• Meet Robert Montano of 'Two Degrees'

    by John Moore | Mar 10, 2017
    Robert Montano Adams VisCom

    Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano in the world premiere of Tira Palmquist's 'Two Degrees,' playing through March 12. Photo by Adams VisCom.


    MEET ROBERT MONTANO

    Jeffrey, Eric and Malik in Two Degrees

    At the Theatre Company: Debut. Broadway: Kiss of the Spiderwoman, On The Town, Cats, Chita + 2, Legs Diamond. Regional: Barcelona, Fallow, Cloud Tectonics, References to Salvador Dali Makes Me Hot, One Shot One Kill  (all world premieres), Diosa, Marty (opposite John C. Reilly). Television: Shades of Blue, Elementary, Blue Bloods, Army Wives, Without a Trace, Sex in The City, Law & Order: SVU, Undefeated. Film: Shame, The Yards, Chicago, Center Stage, Hustling, The Strike, Passionada.

    • Robert Montano. Photo by Jimmy ReedHometown: Bayside, Queens
    • Web site: RobertMontano.Com
    • What was the role that changed your life? It was a play written by Richard Vetere called One Shot, One Kill." I played Sgt. Nick Harris, a Marine sniper at the top of his class. This was May of 2002, not long after 9/11 when I was glued for days watching CNN and wondering what our next step was going to be after the attack. I spent weeks in my apartment watching the news, not eating, losing weight and feeling sick and nervous. I thought to myself, "I have to get up and do something ... something meaningful." So I went to the recruiting station in Times Square to sign up for the Marines. When the recruiting officer told me I was too old to be recruited, I nearly fell over. I felt helpless. So in January of 2002, I was offered the role of the sniper. I read up on all these sniper gods within the Marine Corps. But that wasn't enough for me. I needed to know what the brotherhood was all about. I asked my director, Joe Brancato, if he could set up a trip to Quantico for me to train with Marine snipers. It was there I learned the realities of what our selfless men and women do for our country - the discipline, the honor, the brotherhood and willing sacrifice. I wanted to get it right, and bring that into my work. This play, this story and this character changed my life.
    • Why are you an actor? I like wearing other people's shoes.
    • What would you be doing if you weren't an actor: I would go back to being a professional racehorse jockey in a minute. Plain and simple, I love horses. I love the competition. I love the adrenaline rush. It's just unfortunate that I became too physically big to continue on. While some men want to be tall, dark and handsome, I just wanted to be small.
    • Robert MontanoIdeal scene partner: Sean Penn, hands down. He's unpredictable, diverse and constantly surprises you by his choices. He is a creative force to be reckon with. One of the greatest actors of our time.
    • Why does Two Degrees matter? I was given the Two Degrees script in January 2016 for the Colorado New Play Summit. Before I got halfway through, I called my manager and told him this was an important script, a story that has to be told - and that I wanted in. I watch a lot of news and political shows and whenever I'd hear them talking about climate change, I'd go, "A-huh." But I was never really invested because of the climatological jargon. I didn't really know how fossil fuel impacted climate change. When having read this play I saw clearly how important climate change mattered, especially through the eyes and struggle of our leading character, Dr. Emma Phelps. I saw how imperative it is for us to have scientists, advocates and the politically powerful fighting for this serious cause. Two Degrees makes it plain why we must combat the deniers, and the clowns who are only out to protect their own interests. We need to put a stop to it, because this is real. And this is now.  
    • What do you hope the audience gets out of this play? I can only hope the subject matter will stir up a conversation about how serious climate change really is. And more important, I hope audiences read up on it, act on it and help in any small way to prevent further destruction.
    • Finish this sentence: "All I want is ..."
      "... calm and understanding." It's not a lot in the grand scheme of things.

    Robert Montano. Photo by John Moore.'Two Degrees' actor Robert Montano performed an excerpt from his one-man play 'Small,' which recounts his growing up as a jockey at the famed Belmont race track in New York, at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.
    • Through March 12
    • Jones Theatre
    • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Video: How do they make that ice, ice, baby?
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Meet the cast: Kim Staunton
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Opening night photo coverage
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    More 2016-17 'Meet the Cast' profiles:
    Steven J. Burge, An Act of God
    Liam Craig, The Book of Will
    Aubrey Deeker, The Glass Menagerie
    Thaddeus Fitzpatrick, Frankenstein
    Meridith C. Grundei, Frankenstein
    Steven Cole Hughes, An Act of God
    Sullivan Jones, Frankenstein
    Mark Junek, Frankenstein
    Charlie Korman, Frankenstein
    Jennifer Le Blanc, The Book of Will
    Cajardo Lindsey, The Christians
    Rodney Lizcano, The Book of Will
    Wesley Mann, The Book of Will
    Amelia Pedlow, The Glass Menagerie
    Jessica Robblee, Frankenstein
    Erik Sandvold, An Act of God
    John Skelley, The Glass Menagerie
    Kim Staunton, Two Degrees

     

  • 'Two Degrees': Opening night photos

    by John Moore | Feb 11, 2017
    'Two Degrees' in Denver

    Above: Photos from opening night of Tira Palmquist's world-premiere play 'Two Degrees' by the DCPA Theatre Company. Director Christy Montour-Larson is on the right. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Video bonus: How do they make that ice, ice baby?

    Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan takes you backstage for a look at how he created the ever-changing world of Two Degrees for the DCPA Theatre Company. The set includes 56 Plexiglass panels that are treated to look like ice - but six of them actually are made of ice and melt throughout the show. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.
    • Through March 12
    • Jones Theatre
    • ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Video: How do they make that ice, ice, baby?
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Meet the cast: Kim Staunton
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

     

  • 'Two Degrees': How do they make that ice, ice, baby?

    by John Moore | Feb 10, 2017


    Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan takes you backstage for a look at how he created the ever-changing world of Two Degrees for the DCPA Theatre Company.

    Tira Palmquist's world-premiere play introduces us to a scientist named Emma who is called to Washington to testify – reluctantly – before a congressional committee on proposed climate legislation.

    Two DegreesCompounding her anxiety: It’s the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. It’s meant to be a human story about both a woman and a planet in crisis.

    The play takes place in 11 scenes in 10 locations in the Jones Theatre. "We tried to create an abstract space that was evocative and had an arc like Emma's character that went from frozen to somewhat melting,' Morgan said. The set includes 56 Plexiglass panels that are treated to look like ice - and six of them are actual ice that will melt throughout the show.

    How did he do it? Watch and learn. Two Degrees, directed by Christy Montour-Larson, features Kathleen McCall, Robert Montano, Kim Staunton and Jason Delane Lee, and plays through March 12. 

    Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.
    • Through March 12
    • Jones Theatre
    • ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    • 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Meet the cast: Kim Staunton
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

     

  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'Two Degrees'

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2017
    Video: Your first look at Two Degrees

    The DCPA Theatre Company’s world-premiere play Two Degrees introduces us to a scientist named Emma who is called to Washington to testify – reluctantly – before a congressional committee on proposed climate legislation. Compounding her anxiety: It’s the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. It’s meant to be a human story about both a woman and a planet in crisis. 

