Promising New Plays Featured At The Premiere Stages Spring Readings Series

Lynda Gravatt in the 2011 production of Play Festival Winner Follow Me to Nellie's by Dominique Morisseau (Photo Credit: Paul Whelihan)

Lynda Gravatt in the 2011 production of Play Festival Winner Follow Me to Nellie's by Dominique Morisseau (Photo Credit: Paul Whelihan)

UNION – Premiere Stages at Kean University will hold its annual Spring Readings Thursday, March 15 through Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 18 at 5 p.m. in the University Center Little Theatre, located on Kean’s Central Campus, 1000 Morris Avenue, Union.

With funding from the New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival, patrons will experience four new plays in four days. A free playwriting workshop for high school students will be also offered in conjunction with the Festival. The workshop will be held on March 14 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will be lead by Premiere Stages-affiliated playwrights.

The Premiere Stages Play Festival is a yearly competition for unproduced scripts that offers developmental opportunities to four playwrights born or currently residing in the greater metropolitan area (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut). Four finalist plays are selected from more than 400 submissions, given professional readings and considered for expanded development as part of the Premiere Stages 2012 summer season. During the Spring Readings, one new play is read and discussed each evening.

The public is encouraged to actively engage in developing a new play through post-reading dialogues with the writers and written evaluations. Based on audience response and input from a panel of theatre professionals, two plays will be chosen for further development by Premiere Stages’ Producing Artistic Director, John Wooten. One of the four plays will be selected for an Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) staged reading in June, and the most promising play will be awarded a fully produced AEA production in July.

All of the finalists also receive cash awards ranging from $500 to $2,000. The schedule for the March events is as follows:

The Stages Festival Playwriting Workshop, March 14 at 5 p.m.

Led by Premiere Stages affiliated playwrights, the two-hour workshop will explore the art of playwriting. Students will have the opportunity to write monologues that will be performed by professional actors at the end of the session.

Alexandria by Alex Lewin, March 15 at 7:30 p.m.

For three generations the Qasim family has successfully run a coffee house in Alexandria. When a man from America offers to buy their lease, the family must confront a fateful choice: sell to the Starbucks Corp. of America, or refuse and take their chances when Egypt’s first Starbucks opens up across the street. All this is set against the strife of Egypt’s 2005 presidential election, setting the stage for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

Cocktail Time in Havana by Rogelio Martinez , March 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Michael, a struggling American journalist, embarks on a journey to Cuba to interview the reclusive Fidel Castro. Instead he finds himself intoxicated by a timeless world of romance and political intrigue, where nothing is what it seems.

Tamarack House by Michael Dowling, March 17 at 7:30 p.m.

A compelling group of discarded misfits, caught in the whirlpool of a fleeting American dream, struggle to hold onto the stately boarding house that defines them.

Handicapped People in Their Formal Attire by Kathryn Grant, March 18th at 5 p.m.

In 1968, members of the Delaware Association for the Handicapped kick up their heels with a black tie fundraiser to honor quadriplegic, Agnes Sheehan, who is escorted by her able-bodied cousin, Theresa. As the tensions of the era erupt outside, a lifetime of pent-up resentment is unleashed between the two women as each confronts the true meaning of sacrifice.

Central to Premiere Stages’ mission, the Play Festival provides a nurturing environment for the development of emerging dramatists. Numerous plays developed through the Festival have been published and subsequently produced in New York and regionally. With a solid track record in place, the Festival will expand in 2012 with a newly commissioned program entitled Liberty Live in which a New Jersey playwright will write and develop a short historical play to be presented at Liberty Hall Museum in November 2012.

“What makes Premiere unique is that we fast track plays from a sit-down reading to a fully staged production within a few short months, allowing topical plays to remain relevant, ” stated John Wooten, producing artistic director of Premiere Stages. “We also afford playwrights the benefit of retaining the world premiere rights to their scripts. Second productions of new plays are extremely rare, and we are committed to building and extending partnerships that will reverse that trend.”

The 2012 finalists were selected from a record 406 submissions. The pool of semi-finalists included Blessed Are… by Jessica Bedford, Crib by Gino DiIorio, The Cottage by Daisy Foote, Dollar Billionaires by Michael Edison Hayden, The Givers by Heather Lynn MacDonald, and Tar Beach by Tammy Ryan.

Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Westfield Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival, and through the generous support of individual patrons.

The Stages Festival is a co-sponsored project of The New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Major funding support is also provided by Bank of America and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. Additional support has been provided by The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Grotta Fund for Senior Care of the Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest of NJ, The HMS Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, The F. M. Kirby Foundation, The George A. Ohl Jr. Trust Foundation, Prudential Foundation, and The Wallerstein Foundation for Geriatric Life Improvement.

Discover Jersey Arts is a marketing partner. Visit for more information about other arts programming in the Garden State.

Admission and parking for the Premiere Spring Readings is free. Call 1-908-737-4092 for more information or visit Reservations are recommended. Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces. Call for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times. Publications are available with advanced notice in alternate formats.

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