• Idris Goodwin is going places: From Curious' 'Detroit '67' to Denver Center

    by John Moore | Jan 11, 2018
    Detroit 67 Curious Theatre Cajardo Lindsey and Jada Suzanne Dixon. Photo by Micjael Ensminger.
    Cajardo Lindsey and Jada Suzanne Dixon in Curious Theatre's 'Detroit '67,' directed by Idris Goodwin and opening Saturday. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

    Groundbreaking artist directs Curious' look back at uprising before bringing This is Modern Art to Jones Theatre

    By Jeannene Bragg
    For the DCPA NewsCenter

    Plays. Raps. Essays. Poems. Film. Idris Goodwin is a storyteller at heart. Performance and words are his jam. "Why not?" is his constant refrain.

    "If I can do all these things, why not?" says Goodwin. "Just like a visual artist has various mediums: oils, acrylics, collages, so do I. I work with stories and some are plays, some are raps or poems."

    Idris Goodwin QUOTE Detroit '67And that versatility has taken him far, from HBO to Sesame Street to the Kennedy Center to, at present, Curious Theatre Company — and after that, to the Denver Center.
           
    Curious Theatre's Detroit '67, opening Saturday, is Goodwin's Denver directorial debut. Goodwin then directs own play This is Modern Art at the Denver Center's Jones Theatre in March.

    Goodwin has a special connection to both Detroit and Detroit '67. He met playwright Dominique Morisseau during the premiere of his play And in This Corner ... Cassius Clay at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville, where the two connected over their shared childhoods in Detroit.
         
    "After meeting her, I immediately went out and read Detroit '67, and started teaching it in my class," said Goodwin, a full-time associate theatre professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. "It had been on my radar for many reasons, including being a fan of American history and drama. And when the opportunity came, I said, 'Of course, what a perfect piece for my directorial debut in Denver.' "

    The story is set in the summer of 1967, when the soulful sounds of Motown were breaking records and breaking down barriers. Siblings Chelle and Lank make ends meet by running an unlicensed bar in their Detroit basement — a risky business as police crack down on after-hours joints in black neighborhoods. When Lank offers shelter to an injured white woman, tensions escalate both in their home and in their community — and they find themselves caught in the middle of the violent ’67 riot. Detroit ‘67 explores a moment rife with police brutality, immense racial divide and a powderkeg of emotions.

    This is Modern Art Denver School of the ArtsAs a native of Detroit, Goodwin knows the world and rhythm of Morisseau's play. "I know the people. I know their spirit. But there is also a universality of the show," he said. "My goal is to make people feel like they are in that basement with that family, going through what they are going through, too."

    (Photo above and right: 'This is Modern Art' was read last year to the students at Denver School of the Arts.)

    Shorty after Detroit '67 closes on Feb. 24, Goodwin's This is Modern Art will bow at the Jones Theatre. That incendiary play, written with Kevin Coval, recounts the true story of one of the biggest graffiti bombs in Chicago history. In less than 20 minutes in a 2010 snowstorm, a stealthy crew spray-painted a 50-foot graffiti piece along the exterior wall of the Art Institute of Chicago. The tagging began with the words “modern art” and ended with the phrase “made you look.”

    "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?”

    Athe-way-the-mountain-moved-2In 2018, Goodwin's plays will be seen all across the county. His highly anticipated new play The Way The Mountain Moved gets its world premiere at the esteemed Oregon Shakespeare Festival in July. It tells the powerful story of how the Transcontinental Railroad shaped the country’s moral and environmental future from previously untold perspectives.

    (Photo above and right: Christopher Salazar, Christiana Clark, Sara Bruner and Al Espinosa in Oregon Shakespeare Festival's upcoming 'The Way the Mountain Moved.')

    In This Corner...Cassius Clay, a children's play that explores the early life of the man who would later rename himself Muhammad Ali, will be performed in Charlotte, N.C.; Anchorage, Alaska; and Portland, Ore. This is Modern Art also will be staged by the New York Theatre Workshop June 1-24.

