• 2018 Colorado New Play Summit selections announced

    by John Moore | Nov 29, 2017
    A video look back at the 2017 Colorado New Play Festival in February. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    DCPA's signature celebration has introduced 53 new plays, over half of which have returned as full productions.

    The DCPA Theatre Company's 13th annual Colorado New Play Summit will feature readings of new works by Sigrid Gilmer, David Jacobi, Kemp Powers, and Barbara Seyda alongside world-premiere productions by José Cruz González, Matthew Lopez and Lauren Yee, it was announced this morning. 

    A Summit 800 5The Colorado New Play Summit, which return Feb. 17-25, 2018, is the DCPA’s signature festival dedicated to supporting playwrights and developing new work. Participating playwrights, including many commissioned by the Theatre Company, are given two weeks with professional directors, actors and dramaturgs to workshop new plays. Industry professionals and the public are invited to experience them as non-staged readings.

    (Pictured above and right: 2017 Colorado New Play Summit reading of Donnetta Lavinia Grays' 'Last Night and the Night Before.')

    Since its founding, the Summit has introduced 53 new plays, over half of which returned to the stage as full Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit world premieres include Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, Tanya Saracho’s FADE, Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride, Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest, Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, Karen Zacarias’s Just Like Us, Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton’s Sense and Sensibility The Musical, and Dick Scanlan’s reimagined version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    2018 FEATURED NEW-PLAY READINGS:

    Mama Metallica
    By Sigrid Gilmer
    Sigrid GilmerBudding playwright Sterling Milburn has always been overshadowed by her fabulous mother Louise. Even when she’s holed up in a care facility with Parkinson’s, Louise finds a way to steal the spotlight. But with the overly critical eyes of Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams to fuel her rebellion and the frenetic energy of Metallica to help find her voice, Sterling sets out to write a story that is finally her own. As unfortunate histories mesh with hilarious interludes, Sterling must face the truth: her pain, her joys and her life will forever be shaped by and linked to the woman who raised her. Sigrid Gilmer’s “wonderfully impudent sense of humor” (USA Today) shines in this joyfully irreverent black comedy that entwines issues of identity with pop culture icons for a truly unique (and head-banging) experience.

    About Sigrid Gilmer: makes black comedies that are historically bent, totally perverse, joyfully irreverent and concerned with issues of identity, pop culture and contemporary American society. Sigrid burst onto the national theatre scene with her play Harry and the Thief, an action film/historical/time travel play about a thief who is blackmailed into traveling back in time to deliver a cache of arms to Harriet Tubman. It has since been produced across the country, including runs at the Pavement Group (Chicago), the Know Theatre (Cincinnati), and the Skylight Theatre (LA). Additional select works include Slavey (Clubbed Thumb), Seed: A Weird Act of Faith, It’s All Bueno (Cornerstone Theater Company), Frilly, and White 3: Manifestdestinyland. Sigrid is also on the writing team of the acclaimed Black Women: State of the Union. Sigrid is a winner of the Map Fund Creative Exploration Grant, the James Irving Foundation Fellowship and is a USA Ford Fellow in Theatre. Sigrid has an MFA in Writing for Performance from Cal Arts, where she was mentored by Suzan-Lori Parks. She resides in Los Angeles.

     


    The Couches
    By David Jacobi

    DCPA Theatre Company Commission
    David JacobiEthan Couch has lived in a bubble of pampered privilege for his entire life, so when he’s convicted of killing four people while driving drunk, he and his mother Tonya flee to a resort in Mexico rather than face the consequences. In this self-imposed state of limbo, Ethan pays hotel clerk Daniel $1000 to be his friend and help maintain the facade of his prior life. But as the unlikely pair drink, sing, and stumble through the night, delusions of how the world works melt away as quickly as their cash flow. David Jacobi draws from the infamous 2013 “affluenza” court case to weave a surreal story of recklessness and reflection.

    About David Jacobi
    : His plays have been performed throughout the U.S. and in China, including the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, FringeNYC and Penghao Theatre. His work has been developed at Ojai Playwrights Conference, Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival, RISK IS THIS, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Kennedy Center MFA Playwright’s Workshop, SLC Playwrights Lab and PlayPenn. He is a winner of the Holland New Voices Award, Kennedy Center Theatre for Young Audiences Award, a Relentless Award semifinalist, and has been nominated for the Weissburger. David was the 2015 Shank Fellow at Pig Iron Theatre Company, and is currently under commission from the Denver Center and South Coast Rep. He received a BFA in Dramatic Writing from Purchase College and an MFA from UC San Diego.



    Christa McAuliffe’s Eyes Were Blue
    By Kemp Powers DCPA Theatre Company Commission
    Kemp PowersEven though they share the same DNA, twins Steven and Bernard have lived drastically different lives. The big reason? One is plagued by racism because of his dark skin while the other passes as white. Steven spent his childhood fitting in with fellow classmates and is now a successful attorney. Though he was an extraordinarily bright student who had his eyes on outer space, Bernard’s future is as dismal as the Challenger Space Shuttle that once inspired him. As he prepares for trial and potential jail time, Bernard must face his childhood bully behind the judge’s bench and confront his brother’s advantages. Following his DCPA audience favorite One Night in Miami…, Kemp Powers’ piercing meditation on race and privilege targets the circumstances that can change a child’s destiny.

    About Kemp Powers:
    His plays include One Night in Miami… (Donmar Warehouse, Denver Center, Baltimore Center Stage, Rogue Machine; 2017 Olivier nominee for Best New Play, three Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards, four NAACP Theatre awards, LA Weekly Theater award), Little Black Shadows (South Coast Repertory) and The Two Reds (The Ground Floor at Berkeley Repertory). His work has been developed at Denver Center Theatre Company, South Coast Repertory, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Classical Theatre of Harlem. In television and film, he was most recently a writer for “Star Trek: Discovery”(CBS All Access) and is currently adapting his play One Night in Miami… into a feature film. He has toured nationally as a storyteller for the Peabody Award-winning series, "The Moth," and was one of the 50 storytellers selected for publication in their New York Times-bestselling book, The Moth: 50 True Stories (Hyperion Press). Powers is a founding member of The Temblors, a producing playwrights collective based in Los Angeles, where he resides.



    Celia, A Slave
    By Barbara Seyda

    Barbara SeydaIn 1855, 19-year-old African-American slave Celia was convicted of killing her master and hanged. Her story became known as a notorious failure of justice in American history, but to truly understand its significance, look to the people of Calloway County who experienced it all. Using oral histories and official records as her guide, playwright Barbara Seyda investigates the event with a tapestry of interviews with the dead. This stunningly evocative play illuminates the brutal realities of female slave life in the pre-Civil War South as it resurrects a panorama of real people on stage. The piece won the Yale Drama Series playwriting competition in its current form.

