• 'The Book of Will' wins national critics' Steinberg New Play Award

    by John Moore | Apr 08, 2018


    Highlights from he DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere staging of 'The Book of Will' in 2017. Videos by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Lauren Gunderson scores the nation's largest prize for new plays, which comes with a $25,000 cash award

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Lauren Gunderson’s celebrated play The Book of Will was named the winner of the American Theatre Critics Association's Steinberg New Play Award on Saturday night at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Ky.

    The award, which comes with a $25,000 prize, considers scripts that were premiered by professional theatre companies outside New York City during 2017.

    Lauren Gunderson Quote AwardThe Book of Will
    was commissioned by the DCPA Theatre Company, developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit and given its world premiere on the Ricketson Theatre last year. It has since been scheduled for productions around the country, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, opening June 6. The play already has been staged at theatres in New York, Illinois and Maryland.

    Without William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have literary masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. But without his friends Henry Condell and John Heminges, we would have lost half of Shakespeare’s plays forever. Gunderson's play tells what the two actors sacrificed when they endeavored to compile the First Folio and preserve Shakespeare's words after the death of their friend and mentor.

    “For a play about theatre-makers to garner this honor in this company is so meaningful,” Gunderson said. “Thank you to the Denver Center and Kent Thompson for commissioning and premiering the play, to Davis McCallum for his heartfelt direction and to  all the artists who worked on it to make it full of soul. Also to ATCA for all they do, and to Jim Steinberg, who is a generous visionary.”

    The play was commissioned under former Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, who calls The Book of Will "a love letter to Shakespeare, to actors and to the theatre."

    Video: Our interview with playwright Lauren Gunderson

    The Book of Will fires on all cylinders” said one unnamed judge, according to an ACTA press release. Said others:

    • “The play wrestles with big questions: Why do we create, and how do we deal with death? What constitutes a legacy? And how a surpassing love for something bigger can make every sacrifice worth it.”
    • “This play is all the more impressive given that we know how the story will end."
    • “It’s funny — genuinely funny — in a way that feels contemporary and yet not cynical.” 

    Denver Center audience member Artis Roslyn Silverman said it was the play’s themes of friendship, love and devotion to craft that made the play memorable to her. “I still quote lines from the play,” she said.

    Denver Center's sudden impact on national theatre scene in 2017-18

    Two additional citations that come with $7,500 prizes were presented to Molly Smith Metzler’s Cry It Out and Ike Holter’s The Wolf at the End of the Block, which had their world premieres respectively at the Humana Festival and by Teatro Vista at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater. At $40,000, the Steinberg is the largest national new-play award program recognizing regional theaters as the crucible for new plays in the United States, according to the ATCA.

    Cry It Out 
    focuses on the bonds and barriers between two new mothers across a backyard and across class differences. It wrestles with issues of female friendship and class and privilege while still being a story about two people. The Wolf at the End of the Block is centered on a beating outside of a Chicago bar. Other finalists for the Steinberg/ATCA Award were Linda Vista and The Minutes, both by Tracy Letts; and Objects in the Mirror by Charles Smith.

    The six finalists were selected from eligible scripts recommended by ATCA members from around the country. They were evaluated by a committee of theater critics, led by Lou Harry, who has written for theatrecriticism.com, The Sondheim Review, and many other publications.

    “Once again, the panel has bowled me over with its rigorous and passionate debate,” said Harry, “and once again playwrights and theaters from around the country have supplied us with plays worthy of those fierce discussions. Together, these six plays speak well of the American theatre today. Individually, they speak to the excitement and originality of some of our finest playwrights.”

    Other committee members were:

    • Misha Berson, Seattle Times (Seattle)
    • Bruce Burgun, The New Orleans Advocate (New Orleans)
    • Lindsay Christians, The Capital Times (Madison, Wis.)
    • Amanda Finn, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)
    • Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, (Milwaukee)
    • Pam Harbaugh, floridatheatreonstage.com (Indialantic, Fla.)
    • Erin Keane, Salon (Louisville, Ky.)
    • Mark Lowry, theaterjones.com, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Dallas)
    • Jonathan Mandell, newyorktheater.me  (New York)
    • Julius Novick, freelance (New York)
    • Marjorie Oberlander, freelance (New York)
    • Kathryn Osenlund, freelance (Philadelphia)
    • Wendy Parker, freelance (Midlothian, Va.)
    • Wendy Rosenfield, broadstreetreview.com (Philadelphia)
    • David Sheward, artsinny.com, theaterlife.com (Jackson Heights, N.Y.)
    • Martha Wade Steketee, freelance (New York)
    • Perry Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing, (Charlotte)
    • Bob Verini, Variety (Boston)

    Denver Center's 'Georgia McBride' to be a film starring Jim Parsons

    In 1977, ATCA began to honor new plays produced at regional theaters outside New York City, where there are many awards. Since 2000, the award has been funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

    Since its inception, ATCA’s New Play Award honorees have included Moisés Kaufman, Adrienne Kennedy, Craig Lucas, Donald Margulies, Arthur Miller, Marsha Norman, Robert Schenkkan, August Wilson, Lanford Wilson, and Mac Wellman.

    Last year’s honoree was Man in the Ring by Michael Cristofer. 

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Photo gallery: The making of The Book of Will at the Denver Center

    'The Book of Will' in Denver

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos are downloadable from our Flickr site above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Production photo gallery:

    The Book of Will- 2016-17 Theatre Company Season Production photos by Adams VisCom. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Selected previous DCPA NewsCenter coverage of The Book of Will:
    Video: Your first look at The Book of Will
    Perspectives: Why is there a bobble-head on that set?
    Guest columnist Lauren Gunderson: How one word can change a play
    Five things we learned at The Book of Will opening rehearsal
    'The Year of Gunderson' has begun in Colorado
    Video: Take a tour of The Book of Will set
    Shakespeare in a season with no Shakespeare
    First Folio: The world's second-most important book heads to Boulder
    Video: Our look back at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit Spotlight: Playwright Lauren Gunderson
    Lauren Gunderson wins Lanford Wilson Award from Dramatists Guild of America
    Just who were all the king's men, anyway?
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics
    Meet the cast: Jennifer Le Blanc
    Meet the cast: Wesley Mann
    Meet the cast: Rodney Lizcano

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Deeper dive: A closer look at 'Last Night and the Night Before'

    by John Moore | Apr 06, 2018

    In the video above, playwright Donnetta Lavinia Grays talks about "Last Night and the Night Before" at the Denver Center's 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Note: In this daily series, we are taking a deeper dive into the eight titles recently announced on the DCPA Theatre Company's 2018-19 mainstage season. Today: Last Night and the Night Before.

    Last Night and the Night Before

    • Written by: Donnetta Lavinia Grays
    • Year: 2019 (world premiere)
    • Director: Valerie Curtis-Newton
    • Dates: Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019 (Opens Jan. 25)
    • Where: Ricketson Theatre
    • Genre: Family drama/mystery
    • Donnetta Lavinia Grays. Last Night And the Night Before. About the author: Donnetta Lavinia Grays, born in Panama and raised in Columbia, S.C., is a Brooklyn-based actor and playwright whose plays have been staged, read or developed at Berkeley Rep, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference. the New York Theater Workshop, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Portland (Maine) Stage Company, Classical Theater of Harlem and more. She is the inaugural recipient of the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. Acting credits include Broadway’s Well and In the Next Room Or the Vibrator Play, as well as TV's "Blue Bloods" and "The Sopranos." Grays says she seeks to write strong roles for women of various ages, races, sexual identities and economic standings. She believes the most radical theater happens when cultural specificity meets common human conflict. She also believes that humor should marry heartbreak at most turns in a narrative.
    • The play at a glance: When Monique and her 10-year-old daughter, Samantha, show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it shakes up Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly New York lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble and brings their family’s Southern roots with her, grabbing hold of Rachel’s life more ferociously than she could have ever imagined. Poetic, powerful and remarkably funny, Last Night and the Night Before play explores the struggle between the responsibilities that are expected of us and the choices we actually end up making.

    On navigating trauma: Our full interview with the playwright

    • Says new DCPA Artistic Director Chris Coleman: "Last Night and the Night Before is another testament to the amazing works that have come out of the Colorado New Play Summit. Donnetta Lavinia Grays is an incredibly special writer, and the heart she brings to all of her work as an actress shines through in this beautiful play. This is a story about families. It's about why one sibling goes one way the other goes another. It's about what comprises a family today and how this young kid finds unbelievable emotional resilience in very tricky, difficult circumstances, It's a beautiful play, a deeply human story, and I’m thrilled that we get to be the first to produce it. I’m sure that we will not be the last.”
    • Last Night And the Night Before. Photo by John MooreFrom the author: "Sam has suffered a traumatic event in her life. She is in the unfortunate position of being at the mercy of the adults in her life who are trying to safeguard her from what she has suffered. And now she is having to suffer the consequences of their decisions. I think Last Night and the Night Before is a play about the tremendous, enduring component of love in our lives. It is a play about loss. It is a play about family. And it is a play about finding your singular voice as a woman coming into adulthood."
    • What the critics have said about Donnetta Lavinia Grays' acting: "Grays is one of those actors who can enthrall while doing nothing more than standing still, listening, in character. What a treat to get to watch her do so." — OffOffOnline ... "Even before her wrenching second-act monologue, Donnetta Lavinia Grays proves the soul of the piece," — Indianapolis Business Journal, on Ruined.
    • Fun facts: This play was featured in the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Its original title was, simply, Sam. The new title references a line from the children’s game: "Last night and the night before, I met my baby at the candy store."... Says Grays, in describing herself on her website: "I will act for food. Or write a play. )r direct one for that matter so long as food is involved. Or, you know, whiskey."... She says her dream project "is to write something sexy with African-American roots and folk music."

    Last Night And the Night Before. Photo by John Moore
    Photos: Director Valerie Curtis-Newton (above) and her cast at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit.


    2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season at a glance:

  • Aug. 24-Sept. 30: Vietgone (Ricketson Theatre) READ MORE
  • Sept. 7-Oct. 14: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Sept. 21-Oct. 21: The Constant Wife (Space Theatre) READ MORE
  • Nov. 21-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019: Last Night and the Night Before (Ricketson Theatre) READ MORE
  • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019: Anna Karenina (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019: The Whistleblower (Space Theatre) READ MORE
  • April 26-May 26, 2019: Sweat (Space Theatre) READ MORE

  • DCPA Theatre Company tickets and subscriptions:
    New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are now available online at denvercenter.org or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy 30 percent off savings, free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. BUY ONLINE

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • Look back: 2018 Colorado New Play Summit got real

    by John Moore | Feb 26, 2018
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Our gallery of photos above includes nearly 300 images from the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of photos Photos by Senior Arts Journalist John Moore and Adams Viscom.

    Readings explored contemporary social issues through the lens of real stories taken from the recent and distant past

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Perhaps more so than ever, the Denver Center’s 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit explored complex contemporary social issues through the lens of real stories taken from both the recent and distant past.

    Summit 2018 The Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, a forgotten pre-Civil War slave trial and a horrible, headline-grabbing drunk-driving tragedy were among the real-life inspirations for the Summit’s four featured readings, all of which become instant candidates for consideration to be fully staged in the future.  

    The Colorado New Play Summit has grown into one of the nation’s premier showcases of new plays. Since 2006, the Summit has workshopped 54 new plays, leading to 31 fully produced world premieres as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s mainstage season. At this year’s Summit, more than 800 attendees also were treated to a record three fully staged world premieres: American Mariachi, The Great Leap and Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.

    But history of another kind was made on Saturday when the topic of gender identity was addressed on a Denver Center stage for the first time in its nearly 40-year history, and it came from a most unexpected source. A teenage boy uttered the words, “Dad, I’m non-binary” in high-schooler Noah Jackson’s play Wine Colored Lip Gloss during public readings of DCPA Education’s three statewide student playwriting competition winners.

    “It means so much to me that the Denver Center allowed my story to be heard,” said Jackson, who attends Girls Athletic Leadership School. “I had someone come up to me in tears saying that my play touched her so much. I am just over the moon that people are actually feeling the words that I have worked so hard on.”  

    2018 Summit: A look at all four featured plays

    The 2018 Summit came as DCPA Theatre Company leadership continues to transition from Summit founder Kent Thompson to incoming Artistic Director Chris Coleman, who told the Friday night crowd the Summit was “a great calling card” for the job he is about to embrace. “A festival like this is impossible at a lot of theatres around the country,” he said. “But new-play development is creativity at its most pure. There is enormous joy and heartache in watching something come out of nothing. And I want to be a part of the future of this organization's voice around the country.”

