• 2017 Summit goes global while hitting close to home

    by John Moore | Feb 27, 2017

    Video by David Lenk and John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    Colorado New Play Summit goes global
    with stories that hit close to home

    The 2017 Colorado New Play Summit went global in its storytelling while also serving as an intimate and heartfelt celebration of departing founder Kent Thompson.

    Thompson resigned as Producing Artistic Director of the DCPA Theatre Company effective March 3, leaving a legacy that includes starting the Summit in 2006 and the Women's Voices Fund, a $1.4 million endowment that supports new plays by women and female creative team members.

    Summit. Kent Thompson. Photo by John Moore“Kent Thompson is such a champion of new plays. He is such a champion of new and different voices,” said Lauren Yee, author of the featured Summit play Manford at the Line, Or The Great Leap. “He always makes sure that the world we live in is reflected on the stage.”

    This year’s expanded Summit featured readings of five plays that spanned in time from 1931 to present day and traveled the world from Brooklyn to Berlin to Beijing to Geneva to Georgia to a suburban Ohio fertility clinic. 

    Every year, two or more readings from the previous Summit go on to become fully staged plays on the DCPA Theatre Company’s mainstage season. This year’s featured productions were Tira Palmquist’s Two Degrees and Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, which both started as readings from the 2016 Summit. (Story continues below).


    Photo gallery: A look back at the Colorado New Play Summit

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Photos from the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click the forward arrow in the image above. All photos can be downloaded and shared. Just click. Photos by John Moore and Adams VisCom for the DCPA NewsCenter.

    The Colorado New Play Summit has grown into one of the nation’s premier showcases of new plays. Under Thompson, the Summit has workshopped 50 new plays, leading to 29 fully produced world premieres as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s mainstage season. Thompson has commissioned 44 new plays, almost half written by women.

    “I feel like for the past 12 years, I've had a great opportunity tSummit. Last Night. Adams Viscomo present many different windows on the world, from many different peoples' viewpoints,” Thompson said.

    To understand the impact the Summit has had on the development of new works for the American theatre, one need look no further than Skokie Ill., home of the Northlight Theatre. Recently the DCPA learned that Northlight will be fully producing two Summit plays next season: Gunderson's The Book of Will and The Legend of Georgia McBride by Matthew Lopez.

    Kent Thompson's legacy: Giving sound to unheard voices

    The Summit allows for two weeks of development, each culminating in a round of public readings. Playwrights take what they learn from the first public weekend back into rehearsal before a second round of readings for industry professionals.

    Summit. Donnetta Lavinia Grays. John Moore"That second week of work is absolutely unique," said featured playwright Robert Schenkkan (Hanussen). "I don't know any other theatre festival in the United States that does anything like that. And it's a really critical for the writer because so often, you are just beginning to get your arms around it just as you near the end of that first week. You are just beginning to say, 'Now I see what I need to do.' … And then it's over. Well, that's not true here. You get to take the things that you learned at the first reading and really thrash it out and take all of that complexity and nuance and additional richness back into the text, culminating in a second public reading."

    This year’s Summit drew more local audiences and national industry leaders than ever before, with 44 playwrights and 36 theatre organizations attending from at least 16 states. Visitors represented companies ranging from the Public Theatre in New York to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to the Banff Centre in Ontario to the Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont. Closer to home, guest included the Creede Repertory Theatre, Curious Theatre, The Catmounts, Athena Festival Project, Lake Dillon Theatre Company and others. More than 920 attended at least one reading, with an overall attendance of nearly 2,900.

    Summit stands in thanks to departing Kent Thompson

    The third annual Local Playwrights Slam was held a week earlier, curated by Josh Hartwell from the Colorado chapter of the Dramatists Guild, which exists to protect playwrights and their copywritten material. Readers this year included Curious Theatre founding member Dee Covington, National Theatre Conservatory alum Jeff Carey and Tami Canaday, whose new play Uncle Rooster will be performed in Brooklyn this summer.

    Summit. High School Playwrights. Photo by John Moore. For the fourth year, winners of DCPA Education’s Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition had their plays presented at the Summit. This year a record four writers were showcased, two from Fort Collins.

    The annual late-night Playwrights Slam drew an eclectic group of writers sampling their developing works in a fun and supportive atmosphere. This year’s crowd was treated to Gunderson singing to a ukulele from her new play Storm Still, and Two Degrees actor Robert Montano performing 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.

    The five featured Summit readings:

    Click play to see short videos spotlighting all five 2017 Colorado New Play Summit plays.

    • Donnetta Lavinia Grays’ Last Night and the Night Before opens with a Georgia woman on her sister’s doorstep in Brooklyn, with her 10-year-old daughter in tow. The mystery for both the characters and the audience to solve is what trauma took place in Georgia that brought them here.
    • Rogelio Martinez’s Blind Date centers on Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev's first meeting at the Geneva Summit in 1985 to try to open up channels between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
    • In Eric Pfeffinger’s comedy Human Error, a couple goes to what they think is a routine appointment at their fertility clinic only to discover that their fertilized embryo has been mistakenly implanted into another couple. And it turns out they are polar opposites.
    • Robert Schenkkan’s Hanussen is set in 1931 Berlin and introduces us to the brilliant mentalist Erik 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 Adolf Hitler, who does not realize he is a Jew.
    • Lauren Yee’s Manford at the Line, or The Great Leap follows an American college basketball team as it travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game during the politically charged Cultural Revolution in 1989.

    After Albee: America’s 10 leading, living playwriting voices

    Photos, from top: 'Two Degrees' Director Christy Montour-Larson with retiring DCPA Producing Director Kent Thompson; Jasmine Hughes and Veleka J. Holt in 'Last Night and the Night Before'; Playwright Donnetta Lavinia Grays performs in the annual Playwrights Slam; Grace Anolin and Wyatt DeShong perform from 'Dear Boy on the Tree,' part of the Regional High-School Playwriting readings. Below: Student playwrights, from left, Jasmin A. Hernandez-Lozano, Jessica Wood, Parker Bennett and Ryan McCormick. (Photos by John Moore and Adams VisCom). 

    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.

    Selected previous coverage of the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit:
    After Albee: America’s 10 leading, living playwrights
    2017 Summit welcomes dozens for opening rehearsal
    Summit Spotlight: Robert Schenkkan on the dangers of denial
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Summit Spotlight: Rogelio Martinez on when world leaders collide
    Summit Spotlight: Donnetta Lavinia Grays on the aftermath of trauma
    Summit Spotlight: Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America
    Summit stands in thanks to departing founder Kent Thompson
    Record four student writers to have plays read at Summit
    DCPA completes field of five 2017 Summit playwrights

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Summit. High School Playwriting. John Moore
  • Summit stands in thanks to departing founder Kent Thompson

    by John Moore | Feb 24, 2017
    Kent Thompson. Photo by John Moore
    Kent Thompson drew a standing ovation tonight from attendees at the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit, his last as Producing Artistic Director. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

     

    Colorado New Play Summit pauses to thank
    departing founder Kent Thompson

    To understand the impact the Colorado New Play Summit has had on the development of new works for the American theatre, one need look no further than Skokie Ill., home of the Northlight Theatre.

    Kent Thompson. Photo by John Moore"I just found out today that the Northlight Theatre will be doing two Colorado New Play Summit plays in its next season: The Legend of Georgia McBride by Matthew Lopez, and The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson," DCPA Director of New Play Development Douglas Langworthy said tonight during a tribute to departing DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson.

    Thompson is resigning after 12 years effective March 3, leaving a legacy that includes founding the Colorado New Play Summit in 2006 and the Women's Voices Fund, a $1.4 million endowment that supports new plays by women and female creative team members.

    Kent Thompson's legacy: Giving sound to unheard voices

    “I feel like for the past 12 years, I've had a great opportunity to present many different windows on the world, from many different peoples' viewpoints,” Thompson said from the pulpit of the Seawell Grand Ballroom.