    Goodwin also will perform at a reading of the book Breakbeat Poets in the Age of Hop Hop in Southern California this spring. That's a collection of poems edited by Coval that features Goodwin, among otheres. Goodwin and Coval have their own book due to drop in February called Human Highlight: An Ode to Dominique Wilkins.

    All while teaching full-time at Colorado College and raising a young family.

    He's going places. But right now, he's in Denver at Curious Theatre.

    Jeannene Bragg is the Community Engagement Organizer for Curious Theatre and the founder of Creating Justness, which is committed to amplifying the voices of artists from oppressed arts , community and social justice groups. She also does contract work for Colorado Creative Industries, the state's arts council. She can be reached at 303-800-3030 or jeannene@curioustheatre.org.



    Detroit '67: Ticket information

    • Presented by the Curious Theatre Company
    • Performances Jan. 13-Feb. 24
    • 1080 Acoma St.
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Detroit 67 Ilasiea Gray and Anastasia Davidson. Photo by Michael EnsmingerCast and Creative team:
    • Jada Suzanne Dixon
    • Cajardo Lindsey
    • Anastasia Davidson
    • Ilasiea Gray
    • Frank Taylor Green

    • Idris Goodwin, Director
    • Charles Dean Packard, Scenic Designer
    • Kevin Brainerd, Costume Designer
    • Richard Devin, Lightning Designer
    • Jason Ducat, Sound Designer
    • Dylan Sprauge, Props Designer
    • Diana Ben-Kiki, Wig and Make-Up Design
    (Photo: Ilasiea Gray and Anastasia Davidson. Photo by Michael Ensminger.)

    Modern Art 800
    Above: 'This is Modern Art' at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre in 2015.

    This is Modern Art
    : Ticket information

    • Presented by Off-Center
    • Performances March 22-April 15
    • Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
    • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of Idris Goodwin:
    Graffiti: Modern art or 'urban terrorism'?
    Vast and visceral: Off-Center season will include This is Modern Art
    Video: Victory Jones and the Incredible One Woman Band



  • January openings: Make way for 'Lady Day,' 'Fun Home' and 'Hedwig'

    by John Moore | Jan 05, 2018
    Lady Day Mary Louise Lee Adams Viscom

    Mary Louise Lee in 'Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill,' opening Jan. 12 at the Vintage Theatre in Aurora before a spring transfer t the DCPA's Galleria Theatre. Photo by Adams Viscom

    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of upcoming theatre openings, spotlighting work being presented on stages statewide. Companies are encouraged to submit listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.


    Showcase month in Colorado theatre spotlights Mary Louise Lee, world premieres and Boulder artists

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    January will usher in the new theatrical year with a showcase vehicle for the First Lady of Denver, the state's first two homegrown productions of the groundbreaking 2015 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Fun Home, and what promises to be an electrifying staging of the rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Aurora Fox. January is also when the DCPA Theatre Company begins its rollout of three consecutive world-premiere plays — Zoey's Perfect Wedding, American Mariachi and The Great Leap. With such an eclectic mix of material, this month we will kick off the winter theatre season with a brief look at 10 intriguing titles to watch, followed by complete list of all your Colorado theatregoing options for January:

    Ten intriguing titles for January:

    NUMBER 1Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill. January 12 promises to be an emotional night when Mary Louise Lee revisits her signature role as Billie Holiday in Vintage Theatre's Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. She will be performing in Vintage's Jeffrey Nickelson Auditorium, named after the late founder of the Shadow Theatre Company who directed Lee back in 2002. Lee's haunting portrayal of the jazz legend woman with a singular singing voice — and a lethal heroin habit — was the biggest hit in Shadow’s history. This new production, directed by Betty Hart, will play weekends at Vintage through Feb. 18 (except Feb. 3), then move to the DCPA's Galleria Theatre on Monday nights from March 5 through April 23. Lee's performing career began in the Galleria Theatre (then called StageWest) when she appeared in Beehive at only 18 years old and still a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School. In 2011, Lee also became the First Lady of Denver when her husband, Michael B. Hancock, was elected Mayor. 1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com READ MORE

