELPHIA and at least one of Mike Daisey’s monologues in when they are near DC.

Paper copies of all submissions is preferred, because we can’t afford the printing costs and we hate reading plays from a computer screen.

Send your script to:
Literary Associate Studio Roanoke
PO Box 1749 Roanoke
VA 24008

We don’t return scripts (they usually have coffee stains and scribbled notes anyway) so send only a business sized reply SASE with the submission. We recycle scripts we don’t hang onto or refer to other theatres.

There is no reader’s fee, but remember that the only way to ensure that we have the very best people reading your work with the limited resources we have available without charging a fee to cover compensating those readers is to encourage you to only send us your very best work.

Donations to the cause won’t affect script selection, but if you’re inclined to support what we’re doing with a fully tax deductable contribution, email me off list and I’ll give you that information. We’re so small that even a couple of bucks goes a long way to getting a lot done. Our website is still being created, what is there right now is just a placeholder. It will be fabulous when it goes live. Honest.

We haven’t got our emails up and running yet either--it is all very new and you’re hearing about it here first--so until then you can contact me via my hollins contact information in the sig below.

Todd Ristau
Director Graduate Program in Playwriting
Hollins University
PO Box 9602
Roanoke, VA 24020-1602
(540) 362-6386

Source: The Loop

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kermit Frazier's KERNEL OF SANITY tickets on sale now! (NYC)

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To purchase tickets, please click the post's title.


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On May 5-10, 2009, the accomplished and talented playwright, Ina Norris is debuting her new play, The Turnstyle Warrior, at the American Theatre of Actors. With music created by acclaimed producer Dame Grease, who’s worked with award-winning performers such as Jay Z, DMX and Beyoncé, this play recounts the familiar dilemma of an urban youth named Price, who is trying to decide whether or not to, symbolically, ‘jump’ the turnstile. Each attempt is thwarted by a significant person in his life. At the end life lessons are learned.

Recipient of the Gregory Milliard Fellowship, Norris, artistically created a play that, universally, speaks to all young men of every background in their own idiom. Through an urban, hip-hop, yet, provocative approach, The Turnstyle Warrior, can be used by mothers and fathers to create rich and everlasting dialogue.

All performances will be held at the American Theatre of Actors located on 314 W. 54th Street, NYC. Showtime for afternoon performances is 3PM and evening performances are 8PM. Tickets are $30. For group pricing and purchases, please contact, Norris at 917-569-6152 or

About In A Woman Productions
New York Fellow Author, Ina Norris, In A Woman Productions is a production company that uplifts the self-esteem of the African American community and empowers the human spirit through inspirational theatrical plays. Ina Norris, Playwright, Director and Producer, has produced the following plays, Nobody Loves A Black Little Girl When She Becomes A Woman; Don’t Play the Song for Me; Ain't Yo Mama Crying On The Pancake Box-Car; and A Secret Lies Inside My Sister Womb.
To purchase tickets, please click the post's title.

Call for Plays Deadline: 5/30

Deadline: 05-30-09

Material: Scenes, Monologues, spoken word about the Life of Men of Color

InnerAct Productions/ NYC Repertory Theatre is seeking submissions (scenes, monologues, spoken word) based on the life and experiences of men of all colors for a new upcoming production, "Act Like A Man," to begin production this summer.Works should focus on any topic the writer chooses to explore i.e., masculinity, childhood, friendship, love, sexuality, sex, racism, employment, fatherhood, dating, adolescence, aging, marriage, religion, college, fraternities, health, illness, abuse, infidelity, etc., or bring something new.

Structure: scenes, monologues, ensembles pieces, spoken word/choreo poems. Serious, comedy, thought provoking, matter-of-fact, fun, real. All scenes do not have to be written by men, they do not have to include only male characters (but can).

Deadline: Submissions may begin immediately until May 30th. Submit material to:

Dr. John Shévin Foster
Artistic Director or or
InnerAct Productions
138 S. Oxford St., Suite 2C
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Send via MSWord attachment (Windows). Include information about yourself and your work.

InnerAct Productions/ NYC Repertory Theatre Celebrating 10 years of "Quality Theatre of Color!"
InnerAct Productions: Quality Theatre of Color!, is an nationally recgonized not-for-profit, 501(c)3, theatre production company committed to making available to practitioners of color a greater opportunity for professional caliber work and compensation in the theatre industry. It is the company’s objective to produce for the general public quality performances created by and for artists of color, and to produce within the central theater district of New York City wherein the work of these artists can exist as part of the American theatrical experience. InnerAct Productions is a member of ART/NY -- The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York.