    About Barbara Seyda: She is a playwright, editor, designer and theatre artist. She has a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA from Mason Gross School of Art, Rutgers University. She has been a freelance editor for the Southwest Center, Rio Nuevo Press and the University of Arizona Press with a focus on native art, culture, history, ethnography and oral traditions of the American Southwest. She taught at Pratt Institute, The New School for Social Research, Rutgers University and University of Arizona's Continuing Education Program. Her publications include Nomads of a Desert City (University of Arizona Press) and Women in Love (Bulfinch, imprint of Little, Brown & Company). Her debut play Celia, A Slave was selected by Nicholas Wright, former Associate Director of London's Royal Court and won the Yale Drama Prize in 2015. The first public staged reading was at Lincoln Center under the direction of Niegel Smith and the script was published by Yale University Press in 2016. Celia opened The Rogue Theatre's 2017 season to rave reviews by PBS and NPR. She will reexamine the structure of Celia at the 2018 Colorado New Play Summit. Her new plays include An Unnatural History and Life in a Jar.


    2018 WORLD PREMIERE PLAYS:

    American Mariachi
    By José Cruz González

    Directed by James Vásquez
    Produced in association with The Old Globe

    A Jose Cruz Gonzalez 160DCPA Theatre Company Commission developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    Lucha and Boli are ready to start their own all-female mariachi band, but they’ll have to fight a male-dominated music genre and pressure from their families to get it done. This humorous, heartwarming story about music’s power to heal and connect includes gorgeous live mariachi music.

    Zoey’s Perfect Wedding
    By Matthew Lopez
    Directed by Mike Donahue

    Matthew LopezDisaster after disaster follow one unfortunate bride down the aisle, from brutally honest boozy speeches to a totally incompetent wedding planner. Watch in awe as this wildly funny fiasco destroys her expectations with the realities of commitment, fidelity and growing up.

    The Great Leap
    By Lauren Yee
    Directed by Eric Ting
    Produced in association with Seattle Repertory Theatre

    Yee, LaurenDCPA Theatre Company Commission developed at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit
    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. Tensions rise right up to the final buzzer as history collides with the action in the stadium.

    The 13th Annual Colorado New Play Summit
    Launch Weekend: Feb. 17-18
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 23-25
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

    All-inclusive Festival Weekend packages including all four readings, three world premieres, plus meals and special events are on sale now. Launch weekend events will go on sale in January 2018. 

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit

    Full photo gallery from the 2017 Colorado New Play Festival in February. To see more, click on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Bonus video coverage: Meet the 2017 featured playwrights:
    Summit Spotlight video: Lauren Gunderson, The Book of Will
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    Summit Spotlight Video: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Summit Spotlight Video: Mat Smart, Midwinter
  • Denver Center taking new plays to new level in 2017-18

    by John Moore | Jul 02, 2017

    Lauren Yee. The Great Leap
    Lauren Yee’s 'The Great Leap,' which was introduced as a reading at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, will premiere at the Denver Center next February, then re-open at the Seattle Rep just 12 days after closing here. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Companies are now jumping on new Denver Center works before they have even been fully staged here.

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    The Denver Center is taking a major step forward in its development of new work for the American theatre in 2017. And one major reason is a hip new term in the theatrical lexicon: “Co-Pro.”

    For the first time, the DCPA Theatre Company will stage two new plays next season that will immediately transfer to major theatres around the country as essentially continuing world premieres. They will quickly re-open in their second cities with their Denver Center directors and casts intact.

    American Mariachi. Summit The Theatre Company opens José Cruz González’s American Mariachi on Jan. 26, 2018. Less than a month after it closes in Denver, the production will re-open at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, which bows in Denver on Feb. 2, will re-open at the Seattle Rep just 12 days after closing here.

    By virtue of these unique partnerships, both stagings are considered “co-productions.” Or, as the kids say, “Co-Pros.” Coincidentally, the re-opening nights in San Diego and Seattle will both take place on March 23.

    (Pictured above right: 'American Mariachi' was introduced as a reading at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    For 12 years, artistic leaders from around the country have come to the Denver Center’s Colorado New Play Summit each February to see readings of developing new works, then come back the next year to see the subsequent fully staged world-premiere productions before scheduling some of the plays themselves. Among the popular titles that have expanded through this slow growth plan have been Jason Grote’s 1001 and Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale.

    But now companies are coming here to see readings and committing to scheduling them even before they are fully staged at the Denver Center for the first time.

    Matt McGrath in 'The Legend of Georgia McBride.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. All this comes at a time when Denver Center-born works are proliferating on national stages like never before. In 2017, Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride will become the most-produced new Denver Center work since Quilters in 1982. Ten companies this year are presenting the story of a straight man who explores the world of drag to feed his family in cities stretching from Los Angeles to Key West, Fla., with four more already slated for 2018. Lopez’s newest work, Zoey’s Perfect Wedding, will debut at the DCPA’s Space Theatre next Jan. 19.

    (Pictured above right: Matt McGrath in the Denver Center's 2014 world premiere of 'The Legend of Georgia McBride.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.) 

    How Georgia McBride has evolved since Denver

    Since former Artistic Director Kent Thompson launched the Colorado New Play Summit in 2006, the DCPA has given 27 new plays their world-premiere stagings. At least 32 productions of 13 DCPA-born works are being presented around the country this year and next, most notably a high-profile return of the reimagined The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which plays from July 21-27 at The Muny in St. Louis. The Muny is America’s largest outdoor musical theatre. After that, star Beth Malone said, the goal is Broadway.

    LEAD MOLLY"That is absolutely the intention of putting it up at The Muny,” Malone said. “There is no other reason than for it go to Broadway. Everyone involved with it feels very strongly that we are completely on track.”

    (Pictured at right: The cast of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown.' Photo by Adams VisCom.)

    Last week, two recent Colorado New Play Summit readings landed on The Kilroys, a curated list of the 31 most promising new plays by women: Yee's The Great Leap and Donnetta Lavinia Grays' Last Night and the Night Before.

    NATAKI GARRETT 3Even older new plays like Octavio Solis' Lydia (2008) are still making an impact. “Lydia is a blast-furnace drama now in its Seattle debut in a blistering, urgent staging from Strawberry Theatre Workshop," Misha Berson of the Seattle Times wrote last month of a "forcefully directed ensemble of visceral power." Last year, the Aurora Fox became the first company to stage the Denver Center’s Native American premiere of Black Elk Speaks since 1996.

    All of this proliferation is not only changing the way the nation looks at the Denver Center, said Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. It is changing how the Denver Center looks at itself.

    “The Colorado New Play Summit is a nationally renowned place where theatre companies from all over the United States come to see those playwrights who are moving up in the ranks and becoming the clarions for the future of playwriting,” she said.  “But I think this is where it was always heading. The most important part of the work we do as theatre artists is to foster and develop new work, and I think this is that idea coming to full fruition.”

    (Story continues after the video)

    Video spotlight: American Mariachi



    What makes for a successful Co-Pro, Garrett said, is the continuation of the Denver Center’s commitment to the playwright once the new play reaches its immediate second destination.

    “What I am really focused on with these companies is, 'Are you willing to make space for that writer to keep writing?’ ” Garrett said. “The whole point is to for them to be able to keep evolving their piece after they leave Denver, if that’s what the piece needs.”

