• Vast and visceral: 2017-18 Theatre Company, Off-Center seasons

    by John Moore | Apr 03, 2017

     

    Macbeth, The Who's Tommy, four world premieres and
    "a deep dive into some truly exciting collaborations"

    By John Moore
    DCPA Senior Arts Journalist

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s 39th season will include vast and visceral reimaginings of two distinct cutting-edge classics, a record-tying four world premieres and the company's 25th staging of perennial favorite A Christmas Carol.

    The season begins in September with visionary director Robert O'Hara’s Macbeth to reopen the newly renovated Space Theatre, and builds to The Who’s rock musical Tommy, directed by Sam Buntrock (Frankenstein). And both directors promise ambitious stagings unlike anything audiences have seen before.

    Nataki Garrett QuoteThe DCPA has worked its way to the forefront of new-play development in the American theatre, and next season’s slate will include the comedy Zoey’s Perfect Wedding by former Playwright in Residence Matthew Lopez; José Cruz González’s American Mariachi, the musical tale of an all-female 1970s mariachi band; Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, about an American college basketball team that travels to Beijing in 1989; and Eric Pfeffinger’s timely comedy Human Error, which raucously explores the great American ideological divide through two vastly different couples - and one wrongly implanted embryo.

    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding will reunite Lopez and Mike Donahue, writer and director from the DCPA’s endearing world premiere The Legend of Georgia McBride (which makes its West Coast debut tomorrow at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.)

    American Mariachi
    was a favorite from the Theatre Company's 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. "Women of course had many challenges trying to play in such a male-dominated musical form," González said. "We interviewed a number of amazing women who were able to help us enter into that world, and we found an amazing group of artists who will play and sing in the piece."

    The Great Leap and Human Error emerged from the recent 2017 Summit in February.  In The Great Leap, Yee explores sport as a metaphor for how countries rub up against each other in terms of strategy, styles and priorities. "If you think of all the sports out there, basketball is the one in which you can really lay the ideals of communism on top of it. Everyone gets to touch the ball. Everyone is equal in their position,” she says.

    Human Error will set a precedent as the first Theatre Company offering ever to be staged in the cabaret-style Garner-Galleria Theatre.

    “The 2017-18 DCPA Theatre Company season represents the microcosm at the heart of the American experiment,” said Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. “These writers, spanning across generations, cultures, and genders, are exploring the ways in which our commonalities are more meaningful than our differences."

    2017-18 Broadway season brings Hamilton to Denver

    For the first time, the DCPA simultaneously announced the upcoming year of its adventurous and ambitious Off-Center line of programming. Off-Center is known for creating experiences that challenge conventions and expand on the traditional definition of theatre. Next season will be the largest yet for Off-Center. It includes Mixed Taste, a summer-long partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver; a 360-degree immersive staging of The Wild Party musical at the Stanley Marketplace. Also of great intrigue: Remote Denver, a  guided audio tour of the secret city; and This Is Modern Art, a controversial play by Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval that explores graffiti as modern art ...  or urban terrorism.

    “The expansion of Off-Center is a result of the incredible response of the Denver community,” said Off-Center Curator (and Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director) Charlie Miller. “We have seen that audiences are hungry for a broad range of experiences, and are eager for the unexpected.”

    Miller calls the upcoming year "a deep dive into some truly exciting collaborations." A continuing one will be the return of The SantaLand Diaries, in partnership with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and again starring Michael Bouchard

    Combined, the DCPA today announced 14 upcoming new productions that will be presented across eight different venues at the Denver Performing Arts Complex and beyond.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    “Theater has the opportunity and the ability to help bridge our differences by offering performances that inspire us to seek deeper connections with one another,” said Garrett, who will make her DCPA debut directing Lydia Diamond's acclaimed race comedy Smart People. “We are honored to provide a space for conversations and connections to the Denver community this year through this season's offerings.”

    Lisa Portes Robert O'HaraMacbeth will be directed by Robert O'Hara, a rising playwright, director and screenwriter who won the 2010 NAACP Best Director Award and the 2010 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. He was a young prodigy of original Angels in America Director George C. Wolfe and is perhaps best-known as a writer for Insurrection, a time-traveling play exploring racial and sexual identity. 

