14 minutes reading time (2870 words)

OPC Summer New Works Festival August 2 - 9, 2015

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Featuring New Works by Eight Playwrights plus an All-Star Reading of “Hand to God” with Robert Askins
OPC Summer New Works Festival August 2 - 9, 2015
July 6, 2015… Ojai, Calif…The Ojai Playwrights Conference (OPC), one of the most acclaimed new play developmental programs in the country, announces its 18th season with an extraordinary program of playwrights, new play workshops and special performance events from August 2 through 9, 2015 in Ojai, California.The OPC Summer New Works Festival will feature eleven events over five days with established and up-and-coming playwrights. Participating in this year’s conference with new works are Mike Daisey, Ellen Fairey, Nick Gandiello, JC Lee, Gina Loring, Christopher Gabriel Núñez, Jiehae Park, Sunni Patterson, Gideon Jeph Wabvuta and Jaha Zainabu. Robert Askins, Stephen Belber and Alice Tuan will be this year’s “Writers-In-Residence,” and as always, there will be two extraordinary “Intersection Series” events: An inspirational kick-off event FAULT/LINES/USA/2015 celebrating the voices speaking to the troubling pressures building within American society, and a reading of the Tony-nominated HAND TO GOD starring Robert Askins and all-star cast.

For the 2015 season, OPC Artistic Director/Producer Robert Egan selected the theme FAULT LINES 2015 to reflect the selected playwrights’ concerns about the shifting tectonics of American society – those deep, underlying forces that are reverberating beneath the surface of our lives. Mike Daisey unearths forces lurking beneath the turbulent culture wars in America; Ellen Fairey digs into the internal pressures shaking the psyches of a group of Chicago men; Nick Gandiello burrows down into the dynamics of violence in urban America; JC Lee probes the ongoing stresses in the contemporary feminist movement; Gina Loring, Sunni Patterson and Jaha Zainabu crack open the explosive forces bristling within the African-American community from the perspective of mothers and sisters; Christopher Gabriel Núñez drills into the inner layers of our attitudes toward Middle Eastern immigrants as they navigate our multi-cultural landscape; Jiehae Park exposes tensions and tremors pressing down on teenagers as they compete for positions in elite universities; and Gideon Wabvuta excavates what it means to be American through the lens of an African artist.

OJAI PLAYWRIGHTS                                    
“We will be exploring the tensions and pressures building within American society,” Egan explains. “Race, religion, economic justice and urban violence are just some of the Fault Lines our OPC artists will examine in the hopes of taking us to new horizons of human connection and community.”
The Ojai Playwrights Conference is a non-profit organization focused on playwrights and the development of their new plays. The OPC was founded on the belief that gathering a community of world-class theatre artists together in a place of extraordinary beauty can lead to a collaborative process that enables these artists to qualitatively rework and refine their dramatic vision.  OPC is also committed to nurturing the writing talents of teens. Through its Youth Workshop, local high school students participate in a mentoring program with participating playwrights, and create their own dramatic works, which are performed during the Festival.
“It has been an extraordinary year for OPC artists throughout the world,” Egan notes. Stephen Adly Guirgis won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Jeanine Tesori, Lisa Kron and Sam Gold won multiple Tony Awards for FUN HOME, a groundbreaking musical that had its beginning at OPC. Robert Askins’ sensational HAND TO GOD was nominated for five Tony Awards. Sarah Treem and Jon Robin Baitz created award-winning television shows. Ruby Rae Spiegel’s DRYLAND left OPC last summer and went directly to Off-Broadway to brilliant reviews. Richard Cabral stars in the hit TV drama AMERICAN CRIME. Trieu Tran takes UNCLE HO TO UNCLE SAM to Playmaker’s Rep in September. Additionally, Egan recently traveled to Zimbabwe with Stephen Belber where they helped to create the first African Playwrights Festival under OPC artist Danai Gurira’s leadership with the Almasi Arts Alliance.
Tickets for the 2015 OPC Summer New Works Festival may be purchased online at www.ojaiplays.org or by calling (805) 640-0400. Single tickets are $30.
Sunday, August 2

