MCC Announces PlayLabs Reading Series
& INITIAL CASTING
NEW WORKS-IN-PROGRESS FROM EMERGING PLAYWRIGHTS
OBIE WINNING “ECLIPSED” STAR ZAINAB JAH &
ALYSHA DESLORIEUX OF “HAMILTON”
JOIN FIRST ROUND OF CASTING
ON SELECT EVENINGS
SEPTEMBER 12 THRU OCTOBER 17
AT THE LUCILLE LORTEL THEATRE
New York, NY (August 18, 2016) – MCC THEATER (Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey, William Cantler, Artistic Directors; Blake West, Executive Director)—which this fall celebrates its 30th Anniversary Season as one of New York’s leading Off-Broadway theater companies— is pleased to announce the 2016 PlayLabs reading series, which will feature new works in development by playwrights Jocelyn Bioh, MCC Youth Company alum Xavier Galva, Ted Malawer, and Eric Micha Holmes. Readings will be held on September 12, September 19, September 26, and October 17, as shown below, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street). All readings are at 7pm. Full casting will be announced at a later date. Tickets on-sale now are $15, and include a post-reading discussion and reception with the artists and MCC leadership. For tickets and more info, please visit www.mcctheater.org.
Casting for the first PlayLabs reading, School Girls (Or; The African Mean Girls Play) by Jocelyn Bioh, has been announced: Eclipsed OBIE Award winner Zainab Jah and current Hamilton cast member Alysha Deslorieux will be joined by MaameYaa Boafo, Maechi Aharanwa, Mirirai Sithole, Danaya Esperanza, Myra Lucretia Taylor and Joniece Abbott-Pratt. Playwright Bioh is also a notable actress in NYC who has appeared on Broadway in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Soho Rep’s An Octoroon among many others.
The PlayLabs reading series invites audiences to engage directly with playwrights as they develop new works for the theater. Each reading includes a post-show reception with wine and refreshments, offering a chance to discuss the work and mingle with the playwrights, actors, MCC leadership, and other audience members.
“MCC’s PlayLabs series is central to our 30-year legacy of cultivating theatrical talent and sparking conversations with artists and audiences. We’re so proud to support these gifted emerging playwrights with a program that gives them an invaluable opportunity: the chance to shape their in-progress work in conversation with an engaged audience, alongside the dramaturgical support of our staff,” said Co-Artistic Director William Cantler, speaking on behalf of the company’s artistic leadership. “This year’s PlayLabs series is an especially strong line-up of works by some of the most exciting emerging playwrights in today’s theater scene—including one, Xavier Galva, who returns to MCC as an alumnus of our celebrated Youth Company.”
Past PlayLabs playwrights include MCC’s Playwright-in-Residence Neil LaBute, Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis, Pulitzer Prize finalist Anthony Rapp, MCC mainstage alums John Pollono (Small Engine Repair and Lost Girls) and Stephen Belber (Don’t Go Gentle), Dear Evan Hansen book writer Steven Levenson, and many more.
The 2016 PlayLabs Reading Series is as follows:
SCHOOL GIRLS (OR; THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY)
by Jocelyn Bioh
Monday, Sept 12 at 7pm
Set at a girls’ boarding school in the Aburi mountains of central Ghana, School Girls examines the tension-filled and hilarious milieu of competitive, cliquish, mean private schools. Paulina, the acknowledged queen bee, has her sights set on winning the imminent Miss Ghana competition until the arrival of a new girl, Ericka, throws her seriously off her stride. The play throws unsparing light on the questions of ambition, deceit, and the ultimate value of a fair-skinned complexion.
School Girls is currently represented on The Kilroys notable ‘The List 2016’, a ranking of the most recommended unproduced new plays by female and trans authors. For more info, visit http://thekilroys.org/the-list-2016/.
by Xavier Galva
Monday, September 19 at 7pm
We are thrown headlong into the hectic, sometimes crazy world of New York restaurants in this new comedy of life for the haves and have-nots of urban existence. In the strict hierarchy, owners and managers are at the top of the chain, followed by chefs and servers. At the bottom is Mamadue, the African immigrant dishwasher. All the workers, often to humorous effect, struggle to rise in this political pecking order. Some more privileged few succeed, while the most dignified of them, Mamadue, suffers the sad, seemingly inevitable fate of the disempowered in modern democratic society.