    "What we did in the past affects our present and will change our future,” Emma tells those in Washington. But is anyone listening?

    Two Degrees
    is written by Tira Palmquist, directed by Christy Montour-Larson and features Kathleen McCall, Robert Montano, Kim Staunton and Jason Delane Lee. It plays through March 12 in the Jones Theatre. Video by David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Photo gallery: Two Degrees production images

    Two Degrees- 2016-17 Theatre Company Season Photos from 'Two Degrees' by Adams VisCom. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Ticket information: Two Degrees

    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Through March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Photos, video: Your first look at Two Degrees
    Two Degrees: A telling exchange at public forum
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    Two Degrees Jones Theatre'Two Degrees' is the first mainstage Theatre Company offering to be presented in The Jones Theatre since 2004. It is located on the corner of Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe streets. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 'Two Degrees': A telling exchange at public conversation

    by John Moore | Feb 08, 2017
    'Two Degrees' in Denver

    Photo gallery: The cast of 'Two Degrees' takes questions from the audience at Perspectives, a panel conversation held before the first public performance of every play. To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    There was an exchange at Friday's public Perspectives discussion that both acknowledged the deep divide in America over climate science while also illustrating just what the DCPA Theatre Company’s new play Two Degrees aspires to do: Start a dialogue among not necessarily like-minded audience members.

    Two Degrees opens just three months after the Pew Research Institute released a major study that found only 48 percent of Americans understand the Earth to be warming because of human activity.

    The play introduces us to a scientist named Emma who is called to Washington to testify – reluctantly – before a congressional committee on proposed climate legislation. Compounding her anxiety: It’s the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death. It’s meant to be a human story about both a woman and a planet in crisis. 

    Two Degrees quoteAnd the first chance for anyone to get together in a room and talk about it was at Friday’s Perspectives – an ongoing series of conversations between audiences and DCPA Theatre Company creative teams that is presented before every first public preview performance.

    “We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it,” Two Degrees director Christy Montour-Larson told those gathered at the Conservatory Theatre before last Friday’s first performance. Many in the audience surely took that as an environmental rallying cry. But at least one man in attendance took exception.

    Two Degrees cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research

    “That is an extremely alarming statement that really is not factual,” said the man, who said he does not consider himself a denier of climate science. “I think there is nothing more certain than that the climate is changing. The question I have is to what degree humanity is influencing the change. I don't consider this to be ‘settled’ science, and there are a lot of us out in the world who feel that way.”

    Playwright Tira Palmquist responded by pointing to research that suggests 97 percent of climate scientists around the world have endorsed the conclusion that humans have played a role in global warming since the Industrial Age. “There is scientific evidence to suggest that what we have done has made an impact,” she said.

    The man remained skeptical, but said he would keep an open mind when he saw the play later that night. Palmquist said the exchange is an example of the proactive role live theatre can contribute to any community. “For me, this is a play about the difficulty we have in having these kinds of conversations,” she said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Two Degrees Dramaturg Heather Helinsky said the exchange is what the play is all about.

    “For a play to be a good play, it has to give you characters with different points of view, and this play does that,” Helinsky said. “You don't want a play that just preaches one side. A successful play has to make you want to continue having that conversation after you leave.”

    And here are five more things we learned about 'Two Degrees' at Perspectives:

    NUMBER 1Two Degrees PerspectivesEvery DCPA Theatre Company production has a week of “preview performances” before it officially opens. And Montour-Larson was asked, well, what exactly is the point of these preview performances? Once a production opens, it’s pretty much locked down. But during preview week, the work continues. The designers continue to hone staging details. If it’s a new play like Two Degrees, the cast continues to rehearse line changes by day and perform the play before live audiences by night. “During a preview performance, we add the most important element, which is the audience,” Montour-Larson said. “All of us (on the creative team) are watching the play along with all of you, but I see less of what is happening onstage because I am watching you guys.”

    (Pictured above right: Two Degrees actor Kim Staunton at Perspectives. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)


    NUMBER 2Two Degrees is a ghost story. Emma, the scientist, is grieving the death of her husband. “And anyone who has ever grieved a loved one knows that process takes a while,” Palmquist said. “In Washington, Emma finds herself confronted by a gentleman who reminds her of her husband. And then we go back in time and find another person who reminds her of her husband. And then there is a guy in a bar who reminds her of her husband. For me, that is very much a metaphor for seeing the person you love as always with you, whether it is literal or figurative or metamorphic – or a ghost. Emma is being haunted constantly. And that ghost is not going to go away until that ghost is done with you.”

    NUMBER 3Two Degrees has changed since it was presented as a reading at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit last February. And it has changed more since the election in November. “After the Summit readings last year, we were given this big packet of responses from the Denver audience members,” said Palmquist. “But as I was gearing up to make my revisions, I thought, ‘I don’t think I can re-write this until I know the outcome of the election.’ ” So she waited. Because the energy in the room would be quite different depending on whether audiences would be attending Two Degrees at the start of a Clinton Presidency compared to the start of a Trump Presidency. After Trump’s victory, she said, “We now have a White House that has said it is going to dismantle some of the things the Obama administration did in terms of climate-change legislation. And so for me, the engine of the play became a little more ratcheted-up. The environment in Washington (for a person like Emma) is not so friendly."

    NUMBER 4Two Degrees Jones TheatreTwo Degrees is the first mainstage offering to be held in the Jones Theatre (the DCPA Theatre Company’s smallest venue) since A Boston Marriage in 2004. That posed some unique challenges for Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan - not the least of which is that the story has 11 scenes in 10 different locations. “The Jones is a three-sided ‘thrust’ stage, so it’s a little like Florida,” Morgan said. “And it’s just a different show if you are watching from the sides than if you are watching from the front, so it's a tricky thing for us to make sure the entire audience gets the same story.”

    NUMBER 5From the start of the rehearsal process, the cast and crew have adopted what they call a two-pronged “daily action plan.” Helinsy and Stage Manager Karen Federing provide the team with a link to relevant reading on climate change, and suggest a proactive daily step each person can take to make a positivel impact in their daily lives. Over the past month, the cast has studied the work of the League of Conservation Voters, Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, EarthJustice.Org and Denver’s own Snowriders International, among others. “The idea is to infuse our storytelling with a sense of urgency,” Montour-Larson said.

    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.


    Video bonus: Your first look at Two Degrees


    Ticket information

    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Through March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees: Grief for a husband, and a planet
    Two Degrees
    cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

  • Tira Palmquist: Grief for a husband, and a planet

    by John Moore | Feb 06, 2017
    Tira Palmquist. Photo by John Moore
    Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    By Chad Henry
    DCPA Literary Associate

    Tira Palmquist is a funny, tart, plainspoken writer with several plays to her credit and a lifelong habit of writing.

