City Theatre announces four original plays set for MOMENTUM, the theatre's annual festival of new plays at different stages.
Whether the theme is growing old or simply growing up, this selection of works in development engages with universal topics—familial obligation and love; the pursuit of fame; race and relationships; coming of age; and the ever-raging debate between science and religion.
MOMENTUM is a celebration of new theatrical works featuring readings, workshops, panels, and conversation. The festival is a chance for audiences to not only see four new works in their earliest incarnations, but also to get to know the process of creating new plays and to glimpse inside the minds of the playwrights.
"MOMENTUM is vital to our mission as a home for playwrights and new play development," says Tracy Brigden, City Theatre's artistic director. "The festival provides an opportunity for writers to hear their work performed in front of an audience and a creative community, and that has impact.
"Last year, we featured a workshop of POP!, and the public readings of the piece really had an effect on its development. It's now on stage at City as a successful, fully-produced musical performing for packed houses. This year, we're presenting Jonatha Brooke's first foray into playwrighting with a very personal musical play about her mother, and we're excited to welcome playwright Stephen Massicotte back to City after his success here with The Clockmaker and Mary's Wedding."
"Janine Nabers' new play A Swell in the Ground is about a group of friends surviving their twenties. She understands the sensibility of a new generation, and that's a unique talent," she continued. "It's always fun to see a musical in the making; The Shadow Sparrow is spirited, nostalgic tale about a man in search of his mother, and his mother's search across continents for fame. Anton Dudley, Keith Gordon, and Charlie Sohne are an exceptional team. We're thrilled to feature all of these gifted writers throughout the festival weekend."
The four new plays in MOMENTUM include:
"My Mother Has Four Noses," a musical play written and performed by Jonatha Brooke and directed by Tracy Brigden.
Nancy Lee Stone is a cancer survivor. She has four prosthetic noses and six names. She is a published poet, a Christian Scientist, and a dumpster diver. She is Boolie's mother, and she has Alzheimer's disease. In this moving, one-woman show, filled with music, wit, and emotion, acclaimed singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke tells the story of her journey as she guides her mother through the last months of life.
"The Shadow Sparrow," By Anton Dudley (book), Charlie Sohne (lyrics), and Keith Gordon (music) and Directed by Matt M. Morrow, Musical Direction by Douglas Levine and featuring Candy Buckley and Vince Gatton.
Edith abandons her only son to chase a pipe-dream singing career in post-war Europe. With one earring still hanging loosely in her ear, she follows a man who promises fame and fortune into low-down brothels and basements. This lively, new musical envisions the viewpoint of Michel, the son who grew up in a classless Cleveland hotel only to discover a clue that will take the audience on a whirlwind pursuit.
"A Swell in the Ground," directed by Carolyn Cantor and featuring Daina Griffith, Scotland Newton, Skyler Sullivan, and Bria Walker.
Four friends struggle to keep it together in this coming-of-age play about the Millennial Generation. Olivia is coping with her dad's death in the 9/11 attacks. Nate has to choose between an acting career and a law degree. Charles lives the shallow life of a corporate jetsetter. Abby is a teacher underwhelmed by her students. All is just okay until a marriage dissolves, words are exchanged, paths cross, and life…happens.
"Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher about Evolution," by Stephen Massicotte, directed by Dina Epshteyn and featuring Robin Abramson, Dan Krell, Sheila McKenna, and Noah Plomgren.
How do you teach evolution in a divided America? Raymond has religious tattoos, listens to Christian bands, and has ten questions about evolutionary theory that his Biology teacher Kelly won't answer. Kelly is an atheist urbanite who is up for review after her first year on the job at a small town high school. As the student and teacher navigate their roles and religious beliefs, both learn an unexpected lesson.
The MOMENTUM Festival schedule includes:
Thursday, May 31
8:00 p.m. My Mother Has Four Noses
Friday, June 1
6:30 p.m. Playwrights Panel
8:00 p.m. The Shadow Sparrow
Saturday, June 2
12:00 p.m. Songwriting Workshop with Jonatha Brooke
3:00 p.m. My Mother Has Four Noses
5:30 p.m. Ten Questions to Ask your Biology Teacher about Evolution
8:00 p.m. A Swell in the Ground
Sunday, June 3
12:00 p.m. How a City Theatre Season Gets Made: A Conversation with Tracy Brigden, Artistic Director, and Carlyn Aquiline, Literary Manager & Dramaturg
2:00 p.m. The Shadow Sparrow
All readings and workshops take place at City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203.
Tickets are: $20 for a four-day pass or $5 per show Available by phone at 412-431-CITY (2489) or online at www.citytheatrecompany.org.