To visit InnerAct Productions website, please click the post's title.

Source: The Loop

Call for Plays Deadline: 5/1

Deadline: 05-01-09

Material: Women from all artistic communities are encouraged to apply, including film, dance, performance art, installation art, literature, theatre, music and all hybrids of any of the above.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre strives to fulfill the role of the leading alternative facility-based theatre in Toronto. We are committed to work that challenges boundaries of theatrical and social convention.

As a company we celebrate difference and question assumptions. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is committed to theatrical excellence which it strives for through its play development programs, strong volunteer base, youth mentorship initiatives and ever increasing wealth of Canadian Queer Talent.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre announces a call for submissions for hysteria: a festival of women, the largest multi-disciplinary showcase of its kind in North America. Buddies is seeking submissions for its 5th incarnation of this international showcase of female talents from the worlds of theatre, dance, film, music and visual art. Curated by Buddies’ Associate Artist Moynan King, HYSTERIA is a vital female forum for presentation, discussion and exchange, unlike any other in the country.
Women from all artistic communities are encouraged to apply, including film, dance, performance art, installation art, literature, theatre, music and all hybrids of any of the above. We are seeking new creations as well as existing works by emerging and established artists from diverse cultural, sexual and artistic backgrounds.

Submissions must include:
*2 copies of the completed application form per submission (download at: )
*2 copies of a detailed project description and script (where applicable)
*2 copies of resumes of all confirmed participants
*2 copies of support material ie: slides, video (VHS & DVD only), audio (CD or cassette tape only), photos, press clippings, etc., (where applicable)
Please keep a copy of your submission. Hysteria Participants will receive an honorarium.

Please send all submissions to:
Hysteria: A Festival of Women
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
12 Alexander Street
Toronto, ON M4Y 1B4
(submissions will not be accepted by fax or email)
For more information please contact Moynan King at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre at 416-975-9130 x 27 or email her at

Source: The Loop

SHEILA'S DAY at Crossroads 4/16-5/3 (New Brunswick)

To visit the Crossroads website
and to purchase tickets, please click the post's title.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Call for Plays Deadline: 4/30

Deadline: 04-30-09
Material: 5-minute Plays
Call for five-minute play submissions: Eyebrow Productions is asking writers what they think can happen in 5 minutes. From the fantastical to the mundane, whether you’re waiting at a bus stop or witnessing the apocalypse, Eyebrow is inviting writers to submit their five-minute plays for an exciting evening of new writing. The event, WriteBites (part of Eyebrow’s new writing venture WriteTime), is encouraging writers from all backgrounds and experience to submit material. Twelve plays, to be performed by an ensemble of actors, will be selected for the first event to take place at a London venue, (to be announced), followed by a WriteBites launch party. Scripts should be typed on single-side, and should be approximately five pages long. Please send submissions to:

Eyebrow Productions
13 Charterhouse Square
London, EC1M 6AX

Any scripts received after this date will not be considered for the first WriteBites event, to take place in May, but will be considered for the next evening of WriteBites, set to be a regular event on the London theatre scene.

Eyebrow Productions is a young, vibrant theatre company based in London. As well as producing shows in Bristol, Edinburgh and Oxford, the company is most well known for Showtime Challenge - an ambitious attempt to stage and rehearse a full-scale West End production in just 48 hours. Previous Showtime productions have included Sweet Charity at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and Me And My Girl at the London Palladium last October. Eyebrow’s innovative approach to theatre has been recognized and supported by a number of high-profile figures, including Dame Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Gail Porter, Mel Smith and Mel Giedroyc. For further details about script submissions and more information about Eyebrow Productions, please click the post's title to visit our website. Feel free to email us with any questions at

Source: The Loop

Call for Plays Deadline: 4/30

Deadline: 04-30-09
Material: Playwrights, Comedians, Writers, Songwriters, Composers; Themes of commitment (or failure to commit).

We are looking for new songwriters, composers, playwrights, comedians, writers, to showcase in an upcoming, themed revue. We are seeking creative, collaborative individuals who are looking to be showcased. Our working title is "Yes We Do/Yes We Do not," and will focus on themes of commitment (or failure to commit). Ideas can involve a wide spectrum touching on commitment to faith, culture, government, relationships and self. The submission can be stand-alone, or can be an excerpt of a greater body of work—one of the goals is to showcase a wide variety of artistry.This revue will be work-shopped and performed late spring in New York City, then be performed in other major cities subsequently.Send your submissions electronically: If you can only mail in your submissions, email to request a mailing address.