    “I didn’t wake up one morning and say, ‘Hey, I’m a playwright.’ I was a pastor’s kid in the borderlands between Minnesota and Iowa," she said. "I fully intended to be an actor from the time I was old enough to memorize the entire cast album of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. But then I also really loved to write, and wrote relentlessly during high school and college. At that point, I was encouraged to go to grad school as a poet, and I thought ‘Well, what the hell!’ I am constantly reinventing myself. I am currently reinventing what it means to be 50.”

    Palmquist’s new play Two Degrees brings a human face, and a grieving human heart, to the issue of global warming. Her powerful drama of a female scientist’s quest to bring the hard facts of global weather change to the world’s attention uses the latest scientific research to ground her drama. But she frames that drama in the universal and emotionally wrenching story of the loss of a loved one and the sacrifice necessary to get to the truth and to make it known.

    Palmquist said the play’s evolution and subsequent debut at DCPA Theatre Company was part persistence and part timing.

    Palmquist, who teaches at University of California at Irvine, said that over the past years she’d been submitting plays regularly to Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, a well- regarded new play development organization based in bucolic McCall, Idaho. Christy Montour-Larson, who is directing the world premiere of Two Degrees, is the board president of Seven Devils, and she chose the play and directed the workshop reading there. The play then eventually made its way to Denver’s Athena Project, where it was once directed by Montour-Larson. It then caught the eye of the Theatre Company’s new-play development department, was recommended to Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson, read at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit and selected as part of the 2016-17 mainstage season.

    Photo gallery: The making of Two Degrees in Denver:

    'Two Degrees' in Denver

    Photos from the making of 'Two Degrees' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Palmquist, who also has worked closely with dramaturg Heather Helinsky on the play, said the process of workshopping and revising her play began at Seven Devils. “The director and dramaturg were asking me very hard questions about the focus of the play, and encouraging me to make rewrites and changes based on our conversations," Palmquist said. "At first I thought they were just being mean, but I realized as we went along that these were questions that really needed to be asked to clarify the story I was trying to tell. They actually taught me a new way of approaching my work — they taught me to be relentless.”

    Tira Palmquist QuoteAs a result of the workshop, Palmquist felt that she really was able to get to the essence of the play. “My play was revealed to me through the process.”

    The workshop process continued at the Center’s New Play Summit, which Palmquist described as “...genius. You get to rehearse for a week, day and night; rewrite, fix and tweak; then see the play in front of an audience. Then, you get to go back for another week and do even more work based on what you, your director and dramaturg and cast learned from the first reading. It’s truly a luxury for a writer.”

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    In Two Degrees, lead character Emma Phelps is a paleoclimatologist studying ice in Greenland. In drilling and studying ice core samples, she sees firsthand the symptoms of our changing planet, which makes the need for immediate remedial action and education all the more crucial and urgent. In addition to her growing sense of urgency for the planet, Emma, a recent widow, is suffering grief and loss that grows deeper as time passes. Now she’s been asked to come to Washington D.C. to testify in a Senate Committee regarding climate change legislation, and in this intersection of science and politics, and of politics and the personal, she finds her own world breaking up under the strain of change.

    Palmquist explains that the big themes of the play are not actually global warming, although the two degrees of the title are an explicit warning of the disastrous tipping point our global environment will reach without remedial action. “This is actually a play about grief — about working through grief, about deciding to stand up and move forward and do what needs to be done, rather than collapsing. And the parallel situations in the play are that Emma, our climatologist, learns that she can’t go back and fix the mistakes she made in her marriage, and that we humans cannot go back and fix the damage that we’ve done to the planet.” Emma’s strength and determination in the face of crippling grief make this story a dramatically compelling piece.

    Two Degrees cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research

    Palmquist discovered in the course of writing the play that one of the problems in making the scientific realities of global warming immediate to the general public is that scientists are good at science — and bad at communicating their science. “I didn’t want this play to turn out to be a polemic on the subject of global warming; rather, I wanted to open a door to a dialogue about the subject. Scientists and lay people don’t speak the same language — my play is one attempt to bridge this gap.” Denver Center’s world premiere production of this important new drama is bound to spur lively conversation and debate about our own choices in our life journeys. 

    Chad.HenryChad Henry is the Literary Associate for the DCPA Theatre Company. He is a composer, actor, lyricist, playwright, and author. He has written more than 20 musical theatre titles. His DCPA credits include acting in Master Class,' and choreographing 'The Winter's Tale.' He is the author of the children's book 'Dogbreath Victorious.'  



    Video bonus: Playwright Tira Palmquist talking about Two Degrees



    Our video with 'Two Degrees' playwright Tira Palmquist, at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    Two Degrees: Ticket information
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Feb. 3-March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Two Degrees cast digs deep into Boulder ice-core research
    Two Degrees
    heats up conversation on global warming
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

  • 'Two Degrees' heats up conversation on global warming

    by John Moore | Jan 26, 2017
    Two Degrees. Christy Montour-Larson. Photo by John Moore.  'Two Degrees' director Christy Montour-Larson. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Two Degrees
    , the provocative title of Tira Palmquist’s new world-premiere play, is meant to both set up her story … and sound an alarm.

    “There has been an effort to describe where we need to cap the escalating temperature of the Earth in order to forestall a whole host of problems including melting ice caps and rising ocean levels,” Palmquist said. “Two degrees Celsius was the number given. And that number resonated for me. It’s a number that can help people understand this palpably thin margin we are fighting for. Two degrees (or 3.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

    Two Degrees. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenterTwo Degrees, Palmquist says, is a proudly political play. But it’s also a human play about a woman in crisis. That’s why, she said, it’s no accident that her story begins with two people engaging in, well…their own kind of global warming.

    “For me, this is a play about climate change, but it’s also about what it means to be a woman over 40,” Palmquist said. “And you know what? Women over 40 have sex.”

    “Not only that,” added Two Degrees director Christy Montour-Larson with a laugh, “but we like it. And we’re good at it.”

    (Above and right: Christy Montour-Larson, left, and Tira Palmquist. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Two Degrees began as a challenge from a friend who encouraged Palmquist to write a play for a female protagonist over 45 — something as rare as uncooked steak. It became all the more personal when Palmquist chose to make the story about climate change and grief. Grief for a loved one. And grief for the planet.

    “When I read about climate change, I actually feel a physical grief in the pit of my stomach,” Palmquist said. “I despair of what will happen if we don’t act. And that became an important catalyst for the play. How do we make this clear to people that climate change is real? And then, what can we do about it?”

    Two Degrees introduces us to a scientist named Emma who has been called to Washington to testify before a congressional committee on climate legislation. This is a particularly difficult moment for her because it also happens to be the anniversary of her late husband’s death.

    Montour-Larson calls it “a beautiful, thought-provoking and witty play of today about an important human issue.” And did we mention? “I think it’s a pretty funny play,” Palmquist added.