    The Theatre Company’s commissioning program is one reason the pipeline stays stocked. At any given time, the company has a number of renowned and emerging playwrights under commissions. That essentially binds the playwright to write a new work of his or her choice, and the DCPA Theatre Company then has the right of first refusal to stage it. The playwrights with commissions in progress are:

    • Kemp Powers
    • Anne Garcia-Romero
    • Aleshea Harris
    • Mary Kathryn Nagle
    • Tony Meneses
    • David Jacobi
    • Regina Taylor

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    DCPA AROUND THE COUNTRY: 2017-18

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown, by Dick Scanlan and Meredith Willson: The 1960 musical that tells the rags-to-riches tale of Colorado's greatest heroine is infused with new songs and a new script.

    • The Muny, St. Louis, July 21-27, 2017

    The Book of Will, By Lauren Gunderson:  The untold story of the race to publish Shakespeare's First Folio before half his canon was lost to history.

    • Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, June 9-July 28, 2017
    • Northlight Theatre, Skokie, Ill., Nov. 9-Dec. 17, 2017
    • Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Md., Nov. 29-Dec. 24, 2017
    • Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Ore., June-October, 2018

    The Great Leap, by Lauren Yee: An American college basketball team travels to Beijing in 1989.

    • American Conservatory Theatre New Strands Festival, San Francisco (reading), May 19, 2017
    • DCPA Theatre Company, Feb. 2-March 11, 2018
    • Seattle Rep, March 23-April 22, 2018 (co-world premiere)

    The Legend of Georgia McBride, by Matthew Lopez: A young Elvis impersonator turns to drag to feed his growing family.

    • Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, April 4-May 14, 2017
    • GableStage, Coral Gables, Fla., May 27-June 25, 2017
    • Marin Theatre Company, San Francisco, June 8-July 9, 2017
    • ACT Theatre, Seattle, June 9-July 2, 2017
    • Theatre Nova, Detroit, June 9- July 9, 2017
    • Dorset Theatre Festival, Vermont, Aug. 3-19, 2017
    • Northlight Theatre, Skokie, Ill., Sept. 14-Oct. 22, 2017
    • Hippodrome State Theatre, Gainesville, Fla., Oct. 13-Nov. 5, 2017
    • B Street Theatre, Sacramento, Calif.,Nov. 6-Dec. 9, 2017
    • Uptown Players, Dallas, Dec. 1-17, 2017
    • Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, March 23-April 22, 2018
    • Key West Players, Key West, Fla., May 2-19, 2018
    • Stoneham Theatre, Stoneham Mass., May 3-20, 2018
    • Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Md., June 8-July 1, 2018

    American Mariachi, by Jose Cruz Gonzalez: The musical tale of an all-female mariachi band in the 1970s.

    • DCPA Theatre Company, Jan. 26-Feb. 25, 2018
    • Old Globe (San Diego), March 23-April 29, 2018 (co-world premiere)

    Just Like Us, by Karen Zacarías: Documentary-style play follows four Latina teenage girls in Denver - two are documented, two are not.

    • Visión Latino Theatre Company, Feb. 24-March 12, 2017

    Dusty and the Big Bad World, by Cusi Cram: When a popular children’s TV  show spotlights a family with two daddies, it sparks a conservative outcry.

    • Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, July 6-19, 2017

    Appoggiatura, by James Still: A trip to Venice brings love, loss, pain and joy to three weary travelers in search of healing and happiness in a magical story filled with music and amore.
    • Indiana Repertory Theatre, March 7-31, 2018

    FADE, by Tanya Saracho: When Mexican-born Lucia is hired to write for a Latina TV character, she finds an unexpected muse in the Latino studio custodian.
    • Cherry Lane Theatre, New York, Feb. 8-March 5, 2017
    • TheatreWorks, Hartford, June 1-30, 2017

    Lydia, by Octavio Solis: A maid cares for a border family's near-vegetative teenage daughter who was left in a coma after a mysterious accident. 

    • Strawberry Theatre Workshop, Seattle, June 1-24, 2017

    Almost Heaven: The Songs and Stories of John Denver: The songwriter's life story is told through anecdotes and 21 songs.

    • Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, Grand Lake, Sept. 1-30, 2017

    The Whale, by Samuel D. Hunter: An oversized, homebound and dying man struggles to reconcile with his estranged teenage daughter before it’s too late.
    • Verge Theatre Company, Nashville, June 2-14, 2017

    black odyssey, by Marcus Gardley: An imagination of Homer’s epic lens through the lens of the black American experience.
    • California Shakespeare Theatre, Orinda, Calif., Aug. 9-Sept. 3, 2017

    Quilters, by Molly Newman: A series of vignettes performed in song and spoken word that chart the joys and sorrows of the frontier journey West.

    • Ferndale (Calif.) Repertory Theatre, March 9-April 2, 2017

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter


    Video spotlight: The Great Leap

  • 2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices

    by John Moore | Feb 22, 2016
    2016 Colorado New Play Summit

    Photos from the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, just click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. All photos are downloadable for free by clicking on a photo. You will be taken to the DCPA Flickr account for downloading.


    Many numbers were bandied about at the 11th and largest Colorado New Play Summit, among the most telling: Only 20 percent of all plays produced in this country last year were written by women, and half of all developing new works featured at the DCPA Theatre Company’s signature annual event have returned as fully staged productions.

    But perhaps the most remarkable stat is one that went almost unnoticed. And if it had not occurred to playwright José Cruz González, author of the 2016 Summit offering American Mariachi, it might have gone completely overlooked.

    “I realized that two of the four directors here at the Summit are Latino – and they are both directing non-Latino plays,” González said. “When I reflected on that, I thought, ‘Wow. That’s huge.’ And nothing is being said about it.”

    And the fact that it’s not a big deal “is why it’s a big deal,” said González, whose magical realism piece September Shoes was fully staged by Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson in his first season back in 2005, followed by the comedy Sunsets and Margaritas in 2008.

    “I have to take my hat off to Kent for his commitment to new work and to the different voices that need to be reflected in this country,” González said. “We don’t see that in a whole lot of places yet. I think what he’s doing here is important, and I hope our colleagues around the country will pick up the ball and do what needs to be done. We need variety, and we need to hear those hidden voices. I think that’s what Kent is doing.”

    This 11th Colorado New Play Summit was just the second since expanding to two weeks. Now, four creative teams gather in Denver for a full week of development before a first weekend of public readings. In the past, the playwrights then returned to their elsewhere lives, and that was that. Now, each team takes a breather while the playwrights turn lessons learned into actual new script pages. After a second week of intensive rewriting and rehearsal time, there is another round of weekend readings, with many of the industry’s most prominent national figures in attendance. And that plants seeds for a possible future life for these developing new works.

    Four short videos spotlighting each of the featured plays at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Videos by John Moore and David Lenk.


    “Time really is the key thing for new-play development, and so the luxury of having that second week is huge,” González said. On a very practical level, the extra time helped him to focus on two unsolved issues.

