Playwrights will share excerpts from their new plays and discuss their writing processes during the yearlong program, created right here at Arena Stage. Hear from the playwrights themselves, as they introduce and discuss their work immediately following each performance. Gain a window into the work and learn more about how a play is created from these six amazing local writers.
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March 6th & 7th at 8:00PM: Norman, Randy and Heather
I’m hoping that The House Halfway is hard to define. At first glance, it’s a largely comic drama about a bed & breakfast inn on a remote Caribbean Island where people go to commit suicide. But it’s not about suicide, or end-of-life issues. It takes some twists and turns early on, dips into mysticism, and explores some pretty big questions, but always from a very intimate perspective. An actor I’ve worked with a lot once told me, “Someone needs to write a book about the theology of Norman Allen,” and that was in response to an Arthurian play for children. The House Halfway is another chance for me to delve into those big questions. I also have the immense good luck of working with a stellar cast. I can’t imagine a better group of collaborators than Brilane Bowman, Peter Birkenhead, Helen Carey, Jefferson Farber, and Susan Lynskey. I’m in good hands.
THE BURNING ROAD by Randy Baker
Devon’s estranged father, a master of shadow puppets and a political dissident, has disappeared under mysterious circumstances in Malaysia. Devon must leave his Nebraska home and employ the help of two American expatriates to find answers deep in the wilds of South East Asia. In the shadows of the jungle, mingling with the remnants of his father’s stories, the three travelers begin to confront their own shadows.
MASTERPIECES OF THE ORAL AND INTANGIBLE HERITAGE OF HUMANITY by Heather McDonald
A country that has been at war for a hundred years, give or take a day. A Museum of Art & Antiquities that is being used as a prison. A room with a skylight. A pile of dead birds with strange blue beaks. A Rembrandt painting, a masterpiece. 3 women, Mitra, Nadia, Layla. A soldier, a student, an art restorer. December 21st, the darkest night of the year. The forgiveness of gently falling snow.
March 8th at 8:00PM and March 9 at 7:30PM: Jacqueline, Danielle, Shawn
Noms de Guerre is a haunting, lyrical and passionate story of friendship, love and politics. Attorney General Mira Hamilton is a rising star in the Republican Party, whose campaign against women’s reproductive rights puts her at odds with her long-time best friend, Jude, an award-winning, truth-seeking Broadcast Journalist. At home, Mira struggles to run a campaign for Governor and help her war hero husband, Douglas—a former Marine Gunnery Sergeant and member of JSOC, who battles terror-fueled delusions and flashbacks, adjust to civilian life. When Jude discovers that Douglas is linked to a massacre of Afghan civilians, Mira is thrown into a whirlwind of political intrigue and must decide whether to hold on to her career or save her husband. Noms de Guerre is a socio-political drama that addresses the ever-changing role of women in society, the impact of government and military policy on human rights, and the damaging impact of PTSD on veterans and their family.
NEXUS by Danielle Mohlman
Communicating through half-talking and half-listening, two iPhone-armed twenty-somethings must decipher their relationship as they navigate what it means to be “complicated.” This chamber drama follows these two DC transplants from first meet to final goodbye as they drift between intimacy and disconnect.
THE ARISTOCRATS by Shawn Northrip
“The Aristocrats” is an old joke that goes something like this. A family of performers walks into a manager's office seeking representation. The father says, "This is my wife and our two wonderful children!" Then they perform a grotesque act on each other. At this point, the joke-teller tries to invent the most appalling version of act ever told, and as result the joke changes with each telling. But what doesn't change is the punchline. After the family is done debasing each other, the manager finally pipes up and says, This act is incredible. What to you call it?" To which the family replies, "The Aristocrats!" When I became interested in telling my own version of the joke, I wanted to go the opposite direction. Rather than competing to be the most disgusting version of the joke, a battle I thought unwinnable; I set out to find the sweetest telling of the joke. I devised a musical about the daughter, who falls in love and leaves the act. But when her new love finds out about her past, he no longer wants her. The girl is then left to discover how to repair her family and win back her love.