The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park has announced the establishment of the MICKEY KAPLAN NEW AMERICAN PLAY PRIZE. The first installment of the Kaplan Prize will fund the world premiere of the previously announced LEAP (Feb. 12-March 13, 2005) by John Yearley. In addition to a cash award to the playwright, the annually selected play earns a full-scale production. The prize is named in honor of the late Mickey Kaplan, funded by her husband, Dr. Stanley M. Kaplan, a longtime Playhouse supporter. "Mickey and I always felt that the world premiere productions were some of the best plays at the Playhouse each season," says Dr. Kaplan. "She would be happy to know that this prize will help to ensure this experience for future generations of theatergoers." From 1988 until 2003 the Playhouse had a similar prize funded by Cincinnati philanthropists Richard and Lois Rosenthal that resulted in the premieres of several highly admired plays, including Angus MacLachlan's The Dead Eye Boy, Bruce Graham's Coyote on a Fence, Jeffrey Hatcher's Scotland Road and Carson Kreitzer's The Love Song of J.
Robert Oppenheimer. Unenthusiastic about the 2003 selection, Brian Dykstra's Hiding Behind Comets, the Rosenthals decided to withdraw funding, although they remain supporters of the Playhouse and other theaters in town. (They recently sponsored The Exonerated at Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati.) The cultivation of new plays was a key factor in earning the 2004 Regional Theatre Tony Award, recognizing the Playhouse's contributions to the growth of theater nationwide. In announcing the new prize, Producing Artistic Director Ed Stern says, "Mickey Kaplan was a wonderful person and a great friend to the Playhouse. Her infectious enthusiasm for both the theater and for life in general is sorely missed." As someone who sees a lot of theater here in town, let me publicly state my personal gratitude to Dr. Kaplan, too. It's this kind of support that makes our theater scene the envy of many other cities. ...
Speaking of work we haven't seen onstage yet, don't lose track of the WOMEN'S THEATRE INITIATIVE, which annually explores several plays by and about women then gives one of them a summertime production. On Monday at 7 p.m. at the Performance Gallery (3900 Eastern Ave., East End), you can hear a reading of Migdalia Cruz' Fur, a re-imagining of the story of Beauty and the Beast that makes a hairy woman the beast. Earlier this month WTI presented Jennifer Haley's Dreampuffs of War; two more works will be offered in the weeks ahead, Dawn Powell's Women at Four (Nov. 4 at the Public Library) and Eve Ensler's Necessary Targets (Nov. 15 at NKU). Ensler is the creator of The Vagina Monologues.
The Know Theatre Tribe's production of Conor McPherson's THE GOOD THIEF is basic drama: No scenery, no lights, no sound system, nothing fancy. In the back room of Mount Adams Bar & Grill, actor Nick Rose (one of the founders of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival) brings to life a petty Irish criminal who's not a bad guy -- you'd probably be charmed to meet him in a bar. Yet one particular day, as he relates to in a 70-minute monologue, his life goes from bad to worse. Rose smokes a few cigarettes, swigs a beer, wanders among the bar tables and totally inhabits the role of a man with a good heart but only a glimmer of conscience. There's both humor and horror -- it adds up to hard evidence that one actor can make great theater. You won't feel robbed by this thief. This brief run concludes with performances on Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings. (RICK PENDER) Grade: A