Writers Chosen For O'Neill
2003 Playwrights Conference

James Houghton, artistic director of the O'Neill Playwrights' Conference (OPC), has announced the playwrights selected for OPC 2003. These writers, chosen from almost 900 applicants, will join a cross-section of theater professionals from around the country at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center to form a learning community in support of new work for the stage.

During their three-week residencies (June 27 - July 20) each play is given a four-day rehearsal period culminating in two staged public readings.

The OPC 2003 plays are as follows:

"A Small, Melodramatic Story" By Stephen Belber
O falls in love with a cop named Perry. When O's archivist friend, Keith, discovers secrets about Perry's past, O is caught in a trap: How much does she want to know? "A Small, Melodramatic Story" is one woman's search for truth through the suburbs, the city, the Freedom of Information Act and herself. Performances are July 4 at 8:00 p.m. & July 5 at 2:30 p.m. in the Barn.

"Fuente" By Cusi Cram
The story of a desolate desert town that people want desperately to leave, but somehow can't. Finally Soledad and Esteban, two of its own, hit the road - and nothing will ever be the same for those left behind. Performances are July 4 & 5 at 8:00 p.m. in the Edith.

"After Ashley" By Gina Gionfriddo
Seventeen-year-old Justin is having a hard time getting over his mother's murder. His father, on the other hand, has written a best-selling book about the crime and scored his own cable television talk show. America may be ready for a mega-marketing blitz of Justin's mom, but he isn't. Weeks before the premiere of "After Ashley," he sets out to sabotage the show. Performances are July 5 at 8:00 p.m. & July 6 at 2:30 p.m. in the Dina Merrill Theater.

"Cascarones" By Irma Mayorga
The West Side of San Antonio, TX . . . the "Mexican" side. The year is 1992. Or is it 1535? Or 1869? Eighteen-year-old Mary Margaret falls into history itself as she attempts to solve the dislocation, the economic struggles, and the intimate battlegrounds of her familia's Texas-Mexican lives. Performances are July 8 & 9 at 8:00 p.m. in the Amphitheater.

"Father Joy" By Sheri Wilner
An unexpected consequence arises when Abigail, a twenty-six year old art student, begins dating Paul, her fifty-one year old professor: her father Harry begins disappearing. Literally. Yet their relationship has never been better. How far would a father go for his daughter? Performances are July 10 & 11 at 8:00 p.m. in the Edith.

"Deeds" By Sherry Shephard-Massat
A prison inmate comes to terms with his past and present through the exploration of the relationship between himself and his deceased brother on Christmas Eve, 1974. Performances are July 11 at 8:00 p.m. and July 12 at 2:30 p.m. in the Barn.

"Barking Girl" By Susan Bernfield
Rae sees herself as young, capable, wistful and romantic. So when motherhood confers a strange new identity upon her, she protests with tiny abdications of responsibility. Then true sadness hits and she slowly constructs her own kind of connection with her child. Performances are July 12 at 8:00 p.m. & July 13 at 2:30 p.m. in the Dina Merrill Theater.

"Rock Shore" By Lisa Dillman
To the residents of Rock Shore, a tuberculosis residency in the Adirondacks, each day is predictable - pulmonary calisthenics, small talk and feverish inertia. Their routine is shaken by the arrival of a glamorous newcomer who helps them face their true yearnings and limitations. Performances are July 15 & 16 at 8:00 p.m. in the Amphitheater.

"Dark Matters" by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Susan Cleary has gone missing. As her husband Reed and son Jeremy try to find her, they discover that the woman they thought they knew was someone else entirely. When she finally reappears -- talking about strange visitations and unearthly beings -- Reed is faced with a choice that threatens the entire family. Performances are July 17 & 18 at 8:00 p.m. in the Edith Oliver Theater.

