DCPA rolls out the welcome mat: It's Summit weekend

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 Colorado New Play Summit: Featured readings  at a glance

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


2016 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information

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

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

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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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