THE ANATOMY OF LOVE
by Ted Malawer
Monday, September 26 at 7pm
Danny and Laura are a typical modern couple; she is a dedicated, hard-working lawyer while he, an underemployed actor, is a stay at home dad. Their marriage has been shifted to auto pilot as both of them strive for the American dream. But all is brought to a dead, frightening stop when their seven-year old daughter’s teacher suggests that the child is most likely transgender. What follows is a fierce and sometimes hostile battle with Danny and Ms. Spencer advocating acceptance and pre-emptive reassignment and Laura adamantly refusing either action. This highly relevant issue of our time is the battleground for this highly emotional and heartbreaking story of fierce love and dreaded loss.
PORNPLAY; OR BLESSED ARE THE MEEK
by Eric Micha Holmes
Monday, October 17 at 7pm
A slave buries a small, stone-carved idol that reminds him of his African origins. Fast forward a hundred years, when an African-American workman uncovers it on the grounds of a former Virginia plantation. We are in the world of PORNPLAY, where the stately mansion has become a filming location for a fledgling porn business, and the inhabitants grapple viciously for the power and money that x-rated movies bring in. Betrayal, infidelity and brutality thrive in Eric Micha Holmes’s dark and bitterly funny story of survival of the fittest in this new America.
In addition to the PlayLabs series, the 2016-17 MCC Theater Season will include the world premiere of Neil LaBute’s new play, All The Ways To Say I Love You (September 6 – October 9, 2016), a solo piece that will star multi-Tony and Emmy Award winner Judith Light and directed by Tony nominee Leigh Silverman; the NYC premiere of what will mark MCC’s third musical ever, Ride the Cyclone (November 9 – December 18, 2016), direct from its hit run at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, featuring book, music and lyrics by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell and direction by Rachel Rockwell; the American premiere of Anna Jordan’s Bruntwood Prize-winning play YEN (January 12 – February 19, 2016) directed by OBIE winner Trip Cullman, the latest play to make its American premiere at MCC after making its world premiere at the Royal Court following The Pride and The Nether; and the NYC playwriting and stage acting debut of Emmy-nominated “Friends” star Matthew Perry who wrote and will star in his play The End of Longing (May 18 – June 24, 2017), directed by Lindsay Posner, following its hit London run.
In celebration of its 30th Anniversary Season, MCC Theater is proud to announce that thirty tickets will be sold at a special price of $30 for all preview performances. This is in addition to the many other ways audiences can join MCC Theater for the 16/17 season including its $30 Under 30 program and new $120 four-show Preview Subscription. Subscriptions can be purchased by calling 212-352-3101 or visiting mcctheater.org.
MCC Theater broke ground on its first permanent home— a two-theater complex on West 52nd Street and 10th Avenue—on March 22,2 016. Set to open in 2018, the space will unite MCC’s diverse roster of programs under one roof for the first time in the company’s three-decade history. The new facility will also allow MCC to expand its programming and establish it as a cultural anchor within the Clinton neighborhood. The $35 million project is funded by a public-private partnership between the Theater and the City of New York, which has contributed $25.7 million to the project. The campaign has raised $30 million to-date.
About MCC Theater’s Playwright Development and Education Initiatives
MCC Theater’s playwright development program, PlayLabs, helps foster the MCC artistic community by providing writers intensive dramaturgical support, as well as the opportunity to work alongside professional directors and actors to engage public audiences in the development of new work. The PlayLabs reading series incorporates informal post-show gatherings for conversation between artists and audiences that enliven and stimulate the often solitary and insular writing and development process. Plays developed as part of PlayLabs have gone on to full productions at MCC, as well as at other nonprofit theaters in New York and overseas, adding vibrant new works to the contemporary theatrical canon.
The company’s education initiatives serve more than 1,200 public school students throughout New York each year through a mix of programs for students and teachers inside and outside the classroom. Employing the tools of theater alongside traditional academic and career-readiness, the programs empower young people to find and express their own voices, and become engaged citizens throughout and beyond their academic careers. Dedicated mentors provide students with support as they explore acting, writing, directing, and theater production alongside professionals in the field, and provide college- and career-readiness opportunities to complement the theater-focused initiatives.
The centerpiece of the institution’s education programs is the MCC Theater Youth Company, the first free, after-school company of its kind associated with a professional theater. Since its founding in 2001 as an eight-member ensemble, the Youth Company has grown to serve more than 100 students each year and now includes a flagship Youth Company and satellite groups developed in partnership with schools in Washington Heights and Brooklyn.