    What Two Degrees is not is the same play it was when it was introduced to DCPA audiences last February as a featured reading of the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Neither is it the same play it was on Nov. 7, the day before Donald Trump won the presidential election.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Palmquist already was planning to make changes to her script based on the victor because the outcome of this particular election would have a drastic impact on what Emma would be doing in Washington — helping to pass a possibly unpopular legislation, or trying to fight a perhaps scientifically unwise legislation, depending on which party controlled Congress. And in November, Americans elected a president whose firmly stated beliefs on climate change are, at best, highly oppositional to Emma’s.

    A Two Degrees quote“The election has absolutely changed the urgency of the play,” Palmquist said. “It also has changed the villain of the piece. One of the villains I see are those legislators who are not educated on what the science is saying. I also think apathy and fear are villains. I worry that people will give in to despair. Or worse, that they won’t understand that this is an actual pressing problem. Either eventually will mean that we are dooming future generations.”

    But Palmquist promises that her play is not unwelcoming of contrary points of view. “One of the main characters in the play, Clay, works in the mineral-exploration industry, and Clay has a point of view,” she said. “It is not necessarily my point of view, but I feel certain that we could get past that to find common ground. It’s true that someone who does not believe in climate science may find their point of view challenged. But I welcome them to come, and then maybe we can have a conversation.”

    There is a sacred place in theatre for comedies, musicals, romances and adventures. Montour-Larson believes plays that are political in nature are just as essential.

    “I think it’s important to remember artists are cultural architects,” she said. “The world needs people with reckless imaginations like Tira. We have a passion for the possible, and we have a commitment to creativity, because to create is to be fully human. And we are healers. Through our work, we can heal and give hope.”  

    It has long been said that theatre is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. “And if that is true, then I think that it’s also important to try to find the hopefulness in this play,” Palmquist said. “This play ends up not being a tragedy. This is a play about what it means to start having conversations.”

    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.


    Video bonus: Tira Palmquist on Two Degrees


    Our video with 'Two Degrees' playwright Tira Palmquist, at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Two Degrees: Ticket information
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Feb. 3-March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Previous NewsCenter coverage of Two Degrees:
    Two Degrees: Five things we learned at first rehearsal
    Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit
    2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    Two Degrees. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenterThe cast of 'Two Degrees' at first rehearsal. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.
  • 'Two Degrees': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Jan 06, 2017
    'Two Degrees' in Denver
    Photos from the first rehearsal of Tira Palmquist's play 'Two Degrees' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Click again to download. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    When Director Christy Montour-Larson went looking for the key to unlock Tira Palmquist’s new play Two Degrees, she looked no further than her own pocket.

    “All I had to do is pull out my own house key, because when I read this play for the first time, I felt like I was home,” said Montour-Larson, who will direct the upcoming world premiere for the DCPA Theatre Company opening Feb. 3.

    Two Degrees. Director Christy Montour-Larson and Tira Palmquist. hoto by John Moore. Two Degrees is about a woman – and a planet – in crisis. Emma is scientist who has been called to Washington to testify to a congressional committee on climate legislation. And it’s the anniversary of her husband's death.

    “I love this play because it is about something,” Montour-Larson said on the first day of rehearsal. “Climate change isn't just another issue in a world proliferating with other issues. Climate change is the one issue that, left unchecked, will swamp all other issues.”

    New calculations from Scientific American magazine indicate that if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, the average temperature of the Earth will rise 2 degrees Celsius by 2036, crossing a threshold that will devastate human civilization, Montour-Larson said.

    “We are the first generation in the history of humanity to feel the effects of climate change,” she said, “and we are the last generation who can do anything about it.”

    And if you are a playwright, the thing you do about it is you write a play about it.

    “For me, as a playwright, the personal is political, and the political is personal,” said Palmquist, who wrote Two Degrees as opportunity to write roles for women older than 45, and also as an opportunity to talk about climate change. For her, that’s as political – and as personal – as it gets.

    “Humans aren't the first species to alter the atmosphere,” added Two Degrees Dramaturg Heather Helinsky, quoting Elizabeth Kolbert’s book Field Notes from a Catastrophe. That distinction belongs to early bacteria, which invented photosynthesis 2 two billion years ago. “But we are the first species to be in a position to understand what we are doing.”

    And that’s why, Lighting Designer Charles MacLeod said, “This is a play we have to do. And not 20 years from now - we have to do it now.”

    (Pictured above and right: 'Two Degrees' Director Christy Montour-Larson and Playwright Tira Palmquist. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Here are five things we learned at that first rehearsal for Two Degrees, opening Feb. 3 in the Jones Theatre:

    NUMBER 1 It’s melting! That’s right. Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan has fashioned a series of hanging painted panels that will look like different forms of ice. But look closely, because about six of them are going to be literally made out of ice that will slowly melt throughout the performance. The idea: The world of the play is the world of our world. “Our hope is that maybe 50 percent of the audience will say afterward, ‘Hey, wasn't it really cool that part of the set melted?’ And the other 50 percent will say, 'I didn't see that,’ ” said Montour-Larson, adding to laughs: “And then you can say to that person: 'Yeah, and that's why you are part of the problem! You didn't notice!"  

    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for The Book of Will

    NUMBER 2Credit is due. A small local collective called The Athena Project is responsible for Two Degrees coming to the attention of DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. Montour-Larson directed a reading of the play as part of the Athena Project’s 2015 new-play festival, then handed the script over to Thompson, who shouted out founder Angela Astle and her 3-year-old company at the first rehearsal. “Athena envisions a world where women's voices are powerfully expressed and recognized for their artistic merit in the community,” Thompson said.

    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for The Christians

    NUMBER 3Mr. Jones and you. Two Degrees will be the first play the DCPA Theatre Company presents in the Jones Theatre as a mainstage production since David Mamet’s A Boston Marriage in 2004. At 200 seats, The Jones is the Denver Center’s smallest theatre. “It's just perfect for Two Degrees because it’s so intimate, and the audience is going to be right there with us as we tell the story,” Montour-Larson said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 4Two Degrees. Jason Ducat The sound of ice. Sound Designer Jason Ducat (right) promises to replicate the sound of real, cracking ice at key points of the story. He and fellow DCPA soundman Craig Breitenbach embedded microphones into real ice and then recorded the sound as it broke up. “We're going to have speakers underneath the seats so the audience will really be able to feel that rumble,” said Ducat, who grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio, hometown of Olympic figure-skating champion Scott Hamilton. “For about 15 years of my life, I pretty much lived on a sheet of ice. It is one of the most peaceful things you can ever experience," Ducat said. But the sound ice cracking also can be terrifying. I know this because when I was young, I was really stupid and I would see how far out on the ice I could get before it started to crack - and then I would have to fly back in to try to beat it. But when I think of the character of Emma, I think she really wants to be on that ice. So I wanted to create that as the soundscape of the play."