    The Who's Tommy, the rock musical based on the classic 1969 concept album about the pinball prodigy, will reunite acclaimed British Frankenstein director Sam Buntrock and Scenic Designer Jason Sherwood (who also will create the world of Macbeth). Native Gardens will mark the DCPA return of playwright Karen Zacarias, who wrote Just Like Us in 2014. Zacarias has penned a very close-to-home border-war story: One that plays out between two neighboring couples in D.C. who have a dispute over their property line. The director is Chicago's Lisa Portes, who recently won the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation's 2016 Zelda Fichandler Award, which recognizes an artist who is "transforming the regional arts landscape through singular creativity and artistry in the theatre." She is head of the masters program in directing at DePaul University.

    Next year's A Christmas Carol will be the 25th season staging of Dickens' classic by the DCPA since 1990. Melissa Rain Anderson will return for her second turn at directing, and popular longtime DCPA actor Sam Gregory again will play Scrooge.

    DCPA THEATRE COMPANY SEASON AT A GLANCE:

    • Sept. 15-Oct. 29: Robert O’Hara’s Macbeth (Space Theatre Grand Reopening)
    • Oct. 13-Nov. 19: Smart People (Ricketson Theatre)
    • Nov. 24-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre)
    • Jan. 19-Feb. 25, 2018: Zoey’s Perfect Wedding (Space Theatre)
    • Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018: American Mariachi (Stage Theatre)
    • Feb. 2-March 11, 2018: The Great Leap (Ricketson Theatre)
    • April 6-May 6, 2018: Native Gardens (Space Theatre)
    • April 20-May 27, 2018: The Who's Tommy (Stage Theatre)
    • May 18-June 24, 2018: Human Error (Garner Galleria Theatre)

    DCPA OFF-CENTER 2017-18 SEASON AT A GLANCE:

    • July 5-Aug. 23 Mixed Taste, with MCA Denver (Seawell Grand Ballroom)
    • Oct. 12-31: The Wild Party (The Hangar at Stanley)
    • Nov. 24-Dec. 24: The SantaLand Diaries, with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company (Jones Theatre)
    • March 22-April 15, 2018: This Is Modern Art (Jones Theatre)
    • Spring/Summer 2018: Remote Denver (on the streets of Denver)

    TC 2017-18 800

    And here is a more detailed look at all 14 newly announced productions, in chronological order:

    MIXED TASTE (Off-Center)
    mixed-tasteTag team lectures on unrelated topic
    Presented by Off-Center with MCA Denver
    Wednesdays from July 5 through Aug 23
    Seawell Grand Ballroom
    Even mismatched subjects will find common ground in a lecture series that can go pretty much anywhere. Two speakers get twenty minutes each to enlighten you on unrelated topics, but can’t make any connections to each other. Ideas start to blend afterward when audience members ask questions to both speakers and anything goes. READ MORE ABOUT IT



    MACBETH
    macbethBy William Shakespeare
    Directed by Robert O’Hara
    Sept. 15-Oct. 29
    Space Theatre (Grand Reopening)
    To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others, the people of Scotland or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. Shakespeare’s compact, brutal tragedy kicks off the grand reopening of our theatre-in-the-round in a visceral re-imagining from visionary director Robert O’Hara, who is “shaking up the world, one audience at a time” (The New York Times). This ambitious reinvention of the classic tale reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses the dagger must suffer the consequences. 



    THE WILD PARTY
    (Off-Center)
    the-wild-partyMusic and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
    Book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe
    Based on the poem by Joseph Moncure March
    Directed by Amanda Berg Wilson
    Oct. 12-31
    The Hangar at Stanley
    You’re invited to leave your inhibitions (and Prohibitions) behind for a decadent party in the Roaring Twenties. Indulge your inner flapper as you mingle with an unruly mix of vaudevillians, playboys, divas, and ingénues in a Manhattan apartment lost in time. Debauchery turns disastrous as wild guests becomes unhinged and their solo songs reveal the drama bubbling underneath the surface. Whether you’re a wallflower or a jitterbug, you’ll think this jazz- and booze-soaked immersive musical is the bee’s knees. Dress up in your finest pearls, suits and sequins – encouraged but not required.