    (Story continues below the video)

    Video: Our interviews with all four featured playwrights

    Press play to watch all four of our short spotlight videos.


    The four featured Summit readings at a glance
    :

    • A Summit Playwrights Social Barbara Seyda’s Celia, A Slave recalls a 19-year-old African-American slave in Missouri who was convicted of killing her master in 1855 and hanged.
    • Kemp Powers’ Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue is the story of mixed-race twins who are genetically the same but to the entire outside world, one is perceived as black, and one is perceived as white.
    • David Jacobi’s The Couches takes its cue from the real-life story of a 16-year-old Texas boy who drove drunk and killed four people. His lawyer successfully argued the boy had “affluenza" — meaning he was too rich to know right from wrong.
    • Sigrid Gilmer's Mama Metallica is the story of a woman who copes with her mother's dementia through her muse: The heavy-metal band Metallica. "What makes you laugh will make you cry," she said.

    “This is a precious and fragile time in the life of these plays and that's because they are reflecting life which is also so fragile, as we have learned in these past couple of weeks,” said Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett,” referring to the Florida school shooting. “And that's why it’s so important to support new work and nurture it and fund it and produce it and give it to the world. That's our responsibility: To keep life moving forward. And I like to think of the Summit as the beginning of that.”

    (Pictured at right: From 'Celia, A Slave', from left: Jada Dixon, Owen Zitek, Director Nataki Garrett, Celeste M. Cooper.)

    Celia A Slave. Summit. Photo by John MooreThe Colorado New Play Summit allows for two weeks of development of each new play, culminating in a first round of public readings. Playwrights then take what they learn from their first readings back into rehearsal before more rehearsal and a second round of readings for industry professionals.

    This year’s Summit drew industry leaders from 33 local and national theatre organizations, with more than 150 directors, actors, artistic leaders, educators and others from 12 states attending or taking part. Visitors represented companies ranging from the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington D.C. to the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York. Closer to home, guests included the Arvada Center, Creede Repertory Theatre, Curious Theatre, The Catamounts, Athena Festival Project and others.

    There was another added twist at this year’s festival in that both American Mariachi and The Great Leap are the Theatre Company’s first co-productions in nearly 20 years — upon closing, both will set off for stagings at other theatres with their Denver creative teams intact.

    Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap is a Denver Center commission, meaning she was hired to write a play for the Theatre Company’s right of first refusal. She used her Asian-American father’s real-life goodwill basketball tour to China in the 1980s as the basis for exploring, among many other things, the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Her play was read at the 2017 Summit, premiered in January at the Denver Center and will re-open at the Seattle Repertory Theatre later in March.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “This play would not exist without the Denver Center,” Yee said. “Not just because it's a commission, but also because of the way that the Colorado New Play Summit launches you into national consciousness. This is an event that the whole new-play development world looks at every year for leadership and inspiration.”

    The Couches. Adams VisComJosé Cruz González’s American Mariachi was given a second full year to germinate before being fully staged. It was introduced at the 2016 Summit, then developed for two years before opening in January. The story of a pioneering young woman who forms an all-female mariachi band in a desperate attempt to use music to communicate with a mother falling into dementia struck a universal chord with Theatre Company audiences. It now moves to the Old Globe Theatre, which is Director James Vásquez’s artistic home, for a run in San Diego.  

    (Pictured: Tasha Lawrence and Cesar J. Rosado in 'The Couches.' Photo by Adams Viscom.)

    “The Denver Center has been so unbelievably supportive since the moment we got here,” Vásquez said. “It's been a dream. And I feel like the luckiest guy in the world that now I get to take the show home and share it with my family and friends in San Diego.”  

    Vásquez is particularly grateful the Summit coincided with the Denver run of American Mariachi, where it was seen by dozens of artistic leaders from around the country.

    “It's overwhelming and exciting to think of how many industry professionals saw our play here at the Summit,” said Vásquez. “We do this work so we can share it, and I want Jose's play to get out into the world. So if the other professionals want to take it, I say … ‘Go.’ ”

    One of those professionals is former longtime DCPA Theatre Company actor David Ivers, now the Artistic Director at the Arizona Theatre Company. He already has added American Mariachi to his season lineup for performance in March 2019.

    American Mariachi resonates in myriad ways with the kaleidoscope of our community,” Ivers said. “The writing, the gift of mariachi music, the celebration and empowerment of women, and the struggle of loss in the face of hope are powerful and meaningful messages to explore in the communities we have the honor of serving.”

    2018 Colorado New Play Summit Slam. Photo by John MooreThe Summit again included two late-night "Playwrights Slams," where writers sampled their developing works in a fun and supportive atmosphere. One focused on local playwrights and was curated this year by the Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

    (Pictured at right: Playwrights Slam reader Mfoniso Udofia. Others included José Cruz González, Ricardo A. Bracho, Denver native Max Posner and Luis Quintero. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The Summit also included a gathering of the Women's Voices Fund, the Denver Center’s $1.5 million endowment that supports new plays by women and female creative team members. Since 2006, the Denver Center has produced 33 plays by women, including 14 world premieres, commissioned 19 female playwrights and hired 28 female directors Supporters of the fund were treated to a private gathering with 2018 featured playwright Sigrid Gilmer (Mama Metallica.)   

    The Summit ended on the same day the Denver run of American Mariachi closed. But unlike most other shows, closing day in Denver was just the start for the San Diego-bound cast and crew.

    “We’re leaving Denver,” said actor Amanda Robles. “But it doesn't feel like the end.”

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    Christa McAuliffe's Eyes Were Blue
    From left: Cast members Tihun Hann, Celeste M. Cooper and Owen Zitek. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Selected NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Summit Spotlight: Barbara Seyda's collision with voices of the dead
    Summit Spotlight: Kemp Powers on a matter that's black and white
    Summit Spotlight: David Jacobi on affluenza, the rich man's plague
    Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: 'What makes you laugh will make you cry'
    Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

  • Summit Spotlight: Barbara Seyda's collision with voices of the dead

    by John Moore | Feb 23, 2018

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.


    In this daily four-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 13 years, 29 plays introduced at the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. Today: Barbara Seyda, author of Celia, A Slave.

    By listening to the voices of history, playwright brings the voice of hanged slave to Colorado New Play Summit stage.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Barbara Seyda attended a backyard barbecue in Arizona eight years ago that not only changed the course of her life, it raised the voices of the dead.

    Seyda met a historian and scholar at the University of Arizona named John Wess Grant. “And instead of making cocktail party chatter, he began telling me stories of freed and enslaved women of color from the 19th century — for three hours,” she said. “I went home that night and had a dream, which I think was a subconscious affirmation of the play.”

    A Barbara Seyda Celia 800 Adams Viscom The play is Celia, A Slave, which recalls a 19-year-old African-American slave who was convicted of killing her master in 1855 and hanged. It is one of four featured plays at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit that begins today. It was the first play written by Seyda, who was an Arizona-based writer, editor, photographer and designer until the voices of history spoke to her.

    “I think about that moment a lot because I never studied slave litigation, and I wouldn't have discovered this trial on my own,” she said. “So that was definitely an alchemic moment.” (Rehearsal photo above by Adams VisCom.)

    Seyda does not know why she had that life-changing dream that night. But she accepted the muse freely.

    “I think stories arrive on their own, like love and forgiveness,” she said, “and then we have to be brave and surrender to them. I also think writing is an irrational act. I think a lot of writing comes from the subconscious. It comes from ancestral spirits. It comes from our bodies and the silences that we hold within our families or within our communities and cultures.”

    Seyda pays attention to her dreams. “And that was a significant dream,” she said.

    2018 Summit: Quick look at all four featured plays

    Here's more of our conversation with Seyda:

    Barbara Seyda Quote. Photo by John Moore
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    John Moore: What happens in your play?

    Barbara Seyda: My play is based Celia’s trial. It's told from the perspective of 24 characters, so it's kaleidoscopic in structure and fragmented. It deals with systemic racism, slave litigation, rape and the execution of a juvenile.

    John Moore: Tell us about your journey as a playwright.

    Barbara Seyda: I don't have an MFA from Yale in playwriting. I've never studied writing or theater. Celia, A Slave is my debut play. But I've been working backstage for 38 years, so that's been my drama school. I learned about theater working backstage, on the loading docks, in the pipe tunnels, the badly lit stairwells and the dressing rooms. After my dream, I began writing Celia as a screenplay. During that process, I saw Katori Hall's play The Mountaintop, directed by Lou Bellamy (DCPA Theatre Company's Fences) at the Arizona Theatre Company, and it was astounding and inspiring. I went straight home and reframed the play for stage because I was just so invigorated by what Katori Hall did. She took a historical moment — the eve of Martin Luther King's assassination — and created this amazing, expansive, panoramic platform to explore: Two people are meeting at a hotel room: King and Camae, the maid, in a motel room. That’s the entire play. The other play I've always loved is Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith in 1991. She wrote in response to an incident in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where a Hasidic rabbi's motorcade went up on a sidewalk and hit a Haitian boy who died, and riots ensued. And Anna Deavere Smith interviewed all these folks and there are 31 voices in that play. It's a brilliant intersection of journalism and performance and public ritual. And I really studied that piece structurally when I was writing Celia, A Slave.

    John Moore: But Anna Deavere Smith had the benefit of being able to go back and interview the actual participants. You're exploring something happened in 1855. So how did you approach your research when there's nobody to interview?

    Barbara Seyda: I did a lot of archival research. I looked at the actual trial transcripts and court records. I looked at genealogical records and diaries and letters and legal papers. But I was also hearing voices at night. So I kept a notebook by the bed and I recorded the voices. I didn't know who was speaking or in what context. I just listened. I also scheduled interviews with midwives and hog farmers and death-penalty attorneys and the descendants of slaves and the descendants of slave owners, and basically anyone I could find who grew up in Missouri. And along with all of that, I started doing random street interviews with people I didn't know and then braided all of that material into the text.

    John Moore: What was driving you to wrote this story? Was it anger when you heard about what happened to Celia? A need to put this into the historical record?

    Barbara Seyda: It wasn't anger, but anger can be a catalyst and a motivating force. As a journalist, I was always interested in foregrounding the voices of those silenced by the mainstream. So this felt very much a continuation of what I've always done, except that I was doing it for stage instead of for the press.

    John Moore: So what are we actually seeing in your play? Is it a courtroom trial?

    A Barbara Seyda Celia Jacob Gibson. Adams Viscom Barbara Seyda: It's not a courtroom drama. It's a collision of voices of the dead. At one point in my writing I thought, ‘If I could somehow just gather all these characters in a room and interview them, this would make my job a lot easier.’ So I envisioned myself as a journalist interviewing the dead. The play kind of takes you through that process and that journey.

    John Moore: So why is now perhaps the right time for us to be looking back at what happened in 1855 to better understand better what's going on in America in 2018?

    Barbara Seyda: When I initially started working on the play, I asked myself, ‘Who is going to be interested in this obscure female slave trial from 1855 in pre-Civil War Missouri?’ I really didn't know if it would resonate with anyone. But now I think that the racists' consciousness that existed in 1855, and the rape culture that existed then is what created the foundation for American capitalism that continues today. We see it manifesting all the time. We see it manifesting in the White House.

    (Pictured at right: Cast member Jacob Gibson. Photo by John Moore.)

    John Moore: You've already been through the first weekend of the Summit, so can you talk bit about what you learned in the first week and the first public reading?

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Barbara Seyda: The first week was amazing and intense and horrifying because I came with an original script and I didn't really know what was going to happen with that. And then (DCPA Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director) Nataki Garrett — my brilliant, genius, iconoclast director — she jackhammered the script, and we blew it up into 20,000 moving pieces. And just last weekend, I wrote six new scenes. So we had the original script, we had these fragments and then we had the new material. So the artistic team started to panic a bit. That’s when I realized that the writer's like a quarterback. You're calling the plays and everyone's looking to you. And the writer doesn't always know the answer. And so I said, ‘Have faith in me and have faith in the play and in this process.’ So we kind of moved through a slot canyon at night and through a 30-mile boulder field, and now we're coming out on the other end of it. And basically, we’ve given birth to a whole new script.

    John Moore: And just to clarify the history of this work: You won the national Yale Drama Prize for this play in 2015. So how is it still considered a new play?

    Celia Erin Willis. Photo by John MooreBarbara Seyda: We had a reading at Lincoln Center in New York, directed by Nigel Smith. And then the Rogue Theater in Tucson opened their season with it in September. But yes, the play continues to go through a transformation — and it's gone through the most radical transformation here in Denver.

    (Pictured at right: Cast member Erin Willis. Photo by John Moore.)

    John Moore: Is that transformation essentially taking a script that was primarily direct address and making it more of a tapestry?