    NUMBER 2A JANUARY JAKE MendesHedwig and the Angry Inch. It's impossible to overstate the impact John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's underground rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch has had on generations of misfits over the past 24 years. The show is essentially a rock concert featuring a genderqueer singer who was born a boy in communist East Germany and underwent a botched sex-change operation to marry an American soldier who then abandoned her. It's an incredibly powerful, literate and raunchy beacon of hope for anyone who has felt ever felt divided. And Jake Mendes and Norrell Moore promise to infuse the new Aurora Fox production, the first by a Denver theatre company in eight years, with fresh vitality. Jan. 19-Feb. 10 at 9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    NUMBER 3A Banned Together 800 1Fun Home. In 2015, Fun Home became the first Broadway musical to feature a lesbian protagonist. Now the the rights to perform it at theatres across the country, it speaks well of the Colorado theatre community that different companies in Fort Collins, Golden and Colorado Springs have jumped at the chance to stage it. Based on Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, Fun Home recounts one women's unique childhood as she grows to understanding her own sexuality and looming, unanswerable questions about her father’s hidden desires.The first to open will be Midtown Arts Center (Jan. 18-March 17) at 3750 S. Mason St. in Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com. The Miners Alley Playhouse production runs  Jan. 26-March 4 at 1224 Washington St. in Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com. And the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College follows from March 29 through April 22 at 30 W. Dale St., 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org. (Pictured: Sophie Dotson of the Golden cast performs "Ring of Keys" at an anti-censorship event this past fall. Photo by John Moore.)

    NUMBER 4Detroit 67. Curious Theatre continues its most provocative season in years with playwright Dominque Morisseau's incendiary look back at the sizzling summer of 1967, a moment in history rife with police brutality, immense racial divide, and a violent uprising, all through the eyes of one family. Featuring Jada Suzanne Dixon and Cajardo Lindsey under the direction of hip hop artist, writer and educator Idris Goodwin, whose own play This is Modern Art opens March 22 at the DCPA's Jones Theatre. Jan. 13 through Feb. 24 at 1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org.  

    NUMBER 5Trump Lear. David Carl, known for mixing Shakespeare with timely political satire, returns not to bury the president but to skewer him in this one-man comedy in which he plays an actor who evokes the wrath of thechief executive as he creates a solo version of King Lear – Shakespeare’s tragic play of a ruler whose vanity tears his country apart. At Millibo Art Theatre, 1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org

    NUMBER 6Disney's The Little Mermaid. The DCPA hosted the Broadway company on its way to the Great White Way in 2006, and now this Inspire Creative effort will be the first homegrown, Denver-area staging of the underwater musical. Based on Hans Christian Andersen's beloved love stories, The Little Mermaid features music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, including familiar songs like "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl" and "Part of Your World." Jan. 19-Feb 11 at the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or inspirecreative.org

    NUMBER 7Guards at the Taj. This dark comedy, set in India in 1648, introduces audiences to two lifelong friends standing watch on the night before the first unveiling of the Taj Mahal. As the action unfolds, these two must take part in an act of unfathomable cruelty, one that will shatter their lives and their relationship. Written by Rajiv Joseph and staged by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. Jan. 25-Feb. 18 at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    NUMBER 8Fermata. Denver's Theatre Esprit Asia partners with Theater Company of Lafayette to present three generations of Chinese westernized women, two of whom two are world-class musicians and one who became a neurosurgeon. In playwright Maria Cheng’s sixth full-length play, she explores the burden of virtuosity, the politics of art making and the purpose of music. Jan. 12-28 at the Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson St., 720-209-2154 or www.tclstage.org

    NUMBER 9Abner GeneceSense and Sensibility. The Arvada Center's uber-hip repertory company returns with an all-new new adaptation of the Jane Austen classic (by Kate Hamill) that follows the Dashwood sisters as they pursue their quest for love and happiness. This cast is loaded with big names like Kate Gleason, Geoffrey Kent, Emma Messenger and Jessica Austgen (for starters), but the whole community should be cheering the return to the stage of Abner Genece as Sir John Middleton) six months after a devastating car accident nearly killed him and his son. Jan. 26-May 6 at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    NUMBER 10Theatre Made in Boulder. This new festival running Jan. 18 through Feb. 10 will include a robust selection of staged readings, low-tech productions and free public workshops from a diverse group of local artists. (Full schedule below.) The featured, fully staged presentation will be How To Screw Up Your Life!, written specifically for the festival by reliable Boulder playwright Ami Dayan. Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    First Date Photo by Emily Lozow