    SMART PEOPLE

    smart-peopleBy Lydia R. Diamond
    Directed by Nataki Garrett
    Oct. 13-Nov. 19
    Ricketson Theatre
    Intelligence can only get you so far when it comes to navigating love, success and identity in the modern age. This biting comedy follows a quartet of Harvard intellectuals struggling to understand why the lives of so many people – including their own – continue to be undermined by race. But no matter how hard they research, question and confront the issue, their own problems with self-awareness make it difficult to face the facts of life. Fiercely clever dialogue and energetic vignettes keep the laughs coming in a story that Variety calls “Sexy, serious and very, very funny.”



    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

    christmas-carolBy Charles Dickens
    Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
    Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    Stage Theatre
    Essential to the holiday season in Denver, A Christmas Carol promises to “warm your heart and renew your holiday spirit” according to the Examiner. Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations. Denver favorite Sam Gregory returns as Scrooge. READ MORE ABOUT IT

    (Note: 'A Christmas Carol' is an added attraction, not part of the Theatre Company subscription season.)



    SantaLand Diaries 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisCom
    'The SantaLand Diaries,' 2016. Michael Bouchard. Photo by Adams VisCom.

    THE SANTALAND DIARIES
    (Off-Center)
    By David Sedaris
    Adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello
    Presented by Off-Center with Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
    Directed by Stephen Weitz
    Nov. 24-Dec. 24
    The Jones Theatre
    This disgruntled Macy's elf has the cure for the common Christmas show. Looking for a little more snark in your stocking? Crumpet the Elf returns for more hilarious hijinks in this acclaimed one-man show based on stories by David Sedaris. Crumpet’s twisted tales from his stint in Macy’s SantaLand are the cure for the common Christmas show. Release your holiday stress, get all of those obnoxious carols out of your head and check out even more late night options this year. READ MORE ABOUT IT



    ZOEY'S PERFECT WEDDING

    zoeys-perfect-wedding2By Matthew Lopez
    Directed by Mike Donahue
    Jan. 19-Feb. 25, 2018
    Space Theatre
    The blushing bride. The touching toast. The celebration of true love. These are the dreams of Zoey’s big day…and the opposite of what it’s turning out to be. Disaster after disaster follow her down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Even worse, her friends are too preoccupied with their own relationship woes to help with the wreckage around them. From the team that brought you, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Matthew Lopez’s wildly funny fiasco destroys expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up. READ OUR 2015 INTERVIEW WITH MATTHEW LOPEZ



    AMERICAN MARIACHI

    american-mariachi2By José Cruz González
    Director to be announced
    Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018
    The Stage Theatre
    Lucha and Bolie are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band in the 1970s. The only things standing in their way are a male-dominated music genre, patriarchal pressure from inside their families and finding the right women to fill out their sound. As they practice, perform and strive to earn the respect of their community, their music sparks a transformation in the lives of those around them – especially Lucha’s parents. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music played on stage. González writes a passionate story about families and friendships that you should share with yours. READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH JOSÉ CRUZ GONZÁLEZ


     

    THE GREAT LEAP
    the-great-leap2By Lauren Yee
    Director to be announced
    Feb. 2-March 11, 2018
    Ricketson Theatre
    When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for an exhibition game in 1989, the drama on the court goes deeper than the strain between their countries. For two men with a past and one teen with a future, it’s a chance to stake their moment in history and claim personal victories off the scoreboard. American coach Saul grapples with his relevance to the sport, Chinese coach Wen Chang must decide his role in his rapidly-changing country and Chinese American player Manford seeks a lost connection. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action in the stadium. Yee’s “acute ear for contemporary speech” and a “devilishly keen satiric eye” (San Francisco Chronicle) creates an unexpected and touching story inspired by events in her own father’s life. READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN YEE


     

    THIS IS MODERN ART
    this-is-modern-artBy Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin
    Directed by Idris Goodwin
    March 22-April 15, 2018
    The Jones Theatre
    Graffiti crews are willing to risk anything for their art. Called vandals, criminals, even creative terrorists, Chicago graffiti artists set out night after night to make their voices heard and alter the way people view the world. But when one crew finishes the biggest graffiti bomb of their careers, the consequences get serious and spark a public debate asking, where does art belong? This Is Modern Art gives a glimpse into the lives of anonymous graffiti artists and asks us to question the true purpose of art. READ MORE ABOUT IT