Intersections #1: Special Performance Event
An Inspirational Kick-Off Celebration!
Directed by Robert Egan
5:00 PM, Zalk Theater, 703 El Paseo Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30
Thursday, August 6

Intersections #2: Special Performance Event
HAND TO GOD by Robert Askins
An All-Star Reading starring Robert Askins and Friends
Directed by Robert Askins
7:00 PM, Matilija Auditorium, 703 El Paseo Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30
Must be 18 years or older to attend.
New Play Workshop #1
3 WOMEN by Gina Loring, Sunni Patterson, Jaha Zainabu
Directed by Jennifer Newman
7:00 pm - Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30
New Play Workshop #2
MBARE DREAMS by Gideon Jeph Wabvuta
A Collaboration with Almasi Arts Alliance: Danai Gurira, Executive Director
Directed by Ron Lagomarsino
9:00 pm - Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30
Saturday, August 8
Directed by Kim Maxwell
10:00 am - Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30 adults/$10 students (21 & under)
New Play Workshop #3
PEERLESS by Jiehae Park
Directed by Elliot Quick
1:00 pm - Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30
New Play Workshop #4
THE SURGEON AND HER DAUGHTERS by Christopher Gabriel Núñez
Directed by Robert Egan
4:00 pm - Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30
New Play Workshop #5
Directed by Kimberly Senior
7:30 pm - Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30
Sunday, August 9

New Play Workshop #6
Directed by Casey Stangl
12:00 pm - Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30
New Play Workshop #7
THE BLAMELESS by Nick Gandiello
Directed by Hal Brooks
3:00 pm - Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30
New Play Workshop #8
WHY WE HATE ART written and performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Mike Daisey
6:30 pm - Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai
Tickets: $30
Mike DaiseyWHY WE HATE ART by Mike Daisey
Mike Daisey returns to the Ojai Playwrights Conference with an ambitious new work that challenges us to think about what art means, who it serves, and where it is taking us. From the culture wars and the NEA Four, to ultra-rich collectors turning paintings into investments, Shakespeare programs in prisons, Chinese painting mills where hundreds copy masterpieces, and the gilded age excesses of Art Basel Miami -- Daisey explores the tense, conflicted, and often violent story of art in the contemporary world. He asks us all how art’s true promise can be fulfilled.

BIO: Hailed as “a master storyteller” and “one of the finest solo performers of his generation” by The New York Times, Mike Daisey is renowned for daring monologues such as The Last Cargo Cult and How Theater Failed America weaving together the political and the personal with hilarity and heart. Called a “modern day Mark Twain”, he is a longtime host and storyteller with The Moth, as well as a contributor to The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR and the BBC.

Ellen FaireySUPPPORT GROUP FOR MEN by Ellen Fairey
At a bachelor pad above a Chicago bar, four men meet for their weekly support group. Ritual ensues, Indian names are used, a baseball bat/talking stick is passed. On this particular night an uninvited guest threatens the already shaky ground of the male psyche. An engaging and hilarious look at friendship, gender identity, and finding your personal reflection in the most unexpected places.

BIO: Ellen Fairey’s debut play, Girl 20, was named one of the top ten plays of 2006 by the Chicago Tribune and later nominated for two LA Weekly theatre awards. After a six month run in Chicago, Fairey's Joseph Jefferson Award winning Graceland was done by LCT3 at Lincoln Center in a production that inspired The New York Times to name her one of their 'Faces to Watch'. A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and former writing producer for Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, Fairey is currently working on projects with Lionsgate Television.

Nick GandielloTHE BLAMELESS by Nick Gandiello
When Drew Davis calls up the Garcia family and asks to do dinner, Diana Garcia tries to wrangle her family together and prepare her home to welcome him.  It isn't easy: Drew Davis's son murdered Diana's son. As the Garcias confront their own grudges and assumptions, questions arise: who is being kept out of this evening of reconciliation? A compassionate and surprisingly comedic exploration of loss, forgiveness, and the roots of violence in American culture.
BIO: Currently the 2015 Page 73 Playwriting Fellow, Nick Gandiello is author of the 2014 OPC favorite, Sunrise Highway. His other plays include Oceanside (Merrimack Repertory Theatre), Black Fly Spring (Xavier University) and Swept (Williamstown Theatre Festival). He is an alumnus of the Ars Nova Play Group and his work has been presented or developed by Premiere Stages, Capital Stage, Fault Line Theatre, The Claque, Wide Eyed Productions, Crashbox Theatre Company, and others. Gandiello has an MFA in Playwriting from the New School for Drama and was the Literary Manager of Young Playwrights Inc. from 2012 to 2015.

