(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, has announced public readings for three of the 2020 Play Festival Finalists, which had been postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Festival is an annual competition for unproduced scripts that offers developmental opportunities to playwrights with strong affiliations to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The readings will be held virtually via Zoom March 19-21 and are free to the public. A live Q&A with the playwrights will follow each reading.
“The pandemic erupted last March during the week that we had scheduled for our annual Spring Reading Series, forcing us to postpone all five readings on the day we were slated to begin.” stated John J. Wooten, producing artistic director of Premiere Stages. “While we had to cancel, all five of the finalists received their cash awards and a promise that their reading would be rescheduled for a public viewing, which we continue to honor this month.”
Three of the five finalists will receive professional readings March 19-21 through a partnership with the Theatre Authority, Inc. The fourth finalist, Scab by Gino Diiorio received a reading by Premiere Stages in July 2020 and the fifth finalist, Lyon’s Pride by Bleu Beckford-Burrell is not available for a reading in March; though the play continues to be under consideration for subsequent development by Premiere Stages.
The 2021 Spring Readings will include Songbird by Rachel Luann, My Mother the Sun by massi monfiletto Strayer, and Year One by Erik Gernand. To register for the free readings, click here.
Songbird by Rachel Luann Strayer (Friday, March 19 at 7:00pm EST) - Jess is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter who doesn't want to talk about why she abandoned her career. In fact, she doesn't want to talk about it so badly that she hasn't spoken in months. Jess's sister, Brit, thinks a beach trip to their old family vacation spot is just the trick to get Jess to open up. As tensions rise and a young visitor arrives seeking her help, Jess knows there are words that have to be spoken; she's just hoping she has the right ones.
My Mother the Sun by massi monfiletto (Saturday, March 20 at 7:00pm EST) - When her mother goes missing in the desert between the US/Mexico border, Solana must journey out with a group of activists to bring her back. As her past begins to haunt her, she must undertake an extraordinary transformation in the hopes of keeping her family together.
Year One by Erik Gernand (Sunday, March 21 at 3:00pm EST) - In 1933 Germany, Anna struggles to keep her family afloat during the first year of Adolph Hitler’s rise to power. When her brother Max arrives unexpectedly from Berlin, Anna’s life is thrown into even greater turmoil when the true reason for his visit is uncovered and she’s forced to choose between family and country.
Premiere Stages is moving forward with a full season of virtual and live programming in 2021 and all five finalists are being considered for a slot in this season or for expanded development in a subsequent year.
The 2021 Spring Reading Series will benefit the Kean Foundation. Donations will help support Premiere Stages education initiatives, particularly those that support emerging artists. Premiere Stages wishes to express gratitude to the following Performers’ Unions: ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN GUILD OF MUSICAL ARTISTS, AMERICAN GUILD OF VARIETY ARTISTS, SAG-AFTRA through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the Artists to appear on this program. To make a donation, click here.
Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advance notice. Please call 908-737-4077 to request a sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performance.
Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from W. John Bauer and Nancy Boucher, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Investors Foundation, The Union County HEART Grant, Actors’ Equity Foundation, and through the generous support of individual patrons and local organizations. Discover Jersey Arts is our marketing partner. Visit www.JerseyArts.com for more information about other arts programming happening around the Garden State.
Premiere Stages is committed to producing topical plays and interactive programs that reflect people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, religious groups, gender identities, ages, abilities, disabilities and sexual preferences.
ABOUT KEAN UNIVERSITY - Founded in 1855, Kean University has become one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, with a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment serving nearly 15,000 students. The University’s five undergraduate colleges offer more than 50 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic subjects. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers six doctoral degree programs and more than 60 options for graduate study leading to master’s degrees, professional diplomas or certifications. With campuses in Union and Toms River, New Jersey, and Wenzhou, China, Kean University furthers its mission by providing an affordable and accessible world-class education.
PHOTO: Play Festival Finalists (left to right): Rachael Luann Strayer, massi monfiletto, and Erik Gernand.