    Barbara Seyda: I think it's becoming more of a tapestry play but I don't know because I don't have a cohesive vision of the new whole yet. I mean, there are sections that feel like stained glass to me. There are sections that feel like broken nails. There are pieces that feel highly orchestrated, tight, and precise. There are other sections that still feel kind of organic. And maybe there are still some potholes.

    John Moore: I know you are right in the middle of it, but how do you feel now that the Colorado New Play Summit exists and that this two-week development process is available to you?

    Barbara Seyda: I am so grateful for this Summit. I mean, it's pretty rigorous and challenging and intense. But because of all that intensity and rigor, something amazing, I think, is going to emerge.

    John Moore: Tell us about this particular collection of actors you’ve been given to work with here in Denver.

    Cajardo LindseyBarbara Seyda: I will just say I would crawl miles on my knees to see these actors perform. They are astounding. I'm humbled by their talent, by their ability, by the gifts that they bring to the table and to the stage. For example, Jingo is the hog farmer who starts the play. And he now has a significantly expanded role in the story that didn't exist before I arrived — and that’s because of the actor who’s playing him, Cajardo Lindsey (pictured right). There's something about him, about his presence, just being able to conjure and express this character. It just seemed to require and demand that I write more for him.

    John Moore: And what about your dramaturg?

    Barbara Seyda: Sydne Mahone is legendary. She has been my friend for 38 years, and a huge inspiration through my whole life. We met at Rutgers and after she graduated, she became the Literary Director and dramaturg at Crossroads Theatre Company in New Jersey, which was one of the pioneering African-American theatre companies in the U.S. She also created the annual Genesis playwriting festival. Folks like George C. Wolfe and Anna Deavere Smith and Suzan-Lori Parks and Robbie McCauley were all unknown until she brought them to Crossroads and produced their work. Then they went to New York and became mega superstars. She also was the editor of Moon Marked and Touched by Sun, which was the first anthology of African-American women playwrights. And so to have Sydne next to me on one side and Nataki on the other? Wow, what a team.

    John Moore: And finally: What do you think Celia would say if she knew this play existed?

    Barbara Seyda: God, what would Celia say? Well, she's finally had the opportunity to tell her own story.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Celia Summit. Photo by John Moore
    From left: Cast members Tihun Hann, Celeste M. Cooper and Owen Zitek. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)


    Celia, A Slave: Cast list
    A Nataki Garrett Barbara Seyda 400 2 Adams VisComWritten by Barbara Seyda
    Directed by Nataki Garrett (pictured right)
    Dramaturgy by Sydne Mahone
    Stage Manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
    Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Becerra

    • Jingo: Cajardo Lindsey
    • Ulysses a.k.a. Uncle Pee Wee: donnie l. betts
    • George: Jacob Gibson
    • Justice Abiel Leonard / John Jameson: Gareth Saxe
    • Polly Newsom / Virginia Waynescot: Emily Van Fleet
    • David Newsom / Dr. Hockley Yong / Benjamin Sheets / Felix Bartey: Jake Horowitz
    • Viola / Solace: Nija Okoro
    • William Powell / Judge William Augustus Hall / Higgler: Steven Cole Hughes
    • Mildred Louisa Rollins: Billie McBride
    • Bethena / Euphrates: Jada Dixon
    • Celia: Celeste M. Cooper
    • Vine: Tihun Hann
    • Matt: Owen Zitek
    • Coffee Waynescot: Tristan Champion Regini
    • Aunt Winnie / Stage Directions: Erin Willis

    2018 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information
    Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25
    303-893-4100 or INFO

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Summit Spotlight: Kemp Powers on a matter that's black and white
    Summit Spotlight: David Jacobi on affluenza, the rich man's plague
    Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: 'What makes you laugh will make you cry'
    Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

  • Summit Spotlight: Kemp Powers on a matter that's black and white

    by John Moore | Feb 22, 2018

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.


    In this daily four-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 13 years, 29 plays introduced at the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. Today: Kemp Powers, author of Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue.

    New play explores when the bond between bi-racial twins, like the Space Shuttle Challenger, goes up in smoke

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Playwright Kemp Powers looks back on the days leading up to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster almost with a sense of nostalgia. He was like a lot of American kids growing up in 1986 with their heads in the stars.

    “It was a very different time then,” Powers said. “What people don't realize now is just how amazing it was. The space program was moving, no pun intended, at the pace of a rocket. As kids, we felt like it was only a matter of years before every man, woman and child would be taking a vacation in space the way we fly to Hawaii right now.”

    Christa McAuliffe. Photo by John MooreAll of that changed, of course, on Jan. 28, 1986, the day the Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members — with almost every schoolkid in America watching on live television. One of the dead was Christa McAuliffe, a social-studies teacher from New Hampshire and the first civilian to go up into space. She was the winner of a national contest for teachers, which is why so many classrooms were tuned in that day to witness history — just not that kind of history.

    “That moment marked a turning point for the space program,” said Powers. “Christa McAuliffe symbolized a lot of people's dreams, not just for the space program, but their own hopes for where they were going to go in this brave new world we were entering into as a nation. NASA really pulled back after that, and people turned their attention to other things.”

    (Pictured above, from left: Allen E. Read and Tobie Windham as twins Sevvy and Bear Gentry in 'Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue.' Photo by John Moore.)

    That’s the backdrop for Powers’ intriguing new (and tantalizingly titled) play, Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue, one of four featured works at this weekend’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Tantalizing, in part, because her eyes were brown.)

    The play is pulled from the real headlines, inspired by two real twins in an interracial family — their mother is white and their father is black. But in a genetic twist, one baby came out white and the other came out black.

    “The play explores the idea of nature versus nurture — but within one household,” Powers said. “We see the impact when two men are genetically the same but to the entire outside world, one is absolutely perceived as black, and one is absolutely perceived as white."

    Kemp Powers Portrait. Photo by John Moore

    The real story involved two teenage girls in Gloucester, and media coverage when they turned 18 went viral. “There was one news segment where these girls were being interviewed," Powers said, "and the newscaster, a well-meaning lady, said to them, ‘So you got all of the black parent's genes —  and you got all of the white parent's genes?’ And they nodded. And then she turns to the white-looking bi-racial girl and says, ‘Well, aren't you the lucky one?’

    And I just sat there and thought, ‘There you go.’ That's what I want to explore.”

    In Powers’ story, the brothers have fallen apart and are forced to confront each other in their adulthood. “And over the course of this confrontation, we learn why they had this tremendous falling out when they were children,” Powers said. And the pivotal moment in the lives of both men comes in the days leading up to the Challenger disaster.

    “When Christa tragically died with those other six astronauts, I wanted to parallel the symbolism of when everything went wrong in the space program to the relationship between these two brothers,” Powers said. “Because one of the brothers thinks he's going to become an astronaut. And he quite literally saw his dreams go up in smoke.”

    2018 Summit: Quick look at all four featured plays

    Here's more of our conversation with Powers:

    John Moore: What can you tell us about the title of the play?

    Kemp Powers: I can tell you that this play ultimately deals a lot with bullying. And another big part of the story is that in 1986, one of the books on the New York Times bestseller list was called The Worst of Truly Tasteless Jokes. And until people see the play, I think that’s all I should say about it.

    John Moore: Fair enough. So what does it say about the America we live in that these two brothers, who are identical in every other way, ended up in such different futures?

    Kemp Powers: When the play begins the brothers haven't spoken to each other in years and they are brought together in a random moment of fate. I wanted to explore the realities of family in a way that is very familiar to me, but I don’t often see. In some families, as you get older, there’s some unspoken grudge that goes on and on until eventually you really have nothing to do with each other. Here’s what fascinates me: What happens when that grudge has a racial component, and one brother feels like the other one let him down?

    Christa McAuliffe. Photo by Adams ViscomJohn Moore: And what’s your stake in all of this?

    Kemp Powers: This is probably the most personal thing I've ever written because it's largely set in and around the Brooklyn that I grew up in.

    John Moore: Tell us about that Brooklyn.

    Kemp Powers: I've always been a big fan of theater. Growing up in New York City, theater was kind of always in the background for me. I think my first Broadway show that my mother took me to was La Cage Aux Folles, which I believe was in 1983. I was 10 or 11 years old. I didn't even know what Broadway meant then. That was a pretty powerful, impactful moment in my life. The first non-musical I saw was a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest that we went to at the Public Theatre when I was in sixth grade. If you grow up in New York, theater is just part of the culture. But I never thought it was something I'd actually be able to do.

    (Pictured above, from left: Natalie Camuna and Tobie Windham. Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    John Moore: Tell us about your transition from your previous profession to playwriting.

    Kemp Powers: I was a journalist for more 15 years. When I got into college, I displayed some skill as a writer, and I immediately turned that into journalism because I'm a pretty voracious reporter and researcher. My research is often evident in what I'm writing, and I'm actually trying to make it less evident.

    John Moore: And what is your history with the DCPA Theatre Company?

    Kemp Powers: My relationship with the Denver Center started when they produced my play One Night in Miami… in 2015. And then when (former Artistic Director) Kent Thompson commissioned me to write a new play, my first question was, "What do I need to write?" And he said, ‘Whatever you want.’ So I took that as a unique opportunity to write about a subject that under normal circumstances would be more challenging to pitch to a theatre company. I wanted to stretch myself as a storyteller with this play.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    John Moore: One Night in Miami … was your first play, which still boggles me. It imagines what happened the night Cassius Clay met in a hotel room with Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X in 1964. That was obviously a landmark production here in Denver and around the world. What did it mean to you when the play was performed in South Africa?

    Christa McAuliffe. Photo by Adams VisComKemp Powers: Oh, I can't put it into words. I mean, it's running in Johannesburg right now. And it ran in London a year ago. And yes, that was my first play. I think all playwrights at some point are overcome with a certain amount of what I call ‘impostor syndrome.’ That’s when you ask yourself, ‘Am I good enough to be doing this?' 'Will anyone get the story I'm trying to tell?’ But the journey of that play was incredible because everywhere that it went, it seemed to connect with its audience. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the response to the play here in Denver because that was an audience that largely didn't look like the characters represented in the play.

    John Moore: They were white.

    Kemp Powers. A lot of them. But they were still able to connect so deeply with those characters. That was really special.

    (Pictured above, from left: Quinn Marchman and Tobie Windham. Photo by Adams VisCom. Story continues after the video below.)

    Inside Edition coverage of the Gloucester twins:




    John Moore: You have regularly attended the Colorado New Play Summit as an audience member, but this is your first as a featured playwright. How does the second week of development perhaps set this festival apart from others?

    Kemp Powers: The second week is tremendous. I mean, you're almost getting as much rehearsal with the actors here at this Summit as you get for a fully staged production. The first day or so you feel stressed and rushed. But by Day 3 or 4, you realize how luxurious this whole process is.

    John Moore: What do you learn from having that first public reading at the end of the opening week?

    Kemp Powers: It’s thrilling to have the play be heard by an audience because at a certain point there's only so much you can discover when you're sitting alone in a room writing. There's so much more you get to discover when you put it in front of a live audience. And then you get to go back and recalibrate. And if you want to take a completely different stab at it, you can. That's really exciting for me. I'm accustomed to festivals that are just one weekend, and you only have a few days of rehearsal. You don't get to explore the play as deeply as you do here.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Christa McAuliffe. Photo by John Moore

    Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue: Cast list
    Written by Kemp Powers
    Directed by Nicholas C. Avila (pictured right)
    Dramaturgy by Jerry PatchChrista McAuliffe 400. Photo by Adams VisCom
    Stage Manager: Rick Mireles
    Stage Management Apprentice: Mariah Brown 

    • Bernard “Bear” Gentry: Tobie Windham
    • Steven “Sevvy” Gentry: Allen E. Read
    • Joseph “Joey” Martinelli: Bradley Fleischer
    • Mr. B: Brian Shea
    • Migdalia: Natalie Camunas
    • Rich: Quinn Marchman
    • Summer: Anastasia Davidson
    • Stage Directions: Joelle Montoya

    2018 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information
    Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25
    303-893-4100 or INFO

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Summit Spotlight, David Jacobi on affluenza, the rich man's plague
    Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: 'What makes you laugh will make you cry'
    Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

  • Summit Spotlight: David Jacobi on affluenza, the rich man's plague

    by John Moore | Feb 21, 2018

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.


    In this daily four-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 13 years, 29 plays introduced at the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. Today: David Jacobi, author of The Couches.

    Ethan Couch drove drunk and killed four people. Apparently he was too rich to know right from wrong.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Couches, says Philadelphia playwright David Jacobi, is play ripped from the headlines. In 2013, a 16-year-old Texas boy named Ethan Couch drove drunk and killed four people, paralyzing one other. With seven teenage passengers in his father's truck, Couch sped into a disabled SUV on a rural road and plowed into a Samaritan's nearby parked car, which in turn hit an oncoming Volkswagen Beetle.

