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Madison Community Arts Center Announces First Six Readings of the New Jersey Women Playwrights Program

originally published: 03/18/2024

Madison Community Arts Center Announces First Six Readings of the New Jersey Women Playwrights Program

(MADISON, NJ) -- Madison Community Arts Center (MCAC) has announced the first six readings of the New Jersey Women Playwrights Program. Works include plays by Maryanne Melloan Woods & Michele Kushner, Yasmine Beverly Rana, Johnna Adams, Dominique Cieri, Yasmine Rana, and Nicole Pandolfo.

With generous funding from The Smart Foundation, in partnership with the Madison Arts and Culture Alliance, the New Jersey Women Playwrights Program endeavors to support the work of women writers in the state with rehearsed concert readings and other pre and post-reading development processes.

Dates and play descriptions follow, and tickets can be purchased through TicketLeap at the links below, or on the Madison Community Arts Center website at

 An Unlimited Pass for all 2024 readings is available at a significant discount here.

Sunday, April 14, 2024 at 7:00pm - The Polar Bear by Maryanne Melloan Woods / The Iceberg Effect by Michele Kushner.  Two one-act plays looking at how protecting the environment comes down to more than environmental policy.

The Polar Bear by Maryanne Melloan Woods - In Southern Alaska, a Polar Bear has wandered far from its natural habitat and traps itself in the garage of  Kayla and Dewey. Kayla is desperate to free the bear, but her husband is more interested in preparing his online audition for a dystopian movie scheduled to film in the state.

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The Iceberg Effect by Michele Kushner -  In the midst of the COVID lockdown, frustrated with her environmental scientist mother’s loss of the will to take action, thirteen-year-old Ellie has conjured up the forgotten figure of Eunice Foote, the first scientist to identify in 1856 the greenhouse gas theory. Ellie learns that the same entrenched forces that blocked Eunice’s contribution to the field are plaguing her mother 165 years later, only the stakes are even higher.

The evening includes a post-reading conversation with the authors. The reading is directed by John Pietrowski; Recommended donation: $10

Saturday, April 27, 2024 at 4:30pmAt the Barre by Yasmine Beverly Rana (presented as part of the Madison Mostly Dance Festival ’24). In partnership with their New Jersey Women Playwrights Program, internationally acclaimed playwright Yasmine Rana has created a play about the healing power of dance.

The women at the barre tell their stories and discover inspiration and empowerment in the sacred space of a ballet barre class in New York City. This beginner class is diverse in body size and age with the youngest being nineteen and the eldest, eighty. Their life experiences include sexual assault, breast cancer, an arranged marriage, the deportation of a spouse, and war in Syria. Their cultural identities include Russian, Indian, Pakistani, Syrian, and Central American. Despite their differences in age and life, they are unified by their desire and need to embrace and express themselves through their bodies. With the advent of movements including Me Too and DACA, the women at the barre share moments of warmth, humor, and encouragement at a most relevant time in history.

Tickets: $10  (free with valid Drew ID, all other students $5.00)

Sunday, May 19, 2024 at 4:00pmLight the Torches by Johnna Adams. Lastlines, a professional theater in Des Moines IA, is in production for the World Premiere of One Bitter Winter by celebrated playwright and Lastlines regular Michaela Bursar, and their sights are set on a move Off-Broadway. Starring a well-known television actor, a young New York stage actress,  members of the local Des Moines community theatre circle, and a supporting staff that includes an intern who is sleeping in the prop closet, and a production manager who resorts to legal and illegal side-hustles to pay off his graduate school debt, we get a behind the scenes look at how the professional theater sausage really gets made.

The evening includes a post-reading conversation with the author. The reading is directed by John Pietrowski. Recommended donation: $10

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Friday, June 21, 2024 at 7:00pmGrace Revised by Dominique Cieri. The stories of our mothers are overshadowed by our fathers, in a man’s world, where language is not the mother-tongue but rather, the father-tongue.

Grace has always lived in the shadow of her father. On her final day of life, Grace conjures up her mother, Jeanette, and her child-self, young Grace, and the three women take us on an odyssey from Italy to America that spans time, place and the language of her mother-tongue. The backdrop of the play shifts from the grittiness of Morristown, New Jersey, in the early 1900s, to  the magic of Long Branch where Jeanette and Young Grace, each summer for two weeks, can escape from the harshness of a man’s world. 

Grace Revised was one of three plays selected for the 2022 Women Playwrights Festival, Speranza Theatre Company.

The evening includes a post-reading conversation with the author. The reading is directed by John Pietrowski. Recommended donation: $10

Friday, September 27, 2024 at 7:00pmBeatrice’s Couch by Yasmine Beverly Rana. On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, Beatrice Larson, a 70-year-old New Yorker and Rita Shah, a 23-year-old actress, spend their first evening together in Beatrice’s Upper East Side apartment musing race, religion, relationships, loss, and solitude.  Rita dreams of performing on stage, a challenge for a South Asian woman in 1995 facing casting discrimination while Beatrice mourns the loss of the family she once had. Through heartache, joy, and Cole Porter, Beatrice and Rita develop an unlikely friendship over the next ten years with the two women reuniting on Rosh Hashanah.

The reading is directed by John Pietrowski. Recommended donation: $10

Friday, October 18, 2024 at 7:00pmSomething Blue by Nicole Pandolfo. This play explores female gender roles via the wedding industrial complex and investigates the unique societal expectations and pressures of marriage and singledom on the modern American women. Intercut with pivotal moments from their past, this dark comedy examines the complexity of female friendship through the lens of two best friends, Chloe, a bride, and Gia, a bridesmaid, on Chloe’s wedding day.

The evening includes a post-reading conversation with the author.

The Madison Community Arts Center (MCAC) is located at 10 Kings Road in Madison, New Jersey - directly across from the railroad tracks. Parking located on the street in front of the building.  MCAC is an hour from NYC either by car or by train on the NJ Transit Morris & Essex Line, and a five-minute walk from the Madison Train Station

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