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Ashland New Plays Festival Presents 27th Annual Fall Festival Oct. 17 – 21, 2018

ANPF 2018-poster

Now in its 27th year presenting new works for the stage, new play incubator Ashland New Plays Festival will present its flagship Fall Festival, in a weeklong run of dramatic readings of works from award-winning playwrights October 17 through 21. ANPF is proud that many past winning plays and playwrights have received world premieres and won top honors, including 2016 ANPF Women’s Invitational winner Martyna Majok for her play Cost of Living, which won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

This year ANPF features four new plays – chosen from 400 worldwide submissions – that take audiences on unique journeys. The first is through 19th century England and a woman’s struggle to make her scientific work known in The Excavation of Mary Anning by Ian August, directed by Penny Metropulos. Another sees a suburban American community rocked by a sexual assault allegation in Cold Spring by Victor Lesniewski, directed by Terri McMahon. In Primary User by Nate Eppler, directed by Kyle Haden, a technological advancement made in the not too distant future shows the universality of grief. Finally, a contemporary woman’s world is dramatically altered by the long-reaching ramifications of Argentina’s Dirty War from the 1970s and ‘80s in Stephanie Alison Walker’s The Abuelas, directed by Ricardo Gutierrez.

“We like to think of ANPF as an oasis for playwrights,” says ANPF Artistic Director Kyle Haden, “ANPF offers the winning playwrights invaluable time and tools to gain insights and make significant progress on their plays while working alongside world-class actors and directors as well as engaging with audiences at talkbacks following dramatic reading performances of their plays.”

All readings are held in Ashland at the Unitarian Center located at 87 Fourth Street. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased online and at the door as available. The box office opens one hour before showtime.

A playwriting panel and workshop led by host playwright and award-winning writer Beth Kander will be held on Saturday, October 20, beginning at 9:00 am at the Unitarian Center for $10, cash or check, at the door. Reserve a space by emailing [email protected]. Kander will also be giving a book talk at Medford’s Barnes and Noble on Tuesday, October 16, at 6:00 pm to discuss the first book in her trilogy “Original Syn.”

Continue reading for more Festival details.

The Festival’s opening night is Wednesday, October 17 at 7:30 pm, and will take audiences on a comic, surreal, and tragic journey based on real-life 19th century paleontologist and fossil collector Mary Anning in The Excavation of Mary Anning by Ian August. The story unfolds as Anning makes great scientific discoveries while being shunned by the male-only Geological Society of London. Leading an all-female cast is Alejandra Escalante as the title character alongside Jennie Greenberry, Michele Mais, Shannon R. Davis, Livia Genise, Meghan Nealon, and Marie-Claire Erdynast. Coming to Ashland from New Jersey, playwright August said, “[This is] a play about strong women pushing beyond the expectations of society, which is perhaps more necessary to explore in 2018 than it has been elsewhere in recent history.” This play also has a matinee performance on Saturday, October 20, at 1:30 pm.

The next play to see is Cold Spring by Victor Lesniewski a simply told story about a complex issue: how members of a tight-knit community respond to allegations of sexual assault against a local sports coach. Christine Williams, U. Jonathan Toppo, Jackie Apodaca, and Tiffany Cooper are parents who both confront and avoid the pain and confusion wrought by the event.

“I grew up in a middle class, suburban community much like the one depicted in Cold Spring [that] experienced similar circumstances… While this is in no way that story,” Lesniewski said, “I felt it necessary to explore what my younger self perceived during that time. I hope the play spurs further discussion about how we (as individuals, as families, as communities) deal with the effects of these types of events, and that such a discussion might lead to further understanding of how we can better empathize with each other and better support each other in the most difficult of times.”

Cold Spring performances are Thursday, October 18, at 1:30 pm and Friday, October 19 at 7:30 pm.

On Thursday night at 7:30 pm, playwright Nate Eppler of Nashville, TN, explores the process of grief in a computerized world with his play Primary User. Daniel José Molina is Oz and Esther Chen is Mia, two computer engineers who create a breakthrough piece of technology: a digital assistant named Ozee with near artificial intelligence – which retains the memories, conversations, and voice of one of the creators. After Oz dies and the technology remains, those who are left behind work through reconciling the past and moving forward.

“The play isn’t really about the technology,” said Eppler, “It is far more about how grief unravels us, how it makes us rewrite our histories, how it puts us in competition or cooperation with unexpected rivals or allies, how memories of the dead are tangible things that must be grappled with.”

Also starring Catherine Lynn Davis, Elizabeth Gudenrath, and Scott Ford, Primary User has a second performance on the final day of the Festival, Sunday, October 21, at 3:00 pm.

The fourth play is The Abuelas by second-time ANPF winner Stephanie Alison Walker, whose companion play The Madres won at ANPF 2016. Set in contemporary Chicago, the play illuminates the devastating and far-reaching repercussions of Argentina’s Dirty War in the 1970s and ‘80s. The story centers on an Argentinian concert cellist living in the US who is adjusting to life as a first-time mother when two strangers visit and expose a 37-year-old secret, dramatically altering the woman’s understanding of herself and her life. The play features Nancy Rodriguez, Vilma Silva, and Angela Hernandez with Alina Ceñal, Willem Long, Scott Patrick Ragle, and Nolan Sanchez. Rodriguez, Silva, and Sanchez were also in The Madres at ANPF 2016. ANPF is excited to work with director Ricardo Gutierrez on this play, as he directed the world premiere of The Madres in 2018 and will direct the world premiere of The Abuelas in 2019 at Teatro Vista in Chicago.

“Exactly one year after writing the first draft of The Madres,” Walker said, “I sat down to write its sequel with the intention of exploring the consequences of Argentina’s last dictatorship that reverberate today. In August 2018, after 42 years of searching, the 128th grandchild was identified. This means that over 300 have yet to be found. They’ve lived their entire lives not knowing the truth about their identities. It’s still unfolding, this history. Identities, long ago stolen, are being restored. And it’s not easy. None of it, as the characters in this play discover, is easy.”

The Abuelas is performed on Friday, October 19, at 1:30 pm and Saturday, October 20, at 7:30 pm.

Tickets are $20 available online or at the door. Visit ANPF’s website to learn more: www.ashlandnewplays.org.

For Community Calendars:

Who: Ashland New Plays Festival

What: ANPF 2018 Fall Festival – Four winning playwrights’ new plays presented as dramatic readings with professional actors and directors

When: Wednesday, October 17, through Sunday, October 21, with evening performances Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; matinees at 1:30 pm Thursday through Saturday; and final matinee on Sunday at 3:00 pm

Where: Unitarian Center, 87 Fourth Street, Ashland

Tickets: $20, available online and at the door as available. Box office opens one hour prior to showtime.

Website: www.ashlandnewplays.org

Also: Playwriting panel and workshop Saturday, October 20, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm ($10, cash or check at the door; email [email protected] to reserve a space)

Additional links:

Click here for pdf of full schedule

Click here for ticket sales window

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