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City Theatre Momentum series will feature four plays in different stages


City Theatre has announced the lineup for the theatre’s annual Momentum: New Plays at Different Stages Festival, June 2-5.

This year’s Momentum series will feature exclusive presentations of works by Liza Birkenmeier (Carnegie Mellon Drama Department alumni); Michael Hollinger, who returns to City Theatre after acclaimed productions of Hope and Gravity, Opus, and Red Herring; James McManus, Princess Grace and Helen Merrill Award Winner; and a sneak peek at the theatre’s upcoming world premiere production of Feeding the Dragon by acclaimed stage and screen actress Sharon Washington.

 The 2016 Momentum festival offers a glimpse into four striking plays at different stages by providing developmental opportunities to the country’s hottest writers. This four-day festival is a chance for audiences to not only see new works in progress, but to actively participate in the page to stage process and get a glimpse inside the minds of these award-winning playwrights.

In addition to the readings, the festival schedule includes a CitySpeaks Playwrights’ Panel, a happy hour in which patrons can engage with festival artists, as well as main stage performances of Benjamin Scheuer’s acclaimed musical, The Lion. For the first time this year, Momentum will also present an invite only reading by an alumnus of the theatre’s prestigious Young Playwrights Festival competition. All events are free and, unless otherwise noted, open to the public.

 “Momentum is at the heart of City Theatre’s mission to lead the new play development conversation on both a national and local level,” says Tracy Brigden, City Theatre artistic director. “This exceptional group of plays by some of the most innovative writers working today showcases an array of artistic styles. These are intensely human, powerfully written stories, and the festival affords Pittsburgh audiences a unique window into the journey of each script.”

This year’s plays are:

Sing the Body Electric by Michael Hollinger.

City favorite Michael Hollinger (Hope and Gravity, Opus) returns to Pittsburgh with this new drama about growing up and growing wiser at any age. Set in Florida in the summer of 1980, Sing the Body Electric introduces us to two fractured families both looking for a fresh start in the Sunshine State. Lightening might just strike twice in this funny and poignant celebration of desire, longing, and fate. 

 Feeding the Dragon by Sharon Washington.

Award-winning stage and screen actress Sharon Washington (String of Pearls) writes and performs in this heartfelt coming-of-age story that will have its world premiere at City Theatre next season. Deep in the bowels of a New York Public Library lies a dragon: the monstrous coal furnace that Sharon’s father, the live-in custodian, must feed every night. A moving examination of family secrets, forgiveness, and the power of language, Feeding the Dragon explores Sharon’s life growing up in the library and the fire she never allowed to fade.

 Dry Bones by James McManus.

Boo and Half Pint are childhood friends growing up and fighting to get by in a dying factory town in the Mon Valley. In a swirl of love, anger, and lyricism, this time-shifting new play by Pittsburgh native James McManus explores the journey of five intertwined lives and the price survival demands when the world changes around you.

 Radio Island by Liza Birkenmeier.

When army vet turned international hostage negotiator Ellen returns home to take care of her ailing mother, it’s the last place she wants to be. But all is not as it seems in the small town of Low Drumlin. Were her mother’s injuries really an accident? Can Ellen balance her high pressure job and new responsibilities? And what exactly happened to her violent, absent father? Don’t miss this wildly creative thriller by City newcomer Liza Birkenmeier. 

 Scrapmetal/scars by Jackson Torii Bart.

An alumni of City Theatre’s’s nationally-recognized Young Playwrights Festival (High School winner 2010), playwright Jackson Torii Bart return to City with this powerful, poetic play with music exploring the lives of community members living on the margins in the Bronx’s Hunts Point neighborhood.

 “This year’s writers are all at different points in their careers from emerging to established. We really champion the artistic cross pollination Momentum fosters,” says director of new play development, Clare Drobot. “These five plays tackle everything from income inequality to coming of age, love, death, sex, and even international piracy —it’s exciting to have them in conversation with one another.”

Momentum 16 is free and open to the public, but reservations are suggested. Reserve tickets online at or by calling the box office, 412-431-CITY (2489).

City Theatre is located at 1300 Bingham Street on South Side. Patron parking is available in the lot across from the City Theatre entrance for $7.


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