Urbanite Theatre has set the dates—and named the women playwrights—for its second annual Modern Works Festival. Three women working in theater today will have readings of their plays during the festival, Oct. 8-13 at the downtown theater.
Last year's inaugural event was "a huge hit," says Summer Dawn Wallace, co-founder of Urbanite, who spends months shepherding the play selection process. "Patrons discovered how exciting and vibrant play readings can be, it brought new people to the theater, and it connected artists together. We usually work with small casts and crew at Urbanite, but this event brings 30 to 50 people together. And the feedback the playwrights received was so beneficial to them."
Wallace says that the plays winnowed from more than 340 submissions are very different thematically and in style, and they're also at different stages in their development. While last year's festival spread out over two weeks, this time around, "I wanted to make it more of a festival feel, and have more opportunities for people to interact," so it's packed into about a week instead. "It's important that Sarasota has an opportunity to see this work, and be a part of nurturing it," she says. "I hope it keeps growing and growing."
The festival’s plays will compete for an audience vote choosing the winner of a $3,000 honorarium. (Only audience members who see the readings of all three will qualify to vote.) In addition to the professional competition, Urbanite will perform a staged reading of a winning play by a student in the Sarasota Cross College Alliance; present a special one-night performance of Thrice to Mine, written and performed by Roxanne Fay and exploring the historical figure of Lady Macbeth; and welcome playwright Lauren Yee (whose In a Word was part of last season’s schedule at Urbanite) to a Q&A about her life and career.
The three plays in the professional competition are:
The Last Broadcast by Carey Crim, in which a single mother faces the need to care for her aging father, a prominent talk radio personality, after he begins failing. Urbanite calls it a “funny and heart-wrenching portrayal of family in transition.” In the cast are Nichole Hamilton, Jim Sorensen, Doug Jones and Kennedy Joy Foristall. An earlier Crim play, Morning After Grace, was seen a couple of seasons ago at Asolo Repertory Theatre.
Daisy Violet the Bitch Beast King, by Sam Collier, focuses on sisters Josephine and Henrietta, who create a monstrous, violent new sister up in their attic. The play blends absurdism and reality in a look at gender politics and sibling relationships. In the cast are Terri Weagant, Brooke Benson, Jordan Boyer and Jen Diaz. Collier is also a poet and theater artist.
Regular, by Marjorie Muller. A new resident in a small town, Kate accepts a job at a local factory and soon becomes the object of the community’s interest—a “sounding board for their own traumas, dreams and addictions.” Cast members are Ashley Chang, Paul Michael Thomson, Katelyn McKelley, Charlie Klenk and Carolyn Zaput. The Chicago-based Muller has received numerous readings of Regular, and her first play, littlespace, or the daddy play, will receive its world premiere production in May with NoMadsArt Collective.
In addition, student playwright Lilly Tanner’s Testing Gold will be staged with a professional director and actors.
Thrice to Mine is presented only on Oct. 10; Lauren Yee’s appearance is Oct. 11. The latter is free, but requires a reserved ticket.
For a complete festival schedule and ticket information, call (941) 321-1397 or visit urbanitetheatre.com/modernworksfestival.