    NATIVE GARDENS
    native-gardensBy Karen Zacarias
    Directed by Lisa Portes
    April 6-May 6, 2018
    Space Theatre
    Dealing with neighbors can be thorny, especially for Pablo and Tania, a young Latino couple who have just moved into a well-established D.C. neighborhood. Though Frank and Virginia have the best intentions for making the new couple feel welcome next door, their newly budding friendship is tested when they realize their shared property line isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Frank is afraid of losing his prized garden, Pablo wants what is legally his, Tania has a pregnancy and a thesis she’d rather be worrying about, and Virginia just wants some peace. But until they address the real roots of their problems, it’s all-out war in this heartfelt comedy about the lines that divide us and those that connect us.



    Sam Buntock

    THE WHO'S TOMMY
    the-whos-tommyMusic and Lyrics by Pete Townshend
    Book by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
    Additional Music and Lyrics by John Entwistle and Keith Moon
    Directed by Sam Buntrock
    April 20-May 27, 2018
    Stage Theatre
    Based on The Who’s iconic 1969 rock concept album, Tommy is an exhilarating musical about the challenges of self-discovery and the resilience of the human spirit. When young Tommy retreats into a world of darkness and silence after a deeply traumatic incident, he must navigate a harsh and unforgiving world with no hope of recovery. But when he discovers a newfound talent for pinball, he’s swept up in the fame and fortune of his success. Tommy and his family give new voice to The Who’s classic stadium rock as they navigate the troubles and joys of being alive. This production reunites director Sam Buntrock and scenic designer Jason Sherwood, the team behind last season’s audience favorite, Frankenstein.



    HUMAN ERROR

    human-error2By Eric Pfeffinger
    Director to be announced
    May 18-June 24, 2018
    Garner Galleria Theatre
    Madelyn and Keenan are NPR-listening, latte-sipping, blue-state liberals, while Heather and Jim are NRA-cardholding, truck-driving, red-state conservatives. After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now the two couples face sharing an uproarious nine-month’s odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely – but heartfelt – friendships. “Up-and-coming scribe Eric Pfeffinger has the vital nerve to explore the gaping communication gap between red America and blue America, liberal humanists and the conservative right” (Chicago Tribune). READ OUR FULL INTERVIEW WITH ERIC PFEFFINGER


    REMOTE DENVER
    remote-denverBy Rimini Protokoll
    Concept, Script and Direction: Stefan Kaegi
    Research, Script and Direction Denver: Jörg Karrenbauer
    Spring/Summer 2018
    On the streets of Denver
    Join a group of 50 people swarming Denver on a guided audio tour that seems to follow you as much as you are following it. Experience a soundtrack to the streets, sights, and rooftops of The Mile High City as a computer-generated voice guides your group’s movements in real time. Discover a "secret Denver," exploring places like gathering spaces, back alleyways, dark hallways and public areas through a new lens. You’re not just audience members — you’re actors and spectators, observers and observed, individuals and hordes, all at the same time.

     

    TICKET INFORMATION:

    • Theatre Company: New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are available online at denvercenter.org/nextseason or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. Note: Plans for the new season are subject to change and benefit restrictions may apply.
    • Off-Center: The single-ticket on-sale date for all Off-Center productions will be announced at a later time. Subscriptions are not available for Off-Center shows.

     

     

  • Graffiti: Modern art or 'urban terrorism'?

    by John Moore | Sep 07, 2016

    Steppenwolf Theatre's 2015 production of 'This is Modern Art' in Chicago. A reading of the play will take place in Denver on Sept. 15. Photo by Michael Courier.



    Graffiti artists have been called vandals, criminals and even urban terrorists.

    Idris Goodwin calls them “artists who push upon the boundaries of legality.”

    But, they are artists, Goodwin said. “First and foremost.”

    Goodwin is a playwright, break-beat poet, essayist and Colorado College theatre professor whose play Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band was featured at the Denver Center's 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. He is also co-author of the controversial play This is Modern Art, with Kevin Coval, which will be presented as a reading on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. It's part of a larger program presented by Off-Center and the museum that will include spoken-word, Q&A, a DJ and a rooftop party. Robin Munro, founder of the Colorado Crush street-art festival, will talk about the local graffiti scene in Denver.