    NUMBER 5Do I know you? Montour-Larson met Palmquist at the 2012 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in McCall, Idaho. They got to talking and soon learned they both grew up in Minnesota. Then they figured out that they both had performed in a summer repertory theatre program in Duluth, Minn., decades before. So Montour-Larson asked Palmquist what shows she was in, and Palmquist answered, “Oh a few, like, Dames at Sea and Play it Again Sam.” And Montour-Larson dead-panned: "I was in all those shows with you." Everyone talks about six degrees of separation, but in Palmquist’s play every character has, appropriately enough, just two degrees of separation. “And here we discovered that Tira and I had two degrees of separation, because we already knew each other through our younger selves,” said Montour-Larson.

    Bonus: There will be some Greenlandic spoken during the play. That is all.

     

    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.


    Video bonus: Spotlight on Two Degrees



    Two Degrees
    : Cast list

    Written by Tira Palmquist
    Directed by Christy Montour-Larson

    • Jason Delane (One Night in Miami) as Clay Simpson

    • Kathleen McCall (The Glass Menagerie) as Emma Phelps

    • Robert Montano (Colorado New Play Summit) as Jeffrey Phelps/Eric Wilson/Malik Peterson

    • Kim Staunton (Fences) as Louise Allen


    Two Degrees: Ticket information
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Feb. 3-March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Two Degrees. Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano. Photo by John Moore.
    First rehearsal for the upcoming 'Two Degrees': Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

  • DCPA completes field of five New Play Summit playwrights

    by John Moore | Nov 03, 2016



    The DCPA Theatre Company has announced the five playwrights whose works will be featured at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit next Feb. 18-26. The 12th annual festival will feature readings of new works by Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Rogelio Martinez, Eric Pfeffinger, Robert Schenkkan, and Lauren Yee.

    Summit PlaywrightsThe Colorado New Play Summit presents readings of new plays over two weeks as the playwrights continue to craft their developing works alongside a full creative team of actors and crew. Audiences also are offered the opportunity to see two fully staged world premiere productions that have emerged from the previous year's Summit. The featured full stagings in February will be The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson and Two Degrees by Tira Palmquist.

    (Pictured above, from left: Rogelio Martinez, Lauren Yee and Robert Schenkkan at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    The Colorado New Play Summit has introduced 48 new plays  in its history, more than half of which returned to the stage as full Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit world premieres have included Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride (which made its Off-Broadway debut at New York's MCC Theater), Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest, Tanya Saracho’s FADE, Eric Schmiedl’s adaptation of Kent Haruf’s Benediction, 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.

    2017 NEW-PLAY READINGS 

    Donnetta Lavinia GraysLast Night and the Night Before
    By Donnetta Lavinia Grays
    When Monique and her 10-year-old daughter Samantha show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it’s the beginning of the end for Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly New York lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble, and her husband Reggie is nowhere to be seen. The family’s deep Southern roots have a long reach, and they grab hold of Rachel’s life stronger than she could have ever imagined. The play was featured in the 2015 National New Play Network's National Showcase of New Plays and won the Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest the same year.

    Martinez, RogelioBlind Date
    By Rogelio Martinez

    A DCPA Theatre Company commission
    Before the advent of Match.com and eHarmony, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev try to build a relationship old school when they sit down to open up channels between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Though members of their cabinets try their hardest to keep them on track, the leaders steer the conversation to pop culture and films. While the men chip away at the mistrust between their countries, Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev play out a passive-aggressive tango that mirrors their husbands’ negotiations in this conclusion to Martinez’s Cold War trilogy where “edgy comedy and sudden sorrow intertwine” (American Theatre).Martinez previously wrote the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere of When Tang Met Laika.

    Human Error
    By Eric Pfeffinger

    Eric PfeffingerMadelyn 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. American Theatre has said, “Pfeffinger’s social conscience is matched by his amazing comic sensibilities” and his new play is no different.

    Schenkkan, RobertHanussen

    By Robert Schenkkan

    A DCPA Theatre Company commission
    In 1930s Berlin, the brilliant mentalist Eric Jan Hanussen captivates German audiences with his ability to read minds and his uncanny predictions of the future. His reputation brings him to the attention of avid occultist Adolph Hitler. While his star seems to be on the rise, the consequences of his next major prediction (and his own true identity) may break his spell. A new drama from Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (All the Way, The 12). Based on true events.

    Yee, LaurenManford From Half Court, or The Great Leap
    By Lauren Yee

    DCPA Theatre Company Commission
    When an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game in the post-Cultural Revolution 1980s, both countries try to tease out the politics behind this newly popular sport. Cultures clash as the Chinese coach tries to pick up moves from the Americans and Chinese American player Manford spies on his opponents. Inspired by events in her own father’s life, Yee “applies a devilishly keen satiric eye to…her generation (and its parents)” (San Francisco Chronicle).

    Check out our Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    2017 FULLY STAGED WORLD PREMIERES


    Lauren GundersonThe Book of Will
    B
    y Lauren Gunderson

    Developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit

    Without William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have literary masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. But without Henry Condell and John Heminges, we would have lost half of Shakespeare’s plays forever! After the death of their friend and mentor, the two actors are determined to compile the first Folio and preserve the words that shaped their lives. They’ll just have to borrow, beg and band together to get it done. Lauren Gunderson weaves a hilarious and heartfelt story inspired by the true story of Shakespeare’s First Folio.


     

     
    Tira PalmquistTwo Degrees
    By Tira Palmquist

    Developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit

    The smallest changes can lead to the biggest impact, and no one knows that better than Emma, a scientist studying climate change in Greenland. Still grappling with the unexpected death of her husband, she is invited to the nation’s capital to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough to make the difference in the world that she’s always wanted.

    The 12th Annual Colorado New Play Summit

    Launch Weekend: Feb. 18-10, 2017
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 24-26, 2017
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

  • Video: Look back at 2016 Colorado New Play Summit

    by John Moore | Mar 16, 2016


    Our brief video look back at the DCPA Theatre Company's 2016 Colorado New Play Summit Feb. 12-21 in Denver.

    CNPS16 Regina TaylorIncludes interviews with featured playwrights Lauren Gunderson, Tira Palmquist, José Cruz González and Mat Smart.

    "I think everyone who knows new plays knows the Colorado New Play Summit," said Gunderson, whose play The Book of Will was later chosen for inclusion on the company's 2016-17 season, as was Palmquist's Two Degrees.

    Interviewees also include local and high-school playwrights whose work was featured as part of Summit activities.

    Video by Topher Blair, footage by David Lenk and interviews by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Photo above: Commissioned DCPA playwright Regina Taylor reads at the Playwrights Slam.

    Check out more of our Colorado theatre coverage

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of 2016 Summit (to date):
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    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
    Local Playwright Slam: Video coverage and interviews
    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

    2016 Colorado New Play Summit Photo Gallery:

    2016 Colorado New Play Summit

    Our complete photo gallery from the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click the forward arrow on the photo above. To download any photo for free, click on it and follow instructions. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    CNPS16 logo
  • 2016-17 season: Nine shows, two world premieres, return to classics

    by NewsCenter Staff | Mar 08, 2016

    Geoff Kent and Michelle Patrick of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts announce the Theatre Company's 2016-17 season, above.


