2017 Arkansas New Play Festival starts June 16

TheatreSquared Unveils Lineup for

The 2017 Arkansas
New Play Festival

Two-weekend, two-city festival to feature five new plays, free events, and local craft beer
At TheatreSquared and Crystal Bridges
June 16 - 25, 2017

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS — May 23, 2017 — TheatreSquared (T2) Artistic Director Robert Ford and Executive Director Martin Miller today unveiled the lineup of brand new plays to be featured at the ninth annual Arkansas New Play Festival, the state’s flagship showcase for new American stage plays with performances at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville and at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. New works on tap include The Furies, by Pulitzer Prize finalist Lisa D’Amour; Comet Town, by Rick Ehrstin; Visible from Four States, by Barbara Hammond; We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War, by Mona Mansour; and Transatlantic, by John Walch. Special presentations will include the annual Young Playwrights Showcase, featuring 10-minute youth plays and Follow Me @Tio Sam by the NWA Latin/x Youth Theatre Project, and (I)sland T(rap), a new one-man “rap Odyssey” by Austin Ashford. 

Editors and staff from the Dramatists Guild, the national association of professional playwrights, will fly to NWA to present a free, experimental live “publication” of their monthly magazine, The Dramatist, with playwright interviews and other features on June 24. A documentary film crew from the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards, will also attend. Performances will be held June 16–25, 2017, in the Great Hall at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville and in the Studio Theatre at Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios in Fayetteville. A limited number of all-access, two-weekend passes are available for $50 ($45 early bird rate until May 31), as well as single tickets ($5-15) for each event, at arknewplayfest.com or (479) 443-5600. Passes also grant access to an artists’ reception on June 22 at 6:30pm catered by Whole Foods.

“This 50-artist, two-weekend festival is our region’s rare opportunity to see—and shape—the next great American play,” said T2 Executive Director Martin Miller. “With fifteen performances and events in Fayetteville and Bentonville, the Festival is an embarrassment of riches for theatre lovers and a chance for every community member to have a glimpse of a usually closed-loop creative process.” 

“Crystal Bridges collaborates with TheatreSquared in support of living American artists sharing the intimate and often messy process of creation with the community,” said Crystal Bridges Executive Director and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Rod Bigelow. “The Arkansas New Play Festival is broadly becoming recognized as a prestigious, highly effective laboratory for some of the best established and emerging playwrights on the national scene today.” 

Patrons attending the second weekend of performances in Fayetteville can celebrate the craft of playwriting with a free craft beer in hand. To close out the Festival, TheatreSquared will feature a complimentary selection of on-tap new releases from the fast-growing local Northwest Arkansas beer scene before the show and during post-show conversations with the playwright, director and cast. 

The 2017 Arkansas New Play Festival is supported by a $25,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Art Works category focuses on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. “The arts are for all of us, and by supporting organizations such as TheatreSquared, the National Endowment for the Arts is providing more opportunities for the public to engage with the arts,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Whether in a theater, a town square, a museum, or a hospital, the arts are everywhere and make our lives richer.” 

Additional key support for the Festival comes from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the Happy Hollow Fund of the Fayetteville Area Community Foundation, and Barbara Shadden, in memory of Harry Shadden. 


Unless otherwise noted, all performances are presented in rehearsed staged reading format with a professional cast. 

The Furies
by Lisa D'Amour
In her latest play-in-progress, Pulitzer Prize finalist Lisa D'Amour (Detroit) serves up a rollicking, off-the-rails examination of the precarious state of current-day social mores. Over lunch in a Manhattan bistro, friends Allie and Amanda find themselves revealing secrets that threaten to upend not only their friendship, but how they live as women in the world. Adult language and themes. 

     - Saturday, June 17, 2pm, Crystal Bridges
     - Sunday, June 25, 2pm, TheatreSquared  

Visible from Four States
by Barbara Hammond
Ike—as sharp-witted as he is iconoclastic—owns the highest hilltop in Mason County. The phone company wants it for a cell tower. The local pastor envisions a landmark cross. In the meantime, Ike's buddy Daniel, state prison warden, wrestles with his own moral dilemma as an execution date approaches. Playwright Barbara Hammond deftly weaves the familiar into the profoundly new in this brilliant and compelling script. 

     - Friday, June 16, 5:30pm, Crystal Bridges
     - Sunday, June 25, 4:30pm, TheatreSquared 

by John Walch
In an epic-scale comedy that spans two continents—and two centuries—the true story of the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable spins brilliantly into a tale of unexpected romance. When Meg, a customer service fixer for the Habañero's restaurant chain, discovers an ancient message in Morse code, she launches into a wild, woolly journey back to the birth of global communications in distant County Kerry, Ireland, with her cheeky techno-geek son in tow. An earlier draft of Transatlantic was featured at the 2015 Arkansas New Play Festival as What God Hath Wrought. 