    “One of my major questions coming in was, ‘Is American Mariachi a play with music, or should it just be a full-on musical?’” González said. “Now I’m leaning more and more toward the idea that this is a play with music. Another question I had was about two characters who really don’t ever speak through the course of the play. Having these great actors play those roles has really fleshed out those characters. “

    We asked all four featured playwrights to comment on the Summit’s expanded two-week time frame. Here’s what else they told us:

    • Lauren Gunderson (The Book of Will): “Having two weekends of readings is incredibly valuable. You never know a play until there’s an audience. And we learned so much from our first reading. To then be able to really sink in and do the hard thinking and the collaborative work a new play requires …  that’s really what this process allows for, and I am incredibly grateful for that.”
    • Tira Palmquist (Two Degrees): “The reading after the first week feels in a way like ‘proof of concept.’ Like: ‘OK, we did this first week, and we got it on its feet, and we got it in front of an audience.’ And then you get to hear how an audience responds - what lands and what doesn’t. One of the things that’s lovely about the second week is that now you have the opportunity to go through and fine-tune anything that you didn’t really get to polish. And you can answer questions you didn’t really get to answer during the first week.” 
    • Mat Smart (Midwinter): “The second week has made all the difference for me. I took a good first step with the play during the first week, but I would say that I really discovered what the play is and who the characters are and what the big moments are just in the past couple of days. So I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have another week to take a crack at it.

    And what of Denver’s growing reputation an incubator of new works for the American theatre?

    • Lauren Gunderson: “Everyone who knows new plays knows about the Colorado New Play Summit now. It’s a place to gather to see new plays. It’s a place for community. It’s a place to just do the work – the real work. Everyone knows about the commitment to new plays here. And I’m excited that the community of people who know it gets bigger every year.”
    • Tira Palmquist: “People are noticing that Denver is really interested not just in having a festival, but actually developing new plays. Not all festivals do both. I’ve been in a lot of festivals where it feels like the plays are sort of thrown up in front of an audience. But if you’re really interested in play development, then really taking the time to do it right and attend to the playwright’s needs, then this is the way it should be done.”
    • Mat Smart: “The Denver Center’s national reputation is that it has a great passion for new plays, and an audience for them, and the resources to back them up and support them the way they need to be supported.”

    A Summit 600 2
    The cast of 'American Mariachi' at the closing party for the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Summarizing his Summit experience, González said: “I have to tell you, it is a rare thing in this country when you can feel like this is an artistic home, and you can take chances and create art.”

    Summit QuoteGunderson’s The Book of Will, which explores how Shakespeare’s friends rallied to have his complete works published for the first time following his death, is a commissioned piece through the Denver Center’s Women’s Voices Fund. That is a $1 million fund dedicated to making plays written and directed by women. “Just give women the agency, the encouragement, the support both financial and personal to write more plays,” she said. “Sometimes when you have a problem, you just have to fix it – like they have done here in Denver.”

    More than ever, the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit spotlighted playwrights who are currently working in the Theatre Company’s commissioning pipeline. Commissioned playwrights are those who have been contracted by the company to write a new play, and Thompson then gets first consideration whether to further develop those plays.

    Robert Schenkkan (All the Way, The 12), Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami), Regina Taylor (Crowns, Drowning Crow), Rogelio Martinez (When Tang Met Laika), Anne Garcia-Romero (Earthquake ChicaLauren Yee (Ching Chong Chinaman), Eric Schmiedl (Benediction) and Andrew Hinderacker (Colossal) were among those who came to Denver for the full two weeks. In addition to giving the playwrights time to focus on their own developing works, most also participated in panel conversations and other activities.

    Read our Week 1 Summit re-cap

    One event, “Dialogue on Dialogue,” was a panel conversation that explored what makes for a great first scene. But rather than have the playwrights simply read from their own works, host (and Theatre Company Playwright in Residence) Matthew Lopez assigned them roles from both contemporary and classic plays such as The Glass Menagerie. Those in attendance who saw Regina Taylor and Robert Schenkkan read as George and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf won’t soon forget it (photo below).

    summit Regina Taytlor Robert Schenkkan


    Kemp Powers, who was attending his first Colorado New Play Summit, said he “was completely humbled” by the experience. He was particularly impressed by the span of industry leaders visiting from theatrical nerve centers such New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and here in Denver.

    “Being a playwright is such a solitary endeavor that it's easy to forget how valuable it is to connect with your peers within the national community,” he said. “Getting some much-needed time to work on my commission was wonderful. Seeing the works of other playwrights at this early stage of development was nothing short of inspirational.”

    Summit Teen playwritingThe Saturday program culminated with a lively presentation of readings by three teenage Colorado writers. The one-acts were chosen from among 212 statewide submissions to DCPA Education’s third annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition. At the Summit, professional and student actors joined forces to read plays by Kendra Knapp of Valor Christian High School, Jessica Wood of Denver Christian High School and Gabrielle Moore of D’Evelyn High School (pictured above).

    The three finalists received mentorship from Rogelio Martinez, Anne Garcia-Gomez and Lauren Yee. Education staff will choose one of their three plays to be fully produced as part of its 2016 summer program.

    "This opportunity was a great help," said Wood. "Maybe we are not all going to be playwrights when we grow up. Maybe we are not even going to write. But this has certainly helped us improve our skills. We understand more about the theatre. We understand more about the massive process that goes into creating a play. And I think we understand a lot more about the power of words.”

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of 2016 Summit (to date):
    Summit Spotlight video: Lauren Gunderson, The Book of Will
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    Summit Spotlight Video: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Summit Spotlight Video: Mat Smart, Midwinter
    DCPA rolls out the welcome mat: It's Summit weekend
    2016 Summit playwrights introduce their featured works
    Three major Summit events to be streamed live
    Featured playwrights named for 2016 Summit
    Audio: Colorado Public Radio on the 2016 New Play Summit

    DCPA commissioned playwrights. DCPA commissioned playwrights and staff. Clockwise from left: DCPA CEO Scott Shiller, Andrew Hinderacker, Lauren Yee, Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, Kemp Powers, Robert Schenkkan, Mat Smart, Regina Taylor, Anne Garcia-Romero, DCPA Playwright in Residence Matthew Lopez and Rogelio Martinez.
  • DCPA rolls out the welcome mat: It's Summit weekend

    by John Moore | Feb 16, 2016
    2016 Colorado New Play Summit

    Photos from the first week of the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Above, DCPA Theatre Company Playwright in Residence Matthew Lopez. To see our full photo gallery, click the 'forward' button on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    At a time when the national theatre conversation is at last fixed on the sadly unchanging topic of gender disparity in American playwriting, the Denver Center's 11th and largest annual Colorado New Play Summit is shaping up to be a veritable celebration of the woman’s voice.

    The two fully produced world-premiere plays that are being presented for local and national audiences were written by women. Two of the four playwrights whose developing works have been selected to be featured at this year’s Summit are women. The second-ever Local Playwrights Slam held last weekend was curated by a company dedicated to supporting artistic contributions by women, and thus featured an all-female playwriting lineup. And the three teen playwrights whose works were blindly chosen from a field of 212 statewide submissions to be presented Saturday in the third annual Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition are all Colorado female high-school students.

    “All of that gives me hope,” said Angela Astle, Executive Director of the Athena Project and host of the Local Playwrights Slam that was held in the Jones Theatre on Feb. 13. “We’ve got a movement started that recognizes women are truly underrepresented in the American theatre.

    “Only 20 percent of all plays produced in this country are written by women, and we need to change that.”