    Kent Thompson. 1001The Colorado New Play Summit, which is presenting readings of five featured new works through Sunday, has workshopped 50 new plays, leading to 29 fully produced world premieres as part of the DCPA Theatre Company’s mainstage season. Thompson has commissioned 44 new plays, almost half written by women.


    A video honoring Thompson was shown at the tribute, followed by a prolonged standing ovation. "I don't think there are words that can possibly do justice to the countless contributions that Kent Thompson has made to this organization," said DCPA CEO Janice Sinden.

    Thompson first thanked his predecessor, Donovan Marley, who grew the Theatre Company’s national reputation as a home for new works with premieres ranging from Quilters to Black Elk Speaks to The Laramie Project. He then thanked his family. Thompson’s late father was a well-known Southern Baptist preacher, and his mother a writer, publisher and editor. His brother is a psychiatrist. 

    “My mom once said we're kind of all in the same profession,” Thompson said. “We either listen to stories to make sense of our world around us, and our place in it; or we tell stories to make sense of our world, and our place in it. My dad was really upset by this - not because he was being compared to a theatre director, but because he was being compared to a psychiatrist.”

    Thompson’s father, he said, was not an evangelical preacher. "He was a human storyteller. And he’s who I learned theatre from.”

    Thanks pour in from around the country for Kent Thompson

    Reflecting on his time in Denver, Thompson said, “I think the opportunity to tell stories that reveal the world to us in a new way is a great privilege. We have accomplished so much in a short period of time. I want to thank everybody for their support and generosity. But most of all I want to thank the writers, the artists, the actors, the craftspeople, the managers the administrators, and everyone who has made this such a wonderful place for new plays in the American theatre.”  

    (Photo below right: Douglas Langworthy and new Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Praise from playwrights for Kent Thompson:

    Douglas Langworthy. Photo by John MooreLauren Yee, Manford at the Line, Or The Great Leap: Kent Thompson is such a champion of new plays. He is such a champion of new and different voices. He always puts his money where his mouth is, and makes sure that the world we live in is reflected on the stage. I feel like he has done so much for new plays, for new playwrights and for young playwrights over the years he has been here at the Denver Center. I can't imagine what it is going to be like without him.

    Rogelio Martinez, Blind Date: I am extremely sad because I have seen this Summit grow to this incredible stage where hundreds of people come in just to see our plays. There's heartbreak because I know this is Kent's vision. I love the fact that whenever we start a Summit, Kent says, 'This is my favorite time of the year.' I think he’s done an incredible job, and he has offered a lot of people a home. He offered me a home.       

    Robert Schenkkan, Hanussen: Kent Thompson is that complete theatre individual. He is a true Renaissance man. A creator in his own right, a director, at one time a performer, and an artistic director. That's a lot of hats to wear, and he wears them all with a great deal of grace and dignity and compassion. He has a quiet sense of humor, which I particularly enjoy, and a real spirit of generosity, which I think is at the heart of his success here at the Denver Center. I think that sense of generosity, that sense of family, is real, and that’s very much a reflection of Kent Thompson 's personality and his aesthetic. I think Denver has been extraordinarily fortunate to have had Kent Thompson for this time period.

    José Cruz González, September Shoes: When Kent Thompson first came to Denver, he called me out of the blue and he said he wanted to do the second production of my play September Shoes. And that play grew in such amazing ways. I found the play here. And then he had me back, first for Sunsets and Margaritas and again last year for American Mariachi. When I came to Denver, American Mariachi was 150 pages long. Then Kent gave it a second workshop last July in Los Angeles, and now it is down to 101 pages. Now, I feel like the play is ready, and that is all thanks to him. Kent has given opportunity to new writers, and given writers a place to do really great work in a great theatre. When you come here, you feel the spirit.

    960x430-two-degreesTira Palmquist, Two Degrees: Kent Thompson's leadership and vision for the DCPA Theater Company has opened a space for a greater diversity of voices on the stage - stories from a richer cross-section of our American experience - and we are all the richer for it. Theater holds a mirror up to us and to our society, and if theater only shows a selective or exclusive image, only tells the stories of a selective or exclusive population, then it necessarily impoverishes us all. More personally, Kent Thompson recognized something in Two Degrees at a time when I was not the most recognizable name in the room. He recognized something in the story, in the writing - not because I was the safest choice. His long history of making these kinds of choices has made the Denver Center an exciting and exhilarating place to make great theater. He's the model for us all to follow.

    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.

    Kent Thompson in Denver: A photo retrospective

    Kent Thompson: A retrospective

    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above.

    Selected previous coverage of the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit:
    2017 Summit welcomes dozens for opening rehearsal
    Summit Spotlight: Robert Schenkkan on the dangers of denial
    Summit Spotlight: Lauren Yee lays it all on the free-throw line
    Summit Spotlight: Rogelio Martinez on when world leaders collide
    Summit Spotlight: Donnetta Lavinia Grays on the aftermath of trauma
    Summit Spotlight: Eric Pfeffinger on the fertile comedy of a divided America
    Record four student writers to have plays read at Summit
    DCPA completes field of five 2017 Summit playwrights

    The 12th Annual Colorado New Play Summit
    Launch Weekend: Feb. 18-19
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 24-26
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

    More Colorado theatre coverage on 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, story: Stirring the passions of student writers ... and future engineers

    by John Moore | Jun 07, 2016

    In the video above, we interview the three 2016 student playwriting finalists and look at performance excerpts as their plays were read by professional actors at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit in February. Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The DCPA's third annual year-long Regional High School Playwriting Workshop and Competition will culminate Friday, June 17, with two free, fully staged performances of student playwright Kendra Knapp’s Sonder in the Denver Center's Conservatory Theatre.

    Last fall, DCPA Education staff conducted 145 classroom workshops for 3,100 Colorado students. That resulted in 212 one-act play submissions from young writers all over the state - up from 158 the year before. A team of professional adjudicators determined 10 semifinalists. Of those, three were selected to have their plays workshopped by the DCPA Education staff and read by professional actors at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit in February. They were:

    Knapp, a recent graduate of Valor Christian High School, was a top-10 finalist last year. This year, her newest play was singled out for full production. Sonder follows a community of young people who are seeking real connection, but from the safety and distance of the internet.


    Our complete Student Playwriting photo gallery:

    2016 Student Playwriting Competition
    Photos from rehearsal through performances of the three finalist readings at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. To see more, click the 'forward' arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 


    Knapp said it was “super exciting” to get into the top 10 last year, and decided it was worth doing again. “When I got in the top three, I figured there’s really no worst-case scenario for me," she said.

    DCPA Director of Education Allison Watrous said the purpose of the teen writing initiative is to advance literacy, creativity, writing and communication through playwriting.

    Teen playwriting quote“This program is all about inspiring the passion of playwriting in the next generation of writers,” she said. But playwriting promotes a variety of life skills, no matter what profession they one day choose. Knapp, for example, is headed to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., where she will study aerospace engineering. “But I will probably still be writing, too,” Knapp said.

    Submissions were judged blindly by DCPA artistic, literary and educational professionals. The three finalists each receive a cash scholarship of $250. In addition, each teacher of the three finalists receives a $250 gift certificate for books, supplies or other teaching tools for their classrooms.

    Knapp’s play was then further selected for a full production this summer. The staging will be directed by DCPA Education Head of Acting Tim McCracken and performed by actors from the DCPA's summer education classes.

    At a time when much of the national theatre dialogue is focused on the lack of fair female representation among American playwrights, it was telling that all three of the student finalists are young women.

    I think that‘s great, especially because it was picked blind," said Wood, a rising senior at Denver Christian School. "We know we were not being picked just because we are women - we were picked because we have talent, and we have abilities, and it’s great that the DCPA is helping us realize this."

    Added Moore: "I really appreciate the DCPA for not feeling the need to fill a quota, and that we’re being appreciated for our talent, no matter what age or gender or background we come from."

