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New Plays Take Root

By Rick Pender · April 15th, 2009 · Curtain Call

As the trees begin to put forth their leaves, it feels right that new play scripts are popping up in several locations around the Tristate. Cincinnati might be a mid-sized city, but we definitely have a theater scene that contributes to the future of the art form.

I recently wrote about the Cincinnati Playhouse’s 50th anniversary season starting in September and the fact that half of the plays planned for 2009-2010 are world premieres or works new to local audiences. But if you’re impatient to experience scripts getting their first productions, right now is a time to be grateful.

Let’s start with the 14th Biennial Y.E.S. Festival at Northern Kentucky University, which kicks off on Thursday and continues through April 26. For nearly three decades, NKU’s “Year-End Series” has given full productions to aspiring playwrights. This year three more new works will receive world premieres, each directed by an NKU theater faculty member. (The plays are presented in a rotating schedule, Monday-Friday at 8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at 1, 4 and 8 p.m. Call NKU’s box office for more information: 859-572-5464.) Here’s what’s in store:

Shock and Awe by Damon DiMarco. The play offers personal experiences from American soldiers who have fought in Iraq.

The play shows that many casualties of the war are below the surface.

Love and Communication by James Christy. Seeking an appropriate educational setting for an autistic child becomes a moral and emotional struggle for a young couple.

Nightjars by Mark Rigney. In a drama that involves environmental activism, the Patriot Act, modes of interrogation and the risks of loyalty, this play portrays a group of college students who are arrested by the FBI after they plan an act of civil disobedience.

If the Y.E.S. Festival shows whet your appetite, then you have more opportunities: On Sunday at 2 p.m., the Actors and Playwrights Collaborative will present six new short plays in the final day of its “Spring Briefs Festival.” (The works were also presented April 9-10.) The venue is a new one: The Space at Permafringe, a storefront at 14th and Main streets in Over-the-Rhine. Admission is $10 at the door.

The brief works include three comedies by Cincinnati writer Herb DuVal (“Sponge,” “Pickle” and “Rain”), three dramas by Phil Paradise from Fort Thomas (“Carpe Diem,” “Daddy’s Little Girl” and “A New Boyfriend”) and a piece by Mike Dennis (“Intermittent Monologues”). The Collaborative is a new group of Cincinnati-based actors, directors and writers who are dedicated to the development of new scripts and to the production of new stage works. (Information: 513-241- 5154.)

The following week (7 p.m. April 24-25 and May 1-2), Permafringe will be the site for another new work, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Enlightenment. Written, directed and read by Paul Eisenman with original music and sound effects, the work is about a man experiencing travel delays en route to his childhood home in Philadelphia for his stepfather’s funeral. Events during his trip open his eyes to a new understanding of life and the world around him. A $10 donation is suggested. (Information: 513- 381-3859.)

So blow off those dusty winter cobwebs and head out to see something brand new onstage. Creativity has taken root in Greater Cincinnati.

CONTACT RICK PENDER: rpender@citybeat.com



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