City Theatre has announced four original plays set for MOMENTUM, the theatre’s annual festival of new plays at different stages.
This year’s selection of works highlights the intricacies of human relationships—chance encounters with strangers; a look back at a life lived in the spotlight; serendipity in a lonely city; and competition on and off the playing field.
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.”
Two years ago, City Theatre featured a workshop of Tami Dixon’s South Side Stories. Subsequently, Ms. Dixon’s first foray into playwriting enjoyed an extended run during City Theatre’s main season. In addition, due to popular demand, they are bringing South Side Stories back next January as a special presentation.
“This progression exemplifies the goal of MOMENTUM—to launch new plays into their next phase of development. This year, we’re excited to welcome playwright Willy Holtzman back to City after his success here with The Morini Strad. His music-filled play, Holliday with Mulligan, is a City Theatre commission,” Ms. Brigden continued.
In addition, Opus playwright Michael Hollinger returns to City with his brand new play, Hope and Gravity. Audiences will have the opportunity to watch this absorbing play progress from a reading at MOMENTUM to a fully-produced show on the mainstage during the 2013-2014 season.
Also featured is Andy Bragen’s play Don’t You F*cking Say a Word. Focused on a competitive relationship between two men, but told through the perspective of two women, this script uniquely portrays two sides of the same story. Likewise, Anna Ziegler’s Variations on a Theme addresses the theme of relationships through a variety of lenses.
Casting for the plays at this time includes Theo Allyn, Tami Dixon, Tressa Glover, Laurie Klatscher, Cameron Knight, Bob Stillman, Skyler Sullivan, Robin Walsh and David Whalen.
In Hope and Gravity by Michael Hollinger and directed by Tracy Brigden, lives overlap and elevators stop on random floors as ten characters are compellingly revealed in this nonlinear comedy about fate. From a backyard squabble to an unlikely hotel hookup, chance encounters and rocky relationships unfold through nine stories and one momentous leap of faith.
Holliday with Mulligan by Willy Holtzman, directed by Peter Flynn and under musical direction by Bob Stillman is set in New York City, 1964. The tape is rolling during an impromptu studio session when Judy Holliday lays down a series of impressionistic tracks about her rise to fame amidst the politics of the 1950s. Memory and song converge as Judy charts her experiences with notable show business alums, including Leonard Bernstein, Marilyn Monroe, and partner and composer Gerry Mulligan.
In Variations on a Theme by Anna Ziegler after being married at 23 and divorced shortly after, April and Josh navigate their twenties in an isolated city. When an apartment ceiling caves in to the floor below and a subway stops in darkness, the couple reads between the lines, finding signs in life’s serendipitous events.
Don’t You F*cking Say a Word by Andy Bragen and directed by Matt M. Morrow follows two women as they explore the complexities of their boyfriends’ competitive spirits in this new comic drama about relationships—on and off a downtown Manhattan tennis court. Russ has a temper. Brian has been known to cheat. As the opponents’ weekly tennis sets play out aggressively on stage, girlfriends Kate and Leslie render their amity and rivalry with sharp observation and wit.
MOMENTUM also includes a series of three panels:
Playwrights Panel: Meet the playwrights. All four artists join together for an insightful panel about their writing process and their featured plays.
Something from Nothing: A Workshop in Theatrical Creation: For theatre lovers, theatre makers, novices, and experts alike… learn the process of creating an ensemble-based work. This master class emphasizes generating original material, physicalizing characters and theatrical ideas, and the role music and rhythm play in theatrical creation. Instructor: Charlotte Ford, Pig Iron Theatre Company, Philadelphia.
A Community on Stage: The Making of South Side Stories: South Side Stories playwright and performer Tami Dixon sits down with director Matt M. Morrow to discuss the process of creating a community on stage. Go behind the scenes to learn about how this audience favorite was born from over 100 interviews with South Side residents.
The schedule for MOMENTUM includes:
Thursday, May 30
8:00 p.m. - Reading: Hope and Gravity
Friday, May 31
6:30 p.m. - Playwrights Panel
8:00 p.m. - Reading: Holliday with Mulligan
Saturday, June 1
2:00-5:00 p.m. - Pig Iron Master Class: “Something from Nothing: A Workshop in Theatrical Creation”
5:30 p.m. - Reading: Variations on a Theme
8:00 p.m. - Reading: Don’t You F*cking Say a Word
9:45 p.m. - Momentum Party
Sunday, June 2
12:00 p.m. - Panel: “A Community on Stage: The Making of South Side Stories”
2:00 p.m. - Reading: Holliday with Mulligan
Admission is $20 for afour-day pass or $5 per show. Tickets are available by phone at 412.431.CITY (2489) or online at www.citytheatrecompany.org.
All readings, classes, and panels take place at City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203.