About MCC Theater
MCC Theater is one of New York’s leading nonprofit Off-Broadway companies, driven by a mission to provoke conversations that have never happened and otherwise never would. Founded in 1986 as a collective of artists leading peer-based classes to support their own development as actors, writers and directors, the tenets of collaboration, education, and community are at the core of MCC Theater’s programming. One of the only theaters in the country led continuously by its founders, Artistic Directors Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey, and William Cantler, MCC fulfills its mission through the production of world, American, and New York premiere plays and musicals that challenge artists and audiences to confront contemporary personal and social issues, and robust playwright development and education initiatives that foster the next generation of theater artists and students.
Plays and musicals developed by the company have gone on to stagings around the globe. Notable productions over the course of the company’s 30-year history include Robert Askins’ Hand to God, nominated for five Tony Awards and transferred to London’s West End; Sharr White’s The Other Place, starring Laurie Metcalf; The Submission by Jeff Talbot, winner of the inaugural Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award for new American plays; Bryony Lavery’s Frozen, a 2004 Tony nominee for Best play and winner for Brian F. O’Byrne’s performance; Wit by Margaret Edson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1999; the classic cult musical Carrie, which has gone on to international productions since the Theater’s extensive redevelopment work and staging in 2012, the first in more than two decades; and eight plays by Playwright-in-Residence Neil LaBute, including Fat Pig; Reasons to Be Pretty, a 2009 Tony nominee for Best Play; and reasons to be happy. Blake West joined the company in 2006 as Executive Director. MCC will open its first permanent home in 2018 in Manhattan’s Clinton neighborhood, unifying the company’s activities under one roof for the first time and expanding its producing, artist development, and education programming. The Theater is currently in the midst of a $35 million campaign to support its expansion and growing artistic operations, with $30 million raised to-date.
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Jocelyn Bioh is a Ghanaian-American writer/performer from NYC. NYC acting credits include: Men on Boats (Playwrights Horizons,) An Octoroon (Soho Rep) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which won the TONY Award for Best Play in 2015. Her plays include School Girls (Kilroys List 2016) Nollywood Dreams (Kilroys List 2015) and The Ladykiller’s Love Story of which she conceived the story and wrote the libretto with music/lyrics by Cee Lo Green. She has received commissions from MTC and Atlantic Theatre Co. B.A in English/Theatre from The Ohio State University and MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University.
Xavier Galva Is an alumni of the MCC Theater Youth Company, Clubbed Thumb’s Early Career Writer’s Group, and The Atlantic Acting School. He is a founding member of The Rattlestick’s apprentice company The Middle Voice. Writing credits include THE PARLOUR (Walker Space, Clubbed Thumb) PARK AVENUE (Middle Voice) , TWENTY FIVE TO WHITE (Atlantic Stage 2, Walker Space), BLOOD PIÑATA (Clubbed Thumb) I am beyond grateful to be a part of this year’s MCC Theater PlayLab. MCC is my first home and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be creating together.
Eric Micha Holmes is a playwright whose work has been seen and developed at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre (“World Without Names,”) New York Theatre Workshop (“Nimpsey Pink”) and The New Black Fest at The Lark Play Development Center (“pornplay; or, Blessèd Be The Meek.”) His mono-play, “Walking Next To Michael Brown: Confessions Of A Light-Skinned Half-Breed,” was commissioned by The New Black Fest and has toured with “Hands Up: 6 Playwrights / 6 Testaments.” Productions include The National Black Theatre, The Brooklyn Museum Of Art, The Hansberry Project, Flashpoint Theatre, and The New Venture Theatre in Baton Rouge. Holmes holds an MFA in playwriting from The Iowa Playwrights Workshop.
Ted Malawer is a writer and performer originally from Long Island. A current Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Fellow at The Juilliard School, his plays include The Anatomy of Love, Daddy Issues, and arrhythmia. Ted has published six novels, including the Mystic City series (Penguin Random House), which has been translated into over ten languages and optioned for television by CBS. He is a Presidential Scholar in the Arts and the recipient of fellowships from the Lecomte du Nouy Foundation, the NFAA, and the Association for Jewish Theatre. Ted is a graduate of the Columbia University-Juilliard School Exchange Program, and received his Masters in Literature from Fordham University.