    Idris Goodwin Quote. This is Modern ArtThis is Modern Art recounts the true story of one of the biggest graffiti bombs in Chicago history. In less than 20 minutes, and in a snowstorm, a stealthy crew spray-painted a 50-foot “graffiti piece along the exterior wall of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. The tagging began with the words “modern art” and ended with the phrase “made you look.” The work was sandblasted off the next day, but because the artists had chosen such a high-profile target, “the consequences get serious,” Coval said, and the artists had to go underground.

    “They were putting out a challenge,” Goodwin said. “What is modern art? Who gets to decide who a real artist is? And where does art belong?”

    Coval, editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, adopted what he calls “a journalistic verse” approach to creating the play - a form inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks, the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. “Kevin was able to get the story behind it - who they are, why they did it - and then we decided to write a play based on that information,” Goodwin said.

    The play, now published by Haymarket Books, debuted last year as part of the nationally renowned Steppenwolf Theatre’s Young Adult series. But no one was quite prepared for the severe critical response. Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune faulted the play for romanticizing graffiti, an act he called “invasive, self-important and disrespectful of the property of others,” while Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times said the play “spray-paints all the wrong messages.”

    “Both reviews shared a common theme,” wrote national arts administrator Howard Sherman, “that the play celebrated the graffiti artists’ work without making sufficiently clear, to the critics’ minds, that the majority of graffiti art is also illegal vandalism.”

    Kevin Coval Quote. This is Modern ArtThe reviews sparked a second round of heated backlash and public debate.

    “The theatre community at large said the critics’ arguments were bogus and unfair,” Goodwin said. “Antiheroes and difficult, and complicated questions are what the theatre is for."

    As incendiary as the response was, Goodwin says This is Modern Art is intended to be a gateway into a larger conversation that must be had in America. Not only in the context of escalating racial tensions in America today, but in consideration of the country’s entire history. The problem certainly did not start with Ferguson, nor did it end with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem, Goodwin said.

    “I tweeted jokingly: ‘I don't know why you all are tripping. We've been refusing to stand up since Rosa Parks,’ ” Goodwin said. “This is not new. I don't think we have really confronted these issues because we still don't really know each other. We're acquainted but we haven't done the work that you have to do to become family. Which is learning to listen, to be patient, to forgive.”

    For those Americans not of color who are struggling with how to proactively respond, Coval’s advice is simple.

    “For white people, I think it's a matter of leaving the house,” Coval said. “You have to leave the comfort of where you are. Get outside of what you read. Get outside of what you assume and begin to listen to the stories of people of color. Because they will tell a different tale from the dominant tale that continues to weave in this country.”

    (Kevin Coval photo above by Nyce Life Photography.)


    Sample: Listen to Idris Goodwin's
    Say My Name



    More of our conversation with Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval:

    John Moore: What do you say to those who say see graffiti artists as vandals?

    Idris Goodwin: There is a clear distinction in my mind between art and vandalism. They are definitely breaking the law - but I feel like that is the art they practice. And despite your feelings about the legality and the appropriateness of graffiti art, you cannot deny the boldness of it.

    John Moore: What are we so afraid of?

    Kevin Coval: Freedom. I think we are afraid of people being and getting free. Graffiti art calls into question who has the right to public property, and who has the right to make art. I think once disenfranchised young people of color begin to take the notion of creation into their own hands, I think that shakes the center. Graffiti artists challenge what norms are in culture, and I think that makes people uncomfortable.

    (Pictured right: The graffiti left on the exterior wall of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010, which inspired the new play 'This is Modern Art.')

    John Moore: What’s at the root of all of this?

    Idris Goodwin: I think this country has yet to fully own up to the hate crimes and war crimes that it, as a government, has committed against a multitude of communities of color. The shameful state of public education in this country has a lot to do with that. People have no idea of history, or of what has happened even on the soil upon which they stand. The only difference today is that because of social media and the way information travels, the dialogue is now out in the open and documented, and we're really seeing the problem. But it's always been there.

    Kevin Coval: James Baldwin talked about whiteness as a sickness; as a psychological disease that affects all people and is detrimental to the humanization of people of color. In Chicago and other cities, we continue to be radically segregated around race and socioeconomic status. White people don't really know people of color. We imagine the lives of people of color. We fear what it might mean if we live in proximity to people of color we don't actually know. But people of color know white people all too well.