    During the trial, his lawyer argued that he was too rich to know right from wrong."

    They called it “affluenza," and it's actually a word in the dictionary: "A psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt and a sense of isolation." The term dates back to 1957 as a commentary on consumerism, but it is now most commonly associated with the 2013 Couch case.

    But rather than prison, Couch was given rehab and probation, which he promptly violated. "So my play begins after his mother has taken $40,000 and driven him to Mexico, where they're hiding in an all-inclusive resort," Jacobi said.

    The resulting play, he said, explores the playwright's feelings on late-stage capitalism, overconsumption and the idea that creating wealth is tied to a loss of morality.


    "It’s about the financial inequity of the world we live in," Jacobi said. "The inequity in our criminal system. The inequity between the haves and the have-nots.

    "It’s all so messed up."

    Here's more of our conversation with Jacobi, one of four featured playwrights at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit:

    John Moore: Did you feel any kind of empathy for the young man who killed all those people?

    David Jacobi: I don't pity the Couches. But at times I feel like I understand them and where they're coming from. I feel we are complicit in a system that dehumanizes people on both ends to an extent — the poor and the rich.

    John Moore: What did you think when you first heard about the Ethan Couch case, and how it brought the word “affluenza” into the lexicon?

    David Jacoobi. The Couches. Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by Adams Viscom.David Jacobi: I was furious. As someone who didn't grow up rich and was raised by a single mother in a very modest house, it really bothered me to learn that people could be so rich that they don't have to suffer consequences. But then I had to look inward and wonder why I was so angry at them. I started to think that maybe Ethan never had a chance to be a normal human being. He was raised by very disturbed people who would just throw money at problems. I still blame him for what he did, but there's just something about him that's very tragic.

    (Pictured above and right: Tasha Lawrence and Nick LaMedica in 'The Couches.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    John Moore: I can see some similarities to the school shooter in Florida. He did this atrociously heinous thing, but a writer naturally wants to know what drove him to do that.

    David Jacobi: Yes, and they just found out today the Florida shooter was a member of a white supremacist group, and those are the saddest, most terrified people in America. They have internalized their own fear and rage. They are just very broken people.

    John Moore: You have said your play devolves into this Lynchian nightmare — and that you think it's funny.

    David Jacobi: Exactly. I tend to just look at everything I write through a lens of absurdism. It's my way of getting through it. My plays tend to be funny, and I think that for the most part this is a comedy, too. It's an extremely, extremely dark comedy, but I'm going for it. I think that by the end, there's no real way to stage this except for in the most bizarre, David Lynchian, surrealist nightmare that I think the story really is.

    John Moore: And wackiness ensues, right?

    David Jacobi: Wackiness will always ensue.

    David Jacobi Quote. Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore


    John Moore: Do you consider David Lynch to be one of your major influences?

    David Jacobi: I love Ionesco. I love a lot of Sam Shepard plays. I adore Annie Baker's work. Jeff Augustin. Those people really have a handle on story and dialogue. I was also raised on The Twilight Zone marathons and comic books, and I feel like a lot of my work kind of fits that pop/punk aesthetic. Someone once lovingly told me that my work is considered ‘junk punk,’ which means that there are a lot of relics from the past in my work. That people are playing with broken, discarded ideas and things.

    John Moore: You've written about race, hate crimes, unfair labor practices, drug addiction, often in the context of current events. What interests you most about exploring the latest headlines in your plays?

    David Jacobi: I tend to write about problems and conflicts that existed when I was a kid and still exist now. And I like to look at them through the lens of how I felt about something back then, and how I feel now. Have I grown as a person, and if not, what's holding me back?

    John Moore: You once said that professional wrestling, for better or worse, was your introduction to theater. I really hope that you were being sincere when you said that.

    Tasha Lawrence. Cesar J. Rosado. The Couches. Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by Adams Vicsom.David Jacobi: Oh, yeah. Out of all my influences, professional wrestling is probably the biggest. That was my entry into theater as an audience member. What really got me is that there was always a story. For example, this really happened: There was this pro wrestler who got on the microphone and he was just berating America to a New York audience. And then I read in the news the next day that as he was trying to leave the arena, he was surrounded by a bunch of angry fans and they tried to flip over his car. And try as we might, I don't think we'll ever get that sort of reaction from live theater. I would love a future where the actor playing Iago has to get security to get out to his car because the audience is so mad at him. I would just love for that to happen.

    (Pictured above and below: Tasha Lawrence and Cesar J. Rosado in 'The Couches.' Photos by Adams VisCom and John Moore.)

    John Moore: Does the second week of development that you are afforded here at the Colorado New Play Summit perhaps set the DCPA apart in terms of new-play development?

    Tasha Lawrence. Cesar J. Rosado. The Couches. Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore.David Jacobi: Yes. I really like getting a second bite of the apple. Having that second reading allows me to not try to get it all out of the way too soon. When I'm afforded more time like this, I can focus my energy on a couple of things. For example, right now my ending isn't there yet. We're experimenting with things. But we decided to let the original ending run for the first reading. I'm excited to see how the audience takes it, and then we can decide afterward just where that ending is at. The second reading just gives me so much more breathing room.

    John Moore: What are your friends out there in the world saying about the DCPA and the Colorado New Play Summit?

    David Jacobi: I've been namedropping the Denver Center ever since I got into the Colorado New Play Summit, and it always goes over well. People think I'm automatically fancier. The caliber of artists that the Denver Center brings in to help facilitate the playwright's needs is just absolutely fantastic. I'm meeting a lot of theatrical heroes in my dramaturgs and directors and other playwrights, so this whole experience is really next level for me.

    John Moore: What do you hope people get out of seeing your play?

    David Jacobi: I want the audience to leave with this tiny bit of hope, because that's how I always want them to leave my plays. But for this one, I really want them to think about the ways in which our economy tends to hollow out people. What are the ways in which we start treating people around us like inconveniences, like speed bumps?

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Caitlin Ryan O’Connell. The Couches. Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by Adams Viscom.The Couches: Cast list
    Written by David Jacobi
    Directed by Caitlin Ryan O’Connell (pictured right)
    Dramaturgy by Doug Langworthy
    Stage Manager: Corin Ferris
    Stage Management Apprentice: Amy LeGore

    • Ethan Couch: Nick LaMedica
    • Tonya Couch: Tasha Lawrence
    • Daniel: Cesar J. Rosado
    • Stage Directions: Alaina Beth Reel

    2018 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information
    Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25
    303-893-4100 or INFO

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: 'What makes you laugh will make you cry'
    Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

  • Summit Spotlight, Sigrid Gilmer: What makes you laugh will make you cry

    by John Moore | Feb 20, 2018

    Video by DCPA Video Producer David Lenk and Senior Arts Journalist John Moore.


    In this daily, four-part series for the DCPA NewsCenter, we will introduce you to the plays and playwrights featured at the Denver Center’s 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Over the past 13 years, 29 plays introduced at the Summit have gone to be premiered on the DCPA Theatre Company mainstage season. First up: Sigrid Gilmer of San Francisco, author of Mama Metallica.

    'Mama Metallica' is playwright's love letter to her mother, Metallica and the theater in one heavy-metal smash-up

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    John Moore: What happens in your play?

    Sigrid Gilmer: A woman named Sterling Milburn has a mother with dementia and she's coping with the grief of that through her muse: The heavy-metal band Metallica.

    John Moore: So why Metallica?

    Sigrid Gilmer: The play really is a love letter to my mom, to Metallica, and to the theater, which were the three biggest influences on me growing up.

    John Moore: Let's go through those. First, tell us a little bit about your mom.

    Sigrid Gilmer: My mom right now suffers from dementia, but she obviously didn't for most of my life. She was a single mom, so a lot of it was just the two of us hanging out. We used to travel, and she cooked a lot. It was a good childhood. But and like all mother-daughter relationships, it was complicated, and I have had to kind of negotiate and  reconcile that. The play is really me grieving somebody who's still alive.

    John Moore: Is it possible that you've managed to write a play about dementia that's actually funny?

    Sigrid Gilmer: Oh, it's super funny. I mean, what makes you laugh will make you cry, right? I think that whatever that edge of crying and laughing is, that openness, I feel like they're in the same emotional neighborhood.

    Sigrid Gilmer Quote 800


    John Moore: Why do you love heavy-metal music?

    Sigrid Gilmer: Because it's just naked aggression and rhythm and rage. And that's what I feel like on the inside.

    John Moore: How does Metallica help you deal with what's going on with your mom?

    Sigrid Gilmer: I discovered Metallica in my sophomore year of high school. I was listening to the college radio station after school one day when they played the song “Master of Puppets,” and it just blew my mind. It's a very long song about how addiction is the puppet master. It's amazing. It's orchestral. We had this giant stereo system and I remember leaning against these really huge, tall speakers. It was cranked up, and my mind was just blown.

    JMama Metallica Adams Viscom. ohn Moore: And how is your play a love letter to theatre?

    Sigrid Gilmer: I have been doing theater since I was 9, so I haven't really haven't done anything else with my life. My play is a salute to the mid-century autobiographical plays like The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, anything by Arthur Miller. Those are the first plays I ever encountered, and they are so well-made. I felt like Mama Metallica is my homage to that kind of play. (Pictured right: Courtney Sauls. Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    John Moore: So, when I hear your mother, Metallica, and mid-20th-century playwrights  … they sound like three different plays. How do they work all together in one?

    Sigrid Gilmer: Well, they're three different things, but they're all filtered through me, so it becomes one thing. They're thrown together and spliced together and smashed up against each other, and I think it makes an interesting kaleidoscope. Some of the dissidence is really quite beautiful and fun. It’s a cacophony, like a good heavy-metal jam. If you listen to any really good Metallica song like “Master of Puppets” or “Disposable Heroes,” they're long and complicated and they have different melodies and strains and rhythms running throughout them. And at some point, it all coalesces into this magnificent tapestry of sound.

    Sigrid Gilmer Mama Metallica. Photo by John Moore


    John Moore: So tell us about some of the famous characters you have written into your story.

    Sigrid Gilmer: Tennessee Williams is in it, and Eugene O'Neill, and Metallica.

    John Moore: They were all available?

    Sigrid Gilmer: They were all available — and they all wanted to be in it.

    John Moore: This is what you do in a lot of your plays. You worked Duran Duran into one of your plays, Axiom.

    Sigrid Gilmer. Mama Metallica. Photo by John MooreSigrid Gilmer: Oh, yeah! That play is about how a Duran Duran song sparks a student-worker riot in a factory. I find that pop culture is a really good way of anchoring emotion. Especially pop music, because it’s always in the background as you're living your life.

    John Moore: How did it ever occur to you to re-imagine Harriet Tubman as an action star in your play Harry and the Thief?

    Sigrid Gilmer: Oh, my God, it's so easy. I read this one anecdote about Harriet Tubman and it was that she kept a gun with her when she ferried people to the north. And when people would freak out, she would turn to them, pull the gun out and say, "You're going to be free or you're going to be dead." And I was like, "That is the best action-movie line ever." I thought, "Where is the Michael Bay production of this story?" It was kick-ass.

    John Moore: Is it true that your playwriting career started with you taking a class in college?

    Sigrid Gilmer: Oh yes, and coincidentally, the writer of (The DCPA Theatre company’s current world premiere) American Mariachi, José Cruz González, was that playwriting instructor. I think the value of taking a playwriting class is the ability to shape a world for yourself and to be able to tell whatever story you want. And to to actually know how to construct a story for the stage is powerful.

    John Moore: What would you think if someone tried to tell you that there are rules of playwriting that you should follow?

    Sigrid Gilmer: If somebody were to tell me there's one certain way to write a play, I would be thinking mean things — but I would be polite. There's no one way to tell a story. There are as many people in the world as there are ways to tell a story. Everyone has their certain way of viewing the world and negotiating and navigating that world. I mean there are certain devices and narrative structures that are helpful to know, but I think those are negotiable.

    John Moore: When did you find your own voice and know this is what you wanted to do?

    a jose-cruz-gonzalez-webSigrid Gilmer: It was actually taking that first playwriting class with Jose (pictured right). I had always known that I wanted to be in theater. I did theater, acting and directing as an undergrad until I realized that, as a black woman, there weren't going to be as many choice roles for me. Nobody was going to hand me Othello or let me play Iago — which I think is probably the best character ever created. I was really thinking of leaving theater altogether before I took that playwriting class. And when I wrote my first play, I knew this is where I belong in the theater. I got to play all the roles. I got to be everybody and make everything happen. That's an amazing feeling.

