Alabama Shakespeare Festival‘s annual Southern Writers’ Project Festival of New Plays, featuring readings of four works by Southern dramatists or about the Southern experience, runs May 8-10 in Montgomery, AL. Writers in residence for rehearsals the week of May 4 include Jeffrey Chastang, Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, Alex and Hana Mironoff, and John Walch.
Jeffry Chastang is a previous SWP participant. His Blood Divided had a reading in 2011. John Walch‘s In the Book Of… had a full SWP world-premiere production in 2012.
Rehearsals and rewrites — a process that includes actors, directors and dramaturgs — happen in the days leading up to the concert readings. Audience talkback sessions are also part of the experience.
A number of plays that enjoyed development at SWP have gone on to have world premieres at ASF and many other regional theatres. The most recent example is the January 2015 world premiere of Kenneth Jones’ Alabama Story at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City. The acclaimed play was read at SWP in 2013 and became a 2014 Finalist in the National Playwrights Conference of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center prior to its full staging.
The 2015 Southern Writers’ Project festival week includes private in-house table readings of Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder‘s new play A Requiem for August Moon and Mike Vigilant and Gerry Castle’s Cindy Cinderella: An American Fairy Tale. Wilder, Castle and Vigilant are SWP alumni. Wilder and Vigilant also enjoyed full productions by ASF (Wilder with Gee’s Bend, The Flagmaker of Market Street and The Furniture of Home, and Vigilant with the ASF smash Bear Country).
Three one-acts by high school writers will be heard 1 PM May 9 in the annual Young Southern Writers’ Project (YSWP) competition in the Black Swan Pub.
SWP is endowed by an anonymous donor. ASF associate director Nancy Rominger is SWP’s curator. Geoffrey Sherman is artistic director of ASF. Michael Vigilant is ASF’s chief operating officer. For more information about Alabama Shakespeare Festival, located on 250 acres of Montgomery’s Blount Cultural Park, visit www.asf.net.
2015 SOUTHERN WRITERS’ PROJECT FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS AT A GLANCE
Much Ado About Willie by Alex and Hana Mironoff
Directed by Nancy Rominger
Featuring Brian Wallace, Jonathan Kaplan, Betsy Helmer, Rodney Clark, Seth Andrew Bridges, Greta Lambert
4 PM May 8
“In December 1794 an obscure 18-year-old London law clerk named William-Henry Ireland gave a document to his father, Samuel, a dealer in antiquities. The paper bore the signature and seal of William Shakespeare. The subsequent events gave rise to one of the greatest literary scandals (and mysteries) of the 18th century.”
Dauphin Island by Jeffry Chastang
Directed by Janet Cleveland
Featuring Esau Pritchett and Cheri Lynne VandenHeuvel
10 AM May 9
“Suspicion and fascination dovetail when (en route from Detroit to a new job on Dauphin Island) Selwyn Tate interrupts the self-imposed isolation of Kendra in the Alabama woods. Dauphin Island dramatizes the risks involved when two displaced souls intertwine.”
What God Hath Wrought: a TransAtlantic Farce by John Walch
With songs by Rachel Peters
Directed by Shana Gold
Featuring Lameece Issaq, Patrick Burr, Mike Petrie, Jr., Alice Sherman, Bjorn Thorstad, Paul Hebron, Diana Van Fossen
4 PM May 9
“This delightful comedy features Meg, an all-star Customer Service fixer. When an ancient message in Morse code appears on Meg’s screen, she is sent on a wild, woolly journey back to the birth of global communications and the events surrounding the laying of the first Transatlantic telegraph cable in Ireland.”
Sorrow’s End by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer
Directed by David Ellenstein
Featuring Brik Berkes, Amanda Catania, Wynn Harmon, Jennifer Barnhart and Cory Lawson
10:30 AM May 10
“A timely and exciting play about cults and the exit counsel that helps people leave the cult mindset. Using the framework of an exit counseling that is much more than it appears to be, Sorrow’s End is an examination of family, loss, and responsibility, as well as a unique coming-of-age story.”
The 2015 SWP dramaturgs are James Bowen, Marlon M. Bailey, Carrie Hughes, Kaitlin Stilwell; lighting designer is Tom Rodman; stage managers are Hannah-Jean Farris, Libby Mickle, Jen Nelson Lane, Julie A. Richardson; readers/production assistants are Métushalème Dary, Jessica G. Smith, Jonathan Weber, S. Lewis Feemster, Anna Robertson.