    Idris Goodwin: One of the questions the play puts out there is the punishment for doing graffiti. Does it fit the crime? There are some cases where graffiti artists have been chased to their deaths. Now people might say, 'Well, he was a thug.' Really? Do they then deserve to die?

    John Moore: How has the Broadway musical Hamilton changed the game in terms of the need for the American theatre to open itself up to new forms of storytelling?

    Idris Goodwin: I think it is a tremendously missed opportunity for any theatre not to embrace, on a consistent basis, a multitude of stories that really reflect the multitude in this country. If we really want this art form to live, we cannot continue to champion and exalt - and then also demonize and tear down any attempt to broaden our idea of what a play is.

    This Is Modern Art: Denver ticket information

    • Partial reading and book launch for the play This is Modern Art (not a full production)
    • Presented by Off-Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
    • One night only: 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 15
    • At the MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany St., Denver. Rooftop party to follow at MCA Café & Bar with DJ Chonz
    • Tickets $10 for adults and $5 for students with code STUDENT0915. BUY ONLINE

    Other Colorado tour events: Ticket information

    • 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16: This is Modern Art staged reading with Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin, with spoken-word performance by Coval and poet Juan Morales,
      at Songbird Cellars, 220 S Union Ave. in Pueblo
    • 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17: This is Modern Art staged reading with Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin, at Colorado College (Cornerstone 131 Screening Room) INFO
    • 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17: Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin reading from The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, at Mountain Fold Bookstore, 121 E Costilla St., Colorado Springs INFO

    Sample: Watch Kevin Coval's The Crossover:


  • Summit Spotlight Video: 'Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band'

    by John Moore | Feb 07, 2014

    Set in the percussive world of break beat music, Colorado Springs playwright Idris Goodwin tells the story of a talented young woman who aims for stardom, so she tracks down her long-lost father, a one-hit wonder in the 1980s. This is the second of Goodwin's planned trilogy of break-beat plays with an "ear-to-the streets" portrait of American pop culture.

    Hip-hop turns 40 years old this year (Can you believe it?) and "Victory Jones" makes plain its cultural impact across several American generations. But it is, at its heart, a universal story of a daughter reconnecting with her estranged father. 

    Here's our inside look at the making of this innovate new work that incorporates live and recorded looping technology to infuse the Colorado New Play Summit with a refreshing new form of theatrical storytelling. (The sound is by Craig Breitenbach.)

    Featured in this video are Goodwin, Goldberg and actors Curtis McClarin, chandra thomas, Amy Luna, Brian Quijada, Jessica Austgen, Ben Morrow and Janet Noble.

    Favorite line: "Don't talk about it. Be about it."

    Video by John Moore.

    Please enjoy our other 2014 Summit Spotlight videos:

    The Comparables

    Appoggiatura

    Zenith

  • Photos: 2014 Colorado New Play Summit, Day 1

    by John Moore | Feb 04, 2014

    image

    "Victory Jones" Director Wendy C. Goldberg and actor Ben Morrow

    The 2014 Colorado New Play Summit opens Friday, but the work began in earnest today as the casts and creative teams for all five new readings gathered, met ... and got to work.

    Now in its ninth year, the Colorado New Play Summit has become one of the most important new-play festivals in America. Last year, four Summit readings earned their way onto the 2013-14 season.

    Here is this year's lineup. The public is encouraged to come and get a first and first-hand look at some of the most promising new work that may end up in full production next season. Click here to check times and ticket availability.

    Here are the chosen 2014 plays:

    • The Comparables, by Laura Schellhardt
    • Appoggiatura by James Still
    • Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band, by Idris Goodwin
    • Benediction, by Eric Schmiedl, adapted from the book by Kent Haruf
    • Zenith, by Kirsten Greenidge

    Here are select photos from Tuesday, Feb. 4. All photos by John Moore:

    INTRODUCTIONS:

    image"The Comparables" Director Braden Abraham

     

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    "Victory Jones" Playwright Idris Goodwin and Director Wendy C. Goldberg

     

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    "Benediction" Actor Tracy Shaffer and "Appoggiatura" Playwright James Still.