    John Moore: What are your initial thoughts on your first Colorado New Play Summit?

    Sigrid Gilmer: For me, having that second week allows the work we're doing in the first week to be less precious. We can be risky. We can take more chances knowing that if something doesn't work, we have another week to tweak it and put it back up on its feet. Having a process that's less geared toward presentation frees me up as a playwright. I think it also frees up the actors and the directors to be adventurous and find the beauty that can come out of a mess or an accident or by being haphazard. It doesn’t have to be perfect, which means there's more freedom and more breathing room. And when we try something out in front of an audience, and if it doesn't work we can just sweep that under the rug. Nobody has to know.

    John Moore: What would it mean to you if, one day, Metallica was in the audience watching this?

    Sigrid Gilmer: Oh, my God. It would just be crazy amazing. In the fantasy production in my head, Metallica's playing onstage — but it is Metallica in 1987. Dear Metallica, if you're reading this, come and be in my play.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Mama Metallica. Photo by Adams VisComMama Metallica: Cast list
    Written by Sigrid Gilmer
    Directed by Jaki Bradley
    Dramaturgy by Ricardo A. Bracho
    Stage Manager: Dana Reiland
    Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Langeberg

    • Sterling Milburn: Courtney Sauls
    • Louise Bell Milburn: Lee Sherman (pictured right, photo by Adams VisCom.)
    • James Hetfeld: Nick Ducassi
    • Lars Ulrich: Grayson DeJesus
    • Kirk Hammett: Linden Tailor
    • Cliff Burton: Adam Haas Hunter
    • Blue Orchid: Robert Lee Hardy
    • Pink Orchid: Luis Quintero
    • Stage Directions: Aspen Rader

    2018 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information Second weekend (Festival Weekend): Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25
    303-893-4100 or INFO

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit

    Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists

  • Summit prep begins at the intersection of Eugene O'Neill and Metallica

    by John Moore | Feb 13, 2018
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit Photos from the first day of the DCPA Theatre Company's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit, which features readings of new works by Sigrid Gilmer, David Jacobi, Kemp Powers and Barbara Seyda. To see more, click on the image above to be taken to our full gallery of downloadable photos. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    DCPA's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit is underway as dozens of artists begin work on four new plays 

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Preparations for the DCPA Theatre Company's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit officially got underway today with the first gathering of dozens of professional actors, playwrights, directors and other creative artists who will help to develop four promising new plays over the next two weeks.

    They will take on developing works that address systemic racism and hypocrisy in the criminal-justice system, that revisit the Challenger space disaster and an 1855 slave trial. One — no joke — explores the intersection of Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams and the heavy-metal band Metallica

    A Summit 400"We're in this rocky time in this country, in our lives and in our history," Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett (pictured right) said at the welcome gathering. "As a nation, we are trying to figure who we are and who we are going to be — and in these moments, I feel like it is so important to listen to playwrights."

    The Colorado New Play Summit, which has one public weekend of readings Feb. 17-18, followed by a second weekend attended mostly industry professionals Feb. 23-25, is the DCPA’s signature festival dedicated to supporting playwrights and developing new work for the American theatre. Garrett made a point of thanking former DCPA Theatre Company Artistic Director Kent Thompson for founding the celebration of playwrights back in 2006. The Summit comes at a time when Denver Center-born new plays are proliferating on national stages like never before. And just yesterday, it was announced that  Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride, which was born at the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit, will be made into a film starring Jim Parsons.

    Summit PlaywrightsThe 2018 Summit will feature readings of new works by (clockwise from top left) David Jacobi, Kemp Powers, Barbara Seyda and Sigrid Gilmer, alongside world-premiere productions by José Cruz González, Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee.

    The playwrights, some commissioned by the Theatre Company, are given two weeks with professional directors, actors and dramaturgs to workshop their new plays.

    "We get to hear from the mouth and the body and the heart and the soul of these vessels who bring forth their incredible ideas to remind us how much better we can be in the world," Garrett said.

    The pool of more than 35 actors is a mix of familiar names in the Colorado theatre community, returning Denver Center, visiting actors and several who currently performing in Theatre Company world premieres.

    The roster includes Colorado Theatre Guild Lifetime Achievement winner Billie McBride, legendary film and stage director donnie l. betts; Denver Center veterans Steven Cole Hughes, Emily Van Fleet, Gareth Saxe, Erin Willis, Nick LaMedica and Aspen Rader; DPCA Teaching Artists Joelle Montoya, Quinn Marchman and Robert Lee Hardy; and nearly the entire cast of Curious Theatre's current offering of Detroit '67: Jada Dixon, Cajardo Lindsey and Anastasia Davidson. She and Alaina Beth Reel recently appeared in The Catamounts’ You on the Moors Now.

    The Summit casts also include Linden Tailor from the DCPA Theatre Company's The Great Leap; Natalie Camunas from American Mariachi; and Nija Okoro, Grayson DeJesus and Nick Ducassi from Zoey's Perfect Wedding.
     
    Since its founding, the Summit has introduced 53 new plays, over half of which returned to the stage as full Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit world premieres include Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, Tanya Saracho’s FADE, Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest, Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, Karen Zacarias’ Just Like Us, Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton’s Sense and Sensibility The Musical, and Dick Scanlan’s reimagined version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    2018 FEATURED NEW-PLAY READINGS:

    2018 New Play Summit 2018 Gilmer Mama Metallica
    By Sigrid Gilmer

    Directed by Jaki Bradley
    Dramaturgy by Ricardo A. Bracho
    Stage Manager: Dana Reiland
    Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Langeberg

    Budding playwright Sterling Milburn has always been overshadowed by her fabulous mother, Louise. Even when she’s holed up in a care facility with Parkinson’s, Louise finds a way to steal the spotlight. But with the overly critical eyes of Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams to fuel her rebellion and the frenetic energy of Metallica to help find her voice, Sterling sets out to write a story that is finally her own. As unfortunate histories mesh with hilarious interludes, Sterling must face the truth: her pain, her joys and her life will forever be shaped by and linked to the woman who raised her. Sigrid Gilmer’s joyfully irreverent black comedy entwines issues of identity with pop-culture icons for a truly unique — and head-banging experience.

    Says the playwright: "The two big influences on my life have been my mom and the heavy-metal band Metallica. My play is about how those two things collide. The play is also a love letter to theatre and the tradition of those big, sweeping autobiographical mid-20th century plays by Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams."

    • Sterling Milburn: Courtney Sauls
    • Louise Bell Milburn: Lee Sherman
    • James Hetfeld: Nick Ducassi
    • Lars Ulrich: Grayson DeJesus
    • Kirk Hammett: Linden Tailor
    • Cliff Burton: Adam Haas Hunter
    • Blue Orchid: Robert Lee Hardy
    • Pink Orchid: Luis Quintero
    • Stage Directions: Aspen Rader

    2018 New Play Summit 2018 David JacobiThe Couches
    By David Jacobi

    DCPA Theatre Company Commission
    Directed by Caitlin Ryan O’Connell
    Dramaturgy by Doug Langworthy
    Stage Manager: Corin Ferris
    Stage Management Apprentice: Amy LeGore

    Ethan Couch has lived in a bubble of pampered privilege for his entire life, so when he’s convicted of killing four people while driving drunk, he and his mother take $40,000 and flee to a resort in Mexico rather than face the consequences. In this self-imposed state of limbo, Ethan pays hotel clerk Daniel $1,000 to be his friend and help maintain the facade of his prior life. But as the unlikely pair drink, sing, and stumble through the night, delusions of how the world works melt away as quickly as their cash flow. Playwright David Jacobi draws from the infamous real-life 2013 “affluenza” court case to weave a surreal story of personal and legal recklessness.

    Says the playwright: "Ethan Couch came from a rich family and he a had a great lawyer who argued that Ethan was too rich to know right from wrong. I was enraged when he went on the run, but when he was caught, I felt like this was a really interesting idea of late-stage capitalism: These people hiding out in this antiseptic place waiting for justice. And the play devolves into this Lynchian nightmare. ... I think it's funny." 

    • Ethan Couch: Nick LaMedica
    • Tonya Couch: Tasha Lawrence
    • Daniel: Cesar J. Rosado
    • Stage Directions: Alaina Beth Reel



    2018 New Play Summit 2018 Kemp PowersChrista McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue
    By Kemp Powers
    A DCPA Theatre Company Commission

    Directed by Nicholas C. Avila
    Dramaturgy by Jerry Patch
    Stage Manager: Rick Mireles
    Stage Management Apprentice: Mariah Brown

    Even though they share the same DNA, twins Steven and Bernard have lived drastically different lives. The big reason? One is plagued by racism because of his dark skin while the other passes as white. Steven spent his childhood fitting in with fellow classmates and is now a successful attorney. Though he was an extraordinarily bright student who had his eyes on outer space, Bernard’s future is as dismal as the Challenger Space Shuttle that once inspired him. As he prepares for trial and potential jail time, Bernard must face his childhood bully behind the judge’s bench and confront his brother’s advantages. Following his DCPA audience favorite One Night in Miami…, playwright Kemp Powers’ piercing meditation on race and privilege targets the circumstances that can change a child’s destiny.

    Says the playwright: "This really happens through a wonder of genetics where one twin comes out looking completely black and the other comes out looking completely white. And in the days leading up to the Challenger disaster in 1986, these two brothers had a massive falling out. I wanted to explore how family so often manages to let each other down — with a racial context added. When the Challenger exploded, every schoolkid in America was watching live on television because Christa McAuliffe was the first schoolteacher to go into space, and that launch was supposed to symbolize where we were going as a society. Ultimately, this is a play about bullying and the issue of nature vs. nurture."   
    • Bernard “Bear” Gentry: Tobie Windham
    • Steven “Sevvy” Gentry: Allen E. Read
    • Joseph “Joey” Martinelli: Bradley Fleischer
    • Mr. B: Brian Shea
    • Migdalia: Natalie Camunas
    • Rich: Quinn Marchman
    • Summer: Anastasia Davidson
    • Stage Directions: Joelle Montoya


    2018 New Play Summit 2018 Barbara SeydaCelia, A Slave
    By Barbara Seyda

    Directed by Nataki Garrett
    Dramaturgy by Sydne Mahone
    Stage Manager: Heidi Echtenkamp
    Stage Management Apprentice: Molly Becerra

    In 1855, 19-year-old African-American slave Celia was convicted of killing her master and hanged. Her story became known as a notorious failure of justice in American history, but to truly understand its significance, look to the people of Calloway County who experienced it all. Using oral histories and official records as her guide, playwright Barbara Seyda investigates the event with a tapestry of interviews with the dead. This stunningly evocative play illuminates the brutal realities of female slave life in the pre-Civil War South as it resurrects a panorama of real people on stage. The piece won the Yale Drama Series playwriting competition.

    Says the playwright: "One of my structural prototypes was Fires in the Mirror, which was Anna Deavere Smith's response to the Crown Heights riot that took place in Brooklyn in 1991. She does this amazing integration of performance and public ritual and journalism, using the stage as a portal of truth. My themes include systemic racism and slave litigation."

    • Jingo: Cajardo Lindsey
    • Ulysses a.k.a. Uncle Pee Wee: donnie l. betts
    • George : Jacob Gibson
    • Justice Abiel Leonard / John Jameson: Gareth Saxe
    • Polly Newsom / Virginia Waynescot: Emily Van Fleet
    • David Newsom / Dr. Hockley Yong / Benjamin Sheets / Felix Bartey: Jake Horowitz
    • Viola / Solace: Nija Okoro
    • William Powell / Judge William Augustus Hall / Higgler: Steven Cole Hughes
    • Mildred Louisa Rollins: Billie McBride
    • Bethena / Euphrates: Jada Dixon
    • Celia: Celeste M. Cooper
    • Vine: Tihun Hann
    • Matt: Owen Zitek
    • Coffee Waynescot: Tristan Champion Regini
    • Aunt Winnie / Stage Directions: Erin Willis

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    The 13th Annual Colorado New Play Summit

    Launch Weekend: Feb. 17-18
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 23-25
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit
    2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced
    Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 student playwriting finalists


  • Denver-born 'Georgia McBride' to be a film starring Jim Parsons

    by John Moore | Feb 12, 2018
    Georgia McBride. Matt McGrath and Jamie Ann Romero. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.

    Ben Huber and Jamie Ann Romero were part of the world-premiere cast that launched  'The Legend of Georgia McBride' for the DCPA Theatre Company in 2014. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    The Big Bang Theory star will both co-star and produce film about an Elvis impersonator who turns to drag for money

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Stage and screen star Jim Parsons will co-star and produce a feature-film version of Matthew Lopez’s Denver Center-born play The Legend of Georgia McBride, according to multiple news reports today. The film rights have been acquired by New Regency and Fox 2000, according to Variety.

