2012 Arkansas New Play Festival

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TheatreSquared Announces Lineup of Bold New Works
May 17-18, 2012 in Little Rock | May 18-20, 2012 in Fayetteville

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS—April 30, 2012—TheatreSquared today announced the lineup for the 2012 Arkansas New Play Festival, the theatre’s fourth annual celebration of new works for the stage. The festival will feature staged reading performances of four professional plays, a showcase of ten-minute plays by Arkansas high school students, and Northwest Arkansas’s sixth annual 24-Hour Play-Off. In partnership with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, T2’s lineup of new works will also be presented at Oxford American Magazine’s new venue in Little Rock (1300 Main Street, May 17-18). Tickets are $7 (staged reading performances), $10 (The 24 Hour Play-Off), or $30 for a New Play Pass including all six events, and can be reserved by calling the Walton Arts Center Box Office at (479) 443-5600 or online at waltonartscenter.org. The lineup of events in Northwest Arkansas will take place at Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios (505 W. Spring St., Fayetteville). Each new play reading will be followed by a conversation with the playwright, director and cast.

The Arkansas New Play Festival is the state’s only dedicated professional outlet for the development of new work, and seeks to give voice to emerging playwrights whose stories resonate with the shifting demographics of mid-America,” said T2 Artistic Director Robert Ford. “This year’s lineup is incredibly exciting—with music, bold storytelling and strong Arkansas ties. I can’t wait to hear the conversations they spark.”

“Last year’s new play festival was a highlight of our 36th season,” said Bob Hupp, Arkansas Repertory Theatre Producing Artistic Director. “We are pleased to partner once again with our friends at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville. Their work brings a new dimension to what we can offer audiences in central Arkansas and this year’s lineup of readings promises to be especially dynamic.“

Northwest Arkansas Performance Schedule:

Friday, May 18       
7:30pm – Uprooted by Clinnesha D. Sibley ($7)

Saturday, May 19   
6:00pm – The Spiritualist by Robert Ford ($7)
8:00pm – The Ballad of Rusty and Roy by Janelle and Troy Schremmer ($7)

Sunday, May 20   
1:00pm  – Arkansas Young Playwrights Showcase (FREE)
3:30pm – “The Football Project” by Samuel Brett Williams ($7)
6:00pm – The 24 Hour Play-Off  ($10)

To view a schedule of events in Little Rock, visit the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s website at therep.org. 

New Play Lineup:

, by Clinnesha Dillon Sibley — Friday, May 18, 7:30pm
A richly drawn treatment of a timeless scenario by an award-winning Arkansas playwright. What happens when long-separated siblings reunite after the death of a parent? When successful film actress Venus Kettle returns to Indianola, Mississippi, to her mother's "home going," she is greeted by her sisters with a wide range of emotions, from enthusiastic glee to cold-shoulder resentment. In the meantime the play follows the parallel story of Venus's brother, who is incarcerated in a facility in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Uprooted is moving tribute to the redemptive power of family.  

THE SPIRITUALIST, by Robert Ford — Saturday, May 19, 6:00pm
TheatreSquared Artistic Director Robert Ford brings The Spiritualist back to the Arkansas New Play Festival for a second year of development, adding new revisions and, for the first time, original music. Inspired by true events, this comedic drama introduces Rosemary Dunn, an English widow who cooks for the school lunch service and communes with the spirits of dead composers. When an enterprising American reporter tries to unmask the self-proclaimed psychic as a fraud, he finds there may be more at play than simple musical sleight-of-hand.

THE BALLAD OF RUSTY AND ROY, by Troy and Jonny Schremmer — Saturday, May 19, 8:00pm
This new play with live, original music, follows the story of two half-brothers, both musicians with roots in Texas who have found their way to New York City along starkly divergent paths. One has an enthusiastic following on the New York music scene, the other among toddlers at the neighborhood church playgroup where he works. Circumstances reunite the two brothers, but a deeply troubled past involving a boyhood road trip threatens to tear them apart once again. Featuring songs – and performances – by Dusty Brown, who himself has a burgeoning career as a singer-songwriter in New York, an early version of The Ballad of Rusty and Roy was featured at the New York Fringe Festival.

THE FOOTBALL PROJECT, an untitled work by Samuel Brett Williams — Sunday, May 20, 3:30pm
November, 1998: a high school football team boarded a bus to travel to play in the state championship game. The entire town came out to see the team off—but the bus never left.  One third-string player who played for mere seconds in the previous game forged his grades and caused the team to be disqualified from the championship. The town's response was unprecedented. There were death threats, thoughts of suicide, vandalism and then a surprising amount of goodwill and even a bit of unexpected heroism. A snapshot of a town in crisis, examining one of the rare places where the ordinary and the epic, the petty and the profound collide: high school football.

Special Performances:

In partnership with the University of Arkansas Brown Chair of English Literacy, TheatreSquared is proud to present, for the third year, the Arkansas Young Playwrights Showcase. Students from across the region have been invited to submit scripts, and five will be selected for public readings at the Arkansas New Play Festival.

THE 24-HOUR PLAY-OFF — Sunday, May 20, 6:00pm
TheatreSquared is partnering with Fayetteville-based Ceramic Cow Productions to present the Northwest Arkansas 24-Hour Play-Off, a perennial favorite for artists and audiences alike. Teams of five artists will write, rehearse, and perform a new ten-minute play, all within the space of 24 hours, in competition for $800 in cash prizes sponsored by local businesses.  