     

    image"Benediction" Director Kent Thompson, also Denver Center Theatre Company Artistic Director

     

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    Actors Tracy Shaffer, Billie McBride and Leonard E. Barrett

     

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    "Victory Jones" actor Ben Morrow, left

     

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    "Zenith" Dramaturg Ilana Brownstein

     

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    "Zenith" Playwright Kirsten Greenidge

     

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    "Appoggiatura" Actor Randy Moore, left, and "Benediction" Actor" Mike Hartman.

     

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    "Appoggiatura" Production Assistant Nicolette Vajtay

     

    imageDenver Center Stage Management Supervisor Chris Ewing

     

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    Colorado New Play Summit Ambassadors

     

    imageReturning Colorado native Lynnda Ferguson ("Benediction")

     

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    "Victory Jones" actor Amy Luna

     

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    Tricia Moreland and the youngsters of "Benediction"

    imageAssociate Managing Director Ryan Meischeid

     

    BENEDICTION REHEARSAL

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    Actor Larry Hecht

     

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    VICTORY JONES AND THE INCREDIBLE ONE-WOMAN BAND REHEARSAL

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    THE COMPARABLES REHEARSAL

    imageActor Jamie Ann Romero, who also stars in "The Legend of Georgia McBride"

     

    ZENITH REHEARSAL

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    Director Randy White and Playwright Kirsten Greenidge

     

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    Actor Candy Brown

     

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    Actors April Matthis and Gabra Zackman

     

    APPOGGIATURA REHEARSAL

     

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    imageActor Mehry Eslaminia

     

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    Check back for daily updates, photos and videos.

  • 2014 Colorado New Play Summit will complete 'Plainsong' trilogy

    by John Moore | Nov 19, 2013

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    Jamie Ann Romero and Quincy Dunn-Baker read "The Legend of Georgia McBride" at the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by Kyle Malone.

    The Denver Center Theatre Company's 9th annual Colorado New Play Summit will include a reading based on the novel Benediction, completing author Kent Haruf's trilogy of rural Colorado tales, all  adapted for the stage by Eric Schmiedl.

    The Colorado New Play Summit previously introduced Haruf's "Plainsong" in 2007 and "Eventide" in 2009, both of which went on to full productions on Denver Center mainstage seasons.

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    "Eventide," the second of Kent Haruf's novels to be adapted to the stage by the Denver Center, was fully staged in 2010. Photo by Terry Shapiro.

     

    Also on the 2014 Summit lineup for the weekend of Feb. 7-9 are Victory Jones and The Incredible One Woman Band by Idris Goodwin;  Appoggiatura, by three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee James Still; and The Comparables by Laura Schellhardt. A fifth title will be announced at a  later date.

    The Colorado New Play Summit is the brainchild of Denver Center Theatre Company Artistic Director Kent Thompson and Associate Artistic Director., Bruce K. Sevy. Their festival draws artistic directors, literary managers, dramaturgs, directors, members of the media and the curious public to view the latest works by some of America’s most exciting playwrights. For savvy subscribers, the Summit is often a preview of the following year's mainstage season. The current season, for example, includes mainstage productions of four plays that were introduced as readings at the last Summit in February: "Just Like Us," by Karen Zacarías; "The Most Deserving," by Catherine Trieschmann; "black odyssey," by Marcus Gardley; and "The Legend of Georgia McBride," by Matthew Lopez.

    The Denver Center's new-play tradition goes back to its beginnings, with credits ranging from “Quilters” to “The Laramie Project.” By season's end, the Denver Center Theatre Company will have launched 129 world premieres in its 35-year history.

    Since Thompson arrived in 2005, he has nurtured some of America’s most celebrated and promising playwrights through his new-play development program, including Lee Blessing, Steven Dietz, Richard Dresser, Laura Eason, Jason Grote, Samuel D. Hunter, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Michael Mitnick, Julie Marie Myatt, Theresa Rebeck, Octavio Solis, Caridad Svich, Catherine Trieschmann, Ken Weitzman and Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder. Those are just some of the playwrights who have been commissioned, premiered or otherwise developed at the Denver Center under Thompson.

     What sets the Denver Center apart from other new-play programs is its ongoing commitment to developing new plays from readings through full-scale season productions. More than 40 new plays have now been introduced in readings at the Colorado New Play Summit. By the end of the current season, the Denver Center will have fully premiered 21 new American plays since 2005.