    Matthew LopezLopez, whose play Zoey's Perfect Wedding is now performing in the Denver Center's Space Theatre through Feb. 25, will adapt the screenplay. Upon completion, Georgia McBride will become only the second DCPA Theatre Company world-premiere play to be made into a feature film, following HBO's The Laramie Project.

    The Legend of Georgia McBride is about a broke young Elvis impersonator and father who turns to drag to feed his growing family. The play was chosen by former Artistic Director Kent Thompson to be introduced at the Denver Center’s 2013 Colorado New Play Summit and was fully staged the next year under the direction of Mike Donahue — who is also the director of Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.

    JimParsons160Parsons, star of TV’s The Big Bang Theory and who will return to Broadway this season in The Boys in the Band, will play the role of Miss Tracy Mills, a veteran drag queen who coaches a young man named Casey in the art of drag. The role was originated in Denver by Matt McGrath.

    The Big Bang Theory
    has been renewed for a 12th season and has garnered a spinoff series called Young Sheldon. Parsons most recently starred opposite Claire Danes in the play A Kid Like Jake, which coincidentally will be presented in Denver by Benchmark Theatre, opening Friday (Feb. 16) at the former Edge Theatre in Lakewood.

    Mathew Lopez: America could use a laugh right now

    Parsons will produce the film with Todd Spiewak via their That’s Wonderful Productions banner, according to Variety. Eric Norsoph will executive produce and oversee the project, and Fox will distribute the feature film.

    Matt McGrath in 'The Legend of Georgia McBride.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. DCPA Theatre Company Managing Director Charles Varin said because the play was originally produced by the Theatre Company, the Denver Center owns a small percentage of the property's subsidiary rights. Most significantly, that means the film's end credits will acknowledge that the work was developed and first presented in Denver.

    "It's exciting that Matthew is now getting recognized as an accomplished writer in many different ways — stage, TV and now film," Varin said. "His time has come, and we are proud to have been part of his journey."

    (Pictured above and right: Matt McGrath originated the role of Miss Tracy Mills, who will be played in the film by Jim Parsons. The original cast in Denver also included Ben Huber, Jamie Ann Romero and Nick Mills. Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Lopez, the Denver Center's Playwright in Residence for the 2014-15 season, is currently in London for the March 2 premiere of his highly anticipated two-part play The Inheritance at The Young Vic. The epic play takes a panoramic view of gay life in New York today in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis depicted in Tony Kushner’s sprawling Angels in America. Lopez posted the news on his Instagram account saying he was “happy and proud” for the news.

    DCPA Theatre Company taking new plays to new level

    Last year, The Legend of Georgia McBride  became the most-produced new Denver Center work since Quilters in 1982. After Georgia McBride was fully staged in Denver, Lopez continued to fine-tune the script as it had subsequent stagings at the MCC Theater in New York City and the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. In all, 10 companies from California to Florida staged the pay in 2018, with at least four more slated for 2018.

    “We couldn’t be happier for Matthew,” said Doug Langworthy, the Denver Center’s Director of New Play Development. “Georgia McBride was such a big-hearted success here, and I’m sure filmgoers will love it as much as our audiences did.”

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center's Senior Arts Journalist. News reports contributed to this report,

    Video: Your first look at Zoey's Perfect Wedding

    Your first look at 'Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.' Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Zoey's Perfect Wedding
    :
    Ticket information
    Zoey_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. Like a car crash you can’t look away from, watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    • Presented by the DCPA Theatre Company
    • Performances Through Feb. 25
    • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Tickets start at $30
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

    Video: Director on how perfect Zoey's Perfect Wedding is

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Zoey's Perfect Wedding:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • February openings: 'Hamilton,' a Summit and a new $60 million jewel for Colorado Springs

    by John Moore | Feb 01, 2018
    February Arvada Center Electric Baby. Matt Gale Photography

    Jessica Robblee and Abner Genece in the Arvada Center's magical realism play 'The Electric Baby. Matt Gale Photography 2018.


    R-E-S-P-E-CT, Colorado theatre: You have provided 82 theatregoing options in the shortest month of the year

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Hamilton.

    OK, there is a lot more than that going on in local theatre in February. At the Denver Center alone (in addition to that eagerly awaited national touring production) there will be three consecutive world-premiere plays: Zoey's Perfect Wedding, American Mariachi and The Great Leap that will be the cornerstone of the upcoming Colorado New Play Summit that was just named among the top 20 theatre festivals in the world. Also: STOMP's eighth Denver visit, and the musical comedy First Date continues at the Galleria Theatre. (Go to denvercenter.org for info on all of them.)

    And then there is ... the rest of the state. Now try to keep up ... but we warn you, it won't be easy — because the shortest month of the year may be presenting the most theatre offerings of any month ... ever. We're talking 34 openings and a whopping 83 theatregoing options overall, counting a huge number of special events. In 28 days.

    Here are just a few highlights outside the Denver Performing Arts Complex, followed by a comprehensive list of all your Colorado theatregoing options for February:

    Ten intriguing titles for February:

    NUMBER 1Oklahoma! All eyes will be on Colorado Springs this month for the opening of the jaw-dropping $60 million Ent Center for the Arts on the campus of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. The new home of the venerable TheatreWorks and several other performing groups is a 92,000-square-foot building with multiple performance and gallery spaces. It officially launches with TheatreWorks' presentation of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in a sparkling new theatre with a familiar name to TheatreWorks audiences: The Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater. Feb. 15-March 11 at 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org.

    NUMBER 2Respect: A Musical Journey of Women. Cherry Creek Theatre's musical tribute to women is being billed as the company's show of support for the #MeToo Movement. It's an all-female production: Directors, cast, crew and playwright. That's Dorothy Marcic, who will be in attendance for both the evening performance on Saturday, Feb. 3, and the matinee on Sunday, Feb. 4. The show is co-directed and choreographed by longtime Denver Center favorite Shannan Steele with a cast that includes big-shots Sharon Kay White, Rachel Turner, Sarah Rex, Anna High and co-director Traci Kern. The Top-40 score includes "I Will Survive," "These Boots are Made for Walking," "What's Love Got to Do with it" and many more. NOTE: No Friday performances — and evening shows start at 7 p.m. Feb. 1-25 at the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    NUMBER 3Intimate Apparel. The newly merged Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College brings revered playwright Lynn Nottage's breakout work to southern Colorado for the first time. Nottage, who later won Pulitzer Prizes for Ruined and Sweat, here tells an intensely personal story that weaves the joys and sorrows of an African-American seamstress in 1905 New York City. Feb. 8-25 at 30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    NUMBER 4Crying Wolf: Stories of the Lupus Warriors. Rhonda Jackson's new  play, presented by The Source Theatre Company (which has grown up in the shadow of the former Shadow Theatre Company) is an attempt to document what it's like to live with a chronic autoimmune disease such as  lupus. For mature audiences. Feb. 8-17 at Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    NUMBER 5 The Electric Baby. The Arvada Center's second full repertory season kicks into full gear with Stefanie Zadravec's adult folktale about six strangers whose lives collide after a tragic car accident, forcing them to confront their secrets, hopes and fears. At the play’s center is a mysterious baby who glows like the moon. The play, directed by Rick Barbour of the University of Denver, combines magic, myth and humor to explore devastating loss and hopeful healing. Running Feb. 9-May 4 and in repertory with Sense and Sensibility and All My Sons (opening March 2) at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    NUMBER 6Waiting for the Parade William A. CottonWaiting for the Parade. Playwright John Murrell's 1977 fact-based drama introduces five very different women who find a way to survive by working together and accepting one another’s differences during the depths of World War II in 1940s Calgary. It's based on interviews with wartime survivors. Co-directed by Ami Dayan and Lou Ann Wright. Feb. 3-March 4 at the Bas Bleu Theatre, 401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org (Photo by William A. Cotton)

    NUMBER 7JANE/EYRE. Denver, meet the Grapefruit Lab, a new performance company that debuts with a queer adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel with live original music by Teacup Gorilla and Dameon Merkl (of the Denver band Bad Luck City). Adapted by author, musician and True West Award winner Miriam Suzanne, along with former LIDA Project director Julie Rada. Their  hybrid play/concert takes a dark and often humorous look at early feminism — bringing a contemporary, queer perspective to Jane’s story. Feb. 23-March 3 at The Bakery, 2132 Market St., eventbrite.com

    NUMBER 8Wisdom from Everything. The latest provocative offering from Boulder's Local Theater Company asks: What you would sacrifice to escape a war? Chicago playwright Mia McCullough's story presents a 19-year-old Syrian who finds herself educating girls in the largest refugee camp in the world — until an older Jordanian doctor offers her an education in exchange for marriage. The primo cast includes  Amy Carle (known for her work on "Chicago MED" and for the Goodman and Steppenwolf theatres) and Mehry Eslaminia, who performed in the DCPA Theatre Company's world-premiere play Appoggiatura. Feb. 28-March 26 at The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

    Fun Home is finding a home on stages all over Colorado

    NUMBER 9The Book Handlers. Buntport Theater's newest original creation in its 17th season of original creations is a world-premiere comedy about a handy service that will make your books look read, even though they haven't been. Because, you know ... who reads anymore? This fun satire is inspired by a short story written by Brian O'Nolan. Feb. 23-March 17 at 717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    NUMBER 10A Kid Like Jake. Benchmark Theatre moves into its permanent new home at the former Edge Theatre with Daniel Pearle’s 2013 play that explores the conflict that grows between a married couple when it becomes plain their 4-year-old prefers Cinderella to GI Joe. Directed by Warren Sherrill. The Lakewood theatre has been renamed The Bench at 40W. Feb. 16-March 25 at 1560 Teller St., benchmarktheatre.com

    DCPA February listings
    Photo of 'American Mariachi' by Adams Viscom.

     

    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of upcoming theatre openings, spotlighting work being presented on stages statewide. Companies are encouraged to submit listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    Feb. 1-25: Cherry Creek Theatre's Respect: A Musical Journey of Women
    At the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    Feb. 1-4: UpstART's Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    604 Clinton St., Ridgway, 81432, 970-325-3501or http://www.upstartmoves.org

    Feb. 2-25: DCPA Theatre Company’s American Mariachi
    Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Feb. 2-March 11: Vintage Theatre's Sleuth (with Lowry's Spotlight Theatre)
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Feb. 2-17: Longmont Theatre Company's Steel Magnolias
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Seussical Ben Griffin and Melissa Morris. Matt Gale Photography 2018Feb. 2-May 25: Arvada Center Children's Theatre's Seussical
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    (Pictured at right: Ben Griffin and Melissa Morris. Matt Gale Photography 2018)

    Feb. 3-March 4: Bas Bleu Theatre's Waiting for the Parade
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Feb. 3-March 3: Miners Alley Children's Theatre’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Feb. 8-25: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College’s Intimate Apparel
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Feb. 8-17: The Source Theatre Company’s Crying Wolf: Stories of the Lupus Warriors
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    Feb. 8-18: Millibo Art Theatre's Cake
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, themat.org

    Feb. 9-March 18: DCPA Theatre Company’s The Great Leap
    Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Feb. 9-May 4: Arvada Center's The Electric Baby
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Feb. 9-25: 5280 Artists Co-op's Colorism
    At the Aurora Cultural Arts District Building, 1400 Dallas St., Aurora, 720-432-9162 or 5280ArtistCoop.com

    Feb. 9-11: National touring production of Shen Yun
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 888-316-4234 or shenyunperformingarts.org

    Feb. 9-Aug. 11: Iron Springs Chateau’s A Precious Bit of the West, or: She Was Simply a Delight!
    444 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 719-685-5104 or ironspringschateau.com

    Feb. 13-18: National touring production of STOMP
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 15-March 4, 2018: Springs Ensemble Theatre's The Totalitarians
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 80909, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Feb. 15-March 11: Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Oklahoma
    At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Feb. 16-March 25: Benchmark Theatre's A Kid Like Jake
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, benchmarktheatre.com

    Feb. 16-24: Theatrix USA's Call Me Mrs. Evers
    At the Lakewood Cultural/Heritage Center, theatrixdenver.com




    Feb. 17-25: DCPA Theatre Company’s Colorado New Play Summit
    Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 17-March 17: Firehouse Theatre's Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehousetheatercompany.com  

    Feb. 22-March 4: Colorado Springs TheatreWorks' Trouble in Tahiti
    At the Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Feb. 22-March 10: Thunder River Theatre Company's The Price
    67 Promenade, Carbondale, 970-963-8200 or thunderrivertheatre.com

    Feb. 22-April 8: The BiTSY Stage’s Jotunheim: A Legend of Thor and His Hammer
    1137 S. Huron St., 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com