    Another commonality the three finalists share is faith. Two of the writers attend faith-based schools - Valor Christian and Denver Christian - and the third writer (Moore) wrote her play about a young woman who goes on a meaningful search to understand how God’s fallen angel came to be known as the Devil.
    Student Playwrights Sonder

    From left: Student playwriting finalists Kendra Knapp, Jessica Wood and Gabrielle Moore. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The finalists found it refreshing that the adjudicators were clearly open to stories with a religious theme, which is not always the case in the theatre.

    “I think there are certain stigmas about both the theatre and the church,” said Wood. “On the surface, they seem opposed to each other, but I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I think it’s really cool that you can be a member of the church and still be a writer in the theatre, which isn’t something a whole lot of people think you can do.”

    Moore was worried that making the Devil a central character in her play might be taken the wrong way. "Offending people was not the goal at all,” she said. “I wanted to tell a side of the story we typically don’t hear in church. I’ve heard pastors tell us that we need to avoid the Devil - but I’ve never really understood why."

    Reserve your free seat to see Sonder

    Knapp’s play has no religious overtones but she says she’s used to facing prejudice as a woman, a Hispanic, a person of faith and a theatre kid. “I’m used to people meeting me and then having this taste in their mouth where they go, “You’re from a Christian school? And you're into theatre?” I’m used to that attitude. But then I come here to the Denver Center and they just say, “OK, let’s get to work.” And I’m like, “Wait, you’re not going to ask me about my political views? Where’s the interrogation?”

    Each finalist was mentored during the Colorado New Play Summit in February by a commissioned playwright with the Denver Center Theatre Company: Rogelio Martinez (Knapp), Anne García-Romero (Moore) and Lauren Yee (Wood), all of whom are developing new plays for the DCPA’s right of first refusal.

    “Rogelio had some ideas and insights for the play that hadn’t been presented to me by any other voice,” said Knapp. "It’s just a really good feeling to get feedback from someone you know is established who says to you genuinely, 'This is good.' ”

    Student Playwrights Sonder
    The cast and creative teams from the three student playwriting readings at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The three finalists and their plays are featured in the video report at the top of this page. Here are additional excerpts from their conversation with DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore:

    John Moore: What did you think when you found out you were in the top three?

    Gabrielle Moore: My mom told me I had to look at this email because it was really important. And I was like, “Mom you’re probably misinterpreting it. They’re probably just saying, ‘Thank you for your submission’ - not that I actually won. When I read it, I was genuinely amazed.

    Jessica Wood: When I found out I was in the top three, I was really excited, because I put quite a lot of work into it. To see my work realized and accepted meant a whole lot. It was really great.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Kendra Knapp: I showed the email to my dad and he was like, “Wow, that’s super exciting!” And then I had this sudden moment of dread where I was like, “Oh gosh, I’m going to have to actually talk to people. No! I have to put on a dress! I can’t just sit in my pajamas all day!"

    John Moore: How did it help your writing to work with a director from the DCPA Education team?

    Jessica Wood: Shortly after I was selected, Mr. (Steven Cole) Hughes sent me some notes that said he liked my play, but there definitely were places where we can improve it. So I made some changes before I even went into rehearsal. Then I met my wonderful director (Allison Watrous), all of my actors, and they’re all great. We sat down and read the whole play through, and I said, “OK, I can definitely see some structural weaknesses.” So I changed my play - and then the next day, I changed it again. I think I had a rewrite every single day. And by the time we were done, I got to understand the whole feeling of the play. I got to learn how to best impact the ears of the audience, what sounds pleasing and what doesn’t, and really what makes for a good script.

    John Moore: What was it like to see a professional reading of your work?

    Gabrielle Moore: Starting out with an idea a year ago and getting to watch it develop into being on the stage was incredible. Even though there were some rewrites, my director Patrick (Elkins-Zeglarski) ensured me that I know what’s best for this play, that this is my authentic voice, and I could put in whatever I want, to an extent. It was nice to know that this is still my play, even though the DCPA has been nice enough to take care of it for me.

    John Moore: What was it like to hear audience responses for the first time?

    Jessica Wood: When the the lights went down for my play, I just felt this moment of sudden, sick dread because I was convinced that everyone would hate it. It’s really terrifying when you have a live audience because you don’t know how they’re going to react. You don’t know if they’re going to connect. You don’t know if they are going to be bored out of their minds. And if that happens, you’re to blame for that. But they were great. They were kind, they were polite, they laughed, and hopefully they cried a little bit.

    John Moore: How is this whole experience emboldening you?

    Gabrielle Moore: I learned a lot about myself through the writing process, especially through my character, Teresa. Because I’ve had trouble understanding everything I need to know about being a Catholic. And writing this play really helped because I did a lot of research on Mother Teresa. She said a lot of times when she prayed, she wasn’t sure if God was always there. But that didn’t stop her from doing good things and being a good person. I think she’s such an amazing woman to do that. I just want to keep being a good person and being a good writer and impact other people to do good through plays like this.

    Jessica Wood: I definitely think there’s a bit of a look that you get from adults when you tell them you write. They say, “Do you, really?” And then here comes this opportunity at the Denver Center where they say, “Yes, you are a writer. Now why don’t you give us some of your writing and let us help you make it better?”

    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.

    Sonder: Performance information
    1:30 and 7 p.m., Friday, June 17
    Conservatory Theatre in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education 1101 13th St.
    This performance is free, but an RSVP is requested by clicking here 

    Selected previous NewsCenter coverage of the Student Playwriting Competition:
    2016 finalists named for Regional High School Playwriting Competition
    2016 Summit: An infusion of invisible color and hidden voices
    Denver Center launches statewide high-school playwriting initiative
    Direct link to our Flickr photo gallery


    Our complete countdown of 2016 semifinalists:
    No. 1: Jafei Pollitt, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 2: Jessica Wood, Denver Christian High School
    No. 3: Kristine Guo, Peak to Peak Charter School
    No. 4: Gabrielle Moore, D'Evelyn High School
    No. 5: Ashley Wright and Amelia Middlebrooks, Valor Christian High School
    No. 6: Kalina Gallardo, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy
    No. 7: Kiera Eriksen-McAuliffe, Denver School of the Arts
    No. 8: Stephanie Kiel and Mady McGraw, Chatfield Senior High School
    No. 9: Kendra R. Knapp, Valor Christian High School
    No. 10: Jacob Kendrick, Peak to Peak Charter School

     

  • 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 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: José Cruz González, 'American Mariachi'

    by John Moore | Feb 20, 2016


    Our interview, in video and words, with Colorado New Play Summit featured playwright José Cruz González, author of American Mariachi,  a piece set in Denver and inspired by women who started forming their own mariachi groups in the 1970s. "We interviewed a number of amazing women who were able to help us enter into that world," González, said, "and we found an amazing group of artists who will play and sing in the piece."


    Here are highlights from DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore's conversation with  'American Mariachi' playwright José Cruz González:

    John Moore: How has the title of the play evolved?

    José Cruz González: American Mariachi started with just the initials AM. It stands for three things: It’s one of the character’s names. And there is the musical style: American Mariachi. And also AM radio, which is where you might hear this music on the radio. So (DCPA Associate Artistic Director) Bruce Sevy said, ‘Why don’t we just call it that?’ And I said, ‘Ding! Of course. That sounds great. It’s so perfect.

    American Mariachi. Summit John Moore: How do you like to introduce your play?

    José Cruz González: American Mariachi is a play about music, and it’s the story of women who come to discover this music and adopt it during a time when that’s not permitted. The play is set here in Denver, and it’s the 1970s. In my research looking at women playing mariachi music in the United States, it’s been fascinating to see how these little pockets of musicians appeared throughout the country. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m sure there’s a story here. (Pictured: Elia Saldana and Sal Lopez. Phot oby John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.) 