Source: The Loop

Call for Plays Deadline: 4/30

Deadline: 4-30-09
Material: Short Plays (less than 15min’s), by San Francisco Bay Area Writers
Three Wise Monkeys Theatre Company (3WM) is a 501(C)3 company started in 2001 by Dawson Moore, Richard Bernier and Aoise Stratford. We are dedicated to supporting, promoting and producing the best work by San Francisco Bay Area writers of all demographics, with an emphasis on youth, language, and theatricality. We are interested in plays written for the stage that concern themselves with issues involving the current generation and demonstrate a unique use of language and poetry. Although we aim to promote new work, this does not always have to mean new writing and we are keen to see new and unique adaptations and translations of older works. Whatever the project, however, at 3WM we want to facilitate the production and recognition of great new theatre in the Bay Area, and part of that process means fostering a collaborative and creative environment in which both new, young voices and more experienced theatre artists can thrive.

Short Leaps Submissions: Our annual event of rehearsed stage readings held each year in the late Summer or Fall. Play submissions must meet the following criteria:
• Submissions accepted annually, March 1 - April 30
• Plays must be less than fifteen minutes in length
• Plays must not have had a production in San Francisco
• Previous Short Leaps submissions are ineligible (unless the script has major revisions)
• Limit two submissions per playwright
• All plays must have a title page that includes: author’s name, address,email, and telephone number
• Production history must be included in the body of the script
• Email submissions need to be in either Word (.doc) or PDF format. Best submission method is via email here. (SHORT LEAPS must be in the subject line). Plays can also be snail-mailed to:
Three Wise Monkeys Theatre Company
Literary Department
PO Box 640326
San Francisco, CA 94164-0326

You can visit our website by clicking the post's title.

Source: The Loop

Call for Plays Deadline: 4/30

Deadline: 4-30-09
Material: 10-Minute Plays
Appetite Theatre Company is currently accepting submissions for its Sixth Annual Bruschetta: An Evening of New Short Plays. Plays should be no longer than 10 minutes in length and playwrights are asked to please limit their submissions to two. Only electronic submissions will be accepted.

Send scripts as a word document or pdf to: The first word of your email should be “Submission:” followed by the title of your script. Please send each submission in a separate email.

To visit our website, please click the post's title.

Source: The Loop

Call for Plays Deadline: 4/30

Material: Full Length Plays, written by Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware Playwrights
No Fee Submission
Philadelphia Theatre Workshop is currently reading plays for its 2010-11 season. Currently in our fifth season, PTW presents Philadelphia premieres of high quality scripts from playwrights living in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware. Our plays are chosen because they reflect diverse, contemporary human stories and present characters, situations, and perspectives not seen on other area stages. We are looking for unproduced, full-length, contemporary plays that require simple sets and costumes, with small casts and low technical requirements. To see the kind of plays PTW has produced, please visit our website by clicking the post's title. Please submit a cover letter, synopsis, and 10-page dialogue sample by email to: by April 30, 2009.

Source: The Loop

Friday, April 3, 2009

Looking for films about mixed-race Japanese folks

The producers of the Hapa Booth at the Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival are looking for films about mixed-race Japanese folks. Anything that would be suitable for screening for families and children will be considered. We are also interested in any films about multiracial Asians. The festival will be held at the Seattle Center on April 17, 18 and 19. For more information, please contact Yayoi Winfrey at

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

AAPEX Interview: Lorca Peress

Below is my interview with Lorca Peress, artistic director of MultiStages in NYC. Lorca has been great about getting the word out about AAPEX events in NYC.
Jaz Dorsey