    The 2016 Colorado New Play Summit, which last year expanded to two weeks to add additional development time and a second round of public readings, is expected to draw more local audiences and national industry leaders than ever before. Attendees are coming from 25 states and represent companies ranging from The Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, the Alley Theatre in Houston, the Arena Stage in Washington D.C., the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and, closer to home, the Creede Repertory Theatre, Su Teatro and Arvada Center.

    Nicole Rodenburg Colorado New Play Summit.
    Nicole Rodenburg in 'Midwinter' at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    They will be treated to fully staged performances of Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest, Tanya Saracho’s FADE, the four featured Summit readings, several panel discussions hosted by DCPA Theatre Company Playwright in Residence Matthew Lopez (The Legend of Georgia McBride) and a live demonstration of the Third Rail Projects’ upcoming immersive, experiential new work it is developing with the DCPA and local artists. The world premiere, commissioned by the DCPA, will begin performances in May.

    DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director (and Summit founder) Kent Thompson’s burgeoning commission program also will be on full display at the Summit. Commissioned playwrights are those who have been contracted by the Denver Center to write a new play. Thompson then gets first consideration whether to further develop those plays. The lineup for this weekend's second Playwriting Slam will include many of  those commissioned playwrights who are attending the 2016 Summit. It takes place at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday in the Jones Theatre.

    Colorado New Play Summit. Teen playwriting. The lineup will include some of the biggest names in American playwriting, including Robert Schenkkan (All the Way, The 12), Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami), Regina Taylor (Crowns), Rogelio Martinez (When Tang Met Laika), Anne Garcia-Romero, Lauren Yee and Andrew Hinderacker.

    The 2016 Summit will also go down in history as the first time an event held at the DCPA was livestreamed. Audiences around the world have access to three Summit panel conversations on their computers via HowlRoundTV, a peer-produced online network. The first featured Third Rail Projects founder Zach Morris (a Colorado native) and co-Artistic Director Tom Pearson talking about the company’s upcoming partnership with the DCPA.

    HowlRoundTV also will broadcast a dialogue hosted by Lopez about playwrights and their processes on Thursday (Feb. 18), as well as the Playwrights Slam on Friday (Feb. 19).

    (Pictured above right: SunHee Seo appears in 'Divinity of Hell,' by Gabrielle Moore, one of the three finalists for the third annual Regional High School Playwriting Competition for Colorado high-school students. The three one-acts will be read on Saturday (Feb. 20) at 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. in the Conservatory Theatre.) 

    The Colorado New Play Summit has grown into one of the nation’s premier showcases of new plays. In its first decade, 44 new plays were introduced at the Summit, and more than half have returned as fully staged Theatre Company productions.

    Athena Project Local Playwrights Slam Colorado New Play Summit
    The featured playwrights in this year’s Colorado New Play Summit Local Playwrights Slam hosted by the Athena Project. Executive Producer and Slam host Angela Astle passed out photo placards (each featuring women artists ranging from Britney Spears to Julie Andrews) to every fifth audience member. She then asked those with placards to stand to illustrate the point that only 20 percent of all plays produced in America are written by women. From left: Lisa Wagner Erickson, Rebecca Gorman O’Neill, Leslie C. Lewis, Catherine Wiley, Jennifer Faletto, Felice Locker and Astle. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    The four featured Summit readings will take audiences from 1616 England to present-day South Pole. Here is a brief look at each:

    2016 Colorado New Play Summit: Featured readings  at a glance

    • José Cruz González’s American Mariachi is a new piece inspired by women who overcame great obstacles to form their own mariachi groups in Los Angeles during the male-dominated 1970s.
    • Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will tackles the history right after Shakespeare died by telling how his friends and fellow actors valiantly managed to publish the first folio of The Bard’s great works.
    • Tira Palmquist describes her Two Degrees as “a cheery story about climate change.” Her main character is a female climate scientist but her play is really about grief, she said. “Grief for the planet, grief at large, grief on a more personal scale."
    • Mat Smart’s Midwinter was inspired by his time working at a research center on Antarctica. “One thing that's interesting about the station is that the people there fall in and out of love and have these epic relationships for, like, two weeks - and it's very genuine,” said Smart, whose calls his story a riff on A Midsummer Night's Dream.


    2016 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information

    Second weekend (Festival Weekend): Friday, Feb. 19, through Sunday, Feb. 21
    303-893-4100 or INFO

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of 2016 Summit (to date):
    2016
    Summit playwrights introduce their featured works
    Three major Summit events to be streamed live
    Featured playwrights named for 2016 Summit
    Audio: Colorado Public Radio on the 2016 New Play Summit

  • Testimonials as 'One Night in Miami' closes today

    by John Moore | Apr 19, 2015

    'One Night in Miami' cast on opening night. Photo by John Moore.
    'One Night in Miami' cast on opening night. Photo by John Moore.


    As Kemp Powers' One Night in Miami closes its remarkable run with today's matinee performance by the DCPA Theatre Company, we thought we would compile and share some of the thoughts of cast, creatives and audience members have sent us or posted on social media. The play imagines what happened the night Cassius Clay won the heavyweight boxing championship in 1964 and immediately withdrew to a hotel room with Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X:

    Actor Jason Delane (Malcolm X), center, meets with students from Denver's  Contemporary Learning Academy after a recent performance of 'One Night in Miami.' Ty Jones (Classical Theatre of Harlem): Why I love theatre. No. 1: People like Jason Delane, currently starring as Malcolm X in Kemp Powers' One Night in Miami, taking the time to speak to these young men (pictured at right) who attend an alternative school in Denver for at-risk youth (Contemporary Learning Academy). These young men had never been to theatre before. No. 2: The Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Hope Grandon and Kent Thompson's team made this happen. Keep up the good work. You may have just changed the trajectory of the lives of these young men. To the cast, Director Carl Cofield, and the team at Denver Center, thank you.

    (Photo: Actor Jason Delane (Malcolm X), center, meets with students from Denver's  Contemporary Learning Academy after a recent performance of 'One Night in Miami.' )

    Miami QuoteTerri Valliere (Contemporary Learning Academy): I can’t thank everyone enough for making this happen for these kids. This is the first time any of them had ever been to a play, and they were completely mesmerized by the play, the people, and the experience. They were still talking about it today at school because the meaning behind the play touched them. Thanks for supporting the activity for kids who would have never been able to go if not for your generosity. Finally, thanks to actor Jason Delane for taking the time to talk to the children after to show them that there is so much more outside of the world they live in when they fight for change.

    Kemp Powers (playwright): Sending good wishes to the One Night in Miami... crew on their final performance at the DCPA today. Congrats to Carl Cofield, Jason Delane Lee, Nik Walker, Colby Lewis, Rocc Omari, York Walker and William Oliver Watkins for your wonderful work. And thank you to Kent Thompson for bringing the show to Denver!




