On Sunday, I'm heading to Pasadena Playhouse where my latest play, NOMS DE GUERRE, will receive a workshop and reading as part of the 2014-2015 HOTHOUSE New Play Development Program. We'll be in workshop Monday and Tuesday and then the play will receive a staged reading on Wednesday and Thursday evening followed by post show discussions each night.
The ever brilliant and wonderful Diane Rodriguez will serve as director. The cast includes Chris Butler, Deidrie Henry, Pia Shah, Jacques C. Smith, Danielle Mone Truitt, and Michole White. Also, as part of the program, each play is assigned a 3rd year USC MFA in Dramatic Writing student as dramaturg. It's been wonderful working with Victoria Moy and so rewarding to have an educational component to this work. I'm honored and excited to be taking part in this program, and deeply appreciative for the opportunity to continue developing this play. It will be my first time working on the script since Arena Stage's workshop and reading as part of Playwrights Arena back in March.
HOTHOUSE readings are by invitation only. Click here for more information.
About the Play
Noms de Guerre is a haunting, lyrical and passionate story of friendship, love and politics. Mira is a rising star in the Republican Party, but her campaign against women’s reproductive rights puts her at odds with her best friend, Jude, an award-winning journalist. At home, Mira struggles to run a campaign for Governor and help her war hero husband, Douglas, 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.
About the Playwright
JACQUELINE E. LAWTON was named one of 30 of the nation's leading black playwrights by Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute. Her plays include: Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful;The Devil’s Sweet Water; The Hampton Years; Ira Aldridge: the African Roscius; Lions of Industry, Mothers of Invention; Love Brothers Serenade (2013 semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference), Mad Breed, Noms de Guerre. and Our Man Beverly Snow. Ms. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. She is a 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color award recipient and a National New Play Network (NNPN) Playwright Alumna. A member of Arena Stage's Playwrights' Arena and the Dramatist Guild of America, Ms. Lawton currently resides in D.C.
About the Director
Diane Rodriguez is an Obie Award winning multi-disciplinary theatre artist. She is an accomplished actor, anthologized writer, regional theatre director and Associate Producer/Director of New Play Production at Center Theatre Group (CTG), Los Angeles. She began her career as a lead actress with the seminal ensemble, El Teatro Campesino. Recognized as one of the country's leading advocates for non-text based and ensemble driven work as well as a long time advocate of Latino playwrights and actors, Diane maintains her artistic career while being a member of the artistic staff of Center Theatre Group, which includes the Mark Taper Forum, the Ahmanson Theatre and the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Currently, under her tenure as Director of New Play Production (NPP), CTG's NPP program was awarded a one million dollar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the commissioning and development of seven new collaborative works from ensembles or creative collaborators. She has developed and directed the works of numerous writers including Nilo Cruz's Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams and Dreams of My Father, Lynn Nottage's Fabulation at Sundance Theatre Lab, Lloyd Suh's American Hwangap at Ojai Playwrights Conference, Erik Patterson's Sick for Playwrights Arena, and Les Thomas'Cave Quest for East West Players, among many others. In 2008, for Mattel Toy Company, she wrote the book and was the supervising director for the first live Barbie musical Barbie Live/The Princess Adventures. The show premiered in Buenos Aires and will tour Brazil in 2012. She won an OBIE for Performance (Best Ensemble) in 2007 for playing 23 characters in Heather Woodbury's Tale of Two Cities. In 2012 her two plays, Living Large in a Mini Kind of Way and Pitch like a Girl will be produced in Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively. With Mark Murphy and Mark Russell she co-directed the RADAR LA Festival in 2011. She lives in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles with her long time husband, friend and advisor, Jose Delgado.
About the HOTHOUSE New Play Program
HOTHOUSE is the signature new play development program at The Pasadena Playhouse. Launched in 2005, the program provides playwrights and audience with a living lab where new scripts are rehearsed, read aloud, revised, rehearsed and read again. Co-creation through our consensus organizing methodology, experimentation with and exploration of text, music and movement, and artistic bravery are embraced and encouraged through our process.
Under the leadership of Associate Artistic Director Seema Sueko, starting in 2014, the HOTHOUSE reading series will be devoted to advancing plays that authentically align with The Playhouse’s commitment to diversity. We will focus on plays written by playwrights who are historically underrepresented in our field: women, playwrights of color, and playwrights with disabilities; or plays that, through content and/or casting, deliberately diversify the landscape of the theatre. As our field of nonprofit American theater struggles with issues of inclusion, access, community demand, and relevance, HOTHOUSE aims to methodically make our theatrical botanical garden grow.