     - Friday, June 16, 7:30pm, Crystal Bridges
     - Thursday, June 22, 7:30pm, TheatreSquared
     - Friday, June 23, 7:30pm, TheatreSquared 

Comet Town 
by Rick Ehrstin
In this darkly funny play-in-progress, middle-aged mortgage banker Doug Kerry must break in yet another homecare provider for his father, who suffers from dementia (or does he?), while he juggles the demands of work and his teenaged daughter Lily, who’s headed for Harvard (or is she?). An incisive, humorous look at our prevailing national anxieties. Adult language. 

     - Saturday, June 17, 4:30pm, Crystal Bridges
     - Saturday, June 24, 7:30pm, TheatreSquared 

We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War 
by Mona Mansour
A woman and her nephew, while trying to navigate the currents of the Pacific, dip into the even more treacherous waters of identity, family and allegiance. Mona Mansour, visiting T2 under the Dramatists Guild Fund's Traveling Masters Program, shares a staged reading of her latest script. Previously developed through the Middle East America Initiative at The Lark in New York City, in partnership with Golden Thread Productions and Silk Road Rising. 

     - Saturday, June 24, 3:30pm, TheatreSquared 

(I)sland T(rap) 
by Austin Ashford
Join Austin Ashford on this reverse, one-person Odyssey. Black Ulysses sets off on a mythic voyage from his own island to discover his true artistic home—where his raps can effortlessly flow. With the aid of a wise old lobster and a ukulele, his epic journey takes him through the straits of self-doubt and self-worth as he seeks, through poetry and song, to find and reveal his authentic self. 

     - Sunday, June 18, 4:30pm at TheatreSquared

The Dramatist LIVE 
The Dramatists Guild of America, the national professional association of playwrights, has chosen the Arkansas New Play Festival for the first “live magazine” presentation of their monthly publication, The Dramatist. Regular magazine features will be “published” live before our festival audience, including an engaging roundtable conversation with playwrights. Join us for an exclusive in-person pilot of what is sure to become an annual highlight for this premiere national publication. Free admission. 

       - Saturday, June 24, 1pm, TheatreSquared 

Young Playwright Showcase 
Featuring Follow Me @TioSam
by the Latin/x Youth Theatre Project

TheatreSquared is proud to present, for the seventh year, the Arkansas Young Playwright Showcase. This year, T2 will feature two ten-minute student works as well as an encore performance of Follow Me @TioSam, a devised theatre piece that was prompted by the writings of the Stitches Group from Springdale, Arkansas. The play, written by Ashley Edwards, was created from these initial writings and rehearsals with the cast under the direction of Michael Landman. The Latin/x Youth Theatre Project promotes literacy, performing art, and other projects that focus on giving a voice to the Latin American community in Northwest Arkansas. The initial performances were made possible by contributions and support from the Walton Family Foundation, University of Arkansas Brown Chair of Literacy, Arts Center of the Ozarks, and Northwest Arkansas Community College. Free admission. 

Sunday, June 18, 2pm (T2) 

Featuring Noah Arrindell, Samuel Lopez, Damian Dena, Martin Garay, Daniel Gomez, Emily McCormick, Audrey Romero, Coco Vasquez, Savannah Vaughn, M. Sativa Vela, and Ever Villabalobos


Friday, June 16

5:30pm: Visible from Four States (Crystal Bridges) 

7:30pm: Transatlantic (Crystal Bridges) 


Saturday, June 17 

2pm: The Furies (Crystal Bridges) 

4:30pm: Comet Town (Crystal Bridges) 


Sunday, June 18 

2pm: Young Playwrights Showcase (T2) Featuring Follow Me@Tio Sam 

4:30pm: (I)sland T(rap) (T2) 


Thursday, June 22 

6:30pm: Company & Passholders Reception (T2) 

7:30pm: Transatlantic (T2) 


Friday, June 23 

7:30pm: Transatlantic (T2) 


Saturday, June 24 

1pm: The Dramatist LIVE (T2) 

3:30pm: We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War (T2) 

7:30pm: Comet Town (T2) 


Sunday, June 25 

2pm: The Furies (T2) 

4:30pm: Visible from Four States (T2) 


Tickets are $10 (readings), $15 (workshops), or free (Young Playwrights Showcase and Dramatist LIVE), with all access passes granting admission to 15 events available for $50 ($45 early bird price until May 31). Tickets are available at (479) 443-5600 or online at arknewplayfest.com

Through T2’s Lights Up! For Access program, supported by the Walmart Foundation, SNAP benefit recipients and patrons under the age of 30 can purchase $5 tickets to any New Play Festival performance or $25 New Play Passes. For more, visit theatre2.org/lights-up

Martin MillerComment