Denver playwright Max Posner scores first New York production

Max Posner
Max Posner. Photo by Evan Smith, used by permission.

Playwright Max Posner, a graduate of Denver School of the Arts and Brown University, has landed his first New York City stage production, it was announced today by Page 73 Productions

Posner’s Judy will be performed at the New Ohio Theatre, located at 154 Christopher St. in the West Village, from Sept. 1-26. 

Posner, 26, was the 2012 Playwriting Fellow for Page 73 Productions, and is currently a commissioned playwright for Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan.

“Page 73 asked me to join their writer’s group a few weeks before I moved to New York,” Posner said. “I was 22, I didn’t have roots, I was used to that big Denver sky, and I couldn’t believe how humid it got here. They gave me their fellowship that winter, and I have never been more shocked. It’s because of them that I started really calling myself a playwright.

Cast of 'Judy' by Max Posner with Birgit Huppuch, Deirdre O'Connell and Danny Wolohan at New Ohio Theatre“Since then, they’ve been an incredible artistic home, following my writing down various strange tunnels, and then bringing it back to the light. The idea of having my first New York production under their watch feels homey and right.”

As a teenager, Posner studied under Moss Kaplan as a playwriting major at Denver School of the Arts, and was also a longtime student of the Curious New Voices young playwrights program under Dee Covington at Denver’s Curious Theatre. Posner was named one of The Denver Post’s “Can’t Miss Kids” in 2006.

“My money has been on Max for a long time,” said Covington. “Curious New Voices is now 12 years old, and so our writers are just now getting old enough to infiltrate the world and start making a significant mark on the American Theatre.

“We have a series of goals for our writers, and getting a New York production is one of them. So I think this is the first many amazing things to happen to Max and many of our other writers.”

Judy is set in the winter of 2040, and, according to the official play description: “The world has changed – but maybe not by much. Timothy’s wife, Judy, has just left him, and he isn’t taking it well. His sisters, Tara and Kris, are trying to help him cope while working on their own love lives. The three seem to spend a lot of time in their basements, and the kids are starting to ask questions.

Judy is a subterranean comedy about family life when technology fails and communication breaks down.”

Lead casting has been announced, with Birgit Huppuch, Deirdre O’Connell and Danny Wolohan. The director is veteran Ken Rus Schmoll, a two-time Obie-Award winner and Columbia theatre professor who also directed the New York premiere of Grounded, George Brandt’s widely praised story of a pregnant American drone pilot – which also debuted in Denver last year in a staging by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company at The Avenue Theatre.

“Ken is a truly rare director, and one I admired from afar over and over again until we met,” Posner said. “When I was in college, I saw Didi O’Connell in Circle Mirror Transformation in New York. I had never seen acting so detailed. Now they’re teaming up on my play – a play I really thought might never find its proper shape or a good home. So I’m pretty happy and just crossing my fingers that I don’t (bleep) this up.”

Posner’s plays include The Thing About Air Travel, The Famished, The War on Safety, You Me + The Spiders, and SNORE and other sorts of breathing. His plays have been staged and developed at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Colt Coeur, The Hangar Theatre, Curious Theatre Company, The Blank Theatre, Young Playwrights Inc, and Production Workshop. He graduated from Brown University in 2011. He is the recipient of the Weston Award in Playwriting and the 2011 Heideman Award from Actors Theatre of Louisville. 

The scenic design for Judy will be by Arnulfo Maldonaldo (Generations), lighting design by Eric Southern (Pocatello), sound design by Leah Gelpe (The Invisible Hand) and costume design by Jessica Pabst (The Heidi Chronicles). 

Tickets for Judy go on sale on in August.

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, where he is the editor of a new media outlet that covers the Colorado theatre community.

Watch our video interview with Max Posner from May 2015 in New York City. Video by John Moore.

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