"Mr. Fox: A Rumination" by Bill Irwin
A reflection on the life and work of America's first celebrity clown, George L. Fox (1825-1877). Fox delighted audiences from the Bowery to Broadway with his raucous and ribald performances. However, he could not escape his greatest success, the white-face role of "Humpty Dumpty." One clown's rumination on another, on the life of a performer, and on the act of performance itself.
Performances are July 18 at 8:00 p.m. and July 19 at 2:30 p.m. in the Barn.

"Smoking Kills" by Dominic Leggett
A British soldier, injured in the Gulf, sends his ill son to the United States for a risky experimental treatment. One of the doctors administering the treatment is an Iraqi émigré who lost her husband in the same war. Performances are July 19 at 8:00 p.m. & July 20 at 2:30 p.m. in the Dina Merrill Theater.


"Three Italian Women" By Laura Maria Censabella
Three Italian Women examines the effect of war on three generations - Carla, who worked with the Italian partisans during World War II, Victoria, her daughter and Olivia, her granddaughter. These different perspectives are linked by their humor and honesty.

"Theatre for One" By Christine Jones
Inspired by structures built for a one-on-one intimate exchange, specifically peep show booths and confessionals, Theatre for One is a performing space designed for one actor and one audience member. The goal of the work at The O'Neill is to develop future permutations of the project as well as to work with writers to create material specifically for this environment. This project-in-residence will not have a public performance.

"Gompers" By Adam Rapp
The town of Gompers hasn't been the same since the steel mill closed. Its citizens struggle to make sense of their dislocated lives and hope for a miracle. Could the new casino boat, a golden greyhound, or a blue Jesus be the answer to their prayers?

Performances in the Amphitheater and the Edith Oliver Theater are outdoors, but will be moved indoors in the event of rain. Performance schedule is subject to change. It is best to call to confirm dates and times. Some plays have adult themes.

The Playwrights Conference will continue its free "All-Conference Series" of lunchtime speakers, featuring playwrights Lee Blessing and Ed Bullins, Theatre Communications Group Executive Director Ben Cameron, director David Esbjornson (Edward Albee's "The Goat, or, Who is Sylvia?"), composer Willy Schwartz ("Metamorphoses"), playwright Paula Vogel and many others.

The All-Conference Series is open to the public. Scheduled speakers are posted on The O'Neill website and in the box office.

Submissions to the annual O'Neill Playwrights Conference are evaluated by a national team of nearly 100 readers, comprised of theater professionals and assembled with the assistance of consultant Fran Kumin. After several readings, a smaller number of scripts were passed on to the final play selection committee. This year's committee included Jo Bonney, Susan V. Booth, Ed Bullins, Alexandra Cunningham, Richard Greenberg, Rob Kaplowitz, Martha Lavey, Kenny Leon and Tanya Palmer. After consulting with the selection committee, Houghton decided which playwrights to invite to OPC 2003.

Playwrights who were in residence at The O'Neill last summer have maintained a high profile in the theater world this year, including premieres around the country and overseas.

Three OPC 2002 playwrights had premieres in Chicago - August Wilson ("Gem of the Ocean," Goodman Theatre), Brooke Berman ("Until We Find Each Other," Steppenwolf Theatre Company) and Jim Grimsley ("Fascination," About Face Theatre). Mark Ravenhill's "Totally Over You" played in England and Scotland. Lee Blessing's "Whores" opens at the Contemporary American Theater Festival July 11. Constance Congdon's "Moontel Six" and Sherry Shephard-Massat's "Levee James" will premiere at the American Conservatory Theater, following the January debut of A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff's "The Colossus of Rhodes." Victor Lodato's "Motherhouse" won the Williamstown Theatre Festival's Weissberger Award and will receive a reading there this summer.

The 2003 O'Neill Playwrights Conference is sponsored by Dominion Nuclear Connecticut and Pfizer Inc, with major support from the State of Connecticut & Connecticut Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, the Chester W. Kitchings Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

To reserve tickets or receive a summer schedule, call The O'Neill at 860-443-5378 or the box office at 860-443-1238 (after June 9).

For more information, visit www.TheONeill.org.

-- OnStage Boston


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