    John Moore: What challenges did these women face in playing mariachi music?

    José Cruz González: We’re really looking at a tradition that is male-dominated. Men played mariachi. And so for women to enter into that world was a challenge for them on many many fronts. First of all, just being able to play the music. Men perceived that women couldn’t play it - that they didn’t have the music inside them. So it was very taboo. These women had to learn by finding themselves and finding ways for them to approach this music and to eventually perform it.

    John Moore: This story is of such a specific time, place and situation. But the ides of it – women breaking into a male-dominated world - that theme couldn’t be more timeless.

    José Cruz González: That’s right, it is a timeless story because these young women are challenged, and they come together because of their love of the music. And it’s all brought together because of one character, Lucha, whose mother is battling Alzheimer’s disease. One thing she discovers is that the mother comes alive suddenly whenever she hears this one song. So that begins the journey for this young woman to see if she can bring the music back to her mother.

    Jose Cruz Gonzalez Quote Summit

    John Moore: There will be an expectation that music will play a large role in any performance of this play.

    José Cruz González: Music plays such an important role in this piece. First of all, it’s live and that sound of mariachi is so fantastic when you fill a room with people and you hear people singing. And these artists here for the reading, I have to tell you: I’m so impressed with them. We asked them before we came to Denver if they could play these instruments, and some of them learned to play for this. But we also found that most of our artists can play and sing, so it’s really a rich mix. It’s a beautiful sound and I love how it fits with these characters because in the story, they’re not supposed to be the best musicians in the world. So that fits with the story. But those voices are incredible.

    John Moore: Let’s talk about your first experience in Denver when the DCPA Theatre Company back in 2005.

    José Cruz González: Kent Thompson was coming to be the artistic director of the company, and he called me up to invite me to explore a play I had written called September Shoes. That was my first introduction to this amazing company. And subsequently I’ve come back with Sunsets and Margaritas, and now with American Mariachi. The Denver Center is really a home for me - an artistic home. It’s a place for artists to stretch themselves and tell stories in a place that’s conducive to creativity, to fostering and nurturing new work. I’m just happy to be here. I get up really early every morning to write before I go into rehearsals. I think on Monday, my day off, I spent 15 hours working on my play. To me, this is the best opportunity to hear your play with great artists, in a great location and in great environment. This is a place where audiences really come to experience something new.

    John Moore: The three plays you have brought to the Denver Center could not be more different.

    José Cruz González: For me, September Shoes was a play about the past and how these individuals, because of an accident 30 years ago, changes their lives and haunts them. I was fascinated by that world and how one picks up the pieces when their lives have been destroyed. With Sunsets and Margaritas, I had never attempted a comedy and I wanted to try that as an exercise for myself. And I think with American Mariachi, those elements of September Shoes and Sunsets and Margaritas both come into play here. Those two plays really helped inform me in terms of not only the pathos of the story but also the comedy in it. But the new wrinkle here is live music. For the last five years, I have been a student of mariachi myself. I have been learning how to play these instruments. But I also had the chance to interview mariachi musicians, both men and women. That helped me to tell the story. In fact this piece is dedicated to a mariachi woman named Laura Sobrino Cano, who actually came from my hometown - a little town on the central coast of California, and went on to become one of the premier mariachi women in the world. She trained the next generations of both men and women mariachi musicians. It’s personal to me because of those connections.

    John Moore: How have you benefited having a second week of development time her at the Summit?

    José Cruz González: Well time really is the key thing for new-play development, and so the luxury of having two weeks is huge. The play that we presented last week has changed considerably during this second week. It is now a much deeper play that explores these characters much further than we did in the first week. I am able to spend the day in rehearsal and then go back to my place and spend another four or five hours working. The we come back the next day and experiment and explore what that story is. I think audiences will be able to go, ‘Yes I understand it. It touches me, it angers me, I want to laugh with it and I want to sing along.

    John Moore: When Kent Thompson slotted September Shoes in 2005, the Denver Center hadn’t done a play by a Latino writer in six years. What does his commitment to writers of color mean to you?

    José Cruz González: 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, I believe, in this country. And we don’t see that in a whole lot of places yet. I think what he’s doing here is important and I hope that our colleagues around the country will pick up the ball and do what needs to be done. Because when you think about the stories that are being told, it’s really a small group of people who are telling those stories. But there are a lot of stories that are not being told. We need variety, and we need those hidden voices. I think that’s what Kent is doing. He is giving us an opportunity, and a place here where we can tell our stories.

    American Mariachi. Summit


    American Mariachi:
    Cast list

    José Cruz González, Playwright
    Rachel Bowditch, Director
    Cindy Flores, Musical Director
    Shirley Fishman, Dramaturg
    Elia Saldana, Lucha
    Olivia Espinosa, Bolie
    Vivis Colombetti, Amalia/Dona Lola
    Sal Lopez, Frederico
    Rosalie Rodriguez, Isabel
    Sol Castillo, Mateo/Beto/Hotel Striker
    Vaneza Calderon, Gabby
    Crissy Guerrero, Soyla
    Daniel Valdez, Mino
    Carlos Hidalgo, Stage Directions/ Musician

    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

  • 2016 Colorado New Play Summit to be streamed live

    by John Moore | Feb 13, 2016
    Matthew Lopez 2016. Photo by John Moore
    DCPA Theatre Company 2014-15 Playwright in Residence Matthew Lopez will lead a panel conversation opn playwriting that will be live streamed on Feb. 18. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    Three major events at The Denver Center for the Performing Arts' 2016 Colorado New Play Summit will be livestreamed around the world by HowlRound, a peer-produced online TV network, between Feb. 14 and 19:

    CNPS_Logo_2016 225Devised Work Panel with Third Rail Projects
    Sunday, Feb. 14
    9 a.m. PST (Los Angeles)
    10 a.m. MST (Denver)
    11 a.m. CST (Chicago)
    Noon EST (New York)
    Join the DCPA and Third Rail Projects, one of the foremost companies creating site-specific, immersive, and experiential dance theatre in the U.S, for a panel discussion on creating devised work. Third Rail Projects’ current productions include Then She Fell and The Grand Paradise. The DCPA is the first regional theatre in the country to commission Third Rail Projects, and together the companies are creating a new immersive piece that will premiere in May at a site to be announced.  

    Dialogue on Dialogue Roundtable
    Thursday, Feb. 18
    6 p.m. PST (Los Angeles)
    7 p.m. MST (Denver)
    8 p.m. CST (Chicago)
    9 p.m. EST (New York)
    Join playwright Matthew Lopez (The Legend of Georgia McBride) and some of our acclaimed commissioned writers for a roundtable discussion about their writing processes, favorite first scenes, and more. After live scene readings, playwrights will give a glimpse inside the inspiration, frustration and “ah-ha!” moments of writing a script. Playwrights include: Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan (All the Way, The 12, The Kentucky Cycle); Anne Garcia-Romero (Santa ConcepciónPaloma); and Susan Smith Blackburn nominee Lauren Yee (Samsara, in a word, The Hatmaker’s Wife).

    Late Night Playwrights’ Slam
    Friday, Feb. 19
    8:30 p.m. PST (Los Angeles)
    9:30 p.m. MST (Denver)
    10:30 p.m. CST (Chicago)
    11:30 p.m. EST (New York)
    Tune in as playwrights from around the country debut excerpts brand-new works-in-progress in front of a live audience in the Jones Theatre. Featuring:

    • DCPA commissioned writers Rogelio Martinez, Kemp Powers, Robert Schenkkan, Regina Taylor, Lauren Yee
    • DCPA Playwright in Residence Matthew Lopez
    • Colorado playwright Andrew Hinderacker (with guest Brett Schneider)

    WATCH LIVE FROM ANY EVENT ABOVE BY CLICKING HERE



    About the Colorado New Play Summit

    Hailed as a “a must-see stop for new-play development” by American Theatre Magazine, the Colorado New Play Summit has introduced 44 new plays, over half of which returned to the stage as full Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit World Premieres include Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride (which made it’s Off-Broadway debut at the MCC Theater), Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Eric Schmiedl’s adaptation of Kent Haruf’s Benediction, Catherine Trieschmann’s The Most Deserving, 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.

    CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON THE COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT



    About HowlRound TV

    HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer-produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by HowlRound, a knowledge commons by and for the theatre, arts, and cultural community. The channel is at howlround.tv and is a free and shared resource for live events and performances relevant to the world's performing arts fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Follow and use hashtag #howlround in Twitter to participate in a community of peers revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field.

    CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE HOWLROUND HOME PAGE
  • 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
  • Actor Jonathan Crombie of 'Benediction' has died at 48

    by John Moore | Apr 18, 2015

    Jonathan Crombie. Photo by John Moore.
    Jonathan Crombie in 'Benediction.' Photo by John Moore.

    Actor Jonathan Crombie, who played two roles in the DCPA Theatre Company’s recent world premiere of Benediction, has died, Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson announced today.

    jonathan-crombieCrombie, who was best known for his work in the Anne of Green Gables movies, the Canadian TV series Slings & Arrows and starring on Broadway in The Drowsy Chaperone, suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage on Wednesday in New York City, and physicians could not revive him. He was 48.

    Thompson said it is both deeply painful and ironic that Crombie’s last job in the theatre was in Benediction, “a play about death, loss and pain, and how do we deal with it and go on?” he said.  

    Benediction was performed in January and February at the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Thompson already is grieving Crombie’s smile, sensitivity and good spirit. “He was imaginative and clever and funny," Thompson said, "and I know everyone in the Benediction company is devastated by this news."

    Crombie came to Denver as a heartthrob turned major TV and film star. Thompson, who already had been a fan of Crombie's work, remembers doing a double-take when Crombie's name came up for possible casting. Thompson was impressed by Crombie's continued reinvention throughout his career, including his work with his stand-up comedy troupe, Skippy's Rangers.

    Benediction cast members knew Crombie as a fun and friendly colleague they finally convinced to come along with them to “Motown nights” at the nearby Beauty Bar in Denver.

    "The company liked him so much, and we were always very happy to have him around," said castmate Benjamin Bonenfant. "He almost even seemed embarrassed by the attention. He was kind, amiable and engaged. He was always game to talk about movies or politics or the craft. He was very generous, on and off stage."

    Added castmate Amelia Corrada, a student at Denver School of the Arts: "I remember on my first day of rehearsals, he was the first one to come up to me," she said. "Nervous as I was, he was the one who encouraged me. Such a fantastic man. Another quiet genius lost."

    Benediction was the final chapter in the late author Kent Haruf's Plainsong trilogy, which brought the Colorado plains and its rural residents to vivid life. The final chapter focused on a dying hardware store owner who is estranged from his adult son (Crombie).

    Richard and Frank presented two small but challenging roles for Crombie. The former was an unsuitable suitor to the dying man’s grown daughter; the latter, Frank, was presented onstage as a manifestation of the son the old man drove away as a teen when he discovered the boy was gay.

    Frank was a particularly challenging character, Thompson said, “because we never know for sure if he’s ghost, or real, or something in-between.

    “I was impressed because even though the roles were small on the page, Jonathan just kept working with his fellow actors, going over his scenes over and over to see what else he could discover. I am sure that kind of work ethic was the secret of his success throughout his career."

    Said audience member Marilyn Welsh: "He was absolutely riveting in those two small roles in Benediction. His performance exemplified the saying that it isn't the role, but the actor."

    Jonathan Crombie was born on Oct. 12, 1966, in Toronto. He was the son of David Crombie, who was mayor of Toronto from 1972 to 1978 and served as a federal Progressive Conservative cabinet minister in the 1980s.

    Crombie played Gilbert Blythe in the CBC movie series Anne of Green Gables between 1984 and 2000. He and his character became so popular in Canada, he happily took to answering to Gil as his new nickname. 

    “I think he was really proud of being Gilbert Blythe,” his sister, Carrie Crombie, told the CBC. “He really enjoyed that series and was happy; very proud of it. I think his proudest part was when he played the lead in Drowsy Chaperone on Broadway. That was just an amazing thing for him to be able to do.”

    Slings & Arrows was a popular Canadian TV series set at a fictional Shakespearean festival similar to the real-world Stratford Festival (which Crombie performed at). In the second season, Crombie played a comically inept playwright named Lionel Train.

    Backstage at Benediction, the most drama you would get out of Crombie were epic cribbage matches with castmate Adrian Egolf.

    Carrie Crombie said she didn't think her brother had any major health issues, and was committed to staying healthy. She said his organs have been donated, "which is something he would have been proud of."

    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.

    Click here to read the CBC’s full tribute to Jonathan Crombie

    Statement from 'Benediction playwright Eric Schmiedl:

    “I’m trying understand what’s happening.”  Jonathan Crombie softly said this several times as we worked and reworked and re-reworked the meeting between Dad Lewis and his estranged son, Frank, in our stage adaptation of Kent Haruf’s novel Benediction for the DCPA Theatre Company.  Jonathan played the role of Frank.  While brief, this confrontation was critical to our understanding of Dad and his attempt to reconcile the events of his life, and it proved to be a tricky scene to get right.  I would bring in a new draft, and we would read through it.  Afterward, Jonathan would nod his head quickly several times keeping his eyes down on the script.  He would pause, cock his head to the right, smile and earnestly say, “I’m sorry, but …”  And this phrase would lead us into a lengthy discussion about Frank and his motivation for a particular statement as well as his overall reason for being in the play.  These conversations were intense.  They were sometimes awkward and often clumsy, and I cherished them because they forced me to drop my guard and look deeper at the character and the scene and the play.  In his firm but gentle manner Jonathan demanded it.  Now, I must say that in many ways Jonathan reflected in microcosm the talent, kindness, humor, and passion of the entire cast and company of Benediction at the Denver Center.  This was a truly remarkable collection of artists who not only challenged one another with the level of their artistry - they wholeheartedly celebrated each other’s achievements.  We were fierce about the story.  We were fierce about the play.  We were fierce about each other.  We were a unit – a family – which makes it all the more heartbreaking to have lost such a unique and essential part of our family.  Sometimes it feels like a curse, the ephemeral nature of theatre, but I think it may also be a blessing because it provides a heightened shimmer to these pivotal moments which can help us better “understand what’s happening” and to celebrate the wonderful opportunity they have provided for us.  Thank you Jonathan for helping us recognize this gift.  None of us, none of us will ever forget it."


    Jonathan Crombie with the cast of 'Benediction' on opening night. Photo by John Moore.
    Jonathan Crombie with the cast of the DCPA Theatre Company's 'Benediction' on opening night. Photo by John Moore.


    Jonathan Crombie: Theatrical bio

    U.S. theater includes: Freud's Last Session (Pittsburgh Public, Hartford Theaterworks); Clybourne Park, Beneatha's Place (Baltimore CenterStage); Drowsy Chaperone [as Man In Chair] (Broadway, National Tour).

    Canadian credits include: Oxford Roof-Climbers Rebellion, Dishwashers (Tarragon); Arcadia, What The Butler Saw (CanStage); Romeo & Juliet, Oedipus Rex, Comedy of Errors, Hamlet (Stratford); Godspell (New Vic); Dig? (Flatzbo); Film/TV includes: Haven, Good Wife, Cottage Country, Slings & Arrows, Power Play, Mount Royal, Bullies and Anne Of Green Gables. He's a member of the sketch troupe Skippy's Rangers and co-director of the documentary Waiting For Ishtar.

