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1995-1996 index

Distributed January 23, 1996
Contact: Mark Nickel

Brown University presents Steinberg Festival of New Plays Feb. 1-11

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- As part of its new collaboration with Trinity Repertory Company, the Playwriting Workshop of the Graduate Writing Program at Brown will present the Steinberg Festival of New Plays Feb. 1-4 and 8-11, at Russell Lab, 5 Young Orchard Ave. All shows will begin at 7 p.m., except Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Tickets for each show are $5.

Although the Graduate Writing Program's Festival of New Plays has been presented each year at Brown for the past decade, this is the first year Brown playwrights have collaborated under the Providence Playwriting Program with directors and actors from Trinity Rep. This new partnership is funded by a grant from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. "It's important to have a charitable trust interested in the development of new plays and to have this level of collaboration between an educational institution and a professional theatrical organization," says Aishah Rahman, associate professor of English in the Graduate Writing Program and artistic director of the festival. Rahman selected the plays, matched playwrights and directors and supervised all artistic input into the productions.

Rahman says the small, black-box type of theater environment in Russell Lab is perfect for these plays "so the text is emphasized rather than technology. We want our playwrights to see what they've written, to have flesh put on their words," Rahman says. She emphasizes that the program at Brown is "about the business of nurturing our playwrights, encouraging them to experiment, to be nontraditional and noncommercial."

The six plays in this year's festival have been written by Brown graduate students and include actors from the Trinity Repertory Conservatory and directors from Trinity Rep, New York City, Chicago and Boston University. The set designers are from the Rhode Island School of Design. Nearly 50 actors are involved, including students from Brown, Boston University and several teachers from the Moses Brown School in Providence. Rehearsals, which began Jan. 3, take place at Trinity Rep, Perishable Theater and the Russell Lab.

A synopsis of each of the six plays and their performance dates follows.

Thursday, Feb. 1 and 8

Pedisyon by Jake-ann Jones
Director: Imani Douglass, New York City
A young African-American woman finds herself pregnant for the fourth time and must decide whether to have another abortion. The play interweaves Catholic guilt, sexuality, race, class and nightmares with iconism and Haitian voodoo spirits.

How to Write While You Sleep by Madeleine Olnek
Director: Gina Kaufman, Chicago
This play combines the worlds of Elizabeth Irwin Ross, the internationally known author of books on a writing technique using the unconscious mind, and Mary, a college dropout with a sleep disorder. Through the use of Ross's writing technique, Mary hopes to make up her seven incompletes, quit her day job at a French pastry shop and return to her marginal life as a narcoleptic academician.

Friday, Feb. 2 and 9

Blue Movie by Gina Gianfriddo
Director: Bob Colonna, Trinity Repertory Company
Three teenagers befriend a wealthy, retarded man and insinuate themselves into his life, home and bank account. Tensions rise as his needs are not met and their demands grow higher. On the day of singer Kurt Cobain's suicide, violence finally erupts when the teens demand airline fare to the Cobain vigil in Seattle and he refuses them.

Saturday, Feb. 3 and 10

The Messenger Plays by Dennis Davis
Director: Peter DuBois, graduate student in Theatre, Speech and Dance at Brown
This is an adaptation of Sophocles's Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, coupled with Davis's Gatyr Aides, a reconstruction of Sophocles's The Echneutai. Davis calls the result a "fun-filled, full-service Festival Dionysus."

Ikebana by Alice Tuan
Director: Ed Shea, Trinity Repertory Company
Hidden things, secrets and rearranging reality to spare loved ones pain are the themes of this work. Each scene is based on an ikebana flower arrangement: The characters are all flowers of sorts being arranged by God's (or someone else's) hands. Thus, most of the action concerns the "blooming" and "wilting" of family relations and character tensions.

Sunday, Feb. 4 and 11

baxai by Azande
Director: James Spruill, Boston University
A diasporal African God is forgotten by his people. The themes in this play are ecstatic devotion and religious intoxication in a sober world.