    Colby Lewis QuoteColby Lewis (Cassius Clay): Feeling like Ali in this speech (above) on this truly bittersweet morning. I close one of the best shows I've ever been a part of. When Kemp Powers wrote a play about his heroes, I'm sure he didn't think about writing a masterpiece. When Carl Cofield gave me a chance to step into the role of Cassius Marcellus Clay, I don't know if he realized he'd just given me one of the biggest gifts of my life. When I met York Walker, Nik Walker, William Oliver Watkins, Jason Delane Lee, Rocc Omari, I'm sure they didn't think they were about to change life as I viewed it. I could go on forever about the things they called Cassius Clay (soon to be Muhammad Ali). But through this amazing journey at DCPA, I found out what's most important. And that is what you call YOURSELF. This process has changed me not only as an artist, but more as a man. Everyone has doubts, fears, and insecurities. But what makes you WHO you are, are your convictions, the ideals you stand behind, the words you speak, and the courage to defend those beliefs. I am not perfect; no one is but God. But I've learned from Cassius and the others I've worked with in Denver that I can and will be great, not just as an artist but as a human being. To truly be a STUDENT AND A SERVANT of the world. Maybe even the "Greatest of All Time." I love you all, fellas BOMAYE!!!!!

    Actors conduct a student talkback after a recent matinee performance of 'One Night in Miami.' Photo courtesy Kristen Adele. Jason Delane (Malcolm X) (excerpt): This has been a very special experience. Thank you, Kemp Powers, for crafting such a powerful piece of theatre and for providing six black male actors with these awesome characters to inhabit. There are way too many people to thank here on Facebook. I've already typed and deleted one post I was about to put up because I tagged over 100 people. I am humbled by the amazing men and women of the theatre that I have met through my participation in this play both here in Denver and in Los Angeles back in 2013. I thank all friends and family members who traveled near and very far to come here to Denver to see and support our work. Carl Cofield: Thanks for entrusting Brother Malcolm to me. Role of a lifetime. Kent Thompson: Thank you for bringing us to Denver. Your theatre is a gem. Kemp: THANK YOU. Rocc Omari, Nik Walker, Colby Lewis, William Oliver Watkins, York Walker: Y'all Family. Lets kill it one more time this afternoon and then go home.

    Nik Walker (Sam Cooke): Theaters like this. Casts like this. Roles like this. Directors like this. Scripts like this. Crews like this. This is why I became an artist, in the hope that I would one day have an experience...like this. Happy closing, #‎DCPAMiami‬. Now let's blow this thing and go home.

    York Walker (Jamaal): Today we close One Night In Miami. This is a hard one to say goodbye to. Thank you to everyone at the DCPA for making this one of the best experiences I've ever had in the theatre. Kemp Powers has written an incredible play and it has been a blessing to be a part of it.

    One Night in Miami
    montage of scenes:



    Video: One Night in Miami
    production photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen:


    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Video: Jasone Deland and Colby Lewis talk Miami at the Tattered Cover
    To Miami creator, 'It feels a lot like 1964 right now'
    How Miami playwright accidentally discovered The Black Justice League
    Video: Bringing four icons to the stage in Miami
    Watch a video montage of scenes from the play
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami 'meet the cast' videos:
    Meet Colby Lewis
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet York Walker
    Meet William Oliver Watkins


    Photos: Them making of One Night in Miami ... in Denver:

  • Page to Stage: Jason Delane and Colby Lewis of 'One Night in Miami'

    by John Moore | Apr 14, 2015


    Brief video highlights from this month’s Page to Stage noontime conversation at the Tattered Cover Book Store with One Night in Miami cast members Jason Delane (Malcolm X) and Colby Lewis (Cassius Clay).

    Jason Delane and Colby Lewis at Page to Stage. Photo by Joohn Moore. The pair fielded a variety of questions from host John Moore, including the value of a predominantly white audience base seeing this play right here and right now.

    "If I do my job well," Lewis responded, "all of you can have a conversation about what's going on in the play that translates into the news that you watch the next morning."

    One Night in Miami
    plays only through April 19 at The Space Theatre.

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen and John Moore.


    One Night in Miami production photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen:



    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances through April 19
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    To Miami creator, 'It feels a lot like 1964 right now'
    How Miami playwright accidentally discovered The Black Justice League
    Video: Bringing four icons to the stage in Miami
    Watch a video montage of scenes from the play
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami 'meet the cast' videos:
    Meet Colby Lewis
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet York Walker
    Meet William Oliver Watkins
  • How 'Miami' playwright accidentally discovered The Black Justice League

    by John Moore | Apr 05, 2015


    In the video above, the actors from 'One Night in Miami' talk about portraying four of the greatest entertainment and cultural icons of the 20th century at varying stages of their fame.


    The DCPA’s new rock musical The 12 and the searing drama One Night in Miami have at least one surprising commonality: Both are fictional explorations of very real historical events and personalities.

    While The 12 imagines what might have happened between the disciples in the three days after Jesus’ crucifixion, One Night in Miami imagines the conversation between Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke in the hours immediately after Clay shocked Sonny Liston — and the world — to win the world heavyweight boxing championship. The next morning, Clay announced his allegiance to the Nation of Islam and the changing of his name to Muhammad Ali.

    Director Carl Cofield with 'One Night in Miami' playwright Kemp Powers on opening night in Denver. Photo by John Moore. For longtime journalist and first-time playwright Kemp Powers, One Night in Miami was a liberating creative writing opportunity. But it took him some time to resolve the journalist’s need for absolute accuracy with the playwright’s charge to invent a compelling theatrical drama.

    “If you had asked me who my four favorite people in the world were, I would have said those four,” Powers said. “So when I read in Mike Marqusee’s book Redemption Song that they were friends, I thought, ‘OK, I just accidentally discovered The Black Justice League.’ 

    “The first draft was really rough because I had to get away from being such a huge fan of all four of them. I needed to bring these guys down to a human level.”

    The play started to work, Powers said, only when he relieved himself of the responsibility of having to exactly and completely represent these four cultural giants.

    “What I quickly learned is that we are now living in an age where, if a person wants to know anything about a famous person, all they have to do is Google them,” Powers said, “and that’s when I was able to let go of the educational and historical obligations I was feeling and focus completely on the story.”

    That story is a small slice-of-life — just one with enormous historical implications. 

    “I approached this meeting as a simple gathering of four good friends who respect each other but have some significant differences of opinion,” Powers said. “Four good friends who maybe didn’t expect to be in this room or to have anything to celebrate on this night. But the outcome of the fight changed everything.”

    Kemp Powers QuoteStill, these are, irretrievably, real men. And audiences will come to the DCPA with preconceived notions of who they are, how they should look and how they should speak. One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield considers Jim Brown “The black James Bond.” Cofield named his own son Cassius. As in Cassius Marcellus Clay, the 19th-Century abolitionist. The same man after whom Muhammad Ali’s father was named.

    “That the young Cassius Clay (the boxer) was so rooted in his conviction was important to me,” Cofield said, “and the man he would go on to be. Even though he was young, he was wise, and he chose a path he believed in his heart was the path for him.”

    Despite audience expectations, Powers said the play works best when the actors playing these four cultural icons don’t try to do mere imitations of them.

    “You want people who can get to the truth of these men, as they are written in this script,” he said. “There are certain things that each actor will say that may make them very recognizable to the audience as these four specific men. But this isn’t a variety show with impersonations.”

    In that case, then, how much does truth matter? It’s everything, Powers said.

    “Even though this is a fictional conversation, all of the stories they talk about are real things that have happened to them,” he said. “The audience is going to come in knowing that Cassius Clay is going to become Muhammad Ali. They are coming in knowing that Sam Cooke wrote 'A Change is Gonna Come.'