    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    Jan. 5-21: Performance Now's Into the Woods
    Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-987-7845 or performance now’s home page

    Jan. 5-March 25: Midtown Arts Center's Always ... Patsy Cline
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Jan. 6-Feb. 3: Lowry's Spotlight Theatre's Rumors
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. First Place, 720-880-8727 or thisisspotlight.com

    Jan. 12-Feb. 18: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com READ MORE

    Jan. 12-Feb. 4, 2018: Town Hall Arts Center's Peter and the Starcatcher
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Jan. 12-28: Theater Company of Lafayette's Fermata (with Theatre Esprit Asia)
    Mary Miller Theater, 300 E. Simpson, 720-209-2154 or tclstage.org

    Jan. 12-27: 5th Wall Productions' Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
    At The Bakery Arts Warehouse, 2132 Market St., 5th-wall-productions.com

    Jan. 13-Feb. 24: Curious Theatre's Detroit 67
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org  

    Jan. 18-March 17: Midtown Arts Center's Fun Home
    3750 S. Mason St, Fort Collins, (970) 225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Jan. 18-20: David Carl's Trump Lear
    Millibo Arts Center, 1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org

    Jan. 18-Feb. 10: How To Screw Up Your Life!
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    Jan. 19-Feb. 4: Theatrix USA's Kiss
    At Dobrin Studios, 931 Santa Fe Drive, theatrixdenver.com

    Jan. 29-Feb. 11: Lake Dillon Theatre Company's Building the Wall
    At the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center, 460 Blue River Pkwy, Silverthorne,  970-513-9386 or lakedillontheatre.org

    Jan. 19-Feb. 10: Aurora Fox's Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora, 303-739-1970 or aurorafox.org

    Jan. 19-Feb 11: Inspire Creative's The Little Mermaid
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker, 303-805-6800 or inspirecreative.org

    Jan. 19-Feb. 3: Funky Little Theatre Company's The Bigot
    2109 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, 719-425-9509 or funkylittletheater.org

    Jan. 20-Feb. 17, 2018: OpenStage Theatre Company's The Crucible
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Jan. 25-Feb. 18: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Guards at the Taj
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or boulderensembletheatre.org

    Jan. 26-Feb. 25: DCPA Theatre Company’s Zoey’s Perfect Wedding
    Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Jan. 26-March 4: Miners Alley Playhouse's Fun Home
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com

    Jan. 26-May 6: Arvada Center's Sense and Sensibility
    Studio Theatre, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org

    Jan. 26-Feb. 17: Breckenridge Backstage Theatre's Forbidden Broadway's Greatest Hits
    At  121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Jan. 26-Feb. 17: Equinox Theatre Company's Evil Dead: The Musical
    At the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., 720-984-0781 or equinox’s home page

    Jan 26-Feb 11: StageDoor Theatre's The 39 Steps
    27357 Conifer Road, Conifer, 303-886-2819, 800-838-3006 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Feb. 2-25: DCPA Theatre Company’s American Mariachi
    Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Evil Dead
    From left: Emily Ebertz, Derek Helsing and Chelsea O'Grady from Equinox Theatre's 'Evil Dead The Musical.'

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Jan. 6: Oddville and Stand Up Smart (Dave Shirley and Bob Dubac)
    At  121 S. Ridge St. 970-453-0199 or backstagetheatre.org

    Through Jan. 7: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College's Annie
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Through Jan. 14: National tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King & I
    Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org

    Through Jan. 14: Vintage Theatre Productions' Red
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Jan. 30: BDT Stage's Motones vs. Jerseys
    (Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays only)
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through Feb. 14: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse's Beauty and the Beast
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970-744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

    Through Feb. 24: BDT Stage's Annie
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through April 22: DCPA Cabaret’s First Date
    Garner Galleria Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE

    BOULDER ENSEMBLE THEATRE COMPANY

    • Jan. 11-21: P3M5: Privacy in the Digital Age, a transatlantic theatre project presented in a series of 5-minute films and live plays. 