    Our previous coverage of Benediction:
    Opening night photos
    Kent Haruf: The complete final interview
    For two inaugural DCPA company actors, you can come home again
    Video, photos: DCPA celebrates life of Colorado novelist Kent Haruf
    'Benediction' opens as a celebration of ‘The Precious Ordinary’
    Video: Your first look at Benediction
    Doris Duke Foundation awards $125,000 for Benediction
    Bittersweet opening for 'Benediction' rehearsals
    Kent Haruf, author of 'Plainsong' Trilogy, dies at age 71
    Kent Thompson on the 2014-15 season, play by play
    2014 Colorado New Play Summit will complete 'Plainsong' trilogy
    Video: 'Benediction' reading at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit

    Jonathan Crombie with castmaet Nance Williamson on opening night of 'Benediction.'. Photo by John Moore.

    Jonathan Crombie with castmate Nance Williamson on opening night of 'Benediction.' Photo by John Moore.
     
  • 2015 Summit Spotlight video: Jason Gray Platt's 'The There There'

    by John Moore | Feb 21, 2015


    Jason Gray Platt's new play The There There looks at one couple's relationship over 60 years, with two sets of actors playing the lovers as young and old. The twist of staging it as a featured reading at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit is that the play features two overlapping casts. On the first weekend of the Summit, the couple was played as two men (Nick Mills, Vin Kridakorn, Nasser Faris and Lenny Von Dohlen). The second weekend of the Summit, the couple was played as a man and a woman (Mills, Von Dohlen, Melissa Recalde and Lise Bruneau). So audiences who saw both readings saw one set of male actors play the same script opposite men, and then women.

    But at its essence, Platt says, gender is irrelevant to telling a story that strives to be about "how technology informs the loss of loved ones, and how our increasing connection with one another is complicating our ability to grieve fully for people." The reading's director was Courtney Sale, and the reader was Heather Hughes.

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

    For all of our Summit coverage, click here to go to our NewsCenter.

    THE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES: (to date):
    Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
    Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
    Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
    Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho (coming next)

    MORE COVERAGE FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:

    Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
    Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced

    'The There There.' Photos by John Moore. One iteration of the 'young couple': Nick Mills and Melissa Recalde, left) and one iteration of the 'older couple': Nasser Faris and Lenny Von Dohlen. Photos by John Moore.
  • 2015 Summit Spotlight video: Theresa Rebeck's 'The Nest'

    by John Moore | Feb 20, 2015



    Theresa Rebeck’s The Nest is about a bar that is on its last legs, “but it’s got very beautiful bones inside it,” she says. Here’s our inside look at the making of this ripping comedy that is a featured reading at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.

    For the small-town regulars at The Nest, life is an endless series of jokes and over-the-top conversations that liven up the neighborhood watering hole … until a well-heeled woman walks in and tries to buy the beautiful antique bar. The cast includes Carly Street, John Procaccino, Brian D. Coats, Laurence Lau, Carine Montbertrand, Victoria Mack, Kevin Berntson, Jessica Love and Royce Roeswood.

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk.

    For all of our Summit coverage, click here to go to our NewsCenter.

    THE SUMMIT SPOTLIGHT VIDEO SERIES: (to date):
    Part 1: The Nest, by Theresa Rebeck
    Part 2: The There There, by Jason Gray Platt
    Part 3: Holy Laughter, by Catherine Trieschmann
    Part 4: Fade, by Tanya Saracho (coming next)

    OUR COVERAGE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:
    Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Matthew Lopez's 2015 Summit Soliloquy video
    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
    Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced

    rian D. Coats, John Procaccino, Carine Montbertrand, Laurence Lau and Victoria Mack from 'The Nest.' Photo by Kyle Malone. Brian D. Coats, John Procaccino, Carine Montbertrand, Laurence Lau and Victoria Mack from 'The Nest.' Photo by Kyle Malone.
  • Photos: Week 1 of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit

    by John Moore | Feb 15, 2015




    Our comprehensive photo gallery spans the first-day meet-and-greet, rehearsals for all four shows, the first-ever Local Playwrights Slam, and both acting and playwriting workshops conducted by DCPA Playwriting Fellow Matthew Lopez.

    Check back next week for more photos and video from each of the readings, and a full recap of Summit activities. All photos by John Moore and Kyle Malone.

    Local Playwrights Slam at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore.

    Nina Miller, Leslie C. Lewis and Jeffrey Neuman, curators of the first Local Playwrights Slam at the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. Photo by John Moore.



    Previous NewsCenter coverage of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit:
    Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends; playwrights announced
    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit
    Summit cast lists: Familiar names and new names
    Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam
    2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam


  • Part 5: Matthew Lopez on the evolving role of marketing in making art

    by John Moore | Feb 15, 2015

    Playwriting Fellow Matthew Lopez at the DCPA. Photo by John Moore.

    NOTE: This is Part 5 of an ongoing series of conversations with 2014-15 DCPA Playwriting Fellow Matthew Lopez, above. Photo by John Moore.




    One of the reasons Matthew Lopez accepted an offer to become the DCPA Theatre Company’s first-ever Playwriting Fellow this season was because the experience promised to pull back the veil on parts of the theatre-making process writers are rarely privy to.

    “The fellowship came at a time when I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with the opacity of the way theatres around the country make decisions,” said Lopez.

    Lopez’s six-month fellowship promised a front-row seat to everything from season-selection meetings to budget sessions. He is serving as the DCPA’s host for the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit. He is teaching playwriting and acting workshops. He has visited Denver-area schools. He is essentially a full member of the artistic staff.

    “When does a playwright ever get to do all that?” Lopez said. “It’s like being offered a backstage tour of the inner workings of a company.”

    He got the backstage tour, too.

    One of the most illuminating parts of Lopez’s tour has been developing a greater understanding of the role marketing plays in everything from the way a playwright’s work is introduced to the public, to the playwright’s financial bottom line. Simply put: The better the marketing, the more seats are sold - and the more the playwright gets paid, Lopez said. 

    The bottom line for anyone with a hand in creating a play, Lopez says, is this: “No one wants to put all of this work into it, and then not have anyone show up.”

    Here is more from our conversation:

    John Moore: What has surprised you the most about delving into the world of marketing here?

    Matthew Lopez: The science of it; the professionalism of it; the industry of it. That was pretty eye-opening. But what was even more enlightening and refreshing to me is how it always seems to come back to the creative process, and to the art. When everything is done well, it really is the perfect meeting of art and commerce - at least that is how I have experienced it here at the DCPA.

    John Moore: What is it like for a playwright to talk with staff about your play in terms of ticket sales and revenue goals and percentages of capacity?

    Matthew Lopez: There are hard numbers being discussed in those meetings. There are literally percentage points being bandied about. But then there is also a keen eye toward "the why.” Why is a play selling or not selling? With A Christmas Carol, you know it’s selling because of the name recognition. Because of the tradition. Because people have seen this production before, and they know it will be of high quality. But people are also asking, “Why was Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike‎ such a big hit for the company?" And even though Lord of the Flies maybe didn’t sell quite as many tickets, why is that the play that everyone was talking about for weeks afterward? It's fascinating.

    John Moore: Especially given that Lord of the Flies performed so many student matinees - and every ticket was sold. And those students treated the cast like they were boy-band rock stars. But for whatever reason, it didn't appeal to an adult audience in the same way at night.

    Matthew Lopez: And why is that? What amazes me is that marketing departments now have ways of finding out. I had no idea the business end of it has become so sophisticated and scientific. It's pretty impressive. But again - the road always led back to the art and to the creation, and that was pretty exciting to me.

    Matthew Lopez


    John Moore: How do you compare the particular challenge of marketing live theatre to, say, films?