    “But then again, if people come in feeling, ‘Well, I already know all there is to know about these guys,’ then my challenge becomes: What can I do to make it completely surprising despite all of that?”

    Powers points to the character of Malcolm X, who is presented in the play in a way he doesn’t think anyone has ever seen before, he said.

    “This isn’t The Autobiography of Malcolm X," he said. "I try to paint a more nuanced version of him that comes from more modern readings on Malcolm X, including Manning Marable’s Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.”

    Audiences also will come in knowing full well what happens after the play ends.

    “We know that a year after this fight, things are never the same,” Cofield said. “We know that two of these four men are dead. Malcolm X is assassinated, and Sam Cooke is killed in mysterious circumstances outside a Los Angeles hotel in a convertible Ferrari with a bottle of whiskey and a Final Call newspaper, which is very, very telling, because that is the official newspaper of the Nation of Islam.”

    But for all that is definitively known, what happened in that Miami hotel room in 1964 remains largely unknowable. “All that we know for certain is that the only food they had available to eat was vanilla ice cream,” Cofield said.

    And so writing One Night in Miami as a play allowed Powers to write a story he never could have authoritatively pulled off as a journalist. And he’s glad for it.

    “Having this be a fiction that is based on facts takes all of those journalistic constraints off of me and opens up an entirely new world,” Powers said. 

    One Night in Miami production photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen:




    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances run through April 19
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Video: Bringing four icons to the stage in Miami
    Watch a video montage of scenes from the play
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami 'meet the cast' videos:
    Meet Colby Lewis
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet York Walker
    Meet William Oliver Watkins
  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'One Night in Miami'

    by John Moore | Mar 27, 2015


    Here is your first look in video and photos at Kemp Powers' celebrated play, One Night in Miami, which opens tonight  (March 27) at the DCPA Theatre Company.

    The play imagines what happened just after Cassius Clay’s historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston.

    Declining a glamorous party, Clay celebrates with his friends: Activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown. Each man argues his vision for what it means to be black in 1964. The evening culminated in an early morning announcement from Clay that shocked the world. Runs through April 19 in The Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    One Night in Miami production photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen:



    One Night in Miami cast list (in order of appearance):
    Sam Cooke: Nik Walker
    Jamal: York Walker
    Kareem: William Oliver Watkins
    Malcolm X: Jason Delane
    Cassius Clay: Colby Lewis
    Jim Brown: Morocco Omari
     
    Director: Carl Cofield
    Scenic Design: Lisa Orzolek
    Costume Design: Meghan Anderson Doyle
    Lighting Design: Charles R. MacLeod
    Sound Design: Tyler Nelson
    Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
    Voice and Dialect Coach: Kathryn G. Maes Ph.D
    Stage Manager: Rachel Ducat

    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances run through April 19
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami cast videos:
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet William Oliver Watkins
  • Denver 'One Night in Miami' Shout-Out to Baltimore Center Stage

    by John Moore | Feb 20, 2015



    The cast of the DCPA Theatre Company's upcoming 'One Night in Miami' has a special message of congratulations for the cast of the same play at Baltimore's Center Stage, which closes Feb. 22 after an extended, record-breaking run.

    The DCPA Theatre Company's staging, directed by Carl Cofield, began rehearsals this week and runs March 20 through April 19. Kemp Powers' play imagines what happened the night Cassius Clay spent with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown after Clay's historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964. Featured in this video are Cofield, Nik Walker, York Walker, William Oliver Watkins, Jason Delane, Colby Lewis and Morocco Omari.

    UPDATE:

    Today (Feb. 23) we heard back from the cast of CenterStage. A ricochet of love from Denver to Baltimore ... and now back. Take a look:

    The Baltimore cast includes Grasan Kingsberry (Sam Cooke), Royce Johnson (Brother Kareem), Esau Pritchett (Jim Brown), Sullivan Jones (Cassius Clay), Genesis Oliver (Brother Jamaal), and Tory Andrus (Malcolm X).

    Oliver is a graduate of the Denver Center's former masters program, the National Theatre Conservatory.


    'One Night in Miami': Ticket information
    Performances run March 20 through April 19.
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site here

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Full casting announced
    Go to the official show page
    Video: Denver gets first look at upcoming 'One Night in Miami'
    New Denver Center season includes 'One Night in Miami'


    'One Night in Miami.' Photo by John Moore.
  • Denver gets first look at upcoming 'One Night in Miami'

    by John Moore | Aug 15, 2014

    Watch our video, above.

    What if LeBron James announced he were going off to fight for Al-Qaeda? That's how mind-bending it was 50 years ago when, on the morning after Cassius Clay won the heavyweight boxing championship, he announced his allegiance to the Nation of Islam and the changing of his name to Muhammad Ali. In the video above, Director Carl Cofield talks about One Night in Miami, an acclaimed new play by Kemp Powers that imagines what happened in the real-life meeting that took place in a Miami hotel room immediately after the fight. In the room with Clay were Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X.

    Cofield was in Denver on Tuesday, Aug. 12, for pre-production meetings, and to attend a public reception in his honor. To celebrate Black Philanthropy Month, more than 65 members of the Denver African American Philanthropists collaborated with The Links, The Denver Foundation and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to host a discussion with Cofield moderated by the Theatre Company's Associate Artistic Director, Bruce Sevy, in one of the Theatre Company's rehearsal studios.

    The shared purpose of the event was to introduce the story to Denver, while The Denver Foundation works to expand philanthropy in communities of color and support the arts.

    To see our complete gallery of photos from the event, click here.

    One Night in Miami will be staged by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company from March 19-April 20, 2015. For info, call 303-893-4100 or click here. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Photos by John Moore

    One_Night_In Miami_814_1



    One_Night_In_Miami_814_2

    One_Night_In_Miami_814_3
  • New Denver Center season: 'Molly Brown', Christopher Durang, 'Lord of the Flies' and more

    by John Moore | Mar 12, 2014



    We asked members of the Denver Center Theatre Company family to help introduce the 2014-15 season. Our guests include Kent Thompson, Bruce Sevy, Christy Montour-Larson, Sam Gregory, Charlie Miller, Emily Tarquin, Charlie Korman and Brianna Firestone. Video by John Moore.

    The Denver Center Theatre Company's 2014-15 season, which includes the previously announced launching of the newly re-imagined classic Broadway musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, also includes Lord of the Flies and the company's first staging of a Christopher Durang play in its 36-year history, it was announced today.

    The eight-show season, which opens Sept. 26, is entirely new to Denver audiences. It includes the world premieres of Appoggiatura, the tender story of an unusual American family that travels to Venice to become lost ... and found, written by Pulitzer Prize-nominated James Still; and Benediction, which will complete Kent Haruf's Plainsong trilogy. That's a series of homespun stories set in the small fictional ranching town of Holt, Colorado, and adapted for the stage by Eric Schmiedl. Both plays were introduced to Denver audiences with staged readings at the Denver Center's recent Colorado New Play Summit in February.

    image

    Kent Thompson announcing the 2013-14 season to the staff this morning. Photo by John Moore.

