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Michigan Playwrights Festival returns to Theatre Nova July 25-29

(Credit: Theatre Nova)
(Credit: Theatre Nova)

ANN ARBOR – Now in its third year, the Michigan Playwrights Festival will take place at Theatre Nova July 25 through July 29 and will feature five new plays by local playwrights being given the staged reading treatment. 

Theatre Nova pays special attention to new plays from emerging playwrights and is dedicated to working with these new voices, helping them to them develop their craft. The theatre created the Michigan Playwrights Festival to nurture Michigan playwrights and to develop full-length plays for future seasons. Theatre Nova recently produced “Clutter,” an original script by Michigan playwright Brian Cox, as a result of its staged reading at a previous festival. “Clutter” was lauded by audiences and critics and earned two Wilde Award awards, including Best New Script.

In the previous year, “Irrational” by R. MacKenzie Lewis and David Wells was given a full production and also received a Wilde Award for Best New Script. Other plays that began as staged readings at Theatre Nova and have gone on to full productions are “Katherine” by Kim Carney, “Spin” by Emilio Rodriguez and “Bird” by Kristin Hanratty. “Resisting” by David Wells and “Mrs. Fifty Bakes a Pie” by Linda Ramsay-Detherage also benefited from readings at the festival and had their world premieres in the current Theatre Nova season, with “Resisting” being nominated for a Wilde Award for Best New Script. 

If you want an idea of just how good these plays can be, we had the privilege of seeing "Resisting" back in November and wrote a review of the "important play illustrative of the harsh reality in which many live." 

This activity is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The schedule of the July Michigan Playwrights Festival is as follows: 

“Sex and Innocence” by Emilio Rodriguez, Wednesday, July 25 at 8 p.m.

After hours, inside a fictional museum for 1950s Hollywood plastic figurines, a statue of Rita Moreno comes to life and runs into a statue of Marlon Brando. When Rita’s statue discovers that she is tucked away in the basement of the museum and remembered as merely a sex symbol instead of an Oscar-winning actress, she attempts to re-brand herself while simultaneously confronting her tumultuous relationship with Marlon. Can she change how she is revered, or will her interactions reaffirm the very image she seeks to shatter? This reading, directed by Emilio Rodriguez, will feature Chloe Castro-Santos and James Busam.

"Hollywood Lies" by Jackie Sue Salter, Thursday, July 26 at 8 p.m.

A story of friendship amid the Hollywood blacklist, "Hollywood Lies" presents 1948 Hollywood where a just-past-her-prime actress attempts to revive her stalled career. "Hollywood Lies" features Colleen Gentry, Roy Sexton, Laurie Atwood, Robert Schorr and Ellen Finch, and is directed by Brian Cox.

"Under Ceege" by Jeffry Chastang, Friday, July 27 at 8 p.m.

Following the death of her father, a retired hospital worker finds herself not only at odds with her son, in the middle of a lucky lottery streak, but also at a financial disadvantage as she struggles to buy the home she’s lived in all of her life. Featuring Monrico Ward and directed by Lynch Travis.

"Dirt" by Kristin Andrea Hanratty, Saturday, July 28 at 8 p.m.

All that Saundra wants to focus on during her sixth year of college is parties, avoiding schoolwork and herself. However, after she returns from a road trip to the Southwest, she finds herself plagued by the pains of others and the mysterious substance found in a hole of a New Mexican church. Directed by Aliyah Kiesler, "Dirt" features Danielle Wright, Carlos Westbrook, Rishi Mahesh, Maggie Alger, Connor Hutchins, Alan Gibson and Joe Sfair.

"Dirty Glass" by Micealaya Moses, Sunday, July 29 at 2 p.m.

Teenage Meghan returns home a year after running away and has to find a way to fit herself into her old life. Meghan and her community grapple with their responsibility concerning Meghan's choices in a world that often doesn't see young black girls as children and refuses to acknowledge when they have been victimized. This reading of "Dirty Glass" features Arabia Little, Shelia Johnson, Doug Monds, Dan Johnson, Aseneth Peek Parker, Jillian Diane Craighead and Lorenzo Orlando and is directed by Casaundra Freeman.

Tickets are $10 for each reading, while festival passes good for all five readings are $30. Theatre Nova continues its commitment to making theatre accessible by offering pay-what-you-can tickets for those who need them for all readings. For tickets or more info, visit TheatreNOVA.org, call 734-635-8450 (Tuesdays through Fridays from noon until 3 p.m.), or buy them in person at the box office one hour before show time. 

Theatre Nova is Ann Arbor’s resident professional theatre company. Its mission is to raise awareness of the value and excitement of new plays and new playwrights in a diverse and expanding audience and to provide resources and outlets for playwrights to develop their craft, by importing, exporting and developing new plays and playwrights.

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