1. What role did theater and the arts play in your childhood and upbringing?

I grew up in a family of professional artists – my father is a well-known music conductor, my mother is an award-winning poet, and my maternal grandparents were and are recognized writers and performers – as others go into the family business, we too were expected to follow suit. As a child, I performed in operas and operettas that my father conducted, including Benjamin Britten’s Noah’s Fluude and The Little Chimney Sweep, and I sang the shepherd solo in Tosca. I played piano and was an excellent visual artist. My family traveled because of my father’s career, but we considered New York City our home. We wound up in South Texas where my father was music director of two symphony orchestras. The political, social, and religious issues I found there were life-changing. I learned at a young age that oppression exists, and we fought it daily. I also became politically active and bilingual. Despite the backward thinking of many, the cultural world in Texas was struggling to survive. My weekly study consisted of art on Saturdays, piano once a week, and ballet and jazz twice. We traveled back and forth to New York, and I had my first acting lessons at twelve at the Lee Strasberg Institute’s Young Artists Program. That same year I appeared in a very inspirational dance/drama production with Rudy Perez at Barnard College; and at fifteen I spent the summer in Israel studying art, theatre and dance. We lived in Europe for several summers where my father conducted and taught in an opera program. I was able to take a fabulous acting class in Austria when I was fourteen led by Bettina Jonic Calder who was teaching Peter Brooke technique to the opera singers. This class changed my life. The work inspired me so much that I made the decision to be an actor. I continued my artistic studies, but theatre truly grabbed me. My father expected me to be a classical pianist (I studied hours a day), but I convinced him that I had a different field in mind. I went to Bennington College and studied across the artistic boards but branched out into modern dance, creative writing, and abstract painting. My singing voice developed and my artistic vision and theatre aesthetics blossomed and transformed to embrace the non-traditional. I studied Political Science and was an activist for human rights (feminist, gay, civil), and proud to call myself a devout non-conformist. I spent summer and winter seasons at various regional theatres as an Equity Candidate Member, and attended National Theatre Institute at the O’Neill Theatre Center in the spring of my junior year. After Bennington, I moved to New York City to pursue my acting career. My parents gave me a thousand dollars, a big hug, and said “good luck.”

2. Tell us about your own evolution as an artist. What obstacles did you face, if any?

First I had to stay alive. I did what every young actor does, looked for a way to make fast cash and avoid a full-time job. The dog walking thing wasn’t for me, so I worked as a waitress, as an assistant to a Fine Arts manager, painted make-up on mannequin heads, proofread at a publishing house, was hired as a singing Playboy Bunny for the Empire Club that engaged both Bunnies and Rabbits (I wrote about this in my one-woman show, and took the job because the male Rabbits had to walk around half-naked too!). I modeled swimwear, lingerie, and fur coats (despite being a vegetarian), temped for some crazy attorneys, and worked as a promotional model where I got mobbed passing out free cigarettes in the Diamond District in an evening gown and had to escape up Sixth Avenue. I survived many years of Toy Fair for Mattel, Hasbro, and Fisher Price acting with puppets, played an Elvira look alike, several Disney characters including Ursula from The Little Mermaid with an enormous velvet octopus costume and purple makeup, and a few of Barbi’s friends. I did trade shows, live and video industrials, and acted and sang in some great productions. I did everything I could to live, study, and pursue my career.

I didn’t look like everyone else. My mother is Puerto Rican (born in NYC), and my father is Iraqi and Polish Jewish. I am a blend of all three backgrounds with an unusual look that is hard to place. I was told right out of school in the 1980s that I was “too ethnic” for television. I was blonde, but my eyes kind of went up and I had thick dark eyebrows, which wasn’t the look back then. Even if I died and tweezed my eyebrows, I still didn’t pass. If you didn’t resemble Cybil Shepard or have a strictly Anglo-Saxon appearance, you weren’t working on television; and that’s where the money was. Yes, there were African-Americans working in TV, but they played maids, janitors, cops and teachers; the few Asian-American actors who had careers played doctors or lab techs; the Italian actors were (and still) played bad guys; and the Latinos were all blue collar and had accents. Day player professional roles were primarily offered to white males, and it was near impossible to get a contract role. So I stuck primarily to theatre. I once had three call-backs for a reputable regional theatre for Meg in Crimes of the Heart and after the last audition I received a letter telling me that even though they loved me, I didn’t fit in with their “family” vision. I learned that it wasn’t really that I was “too ethnic” but actually not ethnic enough. There were very few cross-cultural faces around, and the term multicultural didn’t exist. I did play “gringas” in Spanish theatre and some very interesting women in traditional theatre: prostitutes, vixens, comedic characters, neurotics, alcoholics, and strong castrating gals; oh, and I sang a mezzo role of a prostitute in an opera. Did I mention that I played lots of prostitutes? Probably because there are so many Puerto Rican Jewish Iraqi Polish blonde prostitutes out there. A lot has changed since then, and the faces on television are much more interesting, and less stereotypical and limiting. Hats off to the Non-Traditional Casting implemented by the Unions. Labels are getting less common, but it's still a struggle across the country.

