Off-Broadway’s TACT/The Actors Company Theatre will welcome three alumni playwrights, Beth Henley, Jeff Talbott and Vincent Delaney, along with newcomer York Walker, a first-time playwright, as the dramatists who’ll hear their new works read in the Off-Broadway company’s 2015 NewTACTics New Play Festival June 3-25. The series gives writers 29 hours to work with directors and actors leading to free public-reading presentations.
In February and March, Henley’s Abundance was favorably revived by TACT in a mainstage production that was just named Best Play Revival in the 2015 Off-Broadway Alliance Awards. (Actor Talbott, a TACT company member, appeared in the staging. As a dramatist, he’s known for his award-winning play The Submission.)
Delaney’s T or C was the test-pilot title at the dawn of the NewTACTics series in 2010.
Talbott’s All the Stars in the Midnight Sky and A Public Education were previously heard in NewTACTics. This year, his new play, The Gravedigger’s Lullaby, kicks off the 2015 schedule June 3-4. TACT company member Jenn Thompson (Abundance) will direct a cast that includes TACT company members Jeremy Beck and Jeffrey C. Hawkins, with guest artists Ted Koch and Lisa Velten Smith.
Here’s how The Gravedigger’s Lullaby is billed: “Baylen is a gravedigger, a working-class man trying to keep food on the table in a world where other people make the rules. There’s a baby who can’t sleep at home, and plenty of holes to be dug. But a chance encounter with a rich young man may bring the hope of a different life. What will Baylen do? The Gravedigger’s Lullaby is a bold and gripping new contemporary drama about a time that has passed. And how little things have changed.”
Henley’s Laugh, which recently had its world premiere at the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC, will be read under the direction of its previous director, David Schweizer, June 10-11. In its premiere run, the comic play used slapstick and melodrama conventions to tell the story of an orphan who finds herself leaping personal and professional obstacles in silent-movie era Hollywood. Henley won the Pulitzer Prize for Crimes of the Heart. Her plays also include The Jacksonian, The Lucky Spot, Impossible Marriage, The Wake of Jamey Foster, The Miss Firecracker Contest and more.
York Walker’s Summer of ’63, according to NewTACTics producer Lauren Miller, is the actor-writer’s first play. It deals with “sexual politics, social justice and race relations in the 1960s.” Miller will direct the June 17-18 presentations. As an actor, Walker has appeared at regional theatres, including Actors Theatre of Louisville and American Conservatory Theatre, where he earned an MFA in acting.
The fifth annual NewTACTics lineup ends June 24-25 with presentations of The Art of Bad Men by Vincent Delaney, directed by TACT artistic director Scott Alan Evans. The play is based on interviews with former German prisoners of war in 1945. It’s the true story of a German-populated POW camp on American soil, and how the world is transformed when prisoners perform a comedy by Moliere.
Delaney’s plays include 99 Layoffs, Ampersand, The Robeson Tapes, Perpetua, MLK and the FBI and Kuwait, which won the Heideman Award and was produced in the Humana Festival of New American Plays. T or C was the first new-play reading presented by TACT, launching NewTACTics in 2010. His work has been developed at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Magic Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, the Empty Space, the Jungle, PlayLabs, the New Harmony Project and elsewhere. He is a member of the Playwrights Center, and teaches young playwrights in Seattle.
The 7 PM NewTACTics readings are held in the TACT Studio at 900 Broadway, Suite 905. A 6:30 PM wine reception precedes the readings, and moderated talkbacks follow. For reservations and more information, visit the NewTACTics page at tactnyc.org.
Kenneth Jones’ Alabama Story was heard in NewTACTics in June 2014 and later went on to a world-premiere production by Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, UT.