    The DCPA Theatre Company's 38th season will include two world premiere productions fresh off the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit, the U.S. premiere of a new version of Frankenstein, two acclaimed contemporary dramas, Tennessee Williams' most popular  play, the company's silver-anniversary staging of A Christmas Carol and the popular musical The Secret Garden.

    The new season will feature eight mainstage productions, plus the national touring production of the 2015 Tony Award-winner for Best Play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

    A Book of Will Lauren Gunderson 300The two new plays chosen from the Summit are The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson and Two Degrees by Tira Palmquist. The Book of Will tackles the history right after Shakespeare died, when his  friends and fellow actors valiantly published the first folio of his works, essentially saving the greatest English-speaking playwright from oblivion.

    Palmquist describes Two Degrees as "a cheery story about climate change."  Actually, Palmquist loves science, and her main character is a woman of about 45 years old who is a climate scientist. "It's really a play about grief: Grief for the planet, grief at large, grief on a more personal scale." 

    “We are excited to dive deep into the Theatre Company’s 38th season,” said Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. “This season is full of powerful stories that range from American classics to new works that all get to the heart of the human condition. Whether you’re a scientist trying to convince the Senate that climate change is real, a band of brothers risking financial ruin to save the legacy of your friend William Shakespeare, or a young girl finding solace in a hidden garden, something remarkable happens when people are pushed to their breaking point.”

    The season will be spread out over four theatres, in part because the Space Theatre is undergoing a year-long renovation. Two Degrees will be staged in the Jones Theatre.

    (Photos above: 'The Book of Will' at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)


    THEATRE COMPANY 2016-17 SEASON/AT A GLANCE

    Sept. 9-Oct. 16: The Glass Menagerie, Ricketson Theatre
    Sept. 30-Oct. 30: Frankenstein, Stage Theatre
    Nov. 25-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol, Stage Theatre
    Jan. 13-Feb. 26, 2017: The Book of Will, Ricketson Theatre
    Jan. 27-Feb. 26, 2017: The Christians, Stage Theatre
    Feb. 3-March 12, 2017: Two Degrees, The Jones Theatre
    March 31-May 7, 2017: Disgraced, ​Ricketson Theatre
    Apr 21-May 28, 2017: The Secret Garden, Stage Theatre
    May 30-June 18, 2017: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Ellie

    THE SEASON/PLAY BY PLAY

    Glass_menagerie 275The Glass Menagerie
    By Tennessee Williams
    Sept. 9-Oct. 16
    Ricketson Theatre
    The Wingfield family is trapped in a cage of nostalgia in their drab 1930s apartment. They dream of lives they wished they had but never pursued, of opportunities drifting away with the passing of time. But when a long-awaited gentleman caller joins them for dinner, fantasy and reality collide as expectations shatter like glass. This will be the  DCPA’s first-ever production of Tennessee Williams’ autobiographical masterpiece.


    3_frankenstein_030716Frankenstein
    By Nick Dear
    Sept 30-Oct. 30
    Stage Theatre
    Given life by a man with a troubled heart, a creature assembled from corpses sets out into the unforgiving world to discover his humanity. As he uncovers both kindness and cruelty, he seeks out the doctor who created him to demand answers about his tormented existence. Frankenstein features two lead actors alternating performances in the roles as Victor Frankenstein and his creature, allowing man and monster to intersect with every chilling performance of this U.S. premiere.



    4_christmas_carol_030716A Christmas Carol
    (not part of subscription package)
    By Charles Dickens, adapted by Richard Hellesen, music by David de Berry
    Nov. 25-Dec 24
    Stage Theatre
    The 25th seasonal staging of A Christmas Carol will star longtime  Denver favorite Sam Gregory, replacing the legendary Philip Pleasants. The production is a joyous and opulent musical adaptation that 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.



    5_book_of_will_030716The Book of Will

    By Lauren Gunderson (DCPA Theatre Company Commission)
    Jan. 13-Feb. 26, 2017
    Ricketson Theatre
    Without William Shakespeare, we wouldn’t have literary masterpieces like Romeo and Juliet. But without Henry Condell and John Heminges, we would have lost half of Shakespeare’s plays forever. After the death of their friend and mentor, the two actors are determined to compile the first folio and preserve the words that shaped their lives. They’ll just have to borrow, beg and band together to get it done. Shakespeare-lover Lauren Gunderson weaves a comic and heartfelt story of the characters behind the collected stories we know so well.

    READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN GUNDERSON



    6_the_christians_030716The Christians
    By Lucas Hnath
    Jan. 27-Feb 26, 2017
    Stage Theatre
    Pastor Paul inspires faith in the members of his growing congregation through his preaching. But when he brings up unexpected questions during a sermon, his changing perspective may ask too much of his followers. Featuring a full choir at every performance, The Christians is an intimate look at the moments that define who we are and what we believe. This New York Times Critics’ Pick has been called “deeply affecting" and "emotionally devastating” by The New York Post.




    7_two_degrees_030716Two Degrees

    By Tira Palmquist
    Feb. 3-March 12, 2017
    Jones Theatre
    The smallest changes can lead to the biggest impact, and no one knows that better than Emma, a scientist studying climate change in Greenland. Still grappling with the unexpected death of her husband, she is invited to the nation’s capital to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough to make the difference in the world that she’s always wanted.

    READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH TIRA PALMQUIST


    8_disgraced_030616Disgraced
    By Ayad Akhtar
    March 31-May 7, 2017
    Ricketson Theatre
    Amir has spent his adult life downplaying his upbringing to build the perfect life. But a high-profile court case and his wife’s Islamic-inspired art show reveal just how little his culture is understood by the people around him. The expectation to be true to yourself and to fit into mainstream society collide in this 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The New York Times calls it “terrific and turbulent, with fresh currents of dramatic electricity.” The Associated Press calls the play "breathtaking, raw and blistering.”


    9_secret_garden_030716The Secret Garden
    Book and lyrics by Marsha Norman, music by Lucy Simon
    Based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett
    April 21-May 28, 2017
    Stage Theatre
    When young Mary is sent to live with her uncle after the death of her parents, she finds herself surrounded by distant relatives who are overcome by grief and fear. But when she uncovers the key to her late aunt’s long-lost garden, she becomes determined to revive the beauty that once flourished. Surrounded by spirits of the past, she uses the magic of hope to help the world around her grow once again.



    Original Broadway Company of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Photo: Joan Marcus.The Curious Incident of the Dog
    in the Night-Time

    National touring production
    By Simon Stephens, based on the novel by Mark Haddon
    Directed by Tony winner Marianne Elliott
    May 30-June 18, 2017
    The Ellie
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, winner of five 2015 Tony Awards including Best Play, was hailed as “one of the most fully immersive works ever to wallop Broadway” by The New York Times. Fifteen-year-old Christopher has an extraordinary brain; he is exceptionally intelligent but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever.

