A group of close friends is shaken when one of their own decides to become the caregiver of his compromised father in Jeff Talbott’s How to Build a City, getting a 29-hour reading the week of June 20 as part of the 2016 NewTACTics New Play Festival in Manhattan. Wes Grantom directs the serious comedy. Free public readings will be Wednesday and Thursday June 22-23.
TACT/The Actors Company Theatre presents the reading, one of four scripts being developed in the festival this month. TACT recently announced its 2016-17 Off-Broadway season of fully produced work, to include the world premiere of Talbott’s The Gravedigger’s Lullaby in February 2017. TACT company member Jenn Thompson will direct. That play was seen in a NewTACTics reading in 2015.
Here’s how TACT bills How to Build a City: “What happens when you have to balance the needs of a parent against the needs of your partner and your friends, and both are pulling you apart? In the middle of the night, Davis grapples with trying to shoulder the weight of making everyone happy and keeping everyone safe. But will trying to do it by himself cut him off from his loved ones and leave him truly alone? How to Build a City is a serious comedy about the family we have and the family we make, and how to recognize they’re exactly the same thing.”
The reading cast of How to Build a City includes Chad Goodridge, Amelia McClain, Anthony Newfield, Will Rogers and TACT company member Richard Thieriot. Stage manager is Theron Alexander. Stage directions are read by Andy Paterson.
Presentations are 7 PM in the TACT Studio at 900 Broadway (at 20th Street). Seating is limited; reservations are required. TACT presents salon reading of classic plays, the annual NewTACTics series and two full productions of plays at Off-Broadway’s Beckett Theatre.
Jeff Talbott’s play The Submission was the inaugural recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Award in 2011 and was produced Off-Broadway by MCC Theater; it went on to receive the 2012 Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for New American Play. It was also a semi-finalist for the 2010 O’Neill Playwrights Conference. Published by Samuel French, it has received productions around the country. His Three Rules for the Dragon was a finalist for the 2016 O’Neill Conference and last week had a workshop at Premiere Stages at Kean University in New Jersey (where Wes Grantom also directed). Other plays include A Public Education (finalist for the 2015 O’Neill Playwrights Conference; workshops at Pioneer Theatre Company and TACT), Elliot, All the Stars in the Midnight Sky (workshops – MCC, TACT) and the just-completed i. The musical Imagine Harry, written with composer Will Van Dyke, was presented in the 2015 NAMT Festival of New Musicals, and was a semi-finalist for the 2015 O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference as well as a finalist for the 2014 Rheinbeck Writers Retreat. Talbott and Van Dyke released an EP of their work A View of the River (available on iTunes or wherever digital music is sold). They recently were part of the Goodspeed’s 2016 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony finishing a draft of their latest musical, Wintersong. Talbott Jeff graduated with honors from the Yale School of Drama.
Read about all of the plays of the 2016 NewTACTics Festival, including my new play Hollywood, Nebraska, seen June 15-16.
Scott Alan Evans is TACT’s executive artistic director. Nora Chester and Jeffrey C. Hawkins are associate artistic directors. Owen Thompson and Yetti Steinman are producers of NewTACTics, with Lauren Miller as NewTACTics advisor.
Next up in NewTACTics is Mr. Bigger’s Baby by Kate Robin, directed by Scott Alan Evans and featuring Cynthia Harris, June 29-30.
Each reading will be preceded by a complimentary wine reception beginning at 6:30 PM, and followed by a moderated talkback with the cast, director and playwright.