When prominent feminist author, culture critic and academic Theresa Hanneck feels attacked by an up-and-coming writer, she becomes convinced the only way to survive is to destroy her younger rival. A searing and riveting play about the clash of ideas across generations and what it may take to be a woman with power, position and privilege in today’s world.
BIO: JC Lee’s Luce received its world premiere in 2013 at LCT3 at Lincoln Center. His plays have been developed and staged at Center Theatre Group, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Marin Theatre Company, Magic Theatre, Azuka Theatre Company, and other theatres across the country. A graduate of Julliard School and Bloomsburg University, he was a writer and co-producer for Looking on HBO, where he previously wrote for the series Girls. Lee is currently a writer for ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder and screenwriter for the Weinstein Company's movie adaptation of the musical Pippin.
3 Women
3 WOMEN by Gina Loring, Sunni Patterson, Jaha Zainabu
Journey from Ferguson, to Baltimore, to the “Bring Back Our Girls” tragedy, to the rising domestic sex-trafficking epidemic afflicting black and brown teenage girls nationwide. This innovative performance project presents the work of three extraordinary artists celebrating the voice, experience, integrity, song and humor of black womanhood.

BIOS: Poet, vocalist, songwriter and professor Gina Loring has traveled to Kuwait, Russia, West Africa, Denmark, Turkey, Greece, Ireland, England, and Tunisia as a guest artist. She was featured on BET's Lyric Cafe, TVOne’s Verses and Flow, and two seasons of HBO's Def Poetry. Jaha Zainabu is a poet, writer, storyteller, photographer, painter, and muralist from Long Beach, California. Her work includes two volumes of poetry, three spoken word albums, and the one-woman show Journey. Sunni Patterson, originally from New Orleans, combines the heritage, culture, and traditions of her native town with a spiritual worldview to create powerful music and poetry. She has been featured at many premier spoken word venues, including HBO's Def Poetry and BET’s Lyric Cafe.
ChristopherNunez highresTHE SURGEON AND HER DAUGHTERS by Christopher Gabriel Núñez
A sign spinner for a seedy Times Square bar, Amon, once was a top cardiac surgeon in Cairo. On the anniversary of his wife and daughter's untimely deaths, he meets Marine Sergeant Major Mariana Caycedo. The two fall hopelessly in love. But when Mariana goes MIA on an overseas military mission, Amon struggles to cobble together a new family with Mariana's two conflicted college-aged daughters.

BIO: Christopher Gabriel Núñez is a writer, rapper, and actor from Tampa, Florida. A graduate of NYU, he was the head writer for The Odyssey Project directed by Jenny Koons, and his play Mr. Nobody at Point Blank Range was produced by Black Moniker Theater Company. Under his rap moniker Anonymous {And.On.I.Must}, Núñez has performed on four national tours, released two albums, and is finishing his third record at The Space Pit in Greenpoint. He is a former member of the OPC Youth Workshop.

Jiehae ParkPEERLESS by Jiehae Park
Asian-American twins – M / L -- have given up everything to get into “The College.” So when a one-sixteenth Native American classmate gets “their” spot instead they figure they’ve got only one option: get rid of him. A dark, provocative and powerful comedy about the very, very ambitious.

BIO: Jiehae Park is a writer and actor. Her play, Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, was developed at OPC, won the Princess Grace Award, the Leah Ryan Prize, and was on the first annual Kilroys List. Her work has been produced or developed through the Cherry Lane Mentor Project, Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep's W/D Lab, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, the Public's Emerging Writers Group, New York Theater Workshop, Dramatists Guild Fellowship, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, 52nd Street Project, 24 Hour Plays on Broadway, and the amazing Ma-Yi Writers Lab.