    Matthew Lopez: The difference between selling live theatre and film is that the owners of the movie theatres could care less about the number of butts in their seats, because they get to keep such a tiny fraction of the box office. They get practically nothing from ticket sales. All of the action that they make at a movie theatre is off of concessions. So there is zero connection between the number of tickets sold, and the audience’s intellectual and emotional interaction with the film. Seriously: They could not care less what you thought of The Imitation Game or Unbroken or The Hobbit. They just don't care. They want you to buy popcorn. But here at the Denver Center, there is a direct correlation between butts in the seats and the audience’s engagement with the theatre that is being created. Everything depends on it. This might be a crass way of looking at it, but for a playwright, the more attention the marketing department can generate for your play, the more tickets are sold, which means the playwright makes more money. I can't speak for the actors, because they don't get paid based on how many tickets are sold. I get paid based on how many tickets are sold.

    John Moore: I thought licensing fees were based on the seating capacity of the theatre, not on how many people actually show up.

    Matthew Lopez. There is a formula that determines what you get paid in advance. But later on, you also get a pre-negotiated percentage of the box office. So the size of the house, and the number of tickets sold, does factor into it. If you are the playwright, you are going to make more money in a 1,200-seat theatre than you will in a 150-seat theatre. You are going to make more money if they charge $100 for the ticket as opposed to $27 for the ticket. The actors are paid a fixed rate based on the size of the house, and they get paid the same whether the house is full or empty. And so for me, the work that the marketing department does directly impacts my bottom line.

    John Moore: The way I see it, really every part of the process can, in some way, be considered marketing. Advertising is marketing, obviously. But really anything that convinces a potential audience member to come and see a show is marketing. That might be a story in the Sunday newspaper. A banner they see driving down the street. An email with a discount offer. An audience testimonial on social media. Even the script – and the performances. Because if an audience thinks The Legend of Georgia McBride is the best new play they have seen in a long time – and they tell people about it, that's organic marketing. Or if they see Mark Rylance perform in Jerusalem, and they tell their friends they have to see it – that's all part of the wide swath that is marketing now.

    Matthew Lopez: Absolutely.

    John Moore: What do you think of the emerging role of curation in enhancing and extending the audience’s theatergoing experience? For Georgia McBride, there was a cooperative effort between the marketing and artistic teams so that the audience experience began from the moment they walked through the front door and continued long after the show with a local drag performance. 

    Matthew Lopez: That was fun, wasn’t it? What I took from that is the idea that marketing doesn't have to be unimaginative. Marketing can actually be a part of the creative experience. I think the more imaginative the marketing department is, the more engrained they are in the production itself. Georgia McBride was a perfect example of that. The less marketing looks like marketing, the better. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain," right? You are not supposed to notice.

    John Moore: So this is new to everyone, right? But I can only assume that deep down, the playwright wishes the play could speak for itself.

    Matthew Lopez: At first, that was probably my attitude. I kind of felt like, “I got this, guys. This is what I do. Why don't we just let them see the show?” But I think that was a little bit of contempt prior to investigation. Once I saw what they were thinking about for Georgia McBride, and once I actually saw what kind of resources they were able to put into it, and the imagination they put behind the idea, I think we all kind of dug it. Not too soon after we started performances, most nights you would see half the cast watching the drag show in the lobby after the show.

    Note: Matthew Lopez is conducting a playwriting workshop and discussion as part of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit at 5 p.m. today, Feb. 15, at the Jones Theatre, Speer and Arapahoe.



    Check out our photo gallery covering parts of Matthew Lopez's Playwriting Fellowship in Denver, above.

    MATTHEW LOPEZ IN DENVER: THE  SERIES TO DATE:
    Part 1: Why take the Playwriting Fellowship? The hunger for new work
    Part 2: Lopez to students: Be citizens. Be informed. Have opinions.
    Part 3: Is sweetness a risk in the American Theatre?
    Part 4: Peter Pan Live made Matthew Lopez cry - and fly
    Part 5: Matthew Lopez on the changing role of marketing in making art (today)
    Part 6: Matthew Lopez leads acting, playwriting workshops at  2015 Summit (coming next)

    AMERICAN THEATRE WRITES ABOUT THE MATTHEW LOPEZ FELLOWSHIP:
    Paying Playwrights More Than Play Money

    SELECTED PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF MATTHEW LOPEZ AT THE DCPA:
    Matthew Lopez named DCPA Playwriting Fellow for 2014-15
    Georgia McBride will be staged in New York
    Matthew Lopez's trip down the straight and fabulous
    2015 Colorado New Play Summit expands to two weekends
    Georgia McBride team: 'Subtlety is our enemy'

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE 2015 COLORADO NEW PLAY SUMMIT:
  • Summit cast lists: Familiar names, new names and ... Laurence Lau

    by John Moore | Feb 09, 2015

    A SUMMIT 800


    Preparations begin in earnest today for the 10th Colorado New Play Summit, and the first since the premiere showcase of new American works for the American Theatre expanded to two weeks.

    The four selected plays will be developed this week, presented to the public next weekend (Feb. 14-15), then go back into rehearsal for another round of improvements before being presented again the following weekend for the national theatre industry (Feb. 20-21). 

    Laurence LauThe cast lists have now been announced. One name that jumps out to pop-culture aficionados is Laurence Lau, who has made quite a name for himself as a theatre actor since becoming an international household name playing Greg (as in Greg and Jenny) on TV's All My Children. Lau last appeared in Denver playing the pedophile boyfriend in the national touring production of August: Osage County.

    Among the familiar names to DCPA Theatre Company audiences are Kim Staunton (black odyssey), Michael Santo (Death of a Salesman, Jackie & Me), Lise Bruneau (Heartbreak House), Nasser Faris (Inana), Victoria Mack (The 39 Steps) and Jessica Love (Map of Heaven). The ensembles also include Nick Mills and Mehry Iris Eslaminia, both of whom are appearing in the world premiere of Appoggiatura. Shelley Butler, who directed Catherine Trieschmann's hit comedy The Most Deserving last year, is back to helm Holy Laughter. No cast members from Benediction will be participating in Summit readings this year because of conflicting performance schedules.

    Primer: Your guide to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit.


    CAST LISTS:

    The There There
    By Jason Gray Platt
    Director: Courtney Sale
    Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
    One couple traverses a lifetime in a single sitting in this expansive, stirring new play.  From their first touch in the present day through the next 45 years, the dynamics of their relationship fluctuate as quickly as the latest twists of technology. Packing an entire life into six potent scenes, Platt’s masterful dialogue probes the heart and questions what it means to hang on to humanity as the 21st century advances.

    Role: Actor
    Actor 1: Nick Mills
    Actor 2: Vin Kridakorn
    Actor 3: Melissa Recalde
    Actor 4: Nasser Faris
    Actor 5: Lenny Von Dohlen
    Actor 6: Lise Bruneau
    Reader: Heather Hughes



    The Crown

    By Theresa Rebeck
    Director: Adrienne Campbell-Holt
    For the small-town regulars at The Crown, life is an endless series of jokes and over-the-top conversations that liven up the neighborhood watering hole… until a well-heeled woman walks in and tries to buy the beautiful antique bar. A comedy with quirky humor and quick wit. A DCPA Theatre Company commission.

    Role: Actor
    Margo: Carly Street
    Patrick Wilcox: John Procaccino
    Barry: Brian D. Coats
    Nick Freelander: Laurence Lau
    Laila Freelander: Carine Montbertrand
    Sam: Victoria Mack
    Ned Batish: Kevin Berntson
    Irene Colatonio: Jessica Love
    Reader: Royce Roeswood


    Fade
    By Tanya Saracho
    Director: Jerry Ruiz
    Dramaturg: Stephanie Ybarra
    Mexican-born Lucia is hired to write for a Latina character on an L.A.-based TV series. She soon discovers that Abel, the Chicano studio custodian, has a windfall of plot ideas. As their friendship grows and she begins incorporating Abel’s insights into her scripts, Lucia’s professional stardom starts to rise, but her personal life only becomes more and more complicated. A DCPA Theatre Company commission.