    Tickets and Subscriptions

    New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Tickets are available to subscribers online at denvercenter.org by calling 303-893-6030 or 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to Broadway and student shows, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed.

    A single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time.

    Note: Plans for the new season are subject to change.

  • 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.
  • Video: Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, 'Two Degrees'

    by John Moore | Feb 19, 2016


    Our interview, in video and words, with Colorado New Play Summit featured playwright Tira Palmquist, author of Two Degrees. Palmquist describes her play as "a cheery story about climate change."


    Here are highlights from DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore's conversation with  'Two Degrees' playwright Tira Palmquist:

    John Moore: Do you remember your first encounter with the Denver Center?

    Tira Palmquist: Yes, my first encounter was as a spouse. My husband came here to coach dialect, voice, speech and text for the Theatre Company’s production of Richard III in 2009.

    John Moore: Tell us who your director is here at the Summit.

    Tira Palmquist: My director is Christy Montour-Larson (Curious Theatre's 'Sex With Strangers.') It turns out we did summer rep theatre together in Duluth (Minn.) when we were in college back in 1981 and ’82.

    Two Degrees Michelle Shupe Summit John Moore: Can you introduce us to the world of your play, Two Degrees?

    Tira Palmquist: I would say Two Degrees is a play about climate change, but it’s also a play about grief. That was really the entrance point for me to tell the story, because I feel the grief for the planet so palpably that it became the predominant metaphor of the play. Two Degrees is about a woman who’s doing her best to help people understand why climate change is an important issue. And at the same time, she’s coming to terms with her own personal grief. (Pictured: Michelle Shupe as Emma in 'Two Degrees.' Photo by John Moore.) 

    John Moore: Tell us about your protagonist.

    Tira Palmquist: The writing of the play really began with a challenge from an actor friend of mine who had just turned 45. We were having beers on her porch when she said, ‘You know what sucks is being 45 and being at the height of my abilities, and having all the opportunities dry up. So what for your next play, you need to write a part for a woman over 45.’ And I said, ‘OK. I will do that, Stacy.’ And then it really churned in my head for a long time because I thought, ‘Well, I know I don’t want to write a play about a woman who’s had a divorce, or an empty-nester or a woman going through menopause, because I feel like that’s low-hanging fruit. So what am I going to write about?

    John Moore: So you wrote about a scientist.

    Tira Palmquist: I really like science. I think science is important. It's an important issue for me because we see science being dismissed to a certain degree in this country. There’s a kind of anti-science sentiment running in our country. And I’m trying to do my best to put science on stage, because science is going to save us.

    Two Degrees Tira Palmquist quote Summit

    John Moore: And you’re a pastor’s kid?

    Tira Palmquist: Yes, but science and religion were never in conflict in my family. My father was never anti-science. He was always a curious individual. I remember having a conversation with him when The Last Temptation of Christ came out about whether Christ could have been married. And he said, ‘Of course Christ would have been married. They called him Rabbi - and a Rabbi had to be married.’ And he was never upset about that. It didn’t diminish the story of what Christ. And I just remember thinking, ‘Wow, I just learned something about my father that I didn’t know before.’

    John Moore: Has being a pastor’s kid affected your voice as a playwright?

    Tira Palmquist: Oh, absolutely. I sat in church week after week listening to my father telling stories in the form of a sermon. But I feel like my life as a playwright has been about finding my own voice. All your life as a pastor’s kid, you’re trying your hardest not to be the pastor’s kid - to set yourself apart from the expectations people have of you. And I think to a certain degree that fuels my passion for telling stories, But at the same time, being a pastor’s kid means you spend a lot of time watching your father or mother attending to a congregation. It’s not just ‘theatre.’ It’s about your relationships with your congregation. If there’s anything I learned from that, it’s that your stories on stage need to have that kind of impact. If you’re not changing people’s lives; if you’re not changing people’s minds; then I don’t know why you’re doing it.

    Two Degrees. Michelle Shupe and Jason Delane. John Moore: So you have written a play that is about climate and grief and science. That sounds kind of mournful. Is it a sad play?

    Tira Palmquist: It’s actually a pretty funny play, oddly enough. There’s a lot of humor in it, and a lot of it comes not just from the fact that we are dealing with real people who have complicated and difficult and sometimes messed-up lives, but from seeing our protagonist struggle with these issues. If this were the story of a woman who can’t be a good scientist, and all we did was see her struggle, that would be kind of pathetic. But instead, this is the story of a scientist who’s actually a full, rich and complicated human being. (Pictured: Michelle Shupe and Jason Delane in 'Two Degrees.') 

    John Moore: Tell us how your play made its way to the Denver Center.

    Tira Palmquist: It got here because of Christie. I had sent my script to The Athena Project Festival in Aurora, which is helping to increase the exposure of female artists. They have a playwriting festival that focuses on female-driven stories. When Christie saw that I was coming to the Athena festival, she asked if she could direct. She loved the play, and she wanted to see it go forward. So she brought it to the Denver Center.

    John Moore: What are your thoughts about the Denver Center’s commitment to the woman’s voice?

    Tira Palmquist: I feel incredibly supported by that. And I don’t think that it’s just, ‘Oh we had to have x number of female playwrights.’ It seems to me there really is a genuine interest in telling a variety of stories here. And as I’ve been sitting in on different plays here, like FADE and the Summit reading of American Mariachi, I thought, 'Wow, this is really fantastic.' We're seeing a lot of different kinds of stories that I don’t think are always being told, and that feels very exciting and very genuine to me.

    John Moore: What are your thoughts on having the second week of development time here at the Summit?

    Tira Palmquist: 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, or answer questions that you didn’t really get to answer during the first week. 

    John Moore: What are people saying about Denver as a place for the development of new work for the American theatre?

    Tira Palmquist: First of all, people are jealous of me that I get to be here. And second, 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.


    Two Degrees: Cast list

    Tira Palmquist, Playwright
    Christy Montour-Larson, Director
    Heather Helinsky, Dramaturg
    Michelle Shupe, Emma Phelps
    Jason Delane, Clay Simpson
    Lisa Bostnar, Louise Allen
    Robert Montano, Jeffrey Phelps/Eric Wilson/Malik Peterson
    Janet Noble, Stage Directions

    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):
    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 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

  • Summit playwrights introduce 2016 featured works

    by John Moore | Feb 09, 2016
    2016 Colorado New Play Summit

    Photos from the welcoming reception for the 11th annual Colorado New Play Summit. Above, the cast of 'American Mariachi.' To see our full photo gallery, click the 'forward' button on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    The Denver Center's 11th annual Colorado New Play Summit began in earnest today when the four featured playwrights and their creative teams arrived for two weeks of development, rehearsals and public readings.

    Colorado New Play Summit.The four featured playwrights will work through the week in preparation for the first weekend of public readings on Feb. 13-14. They will then take what they learn into another week of intensive development, culminating with a second weekend of readings that will be attended by industry leaders from throughout the country.