    Many of those productions have gone on to significant continued life in the American theatre, including Grote’s “1001,” a deconstruction of the tales of the Arabian Nights that has had 22 stagings since 2007, including Page 73 Productions in New York and the Contemporary American Theater Festival in West Virginia). Grote has written for “Mad Men” and “Hannibal.” Solis’ "Lydia,” about an unusual maid charged with caring for a Mexican-American teenage girl severely injured in a car accident, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Hunter’s “The Whale,” about a morbidly obese man’s attempt to re-connect with his daughter, has since last year been staged by Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, and at South Coast Repertory in California. Haruf's "Plainsong" will make its Chicago premiere from Jan. 30-March 8 at the Signal Theatre Company.

    In addition to five staged readings, Visitors to the 2014 Summit also will see mainstage productions of two plays from February's Summit:  The Legend of Georgia McBride and the lower-cased black odyssey.

    The 2014 Colorado New Play Summit will take place Feb. 7-9 at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Summit passes, which include seating at all readings, admission to the two world premieres, plus meals, receptions, and discounts to nearby downtown Denver hotels, are now available. Tickets to individual readings will be available in early January. For more information and Summit registration, go to  www.denvercenter.org/summit,  or call 303-893-6030.

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    Director Chay Yew during rehearsal with the cast of "black odyssey" during the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit." Photo by Kyle Malone.

     

    The 2014 Colorado New Play Summit plays at a glance:

    Staged reading

    APPOGGIATURA

    By James Still

     Followed by a violin-playing Vivaldi, a charming but bogus Italian tour guide accompanies a widow and a bereaved middle-aged man who both mourn the same person while her granddaughter questions her future. Appoggiatura is a sun-drenched romance about love, loss, and a broken family re-living the past and healing its heart in Venice.   Playwright James Still is a three-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A Denver Center Commission.

     

    Staged reading

    VICTORY JONES AND THE INCREDIBLE ONE-WOMAN BAND

    By Idris Goodwin

     A brightly talented girl aims for a place center stage in the world of music.  Using live and recorded "looping" technology, the world of break beat music sets the background for an African American girl's hip hop odyssey along the bumpy road to music stardom.   Smart, sassy, humorous, heartfelt and rousing with a cast of colorful, contemporary characters, Victory Jones is an ear-to-the-streets portrait of American pop culture experienced by one gifted girl.  Goodwin’s previous break beat play, How We Got On, was read two seasons ago at The Humana Festival and was produced in Chicago at Company One. Victory Jones and The Incredible One Woman Band is a Denver Center commission.

     

    Staged reading

    BENEDICTION

    By Eric Schmiedl

    Based on the novel by Kent Haruf

     Set on the high plains of eastern Colorado, Benediction follows the lives of three souls yearning for communion--a dying elderly man, a young orphaned girl and a renegade preacher. As with Haruf’s novels Plainsong and Eventide, the Denver Center has once again brought playwright Eric Schmiedl on board to adapt this penetrating, deeply human story for the stage. A Denver Center commission.

     

    Staged reading

    THE COMPARABLES

    By Laura Schellhardt

     In this dark comedy, Iris and Monica jockey for power in Bette’s “Boutique” –a high-end real estate agency run and staffed almost solely by women. In a world of double standards, what happens when the gender tables are turned? Does the glass ceiling still pertain? And who’s going to make the coffee?  The Comparables is a hilarious look at climbing the corporate ladder in three-inch heels.

     

    World Premiere: Mainstage production

    THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE

    by Matthew Lopez

    Directed by Mike Donahue

     A heartwarming, music-filled comedy about Casey, an Elvis impersonator who just learned his dive bar act is being replaced with a drag show. With the bills stacking up and a kid on the way, Casey’s going to have to adapt to a whole new show business like none he’s ever known in this risqué romp. The Legend of Georgia McBride was workshopped at the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit.

     

    World Premiere: Mainstage production

    black odyssey

    by Marcus Gardley

    Directed by Chay Yew

    The Greek gods meet African-American culture in this twist on Homer’s The Odyssey. Centered on a black soldier returning home from a harrowing tour in the War in Afghanistan, this compelling new play fuses modern reality, humor, and song with ancient myth. black odyssey was workshopped at the 2013 Colorado New Play Summit. A Denver Center commission.

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ABOUT THE EDITOR
John Moore
John Moore
Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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