Many plays that started out as HOTHOUSE at The Playhouse readings have since gone on to our Mainstage, as well as other regional theaters, the West End, and Broadway, including SISTER ACT, THE MUSICAL, which was nominated for multiple Tony Awards. Previous HOTHOUSE at The Playhouse artists include writers Suzan-Lori Parks, Alan Menken, Matthew Lombardo, Charles Randolph-Wright and Carol Burnett; actors Beau Bridges, Sharon Lawrence, Robert Forster, Loretta Swit, Scott Lowell, Enrico Colantoni, Danny Pudi, Angela Bassett and Steven Dietz; and directors Art Manke, Sheldon Epps, Oz Scott, Jeremy Cohen, Kappy Kilburn, Alexis Chamow and David Lee.
About Pasadena Playhouse
Built on a tradition of innovation and excellence, The Pasadena Playhouse is committed to continue to be the premiere theatrical experience in Southern California showcasing the most exciting theatrical entertainment in the state and being an amazing forum for launching new work onto the national stage.
Back in June, Advocates for Youth, a D.C. based nonprofit organization and advocacy group dedicated to helping "young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health," contacted me about working with them on a play for their 1 in 3 Campaign. Initially, they asked me to write a one act play, but my schedule wouldn't allow it. Instead, I suggested that we commission local women playwrights to write short monologues and scenes. This way, the stories would come from a rich, diverse perspective and we could champion the voices of local women playwrights. The private reading took place as part of Advocates for Youth Urban Retreat and it was a complete success. Here's more information about the event and the amazing creative team from their press release, which can be read in full by clicking here:
"Today, the 1 in 3 Campaign is proud to announce a transformative theatrical piece that will deepen and expand our understanding of women’s experiences with abortion--Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign.
One in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, but for too long the culture of shame and stigma have pushed these stories to the fringes, or worse, into silence. The play will feature a series of vignettes written by a diverse set of multi-generational, female playwrights based on the over 400 stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign. The play will be co-produced by Jacqueline E. Lawton and directed by Marie Byrd Sproul.
In the same vein as The Vagina Monologues, Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign will explore a wide range of situations and experiences. The play will continue the 1 in 3 Campaign’s mission to start a new conversation about abortion and move beyond the political rhetoric and divisive debate and will instead highlight the importance of abortion plays in the lives of women.
“Plays have a long history of introducing new perspectives and shifting public discourse, while providing audience with a safe space to grapple with important social issues” says Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth. “We have been honored to receive these stories from women across the country. Each story is unique and brings a fresh perspective to the issue, but what is most remarkable are the commonalities that bind us. It is our hope that after seeing these plays performed, the audience will understand that women who seek abortion are our sisters, daughters, mothers, and best friends. Our voices need to be heard and we are thrilled to bring that to stage for wider audiences.”
In keeping with the 1 in 3 Campaign’s dedication to highlighting and furthering the activism of Millennials on abortion access, the play will be made available, for free, for youth activists to stage on their college campuses and their communities. The script for Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign will be available on the 1 in 3 Campaign website.
The play is comprised of a series of short scenes, monologues and point-of-views all inspired from the stories of the 1 in 3 Campaign. The first private read-through for youth activists took place early September 2014. Creative team included co-producer Jacqueline E. Lawton, director Marie Byrd Sproul, dramaturgs Hannah Hessel Ratner and Laura Esti Miller, playwrights Allison Currin, DW Gregory, Caleen Jennings, Nicole Jost, Kristen LePine, Soo-Jin Lee, Danielle Mohlman, Mary Resing, Noelle Viñas, and Anu Yadav and actors Lolita-Marie, Patricia Dugueye, Amal Saade and Jennifer Speerstra. A fully produced play will be performed for the public in a professional theater in January 2015 around the anniversary of Roe v Wade.
“It’s been an honor working on this project,” says co-producer Jacqueline E. Lawton. “I was deeply touched after reading the stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign, and I feel that Out of Silence creates room for better understanding of the complexities of people’s lives and the need to protect women’s rights.”
“Bringing this production to the stage has been an insightful experience both personally and professionally,” says director Marie Byrd Sproul. “These stories need to be heard, they need to be brought out for all of us to listen to and respect.”
Here are some wonderful photos from the reading by the brilliant Lloyd Wolf.
Photos of our brilliant and talented cast from the reading.
Photo from our post show discussion with the dramaturgs and playwrights.
Photo of the creative team, who were able to attend.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!