Gideon Jeph WabvutaMBARE DREAMING by Gideon Jeph Wabvuta
A Collaboration with Almasi Arts Alliance, Danai Gurira, Executive Director
A passionate, exuberant, life-affirming solo show inaugurating OPC’s International Program. Gideon Jeph Wabvuta is one of Zimbabwe’s most exciting young writer-performers. He brings his unique voice to Ojai to tell the story of growing up in one of Africa’s most notorious high-density housing projects. Telling a powerful tale of facing tremendous personal and political hardships while always imagining a brighter future, Wabvuta emerges as a courageous voice for international human rights.
BIO: Gideon Jeph Wabvuta is a young playwright, actor and director based in Harare, Zimbabwe. He studied Theatre Arts at the University of Zimbabwe and has starred in a number of professional productions including The Father (Strindberg) and The Convert (Danai Gurira). His playwriting credits include The Master’s Shoe recently seen at the Almasi African Playwrights Festival and Remorse is Forever performed at the Youth Cultural Arts Festival. Directing credits include Dzimbabwedande and Men and Women at the Harare International Festival of Arts.

This inspirational, OPC 20-15 kick-off event celebration will showcase some of America’s most accomplished writers, poets and performers in an exploration of the challenges, pressures, tensions and hopes of contemporary urban America: Stephen Belber, Father Greg Boyle, Richard Cabral Gina Loring, Christopher Núñez, Sunni Patterson, Alice Tuan, Gideon Wabvuta, Jaha Zainabu, and others to be announced.

Fresh from his stunning, electrifying Broadway debut, playwright Robert Askins returns to OPC for a rare reading of his celebrated Tony nominated play, Hand to God. The New York Times exclaimed, “Hand to God is a festival of filthy hilarity, like the Book of Mormon . . . and a weird mirror of out unsettling times.” Joined by an all-star cast (to be announced), Askins will perform his main character, Jason, complete with home-made sock puppet. See Askins bio below.

robert askins 2ROBERT ASKINS
Robert Askins was born in Cypress, Texas. In 2009, his play Princes of Waco was produced by EST/Youngblood. His one-act play Matthew and the Pastor's Wife was a part of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Marathon 2010 and The Love Song of the Albanian Sous Chef won a Dallas Outer Circle Critics Award in 2011. Askins’ Obie Award-wining play Hand to God enjoyed three sold-out runs at EST, was brought back to the Lucille Lortel by MCC, opened this year on Broadway, and received 5 Tony Nominations including Best New Play. Askins is proud to be an alumnus of I-73, Youngblood, and a member of The Ensemble Studio Theatre.
Stephen Belber’s plays have been produced on Broadway and in over 25 countries. They include Match, Tape, Don’t Go Gentle, Dusk Rings a Bell, McReele, Finally, Geometry of Fire, Fault Lines, Carol Mulroney, A Small, Melodramatic Story, One Million Butterflies, The Power of Duff and The Muscles in Our Toes. Theaters where he has been produced include Roundabout, Atlantic, MCC, Primary Stages, Naked Angels, Labyrinth, Rattlestick, The Huntington and The Geffen. He was an Associate Writer on The Laramie Project, and co-writer on The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. His movies include Tape (directed by Richard Linklater), The Laramie Project (Associate Writer), Drifting Elegant, Management (starring Jennifer Aniston) and Match (starring Patrick Stewart), the last two of which he also directed. Television credits include Rescue Me, Law & Order SVU, and pilots for F/X, FTVS and HBO.

alice tuanALICE TUAN
Alice Tuan's recent plays include two new works concerning Americans in Shanghai, Cocks Crow, a business play, and Private Rivals, which was commissioned by Yale Rep/Binger Center for New Theater.  Tuan is best known for Ajax (por nobody), which was staged at Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival in 2012 and written about in “The Shelf Life of Shock” (The Drama Review, F’13). Other plays include BATCH: An American Bachelor/ette Party Spectacle (Humana Festival), Last of the Suns (Berkeley Rep, Ma-Yi Theater) and Hit, which had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Theater Center in May 2014. OPC is proud to welcome back Tuan for her third summer to write, direct our Intern Workshop and dramaturge.
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