Dallas — As the new play game heats up in Dallas-Fort Worth, Kitchen Dog Theater—which has been invested in new plays for two decades—is taking it to another level. Specifically through a National New Play Network pilot program called Cross-Pollination. For the first year, three NNPN Core Member theaters will send an unproduced play by a local playwright for development in another city. For the first year, the companies are Kitchen Dog Theater, Cleveland Public Theatre, and Philadelphia's InterAct Theatre Company.
It may not have been by design, but it's fantastic that the three playwrights in the first year—Jonathan Norton of Dallas, Lisa Langford of Cleveland, and James Ijames of Philadelphia—are writers of color. The developmental readings/workshops will happen in 2018; Kitchen Dog gets Lisa Langford's Rastus & Hattie, to be read in KDT's 20th New Works Festival. Norton's A Love Offering is in Philadelphia in May; and Ijames' history of walking will be in Cleveland this month.
Below is the complete news release:
Funded by a National New Play Network (NNPN) Collaboration Fund Grant, Core Member Theaters Cleveland Public Theatre, InterAct Theatre Company (Philadelphia, PA) and Kitchen Dog Theater (Dallas, TX) have embarked on a groundbreaking playwright exchange project called Cross-Pollination. Through Cross-Pollination, theaters with shared aesthetics and missions identify plays grown in their own backyards poised for larger prominence, pairing their local playwrights with a theater sharing their artistic values. Each theater works with a playwright outside its sphere of influence; each playwright develops a relationship with a producing organization to which they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to connect. The result is an immediate, meaningful artistic connection between theaters and artists that transcend state lines and logistical limits. For the pilot year of the program, the following pairings have been arranged: James Ijames and his play history of walking (from InterAct Theatre Company) will go to Cleveland Public Theatre in January; Jonathan Norton and his play A Love Offering (from Kitchen Dog Theater) will go to InterAct Theatre Company in May; and Lisa Langford and her play Rastus & Hattie (from Cleveland Public Theatre) will go to Kitchen Dog Theater in June.
“NNPN was founded twenty years ago to create a pipeline that would enable new play theaters to share the works of the writers they knew and loved with each other across markets,” says NNPN Executive Director Nan Barnett. “It seems perfectly wonderful to me that as we celebrate the creation of this organization that has radically altered the way that new plays are discovered, developed, produced, and propagated in America, we are supporting in a new way the very thing that brought us together in the beginning – the desire to collaborate and introduce new play theater-makers to new communities across the country.”
CPT Executive Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan says, “The Cross-Pollination initiative is providing a rare and valuable opportunity for CPT to deepen our relationships with sister theatres – organizations and artists sharing a lot of the same values as CPT. It is not only helping us develop our own work, but the initiative is also introducing us to playwrights, and new ways of approaching play development. So much can be learned from intersections of artistic communities – and we can’t wait to see how this program will impact our work and the work of playwrights we serve.”
“As a founding member of NNPN, we are thrilled to be piloting a new program dedicated to creating opportunities for local playwrights,” says InterAct Producing Artistic Director Seth Rozin. “InterAct has long been committed to nurturing local talent through our Core Playwrights program. With Cross-Pollination, we’re fostering an exciting exchange with like-minded theaters in other cities, so that we can begin to get to know playwrights in other communities, and vice versa.”
Kitchen Dog Co-Artistic Director Tina Parker adds, "The potential of this collaboration project is extraordinary. Kitchen Dog is not only able to launch one of our talented local writers into a new market, but we are also able to personally learn new ways to develop/support/share new work within our own organization, as we observe first-hand our NNPN brothers and sisters at work in the rehearsal room. It’s so easy to get siloed into a pattern of working - it will be exciting for us to shake things up and expand the possibilities we can create, both in our own houses and together across state lines.”
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS
James Ijames - James Ijames is a Philadelphia based performer and playwright. James’ plays have been produced by Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon, The National Black Theatre, and Ally Theatre. James is the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist recipient, a 2011 Independence Foundation Fellow, a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting, the 2015 winner of the Terrance McNally New Play Award for WHATE and a 2017 recipient of the Whiting Award. James is a founding member of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia’s first playwright producing collective. James is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Villanova University and resides in South Philadelphia.
