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Playwrights fest stresses new talent

March 09, 2006|Mike Boehm | Times Staff Writer

NO bankable-name playwrights are on the bill for this year's Pacific Playwrights Festival, but South Coast Repertory, which produces the annual weekend of new plays, has long been in the business of getting in on the ground floor with commercially unproved talent.

Past festivals have featured works in progress by such acclaimed names as Donald Margulies, Richard Greenberg and Beth Henley, balanced with scripts by unknowns.

This year's lower-profile lineup, announced Wednesday, isn't an attempt to upset that balance, said John Glore, SCR's associate artistic director, but it does reflect an increased emphasis on assisting newcomers.

"The well-established writers of the world are less in need of the financial and emotional support of a commission from SCR," Glore said.

Keith Reddin is the best known of the seven whose wares will be on first-time Southern California display in the ninth annual festival, May 5-7 on the Costa Mesa theater's three stages. Reddin was an SCR fixture at in the mid-'80s. He'll be back with a reading of "Human Error," about investigators clashing at an air disaster site.

Julia Cho, who was part of the 2002 festival, will return with "The Piano Teacher," which probes the secrets of a neighborhood music tutor. Readings also are scheduled for Sarah Treem's "Empty Sky," about an out-of-work rabbi and his family, and "System Wonderland" by David Wiener, about a dimming screenwriter-star team.

Victoria Stewart's "Leitmotif," about a woman rummaging through her poet mother's past, will be seen twice in a workshop production.

Coinciding with those plays in progress will be two fully staged world premieres that are part of SCR's regular season: "The Studio," written and directed by former New York City Ballet dancer-choreographer Christopher d'Amboise, and "Blue Door" by Tanya Barfield.

Until 2004, SCR also had an annual event featuring readings of new plays by Latinos. Glore noted that although there are no such plays in this year's festival, SCR's commitment to diversity is reflected in the works by Barfield, who is black, and Cho, a Korean American.

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