    Role: Actor
    Lucia: Alejandra Escalante
    Abel: Eddie Martinez
    Reader: Amy Luna



    Holy Laughter

    By Catherine Trieschmann
    Director: Shelley Butler
    Dramaturg: Joy Meads
    An Episcopal priest finds the reality of leading a church is radically and hilariously different than what she learned in seminary. As she wrestles with church finances, eccentric parishioners, changing sexual mores and her own doubting human heart, Abigail struggles to make peace with the realities of contemporary church life. Hymns, liturgical dance and a wicked tongue lift this antic portrait of a small, struggling congregation to comic heights. Trieschmann wrote last season's hit comedy, The Most Deserving. A DCPA Theatre Company commission.

    Role: Actor
    Abigail: Sadieh Rifai
    Esther /Myra: Kelley Rae O’Donnell
    Lloyd / Victor: Michael Santo
    Martine / Vivienne: Kim Staunton
    Noah / Sam: Chris Murray
    Ensemble/Guitar and Vocals: Mehry Eslaminia
    Reader: Chelsea Frye


    For more information on the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit, or to order tickets, call 303-893-6030 or click here to go to the DCPA’s web site.
  • Playwrights named for inaugural Local Playwrights Slam

    by John Moore | Feb 03, 2015
    Colorado New Play Summit Local Playwrights Slam

    A group of Colorado writers known as the Rough Draught Playwrights, who have been selected to curate the inaugural Local Playwrights’ Slam during the opening weekend of the DCPA's 2015 Colorado New Play Summit, have announced its lineup of readers. The group includes a mix of writers, directors and actors from the local theatre community. They are:

    • William Missouri Downs: University of Wyoming professor and writer of more than two dozen plays including Miners Alley Playhouse's Dead White Males, Bas Bleu's Kosher Lutherans and Vintage Theatre's Books on Tape.
    • Megan Fevurly: Business Manager for the DCPA's Development Department recently was named a semifinalist in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for her 10-minute play, Trapped.
    • Ellen K. Graham: Wrote Edge Theatre's recent holiday offering The Familiars; before that created a company called Feral Assembly to produce her original drama The Night Season.
    • Josh Hartwell: Wrote world premiere of Miners Alley Playhouse's recent Dylan Went Electric; director of Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's recent award-winning drama Grounded, and the Edge Theatre's current comedy, The Motherf***er with the Hat.
    • Cajardo Rameer Lindsey: Appeared in the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere Just Like Us; soon will star in Curious Theatre Company's presentation of Tarell Alvin McCraney's Bother/Sister Trilogy (In the Red and Brown Water, The Brothers Size and Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet).
    • Erin Rollman and Hannah Duggan: Founding members of the Buntport Theatre, which won a DCTC Theatre Company commission to write an innovative multimedia new play about inventor Nikola Tesla for the 2010 Colorado New Play Summit. Currently staging and appearing in Tommy Lee Jones Goes to Opera Alone at Buntport.

    The Slam has been a popular feature for all 10 years of the Colorado New Play Summit.  It's sort of like a poetry reading for playwrights.

    "This award-winning group of playwrights represents a wide diversity of style and voice," said Leslie C. Lewis of Rough Draft Playwrights. "You will experience comedic, dramatic, absurdist and biographical performances from writers with acting, spoken word, performance art, screenwriting and traditional playwriting backgrounds. We want to introduce you to the breadth and excitement of the Colorado writing scene.
     
    The Rough Draught Playwrights' Slam will take place in The Jones Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14. It is free with the purchase of any $10 Summit reading ticket. Read more about it here.

    For information and tickets to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit, click here.
  • 2015 Summit to introduce inaugural Local Playwrights Slam

    by John Moore | Jan 09, 2015
    Rough Draft Playwrights at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit.
    A group of Rough Draught Playwrights at the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit.


    Rough Draft PlaywrightsA group of Colorado writers known as the Rough Draught Playwrights will curate the inaugural Local Playwrights’ Slam during the opening weekend of the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit, the DCPA Theatre Company announced today.

    The Slam has been a popular feature for all 10 years of the Colorado New Play Summit.  It's sort of like a poetry reading for playwrights. In years past, the four or five playwights whose works are being featured in that year's summit have been invited to read scenes from different manuscripts they are working on in a friendly and encouraging environment.

    Because this year's Colorado  New Play Summit is expanding to two weekends, there is now the opportunity to have one Slam on the Saturday of the "public" weekend, and another on the "industry" weekend.

    The Rough Draught Playwrights' Slam will take place in The Jones Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14. It is free with the purchase of any $10 Summit reading ticket.

    Rough Draught promotes writer development and dramaturgy by connecting Colorado playwrights with peers, actors, directors, producers and theater enthusiasts through informal readings of their scripts. Rough Draught, headed by playwrights Leslie C. Lewis, Nina Alice Miller and Jeffrey Neuman, hosts the quarterly Open Mic Theatrical Playground, where writers have the opportunity to hear their works-in-progress read before a live audience.

    “We are thrilled that the expansion of this year’s Summit will provide local playwrights with additional outlets to showcase their work,” said DCPA Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. “The expanded weekends also provide Colorado artists and audiences with the unprecedented opportunity to learn from both Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Vogel, the most respected playwriting teacher in the nation; and Denver favorite Matthew Lopez, undeniably one of the fastest rising playwrights in the country.”

    RDPquote

    The local weekend of the Summit will feature two workshops by 2014-15 DCPA  Playwriting Fellow Matthew Lopez (The Legend of Georgia McBride, The Whipping Man). Lopez will lead an acting master class on Saturday, Feb. 14. This workshop will use scenes from four of Matthew’s own plays and allow writers, actors and audiences alike to discover the relationship between a playwright, his text and actors’ interpretations.

    On Sunday, Feb. 15, Lopez will workshop new scenes with three Colorado playwrights. This session will provide a behind-the-scenes look into the playwriting and development process, including a Q&A session with the audience.

    During the Summit’s Industry weekend,  Paula Vogel (How I Learned To Drive), will lead two playwriting boot camps for all types and abilities.

    “This expansion further cements the Theatre Company’s commitment to Colorado storytelling,” Thompson said. “This season alone audiences have journeyed to Leadville in The Unsinkable Molly Brown and to the fictional town of Holt, Colorado, in Benediction.”

    About the Colorado New Play Summit

    The Colorado New Play Summit is a premiere showcase and celebration of new plays. The 2015 festival will take place over two weekends, Feb. 14-15 and 21-22, and will feature new plays by Jason Gray Platt, Theresa Rebeck, Tanya Saracho, and Catherine Trieschmann.

    Over the past decade, the Summit has introduced 44 new plays, more than half of which returned to the stage as full Theatre Company productions. Recent Summit favorites include Samuel D. Hunter’s The Whale, Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride, Catherine Trieschmann’s The Most Deserving, 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 The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

    Information and tickets

    For information and tickets to the 2015 Colorado New Play Summit, click here.
  • Summit Soliloquies: Video interviews with playwrights

    by John Moore | Feb 07, 2014

    "Summit Soliloquies" is our video series leading up to the 2014 Colorado New Play Summit. Here, playwrights past and present talk about writing, the Denver Center, the Summit and more.

    Day 8: Kirsten Greenidge, whose "Zenith" will be read at 3:30 p.m. today (Feb. 7) in the Ricketson Theatre. It's about a wife and mother  who buys fully into the American Dream until, for reasons that escape her loved ones, she throws it all violently away.

    "I feel a lot of great energy from Denver and the Denver Center," Greenidge tells us. "Everyone loves the Summit. It’s a welcoming place. There’s not always places around the country where you can feel really safe and taken care of while you work. And I think that’s something that makes this place very special."

    The full series of "Summit Soliloquies":

    Day 1: James Still

    Day 2: Jason Grote

    Day 3: Caridad Svich

    Day 4: Idris Goodwin

    Day 5: Michael Mitnick

    Day 6: Matthew Lopez

    Day 7: Eric Schmiedl

    Day 8: Kirsten Greenidge

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

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