Featured Playwrights:

Clinnesha D. Sibley (Uprooted) is an actor, director, published poet (It’s in My Blood, Dorrance Publishers, 1999) and an award-winning playwright. Her plays have previously been selected for Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Voices at the River Playwriting Residency, the Great Plains Theatre Conference Play Labs, TheatreSquared’s Arkansas New Play Festival, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and Penumbra Theatre’s highly acclaimed Word(s)PLAY! Program. Her previous Arkansas New Play Festival project, Tell Martha Not to Moan, later received the Holland New Voices Award as a Mainstage selection to the Great Plains Theatre Conference in 2011, was a semifinalist for the 2012 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and will be presented for the Athena Project Voices of Women Artists Series. Her short play Bound by Blood was recently selected by NY Playwrights for their Play of the Month Series, will be performed at the 2012 DC Black Theatre Festival New Reading Series, and will be published by Black Magnolias Literary Journal. She has mentored young playwrights through TheatreSquared’s Young Playwrights Showcase and Arts Live Theatre’s Summer Youth Conservatory. In 2009, she received the Key Woman Educator in Drama Award from the Iota Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society. Her on-going
research and dramaturgy focuses on the African American Civil Rights Movement of the sixties and the contemporary manifestation of the struggles and milestones from that time period. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from the University of Arkansas, where she currently serves as assistant professor of drama.

Samuel Brett Williams (The Football Project) has had plays developed or produced at the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, Cherry Lane Theatre, Ars Nova, New York Theatre Workshop, Naked Angels, Partial Comfort Productions, the Lark, the Kennedy Center, Yale University, Actors Theatre of Lousiville, P73 Productions, WordBRIDGE, and the Joseph Beuys Theater in Moscow, Russia.  In 2010, his play The Revival was produced by Project Y Theatre Company and nominated for seven New York Innovative Theatre Awards. The play was then optioned for film by Naked Faith Entertainment, for whom he will also write the screenplay. Last year, his play The Woodpecker was performed for two months in Los Angeles at Mutineer Theatre Company, where it was a Backstage Critic's Pick.  Recently, his play Derby Day premiered in the Clurman on Theatre Row and ran for three weeks.
He has received residencies or commissions from P73 Productions, the National Theater Institute, the National New Play Network, and Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey.  He is a past winner of the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award. Currently, he is developing an original pilot (with Ryan O'Nan) for 26 Keys Productions.

Robert Ford (The Spiritualist) is a playwright, novelist, director, and co-founder and artistic director of TheatreSquared. Recent productions of his work include The Fall of the House (T2, Alabama Shakespeare Festival— Edgar Award nominee), Girl Band in the Men’s Room (Hollywood Fringe—Best Theatre Award), Hackensack (Syracuse University), and ‘Twas the Night (T2). My Father’s War (T2, 2008) is slated for production by Twelve Miles West next spring, following recent appearances in England, Italy, and Germany. His novel The Student Conductor was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick and a “Hidden Gem” on NPR’s Morning Edition. He directed It’s a Wonderful Life and Drawer Boy for T2. He heads the MFA Playwriting Program at the University of Arkansas and holds an M.Mus. from Yale and MFAs in Acting from Rutgers and in Playwriting/Screenwriting from the University of Texas at Austin.

Janelle Schremmer (The Ballad of Rusty and Roy) is an actor and writer who lives in New York City with her husband Troy and their son.  Film credits include Mattie in An Ordinary Family (Matter Media) and Coach Webb in Chalk (Morgan Spurlock Presents). An MFA graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, she studied with Uta Hagen at HB Studio in New York and has acted with Theatre for a New Audience, Mabou Mines, Columbia University, Mill Mountain Theatre, Six Figures Theatre Company and New Georges. Troy Schremmer has worked as an actor in theatres from Texas to Chicago to Off-Broadway. Originally from Kansas, he moved to New York City to study with Uta Hagen at HB Studios.  He has worked in the New York City public school system as a teaching artist and has written and produced several plays with his wife.  He was one of the lead actors in Mike Akel’s award winning film, Chalk, which received Best Ensemble acting awards from three film festivals including the Los Angeles Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.  He also received the Stargazer Award for performance from the Gen Art Film Festival in 2007. He lives in New York City, working with children at the Fort Washington Collegiate Church.

Tickets for The 2012 Arkansas New Play Festival are on sale now at the Walton Arts Center Box Office, and can be reserved by calling (479) 443-5600 or visiting theatre2.org. Staged reading tickets are $7 and Play-Off tickets are $10, with a Play Fest Pass granting access to all six events available for $30. Through TheatreSquared’s “30 under 30” youth access program, patrons under the age of 30 may reserve a special Under 30 Pass, granting access to all four new play readings for just $10.  

TheatreSquared is Northwest Arkansas’s regional theatre, dedicated to creating exceptional theatrical works and innovative educational outreach. The theatre is the recipient of the 2011 National Theatre Company Grant from the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards, recognizing the nation’s ten most promising emerging professional theatres. For further information, contact TheatreSquared at 479.445.6333 or visit the theatre's website at theatre2.org.

Major funding for the TheatreSquared Season 6 is provided by The Walton Family Foundation, Inc., and the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Major marketing support for TheatreSquared Season 6 is provided by the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotions Commission. Media sponsors include NWA Media, CitiScapes, KUAF and MailCo USA.

Prizes for the 24-Hour Play-Off are sponsored by Lindsey and Associates, Inc., Mountain Man Supplies and Pawn, Big Brother’s Pawn, Robert James Salon, and White Lotus Salon and Massage.
Martin Miller