    (Pictured right: Actors Mehry Eslaminia, 'Midwinter,' and Mackenzie Sherburne, Third Rail Project. Photo by John Moore.)

    Typically, two or three of the featured readings at each Colorado New Play Summit go on to full productions by the DCPA Theatre Company. The 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. This year’s The Nest and FADE were featured readings at the 2015 Summit.

    At Tuesday’s welcoming breakfast, each of the four 2016 featured playwrights briefly introduced their developing works. Here is what they said, in their own words:

    José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    Colorado New Play Summit. José Cruz González"American Mariachi is a piece inspired by women who started forming their own mariachi groups in the 1970s. Of course, they had many challenges trying to play such a male-dominated musical form. 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." 

     Lauren Gunderson, The Book of Will
    Colorado New Play Summit. Lauren Gunderson“The Book of Will
    is a play that tackles the history right after Shakespeare died. His friends and fellow actors were the ones who found and collated and valiantly published - through kind of an amazing odds, actually - the first folio of his works. So our task is to really take this thing that's so epic and so universal, but make it into a story about friendships and communities and this personal stuff that was really the cause of this world-changing, beautiful poetry that has access to every language." 

    Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Colorado New Play Summit. Tira Palmquist."Two Degrees is a cheery story about climate change. Actually, it so happens I love science, and I'm really, really inspired by climate change - so my main character is a woman of about 45 years old who is a climate scientist. It's really a play about grief: Grief for the planet, grief at large, grief on a more personal scale."

    Mat Smart, Midwinter
    Colorado New Play Summit. Mat Smart. "I spent three months working in Antarctica as a janitor at the McMurdo Station research center, and I wrote a play about that called The Royal Society. This is sort of a companion piece. 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. It's kind of like a petri dish. And in the wintertime, the big event is the Midwinter Dinner. That got me thinking about A Midsummer Night's Dream. So it's a little bit of a riff on that." 

    (Note: The McMurdo Station is a research center on the south tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand-claimed Ross Dependency on the shore of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. It is operated by a branch of the United States' National Science Foundation. The station is the largest community in Antarctica, capable of supporting up to 1,258 residents. All personnel and cargo going to or coming from Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station first pass through McMurdo.)

    Colorado New Play Summit. Kemp Powers and Jason Delane.  The Colorado New Play Summit made for a 'One Night in Miami' reunion: Kemp Powers, now a commissioned DCPA Theatre playwright, and actor Jason Delane (Two Degrees'). Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    2016 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information

    First weekend (Launch Weekend): Saturday, Feb. 13, and Sunday, Feb. 14
    303-893-4100 or INFO

    Second weekend (Festival Weekend): Friday, Feb. 19, through Sunday, Feb. 21

    Including an additional workshop presentation with Third Rail Projects
    303-893-4100 or INFO

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of 2016 Colorado New Play Summit (to date):
    Featured playwrights named for 2016 Summit
  • Featured playwrights named for 2016 Colorado New Play Summit

    by John Moore | Oct 12, 2015

    José Cruz González, left, and Mat Smart read from their devloping works at the Playwrights Slam in February. Photo by John Moore.
    José Cruz González, left, and Mat Smart read from their developing works at the Playwrights Slam, a featured event at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The DCPA Theatre Company has announced the four writers whose plays will be featured at the 11th annual Colorado New Play Summit in February: 

    • A.M.* by José Cruz González
    • Book of Will* by Lauren Gunderson
    • Two Degrees by Tira Palmquist
    • Midwinter* by Mat Smart

    *DCPA Theatre Company commissions

    González's September Shoes was premiered by the DCPA Theatre Company in 2005. Last spring, he and Smart both mentored finalists for DCPA Education's statewide student playwriting competition. Gunderson is a beneficiary of the Theatre Company's Women's Voices Fund.

    The Summit, to be held Feb. 13-14 and 19-20, 2016, is 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. 2016 Summit attendees will attend fully stage world premieres of Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest and Tanya Saracho’s FADE, both DCPA commissions that were introduced at the 2015 Summit.

    Each year, the DCPA Theatre Company retains leading playwrights to develop ideas for new plays. Three of thr four featured plays in 2016 will be DCPA commissions.

    Recent Summit premieres include Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride, which just finished an extended Off-Broadway run at New York's MCC Theatre; Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale; Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey; Karen Zacarias’ Just Like Us; and Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton’s Sense & Sensibility The Musical; Eric Schmiedl’s adaptation of Kent Haruf’s Benediction; Catherine Trieschmann’s The Most Deserving, and Dick Scanlan’s reimagined version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    The Summit has expanded two weekends so that it can provide participating playwrights an additional week with directors, actors and dramaturgs. The schedule allows for two weekends of readings before the public and industry professionals.

    The 2016 expanded Summit programming schedule will also include a panel on devised work by Third Rail Projects, a Local Playwrights’ Slam hosted by the Athena Project, and finalist readings for this years' student playwriting competition.

    The 2016 featured plays at a glance:

    A.M. by José Cruz González
    A Theatre Company commission

    Lucha and Bolie want to start their own all-female mariachi band, but find that breaking into the male-dominated musical form is more difficult than they thought. But Lucha pushes ahead, driven by the desire to use music to heal her broken family.


    Lauren GundersonBook of Will by Lauren Gunderson
    A Theatre Company commission

    After Shakespeare’s death, two of the remaining actors from his theatre company scramble to find his scripts, or in some cases reassemble them, and publish them in a single Folio edition. If not for their resourcefulness and dedication, some of the world’s most famous plays might have been lost forever.


    Tira PalmquistTwo Degrees by Tira Palmquist

    Emma, a scientist who studies ice core samples in Greenland, has been invited to the nation’s capital to share her findings on climate change with the Senate. But when her husband’s recent death starts erupting into flashbacks, she can’t seem to get a grip on herself. Two Degrees charts the tumultuous inner life of a woman poised to make a difference in the global sphere.


    Midwinter by Mat Smart
    A Theatre Company commission
    It’s the dead of winter in McMurdo Station, Antarctica. No planes in or out for six months. No sunlight for four months. And yet somehow there’s romance in the air. Watch love run amok in Midwinter by Mat Smart, who trained for this play by spending three months at the South Pole.


    2016 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information

    Hosted by DCPA Playwriting Fellow Matthew Lopez

    First weekend: Saturday, Feb. 13, and Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016
    Groups may reserve in advance – contact us at groupsales@dcpa.org or 303.446.4829
    INFO

    Second weekend: Friday, February 19, and Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

    Including an additional workshop presentation with Third Rail Projects
    INFO



    Press for the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit

    Get Me Rewrite: The Colorado New Play Summit Is a Developing Story
    by John Moore, feature for American Theatre magazine, Feb. 24, 2015

    How the Colorado New Play Summit Went From Local Gem to National Event
    by Diep Tran, American Theatre magazine, Feb. 13, 2015
    View Photos

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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.