    Boedecker Cinema at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or dairyartscenter.org


    BUG THEATRE

    • Jan. 6: Fourth annual 50 First Jokes festival (50 of Denver's best comedians tell their first joke of the new year), benefiting The Gathering Place
    • Jan. 18 The Emerging Filmmakers Project, showcasing Denver's indie film scene on the third Thursday of every month.
    • Jan. 29: Freak Train: Open-mic variety show hosted by GerRee Hinshaw on the final Monday of every month
    • Jan. 30: Open Screen Night: Make a video of at least 2 minutes in length about this month's theme (16-bit) and include the phrase "All your base are belong to us." Info:  openscreennight.com

    3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or bugtheatre.info


    BUNTPORT THEATRE

    • Saturday, Jan. 13: Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey (Monthly theatre for young audiences at 1 and 3 p.m.)
    • Saturday, Jan. 13: The Penny Savers, for Stories on Stage, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive (303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org)
    500DAYSOFSUMMERDENVER ACTORS FUND
    • Monday, Jan. 22: Screening of the film 500 Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel with live pre-screening entertainment from DCPA Cabaret's First Date. Entertainment 6:30 p.m.; film at 7

    At Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake, 4255 W. Colfax Ave., drafthouse.com


    EVERGREEN PLAYERS

    • Jan. 20 and Feb. 9: EPiC Returns (improv comedy featuring Evergreen High School's state-champion improv team
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreenplayers.org

     

    MILLIBO ART THEATRE
    • Jan. 6: RiP (improv comedy)
    • Jan 12-13: Vintage Glamour Burlesque
    • Jan 26-27: Cabaret Voltaire (variety performance art) 
    1626 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321, www.themat.org


    THEATRE MADE IN BOULDER FESTIVAL
    • Jan. 18-Feb. 10: Staged readings, low-tech productions and free public workshops from local artists. Featured production: How To Screw Up Your Life!, by Ami Dayan
    • Jan. 21: Afropuff Lederhosen: A Critically Comical Investigation of Race, by Vanessa Roberts
    • Jan. 24: Strange Grace, by Jane Shepard
    • Jan. 28: Mud Season, by Felice Locker
    • Jan. 31: An Evening of Shorts: Terrember (Four Choose Two), by Mike Eisenberg; Kosmic Joke: Killing Time, by Buck Lee; and Bloodlines, by Ashley Rice
    • Feb. 4: Trans/Actions, by K. Woodzick and Ayla Sullivan
    • Feb. 4: What Happens in the Dark, by Kristofer Buxton
    • Feb. 11: Rooted, by Joy Barber
    • Feb. 11: Laura and Ibsen, by Susan Flakes
    Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or thedairy.org

    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY
    • Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org 


    STORIES ON STAGE
    • Saturday, Jan. 13: The Penny Savers, with members of Buntport Theater, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive

       

    303-494-0523 or storiesonstage.org

    Stories on Stage has renowned actors bring stories to life by combining literature with theater.

  • 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

     

    image

    Actors Tracy Shaffer, Billie McBride and Leonard E. Barrett

     

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    image

    "Victory Jones" actor Ben Morrow, left

     

    image

    "Zenith" Dramaturg Ilana Brownstein

     

    image

    "Zenith" Playwright Kirsten Greenidge

     

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

     

    image

     

    image

    "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

    image

    Actor Larry Hecht

     

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    VICTORY JONES AND THE INCREDIBLE ONE-WOMAN BAND REHEARSAL

    image

     

    THE COMPARABLES REHEARSAL

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

     

    ZENITH REHEARSAL

    image

    Director Randy White and Playwright Kirsten Greenidge

     

    image

    Actor Candy Brown

     

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    Actors April Matthis and Gabra Zackman

     

    APPOGGIATURA REHEARSAL

     

    image

    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

    image

    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.

    image

    "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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