After acting and surviving for about twelve years, I decided to change things up a bit. I wrote Women Under Glass, a one-woman show which won an Inky Award from La MaMa, and I toured in festivals. Many of my survival experiences were woven into the show (when I saw Blown Sideways Through Life, I was shocked that she only had 74 jobs?!! I had about 500!). I had a Playboy bunny character who was a member of Mensa but couldn’t get a job as a nuclear physicist, so she becomes a bunny to pay off her college loans; a nighttime temporary secretary who falls in love with the voice on the dictation machine; a woman who traveled in a bubble because she was afraid to breathe the air; and several other living-on-the-edge characters. While writing and workshopping the show with legendary director Gene Frankel, he thought I had an innate knack for directing and encouraged me. I began directing which I hadn't done since college, and in 1997 I founded MultiStages, a multicultural and multidisciplinary theatre company. Pushing through obstacles, fighting stereotypes, and making inroads led me to something wonderful and profound.

3. What are you doing now?

I am hoping to change the world, a most-complicated feat. Using my artistic and culturally diverse background, I created MultiStages, whose mission is to encourage new collaborations between emerging/established playwrights and artists (from within and outside the theatre arena), and to develop new artistic ideas through the creation of multicultural, multidisciplinary works that celebrate a fusion of art forms rarely found in today’s theatre. By supporting these cross-collaborations, new works are created that enrich, explore, and reinvent the world. Our writers, designers, talent, and staffing are diverse. Our audiences are mixed as well, and it is very inspiring to see people of all races, colors, creeds and sexual preferences supporting these new works onstage and off. This is the America I ride with on the subway, and I look forward to the rest of the country taking that ride, too. We have produced plays with puppets, masks, multimedia, modern dance, poetry, and original music. Multi-artistic disciplines become part of telling the story, and we embrace working with artists who do not traditionally work in theatre. Composers, choreographers, and visual designers are often making their debut in our theatre productions. We worked with a symphonic composer from Taipei who created an amazing score for The Palace of Loneliness. She fell in love with the play by Dorothy Tan, a writer from Hong Kong, and came to the theatre every night. We have worked with modern dance choreographers and dancers who infuse their movements into our work. Our video creations have been designed by filmmakers, and I have created and built masks and puppets using my visual arts and sculpture background. We’ve adapted narrative poems to the stage as well. Fortunately, the fusion of arts in theatre today is not as novel as it was when we began in 1997, but we feel that we were at the forefront of this work. The kind of theatre we do is the truest collaborative form, and I applaud others companies who are breaking new ground and shaking up the landscape as well. I am happy to be creating these new works, and supporting so many artists with similar visions and experimentation. MultiStages holds New Works Contests bi-annually, and develops plays through the Script Development Series. We are currently holding our fifth New Works Contest and I’ve been inspired by the submissions I have read so far; what a talented world we live in. We will announce the winner in June. We have a few pieces in the Script Development Series, and are currently raising money for Temple of the Souls, a Puerto Rican theatre piece with opera written by my 93 year-old grandmother. Temple tells the tragic love story of a young Taino man and a Conquistador’s daughter; it is a Romeo and Juliet tale that is political, educational, and will include video, 15th Century tribal Taino and Spanish dance, original music, and large scale puppetry. The script is written in verse. We did a Script Development Series reading in October, and twenty members of the Taino tribe (including three kacike chiefs) were in the audience. It was an amazing day. I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished and look forward to many more collaborations and creative expressions to come.

Separate from MultiStages, I teach at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and for NYU Tisch in the Strasberg Studio. I am also the Strasberg curator for the hotINK Festival, where I have produced plays from Iran, Libya, Spain, the Caribbean, Canada, Europe, and the USA. Working with artists from all over the world is inspiring, and we share a common bond and universal love for the art. I also direct outside of MultiStages for other theatre companies and have strong relationships with many playwrights. I was invited into the League of Professional Theatre last year, and it is wonderful to be surrounded by such talented women. I expect to continue my career until I can no longer work, and I believe that all artists have a gift that we need to share. I am happy to pass on the knowledge that has been passed on to me. I may be in the middle of my life, but I still have much to accomplish and give. What am I doing now? Everything I can!

Lorca Peress
MultiStages Artistic Director
344 West 87th Street
New York, NY 10024
To visit the MultiStages website, please click the post's title.