    Feb. 23-March 17: Buntport Theater's The Book Handlers
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    Feb. 23-March 25: Town Hall Arts Center's Something’s Afoot
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Feb. 23-March 18: Aurora Fox's Real Women Have Curves
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Feb. 23-April 15: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Kiss Me Kate
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Feb. 23-March 10: Coal Creek Theater of Louisville’s Becky Shaw
    Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant St., 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org

    Feb. 23-March 3: Grapefruit Lab's JANE/EYRE
    The Bakery, 2132 Market St., eventbrite.com

    Company Evergreen Chorale Feb. 23-March 11: Evergreen Chorale's Company
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4002 or evergreenchorale.org

    Feb. 27-April 1: National touring production of Hamilton
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Feb. 28-March 26: Local Theater Company's Wisdom from Everything
    At The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

     

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Feb. 3: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre's Rumors
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Through Feb. 3: Funky Little Theatre Company's The Bigot
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    Through Feb. 4: Town Hall Arts Center's Peter and the Starcatcher
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Through Feb. 4: Theatrix USA's Kiss
    At Dobrin Studios, 931 Santa Fe Drive, theatrixdenver.com

    Through Feb. 10: Aurora Fox's Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Through Feb 11: Inspire Creative's The Little Mermaid
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or inspirecreative.org

    Through Feb. 11: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Building the Wall
    At the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, Silverthorne,  970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Through Feb. 11: StageDoor Theatre's The 39 Steps
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Through Feb. 14: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Beauty and the Beast
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Feb. 17: OpenStage Theatre Company's The Crucible
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Through Feb. 17: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits
    At  121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Through Feb. 17: Equinox Theatre Company's Evil Dead: The Musical
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Through Feb. 18: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Guards at the Taj
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    Through Feb. 18: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com READ MORE

    Through Feb. 18: BDT Stage's Motones vs. Jerseys
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com (Sundays only)

    Through Feb. 24: Curious Theatre's Detroit 67
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org READ MORE

    Through Feb. 24: BDT Stage's Annie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through Feb. 24: Avenue Theater's Comedy Sportz
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com READ MORE

    Through Feb. 25: DCPA Theatre Company’s Zoey’s Perfect Wedding
    Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    SophieDotsonAbigaleKochevarandSusannahMcLeod Fun Home. Photo by Sarah Roshan.Through March 4: Miners Alley Playhouse's Fun Home
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com READ MORE

    (Pictured: Susannah McLeod, Sophie Dotson and Abigail Kochevar. Photo by Sarah Roshan.)

    Through March 17: Midtown Arts Center's Fun Home
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, (970) 225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com READ MORE

    Through March 25: Midtown Arts Center's Always ... Patsy Cline
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through April 22: DCPA Cabaret’s First Date
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through May 6: Arvada Center's Sense and Sensibility
    Studio Theatre, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

     

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    Sharon KayAURORA FOX ARTS CENTER

    • Feb. 16 and 18: True West Award-winning performer Sharon Kay White is the featured artist this month in the Aurora Fox's ongoing cabaret series in its studio theatre. In the shadow of Valentine’s Day, White weaves tales and music through a journey of love, loss, joy, heartbreak, relationships, realities and absurdities.

    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurora fox.org


    BUG THEATRE
    • Feb. 15: The Emerging Filmmakers Project, showcasing Denver's indie film scene on the third Thursday of every month. This month's program will honor local actress Stacy Farrar, who was murdered along with her son by her husband last May.
    • Feb. 26: Freak Train: Open-mic variety show hosted by GerRee Hinshaw on the final Monday of every month

    3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or bugtheatre.info


    BUNTPORT THEATRE


    THE CATAMOUNTS
    • Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 10-11: FEED: Love (an theatrical examination of the journey from our youthful ideals of love, to the more hard-won truths of adulthood — served with a four-course meal and live music by Wes Watkins, formerly of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. 7 p.m.
    At VOCO Studios, 3700 Franklin St., Denver. feedlove.brownpapertickets.com


    Leonard BernsteinCOLORADO COLLEGE
    • Feb. 22-24: Leonard Bernstein at 100, a three-day symposium examining the  composer, conductor and performer as one of the most celebrated figures of the 20th century. Includes and interview with oldest daughter Jamie Bernstein and keynote address by a Bernstein scholar. Registration is limited to 450 attendees and is required by Feb. 15 to attend any events on the conference program.
    At Colorado College’s Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs


    DAIRY ARTS CENTER

    • Thursday, Feb. 8: Every discipline of the arts will be represented in a single evening at this fundraiser for the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder. With food stations, craft beverages, a live DJ and surprises. Performers include Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance with Spinphony, The work of Stacey Steers, Maya and Goddess Here Productions and comedian John "Hippieman" Novosad. 6 p.m.
    2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    DUMBANDDUMBER

    DENVER ACTORS FUND

    • Sunday, Feb. 18: Screening of the film Dumb and Dumber starring with live entertainment from Backstage Breckenridge Theatre's upcoming original party musical Totally Awesome '80s Ski Town USA. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7

    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com

    Bruce Montgomery 300EVERGREEN PLAYERS

    • Feb. 2 and 10: The Big B.M. (A one-man bio-comedy featuring Bruce Montgomery, pictured at right)

    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org


    MILLIBO ART THEATRE
    • Feb. 3-4: The Dinosaur Show (for kids)
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org


    THEATRE MADE IN BOULDER FESTIVAL
    • Continuing through Feb. 10: Staged readings, low-tech productions and free public workshops from local artists. Featured production: How To Screw Up Your Life! by Ami Dayan
    • Feb. 4: Trans/Actions, by K. Woodzick and Ayla Sullivan
    • Feb. 4: What Happens in the Dark, by Kristofer Buxton
    • Feb. 11: Rooted, by Joy Barber
    • Feb. 11: Laura and Ibsen, by Susan Flakes
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org


    THEATREWORKS

    • Saturday, Feb. 3: Grand opening of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs’ Ent Center for the Arts, including dedication ceremonies and performances throughout the building, including  the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale, Theatreworks, UCCS Music Program and UCCS Theatre and Dance Program.
    Located off Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, uccs.edu/entgala


    PARKER ARTS

    • Saturday, Feb. 17: Comedy & Cocktails: Nancy Norton, an evening of stand-up comedy that marks the re-opening of the newly remodeled Schoolhouse Theater. 8 p.m.
    Schoolhouse Theater, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave.,, Parker, 303-805-6800 or parkerarts.org

    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY
    • Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org


    STORIES ON STAGE
    • Sunday, Feb. 11: Love & Marriage, 1:30 and 6:30 p.m.
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive,  303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

    Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater. This month: “The Big Cat,” by Louise Erdrich, read by Timothy McCracken; “Madame Lazarus,” by Maile Meloy, read by Randy Moore; and “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage,” by Anne Patchett; read by Mare Trevathan

    VINTAGE THEATRE
    • Feb. 14: Same Time, Next Year (reading featuring Andrew and Kelly Uhlenhopp)
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com
  • Authentic voices: DCPA Education names 2018 playwriting finalists

    by John Moore | Jan 17, 2018
    scenesters_finalists_011618 800

    The winning plays, taking on a wide array of topical issues, will be read at the Colorado New Play Summit

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts today announced the finalists for its fifth annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition for Colorado high-school students:

    • Emmaleth Ryan, Grandview High School: Sleep No More, about a young woman who decides to commit suicide until she is reminded of the resilience of the human spirit. Says Ryan: “I learned more about how to grapple with life by writing a character who has fought her demons and won.” MEET EMMALETH
    • Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel, Vista Peak Preparatory: Technical Difficulties is a comedy about a high-school theatre production that has been seized by vengeful understudies. Say the self-described techies: When the lights, sound or even just the ambience we help create draws ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the audience, it is mystical for us. It feeds the hunger of our inner artist.” MEET JULIANNA AND TRINELL
    • Noah Jackson, Girls Athletic Leadership School: Wine Colored Lip Gloss, about a teenager dealing with gender-identity problems and how to tell his parents about it. Says Jackson: “I learned how to take advice on social situations from my own characters, which actually helped me through a lot of problems I've faced.” MEET NOAH
    2017 Student Playwriting_John MooreAfter week-long workshops and mentoring from nationally acclaimed playwrights, the winning playwrights will have their scripts read by professional actors at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, in The Conservatory Theatre. Finalists also receive a $250 cash scholarship and complimentary pass to all Summit activities.


    (Pictured: A reading of a student play at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The finalists were chosen from a field of 153 submissions, after which 10 semifinalists were named. Director of Education Allison Watrous noted that the entries covered a much more substantive range of important topics this year, including sexual abuse, gender identity, suicide, homelessness, child abuse race relations and addiction.

    "We are so inspired by the quality and the depth of the writing this year," said Watrous. "These writers are exploring the fullest potential of the art form through their use of poetry and nuanced dialogue. These extraordinary playwrights are writing with distinct, authentic and brave voices. We are honored to nurture and empower these emerging voices of the American theatre."

    Starting last fall, DCPA Education faculty Finalists quote 2018 Scenesterstaught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state. The subsequent submissions judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals.

    In addition to the Summit reading, each teacher of the finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    After the Colorado New Play Summit, one of the three scripts will be selected for full production during DCPA Education’s 2018 summer program.

    “These young playwrights are the next generation of theatre. It is our responsibility and our privilege to encourage them and give them the tools to succeed,” Watrous said. “We launched the one-act play playwriting competition in 2013 to nurture Colorado’s promising young playwrights, create new plays and inspire creativity.

    "In just five years, we’ve been overwhelmed with the response: 730 submissions and more than 13,500 students served through the program, giving voice to the next generation of American theatre.”

    It's worth noting that at this time of pronounced gender disparity in the American theatre, the DCPA's statewide playwriting competition has, by a blind judging draw, produced 70 percent female semifinalists in its first five years (39 of 56.) 

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:

    In addition to the previously announced finalists listed above, the judges singled out two entries for honorable mention:
    • Los Amorios by Catalin Varela, Castle View High School
    • This Play is Literally Impossible to Perform by Caroline Storey, Compass Montessori High School
    The coordinator of the DCPA's  student playwriting program is 2017 True West Award winner Claudia Carson. The sponsors are Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Emmaleth Ryan, Grandview High School

    by John Moore | Jan 16, 2018
    2018 The Scenesters Emmaleth Ryan

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 10: EMMALETH RYAN

    • Class: Senior
    • School: Grandview High School
    • Teacher: Brianna Lindahl
    • Your play title: Sleep No More
    • What is your play about? A girl is fighting demons both within and without herself, and she decides to end the battle by committing suicide. However, her course is interrupted by another young woman who reminds her of the resilience of the human spirit.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? I was inspired by the sudden influx of suicide-related media that I felt misrepresented or glorified depression and suicide (namely the TV show 13 Reasons Why and the song 1-800-273-8255 by Logic.) I've struggled with depression and I know many people who have fought against bullying, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. This play was written as an attempt to honor, but not glorify, that struggle. The title of my play was taken from a line in Macbeth: "Sleep no more, Macbeth does murder sleep." This reference was a vague parallel between Macbeth, who becomes a tyrannical king, and the tyrant of my play, as they both ruin the peace of the innocent.
    • Yara Shahidi ScenestersFavorite word that appears in your script: Visceral.
    • Killer casting: If I had any kind of influence, my first choice for playing the Princess would be Yara Shahidi. She is a known social activist, and I'm endlessly impressed by the way she uses her intelligence and popularity to promote social justice in spite of her youth. She is the type of person I hoped to exemplify when writing the Princess. Additionally, she seems like a wonderful person to work with, and she's gorgeous.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? Writing this play brought me a great deal of peace. I spent a long time in the mindset of the Warrior, who is intelligent and spirited but sunk too deep in her misery to truly see reality as it is. Her role wasn't difficult to write. Writing the Princess was far more challenging, as she is meant to be the inspiring antagonist to the Warrior's suicidal thoughts. In the play, she has been kicked around by the world, but her response was not to hide but to fight back. This response was enlightening to me, and I learned more about how to grapple with life by writing a character who has fought her demons and won.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters Quote Emmaleth Ryan

    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists (to date):
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    A look back: Our profiles of all 10 of the 2017 semifinalists:

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Callista Zaronias

    by John Moore | Jan 15, 2018
    A 2018 Scenesters Callista Zaronias 800

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 9: CALLISTA ZARONIAS

    • Class: Senior
    • School: Peak to Peak Charter School, Lafayette
    • Teacher: Kristie Letter
    • Your play title: Invisible Scars
    • What is your play about? It's about a woman who has been sexually abused and struggles with what it means in her current life. It shows the internal conflict with her conscience as she fights to come to terms with the abuse.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Sexual abuse is a tragicjennifer-lawrence event and a much too common issue in today’s society. Many women are now voicing their stories of sexual abuse in the media. These women inspired me to help bring even more attention to sexual abuse. No one deserves to be abused, and no one should feel the need to keep quiet about it. Everyone deserves a voice, and I hope that my play can help others find their voice, too.
    • Favorite word that appears in your script: Naive.
    • Killer casting: I would cast Jennifer Lawrence as Nicole's Conscience because of her spunky humor, and her real and gritty personality.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? That creative expression can come in many different forms. I also learned that words can have different meaning when they're written versus when they are said, and that difference can make plays uniquely powerful.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    2018 Scenesters Callista Zaronias quote


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Noah Jackson

    by John Moore | Jan 14, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Noah Jackson

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 8: NOAH JACKSON

    • Class: Senior
    • School: Girls Athletic Leadership School
    • Teacher: Amanda Flageolle
    • Your play title: Wine Colored Lip Gloss
    • What is your play about? A teenager named Lucca is dealing with gender-identity problems and how to tell his parents about it while his mother has her own issues with alcoholism.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? At first my play was inspired by my own struggles, but as it developed it strayed from that. Still, the underlying themes are based off things I have personally dealt with and was inspired by.
    • aubreyplazaFavorite word that appears in your script: Wonky!
    • Killer casting: I would cast Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) as Fey, not only because I love her with all of my soul, but because her sense of humor and style and sass would be perfect for Fey.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? A lot about myself. I learned how to take advice on social situations from my own characters, which actually helped me through a lot of problems I've faced. I've also learned that playwriting is a very, very long process.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    2018 Scenesters quote noah jackson


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel

    by John Moore | Jan 13, 2018
    2018 scenesters Julianna Luce and Trinell Samuel

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTERS NO. 7:
    JULIANNA LUCE AND TRINELL SAMUEL

    • Class: Seniors
    • School: Vista Peak Prep High School, Aurora
    • Teacher: Heathe Stecklein
    • Your play title: Technical Difficulties
    • What is your play about? It's a comedy about a group of theatre students who encounter every techie's worst nightmare: Their show has been seized by vengeful understudies. This is a production that tests that old cliché “the show must go on.” With power from the Techie Gods, will these techies save their show?
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Two years ago, we were asked to write a one-act play together as a part of a theatre class. With little writing experience, we struggled for a long time to think of script ideas until we realized we should just write about what we knew. We are both technicians in the Vista Peak theatre department, and knew it was a unique atmosphere for storytelling. What does every techie fear? A bad show. We began to write, and thus came Technical Difficulties.
    • Favorite word that appears in your scriptPizzazz!
    • michael ceraKiller casting: We would cast Michael Cera as Todd because he perfectly exudes a corny, nerdy, and awkward kid while still being inexplicably lovable. You subconsciously want to protect him, but also want to see him be brave. These same personality traits shape our character Todd.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? We learned just how fun creating a story can be, and how it can help open your eyes to situations you never really think about. We learned that the starving/striving artist mindset can be very different for  actors as opposed to technicians. The love and the utter need to be on stage could drive an actor insane, while working being behind the scenes can make you feel as if your work is not being acknowledged. As techies, we wanted to explore those different mindsets in our play. We love the hidden aspect of our jobs. We love the idea that people who only come to see a play never see all the work that went into it backstage. But when the lights, sound or even just the ambience that we help create draws "oohs" and "aahs" from the audience, it is mystical for us techies. That might not seem like enough to an actor. But it feeds the hunger of our inner artist.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters 2018 Quote Technical Difficulties


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Micah James Wilborn

    by John Moore | Jan 12, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Micah James Wilborn

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 5: MICAH JAMES WILBORN

    • Class: Senior
    • School: Air Academy High School, Colorado Springs
    • Teacher: Susan Manst
    • Your play title: A World Out There
    • What is your play about? Jack is a young boy orphaned by a sickness that also  took many others. When Brooke comes across his makeshift home, a newfound friendship is born and they begin to learn more about themselves than ever before. Only with each other's help can they overcome their greatest obstacle: Their pasts.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? A couple of close friends inspired the characters, while the storyline comes from a dystopian take on our world today. Some of the main characters' interactions are based off conversations I have had or overheard while writing this.
    • Daniel_HuttlestoneFavorite word that appears in your scriptQuarantine!
    • Killer casting: Daniel Huttlestone as Jack. Though it wouldn't be the first time he's played a "Jack," this role might show some differences from the Jack he played in Into the Woods! He seems the perfect age, and his image is actually what I had in my head while working on my Jack's character.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? That my own ideas can grow into something so much bigger, if I let them. This started out as a sentence and grew into a full-blown one-act musical. That is because I had an idea, and I stuck with it and, with some nurturing, of course, let it grow. For that opportunity alone, I am eternally grateful.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Quote Micah Scenesters

    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Gemma Vincent

    by John Moore | Jan 11, 2018
    Scenesters 2018 Gemma Vincent

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 5: GEMMA VINCENT

    • Class: Junior
    • School: Gunnison High School
    • Your play title: The Girl In The Yellow Dress
    • What is your play about? It follows Kade, a boy full of grief and sorrow and animosity toward not just life, but the rain itself. It isn't until a mysterious girl in a yellow dress appears through the dewdrops that Kade’s outlook on life, and his hatred for rain, is changed.
    • Audrey HepburnFavorite word that appears in your script: Lugubrious!
    • Killer casting: I would cast Audrey Hepburn in the role of Daisy Amya, as she was in her own way, and in other roles she played, eccentric and whimsical. She was one of my favorite actresses.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? This play has been a part of me for some time now. In having a rough couple of years health-wise, I have found something of a lifeline in my imagination of this world within the play, and in creating the characters. This play, and these characters have become close to my heart. In the rough patches in my life, I have been able to escape into words and writing and developing a story.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    2018 Scenester quote Gemma Vincent


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Katanu Mwendwa

    by John Moore | Jan 10, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Katanu Mwendwa

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTER NO. 4: KATANU MWENDWA

    • Class: Freshman
    • SchoolDSST: Conservatory Green High School
    • Teacher: Nate Reaven
    • Your play title: Don’t Be Fooled By Murphy Manor
    • What is your play about? In 1959, a murder happened at Murphy Manor. Now, fifty-nine years later, three girls — Lee-Ann, Aliana and Freddy — team up with the ghost of Jeanne Randall to solve her murder. Along the way, they discover truths they never imagined possible, and rediscover their pasts.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? It was actually during our finals testing, when we were told to write an essay about Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King Jr. Once finished, I considered the possibility of writing about the 1950s, right around when protests were starting to grow.
    • Favorite words that appear in your script: Flutter Bum.
    • ChinaAnneMcClainKiller casting: If I could cast one known actor in my play, I would choose China Ann McClain to play Jeanne Randall. Based on what I’ve seen, I think her personality is similar to Jeanne’s. She also looks like what I had in mind for Jeanne as well. I would also cast Jasmine Cephas Jones (Hamilton) to play Lee-Ann Rivera. because she looks and sounds exactly like what I envisioned for Lee-Ann.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? How to create dimensional characters who are likable, but still have their own individual flaws and ideas that separate them from one another. I also learned a lot about the 1950s, For example, that the album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis came out around the same time the story took place.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    ScenesterQuote42018


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters: Cameron Barnard, Joshua Martelon and Eliza Keating

    by John Moore | Jan 09, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Cherry Creek High School

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTERS NO. 3: JOSHUA MARTELON,
    ELIZA KEATING AND CAMERON BARNARD

    • Class: Seniors
    • School: Cherry Creek High School
    • Teacher: Matthew Gustafson
    • Your play title: An Unforeseen Stop
    • Responder: Joshua Martelon
    • What is your play about? It is the story of two people of extremely different backgrounds finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. Lost in a big city, Nathan Reed, a blind man with no one in the world to call his own, finds that he and Bianca, a strong African-African woman making her way through hard work, have more in common than he expected. The heavy topics of bullying, discrimination, handicaps and racism are interspersed with the humor of two strangers, their cats and a mischievous little pineapple, making it a little easier for them to talk in this ever-changing world.
    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? This play was the creation of three friends not knowing what to write about for a Creative Writing assignment. While spit-balling ideas in class, we started joking about this and that in the ways of our dark humor — and suddenly it occurred to us that if we treated the jokes as more serious issues, they could create an interesting story. This The Blind-Apple (our original joke of a title) gave way to An Unforeseen Stop, something the three of us are proud to call our own.
    • nat wolffFavorite words that appears in your script: Our play is about two pretty normal city folk, so probably the most interesting word would be ... pineapple.
    • Killer casting: We would cast Nat Wolff from Paper Towns as Nathan Reed. Nat Wolff fits the physical description but more important, the roles he has played most recently in the movie adaptations of John Green's novels have been ones with deep character flaws that are physical, emotional and social. All these characteristics, which he adapted to beautifully, would bring Nathan Reed to life, in all his weird and awkward wonder.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? This experience has taught us about what it means to be creative. It is easy to think of an idea for a play, but bringing characters to life and making scenes and dialogue realistic and yet entertaining is a thing of art, and my friends and I now have a greater respect for playwrights past and present who have filled our hearts and souls with the sweet and sad love of the theater.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters 2018 Cherry Creek quote


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • The 2018 Scenesters, No. 2: Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks

    by John Moore | Jan 08, 2018
    2018 Scenesters Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks

    Today on the DCPA NewsCenter, we continue our daily countdown of the 10 Colorado student playwrights who have been named semifinalists for our fifth annual statewide playwriting competition. On Wednesday, Jan. 17, we will announce the writers whose plays will be read at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. (Details below.)


    SCENESTERS NO. 2:
    ASHLEY WRIGHT AND AMELIA MIDDLEBROOKS

    • Class: Seniors
    • Teacher: Kurt Muenstermann
    • Your play title: Forces of the Universe Anonymous
    • What is your play about? Life, Death, Time and Love are sick of their jobs and sick of humanity. Their interactions with humans have left them dejected and bitter. Life begins leading group-therapy sessions that are attended reluctantly. Slowly, each character begins to make discoveries about their views on relationships between themselves and humanity as a whole.
    • Return writer: Read Amelia's 2017 Scenester profile

    • What was your inspiration for writing your play? Ashley: "I was inspired in part by The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The narrator of the book is Death, and though I haven't read it since seventh grade, the way he was characterized has always stuck out to me as unique and profound. The idea of adding in other characters besides Death came from Amelia." Amelia: "I love the animated movie The Book of Life for its beautiful art style and captivating story, which similarly characterizes Death and Life. Putting those two seeds of inspiration together is what grew this story.
    • Favorite words that appears in your script: Collide ... and pocket-watch.
    • 160 scarlett johanssonKiller casting: We both would enjoy seeing Scarlett Johansson play Love. She would be able to portray both sides of the character: Love is flirty and sexy on the exterior, but beneath the surface, vulnerable and protective.
    • What did you learn from writing this play? The forces of the universe (Life, Death, Time and Love) are not as separate as we may have once believed. Life creates love, love needs time, and while time ultimately does lead to death, it does not cancel out the reality of the life, love, and time of that individual. In the process of writing this play, we had to think hard about what the essences of these characters are. What is Love, really? Or Life, or Death, or Time? It is in one sense a great mystery but in another it is so apparent that by simply watching people come and go on a street one can see heartbreaking and heartwarming moments of each.

    Video: Winning DCPA student playwrights' plays are performed

    Scenesters Quote Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks


    About the 2017-18 Regional High-School Playwriting Workshop and Competition:

    What: A one-act playwriting competition designed for area high schools. Local playwrights and DCPA Education faculty taught 146 playwriting workshops in 57 Colorado schools. A record 3,002 high-school students participated in those workshops, which were held in every school district in the Denver-metro area and in 20 counties around the state.

    Why: To nurture Colorado’s young playwrights; develop theatre artists and audiences; develop new plays; and advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    How: A total of 153 submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and education professionals. Ten semifinalists are being identified through this rolling daily countdown. At the end of the countdown, three winners will be named. They will receive a cash scholarship of $250 each AND a staged reading in the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit next month. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms. One play also will be presented as a fully staged performance exercise for DCPA Education students in the summer of 2018.

    Sponsors: Robert and Judi Newman Family Foundation with matching gifts from The Ross Foundation, June Travis and Transamerica.

    Our profiles of all 2018 Scenester semifinalists:
    Video bonus: Last year's playwrights at the Colorado New Play Summit

    Video: We talked with the four 2017 student playwriting finalists whose plays were read by DCPA actors at the Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.