(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, has selected its four finalists for the 2018 Premiere Play Festival and will increase its cash awards for honored playwrights by one-third, the theatre announced. Premiere Stages received a record 572 submissions for the festival, 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 572 submissions marked a 43% jump from 2017, and represented playwrights of all backgrounds and ages. For the first time in the festival’s 14-year history, three of the four finalist scripts selected were requested from synopses submitted by playwrights.
“We are very excited to be developing an eclectic and topical mix of plays as part of the 2018 Play Festival,” stated John J. Wooten, producing artistic director of Premiere Stages. “Interest from playwrights and audiences in the Festival has grown substantially in the past few seasons and we are pleased to feature some impressive writers whose dramatic voices are just starting to emerge.”
This year’s finalists are: Linger by Craig Garcia, whose work has been developed through the TRU New Voices Reading Series and New Moon Short Play Festival; Private by Mona Pirnot, a former Literary Fellow at Center Theatre Group and member of Los Angeles’ Circle X Theatre Company; Baton by Deneen Reynolds-Knott, co-creator and executive producer of the web seriesBulk and a finalist for the 2017 PlayPenn and Bay Area Playwrights conferences; and No Candyby Emma Stanton, a former recipient of the Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship and resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists.
All finalists will receive professional readings as part of Premiere’s 14th annual Spring Reading Series (March 15-18), directed by Mr. Wooten and Jessi D. Hill, Literary Team Chair for Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and will be considered for expanded development in Premiere’s mainstage season. One of the four plays will be selected for an Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) 29-Hour Reading in June, and the most promising play will be awarded a full AEA production as part of Premiere's 2018 season. All finalists receive cash awards ranging from $750 to $2,500.
The schedule for the March readings is as follows:
Thursday, March 15 at 7:00pm – Linger by Craig Garcia - Maryanne and James are forced to confront the possibility that their child is capable of a horrible act when their son, a high school senior, is accused of a violent assault against a gay classmate. As social media explodes over the incident, the couple struggles to hold their splintering family together.
Friday, March 16 at 7:00pm – Private by Mona Pirnot - In the near future, privacy is expensive. Like everyone else, Corbin and Georgia pay a premium to keep their personal information secret. But when Corbin lands an exciting job that requires enrollment in a corporate surveillance policy, the couple discovers uncomfortable truths about their relationship.
Saturday, March 17 at 7:00pm – Baton by Deneen Reynolds-Knott - Ava and Tim, a black couple on a date, are interrupted by news of unrest in Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s funeral. As the pair grapples with differing feelings about the case, Ava reveals a past engagement to a white cop, detonating a night of accusations, interrogations and confessions.
Sunday, March 18 at 3:00pm – No Candy by Emma Stanton - A multi-generational community of Bosnian Muslim women copes, both privately and publicly, with the trauma they experienced during the war. Set in a gift shop near the Srebrenica massacre memorial, the play follows how each woman seeks redemption: one dreams of Julie Andrews, one sings grunge music at karaoke bars, one dresses drag in her father’s clothes. No Candy provides a thought-provoking exploration of the persistence of humor, art, and absurdity in an unimaginable time.
This year’s submissions were evaluated by Premiere Stages staff in partnership with esteemed panelists Chris Cragin-Day, William Eddy, Kimber Lee, Lysna Marzani, Carole Shaffer-Koros, Nicole A. Watson, and Ernest Wiggins. The following semifinalists were also honored in this year’s competition: Redwood by Brittany K. Allen, Bruise and Thorn by J. Julian Christopher,State by James Christy, Gunplay: A Love Story by Michael Yates Crowley, How to Fly by Olivia George, Project X by Taylor Hatch, Pathetic by Julia Jarcho, The Garbologists by Lindsay Joelle,Fireflies by Donja R. Love, Good by James McLindon, When We Left, Part 1 by NSangou Njikam, As Is: Conversations with Big Black Women in Confined Spaces by Stacey Rose,Hurricane Colleen by Tammy Ryan, Europa by Sarah Saltwick, Reunion by Nandita Shenoy, The Patriot by Joe Sutton, La Fonda by Suzanne Trauth, and The Solid Sand Below by Martín Zimmerman.
The Spring Reading Series is part of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival, the state’s largest annual theatre festival that provides free and discounted theatre events for all ages throughout the month of March. The Stages Festival offers dozens of performances, workshops, classes, and events at theatres, art centers, libraries, schools, senior centers, and other community venues throughout the state. The program was developed to encourage New Jersey’s residents to attend their local professional theatres by making the experience affordable, accessible, and fun. The Stages Festival is a project of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Alliance. Major funding is also provided by Bank of America, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, and PSEG Foundation. Additional support is provided by individuals, corporations, and foundations such as The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, F.M. Kirby Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Fund for the New Jersey Blind, and George A. Ohl, Jr. Trust. For more information, please visit www.njtheatrealliance.org or www.stagesfestival.org.
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 for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances. For more information, please visit Premiere Stages online at www.premierestagesatkean.com.
Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The Wallerstein Foundation for Geriatric Life Improvement, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Investors Foundation, The Union County HEART Grant, and through the generous support of individual patrons and local organizations. Discover Jersey Arts is our marketing partner. Visitwww.JerseyArts.com for more information about other arts programming happening around the Garden State.