Lisa Langford - A graduate of Harvard University, Lisa Langford is an actress and playwright. Her plays have appeared at Cleveland Public Theatre (The Art of Longing, InCogNegro, and The Bomb) and convergence-continuum (Outside/In: The Fattening House and The Split Show). Lisa has also been a copywriter, a journalist, and a member of the creative team that launched the late Dr. Maya Angelou’s greeting card line. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Jonathan Norton -Jonathan’s work has been produced or developed by Dallas Theater Center, PlayPenn, Pyramid Theatre Company, Black and Latino Playwrights Conference, Bishop Arts Theatre Center, Castillo Theatre, Soul Rep Theater Company, African American Repertory Theater, and South Dallas Cultural Center. Jonathan’s play Mississippi Goddamn was a Finalist for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and won the 2016 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award given by the American Theatre Critics Association. Other awards include: Artistic Innovations Grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, SDCC Diaspora Performing Arts Commission, and the TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund. His play, penny candy, will receive its world premiere at the Dallas Theater Center in Fall 2018. http://www.nortonscriptworks.com
ABOUT THE PLAYS
As part of the Cross-Pollination process, these yet-to-be produced new plays will have developmental workshops and, in some instances, a public staged reading at their host theater, with both the playwright and an artistic leader from their local theater present. Exact dates and times for these events are TBD.
history of walking by James Ijames: A presidential election. Terrorists falling in love. The water’s rising. How are we gonna live with it? A play about violence and compassion at the end of the world. Workshop scheduled for January 2018 at Cleveland Public Theatre
A Love Offering by Jonathan Norton: T’Wana Jepson has been knocked around. Scratched. Kicked. Punched. Bitten. And called every dirty word in the book. It comes with the territory as a minimum-wage earning nurse's aide caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Nothing new. But when T’Wana is attacked by the resident in E 204, something happens that threatens the world she’s tried very hard to rebuild. Workshop scheduled for May 2018 at InterAct Theatre Company
Rastus and Hattie by Lisa Langford: Needra and Marlene enjoy a perfect post-racial friendship until two problematic Black robots make them confront their ideas about race. Workshop scheduled for June 2018 at Kitchen Dog Theater
ABOUT THE THEATERS
Cleveland Public Theatre - Cleveland Public Theatre’s mission is to raise consciousness and nurture compassion through groundbreaking performance and life-changing education programs. CPT develops new, adventurous work, and nurtures Northeastern Ohio artists — particularly those whose work is inventive, intelligent, and socially conscious. CPT’s acclaimed education programs engage underserved youth and adults in creating new works that speak to contemporary issues, and empower participants to work for positive change in the community. cptonline.org
InterAct Theatre Company - Celebrating its 30th Anniversary, InterAct Theatre Company is a theatre for today’s world, producing new and contemporary plays that explore the social, political, and cultural issues of our time. Founded in 1988 by Producing Artistic Director Seth Rozin, InterAct seeks to entertain audiences by producing world-class, thought-provoking productions, and to use theatre as a tool to foster civic discourse. Interacttheatre.org
Kitchen Dog Theater – Now in its 27th season, Kitchen Dog Theater (KDT) has established itself as one of the leading theaters in the region, boasting a 40-member artistic company of top local talent. A place where questions of justice, morality, and human freedom can be explored, KDT's mission is to challenge moral and social consciences, and invite audiences to be provoked, challenged, and amazed through its critically-acclaimed productions. A staunch champion of new work, KDT is a founding member of the NNPN, producing timely, exciting plays that may have otherwise never been seen in Dallas. kitchendogtheater.org
About the National New Play Network (NNPN)
National New Play Network (NNPN) is the country’s alliance of non-profit professional theaters dedicated to the development, production, and continued life of new plays. Since its founding in 1998, NNPN has supported more than 250 productions nationwide through its innovative National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere program, which provides playwright and production support for new works at its Member theaters. Additional programs - its annual National Conference, National Showcase of New Plays, and MFA Playwrights Workshop; the NNPN Annual and Smith Prize commissions; its residencies for playwrights, producers and directors; and the organization’s member accessed Collaboration, Festival, and Travel banks and online information sessions - have helped cement the Network’s position as a vital force in the new play landscape. NNPN also strives to pioneer, implement, and disseminate ideas and programs that revolutionize the way theaters collaborate to support new plays and playwrights. Its most recent project, the New Play Exchange, is changing the way playwrights share their work and others discover it by providing immediate access to information on more than 16,500 new plays by living writers. NNPN’s 30 Core and 75 Associate Members - along with the more than 250 affiliated artists who are its alumni, the thousands of artists and artisans employed annually by its member theaters, and the hundreds of thousands of audience members who see its supported works each year - are creating the new American theater. nnpn.org | newplayexchange.org