    The eyes of the theatre world will be on Denver when the new The Unsinkable Molly Brown, directed by three-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall, launches the season on Sept. 12. The 1960 musical about perhaps the most significant woman in Colorado history retains some songs from the orignal score by Meredith Willson (The Music Man), while introducing several never-before published songs from the Willson canon. The Denver staging will boast a fresh new book by three-time Tony Award nominee Dick Scanlan (Thoroughly Modern Millie), with staging and choreography by the oft-lauded Marshall (Anything Goes).

    Two weeks later, the Denver Center will present a powerful stage adaptation of Lord of The Flies that breathes new life into William Golding’s classic novel. To many, the terrifying story of young castaways who turn into violent carbon-copies of their parents is the original Hunger Games

    The company will then present Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which won the 2013 Tony Award for best new play. The Denver Center has never before staged a play by Durang (Beyond Therapy, The Actor's Nightmare) in its 36-year history, and this will be the company's first staging of the most recent Tony-winning best play since Doubt in 2007. Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson calls it "a wonderfully dark and hilarious new play."

    One Night in Miami ... is a new play by Kemp Powers that imagines what may have happened during the real-life visit between Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X and Jim Brown that took place 50 years ago on the very night after Clay took the world heavyweight boxing title from Sonny Liston.

    Since 1990, more than a half million people have flocked to the Denver Center to take part in its traditional seasonal staging of A Christmas Carol. The company presents the beloved Scrooge story with original period holiday carols, ghostly chills, period sets and costumes.

    The title of the season's final production will be announced at a later date.

    Thompson also announced that the 10th Colorado New Play Summit will will expand to two weeks in February 2015. Two world premieres from this season -- The Most Deserving being one of them already have secured New York stagings. (The other will be announced shortly.) "And we expect our two world premieres next season –  Appoggiatura and Benediction, to join that roster," Thompson said. "We are really reaching out to the country, and our plays are having follow-up productions."

    In announcing an eight-show season, down from 10 in 2013-14, Thompson said the company was responding to financial considerations, artistic sustainability and audience feedback.

    "We want to maintain the highest quality productions. That's really what we are known for," Thompson said. With the change, he added, opening nights will be more staggered, "so audiences won't be attending three shows in four weeks anymore -- and the production staff won't be mounting three shows in four weeks anymore." Each show, therefore, will get more individual attention on both sides of the footlights. 

     

    THE 2014-15 SEASON AT A GLANCE:
    Sept. 12-Oct. 26: The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Stage Theatre
    Sept. 26-Nov. 2:William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies, Space Theatre
    Oct. 10-Nov. 16: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Ricketson Theatre 
    Nov 28-Dec 28: A Christmas Carol, Stage Theatre
    Jan. 16-Feb. 22, 2015: Appoggiatura, Ricketson Theatre
    Jan. 30-March 1, 2015: Benediction, Space Theatre
    March 20-April 19, 2015: One Night in Miami, Space Theatre
    March 27-April 26, 2015: Director’s Choice, Stage Theatre

    THE PLAYS IN GREATER DETAIL:

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Lyrics and Music by Meredith Willson
    Additional Lyrics and Book by Dick Scanlan
    Based on the Original Book by Richard Morris
    Directed and Choreographed by Kathleen Marshall
    Sept. 12-Oct. 26 (Opens Sept. 19)
    Stage Theatre

    This exhilarating refresh of Meredith Willson's 1960 musical tells the rags-to-riches romance of Colorado's own heroine, Molly Brown. With a new book by Dick Scanlan (Thoroughly Modern Millie), new songs from the Willson songbook and staging by Tony-winning director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes), the tempestuous can't-live-with-him/can't-live-without-him love story that survived the Silver Boom, Gold Rush and sinking of the Titanic returns to the stage in an all-new production. 

     

    William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies
    Adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams
    Sept. 26-Nov. 2 (Opens Oct. 3)
    Space Theatre

    A staple in classrooms for generations, Chicago Theatre Beat raves Lord of the Flies is a “powerful, passionate adaptation that breathes new life into the classic novel,” which tells the story of a group of English boys who become stranded on a deserted island. Intoxicated by sudden freedom, their games quickly descend to a savage struggle for power. A compelling glimpse into dystopia that explores the grimmest reaches of human nature and fragility of free will.

     

    VANYA and SONIA and MASHA and SPIKE
    By Christopher Durang
    Oct. 10-Nov. 16 (Opens Oct. 17)
    Ricketson Theatre

    Absurdist master Christopher Durang blends melancholy with mayhem in what The New York Times declares a “deliriously funny” black comedy. Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for best play, this Chekhovian mash-up erupts into chaos when Vanya and Sonia receive a surprise visit from their Hollywood star sister, Masha, and her boy-toy Spike. Residents and visitors of the normally quiet household are thrown into hilarious upheaval as they confront issues of sibling rivalry, regret, lust and love.

     

    A Christmas Carol*
    By Charles Dickens
    Adapted by Richard Hellesen
    Music by David de Berry
    Nov. 28-Dec. 28
    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.*Note: This production is an added attraction, not part of the subscription season.

     

    Appoggiatura
    By James Still
    Jan. 16-Feb. 22, 2015
    Ricketson Theatre

    Written by three-time Pulitzer nominee James Still, Appoggiatura follows three closely related Americans, each nursing a hunger and a hard-to-heal wound, as they travel to the romantic city of Venice seeking solace. As time bends and magic lies just around the corner, this favorite of the Colorado New Play Summit weaves a quirky and lyrical narrative exploring love, loss and the human soul.

     

    Benediction
    By Eric Schmiedl
    Based on the novel by Kent Haruf
    Jan. 30-March 1, 2015
    Space Theatre

    Boasted as a “masterful look at the end of life” by The Denver Post, this adaptation of best-selling Kent Haruf’s novel takes place on the high plains of Colorado. The final chapter of a trilogy, Benediction is a slice-of-life drama about three souls searching for meaningful connections despite separation, loneliness and the race against time. A Denver Center commission, and a world premiere.

    image

    Director Kent Thompson with actors Mike Hartman and Matt McGrath at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit reading of "Benediction." Photo by John Moore.

     

    One Night in Miami…
    By Kemp Powers
    March 20-April 19, 2015
    Space Theatre

    image

    This slice-of-life dramedy the Los Angeles Times calls “engaging and thought-provoking,” imagines what occurred the night of Cassius Clay’s historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston.  Declining a glamorous Miami Beach party, Clay chooses to celebrate in a hotel room with his closest friends: activist Malcom X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown. Over the course of the night each man argues for his vision of what it means to be black in 1964, culminating in an early morning announcement from Clay that will shock the world. Filled with “crackling good dialogue and timely themes,” as boasted by Variety, One Night in Miami… is a “decisive knockout.”

     

    Director’s Choice
    March 27-April 26, 2015
    Stage Theatre

    Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson is considering several new works for his final production of the 2014-15 season. Stay tuned for the announcement.

     

    Ticket information:
    Subscriptions are available starting Monday March 17. Single tickets will be available at a date to be announced. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.DenverCenter.Org.

    Please visit our blog daily at www.MyDenverCenter.Org for ongoing coverage of all the events and programming at the Denver Center.

    The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a not-for-profit organization.

    Alexandra Griesmer contributed to this report

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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.

DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.