…And now for something completely different

With Freud’s Last Session “mesmerizing” audiences in the mainstage (check out the Democrat and Chronicle review here), we turn our attention to Geva’s Festival of New Theatre, or FONT, as we lovingly refer to it. Jean and Becca have shared some great insights with you about what the next two weeks will hold, and Sean gave you an inside glimpse into the process for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. As Becca mentioned, over the next two weeks, we’ll develop, rehearse and present staged readings of 4 full-length plays, and present 6 short plays by Rochester youth.

Tomorrow morning, the playwright and cast for our first workshop arrive, and we’ll begin Madeleine George‘s new play, The (Curious Case of the) Watson IntelligenceWatson is an artificial intelligence computer and Jeopardy champion. He’s also an IT technician, Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick, and the man who helped Alexander Graham Bell invent the telephone. He and Eliza are in love, but is he “real” or just one of her inventions? In this era-hopping drama, Madeline George explores the intersection of technology and romance and asks what draws people to each other: does love happen naturally, or do we create it? The play was commissioned by Playwrights’ Horizons in New York City, and we’re thrilled to have a role in its development. For this play, we’ll welcome back some Geva favorites, and welcome some new artists to the mix as well. Artistic Director Mark Cuddy will direct, and the play will be read by Bruce Sabbath (last season’s Company), Remi Sandri (Marley in A Christmas Carol), Jim Poulos (most recently at Geva in Ed in You Can’t Take It With You), and Kathryn Merry, joining us for the first time! Audiences are invited to join us for a staged reading and conversation with Madeleine on Oct. 25 at 7pm.

Next up in FONT, the Young Writers’ Showcase. These 6 wildly imaginative plays written by local teens were presented as staged readings last spring, have benefited from the exposure to audiences and theatre professionals and will now be minimally staged by three local directors: Michael Herman, Patricia Lewis and Shawnda Urie. Presented on Oct. 27 and 28 at 3pm, the six plays are:

Brainstorming by Dominic Barbarita: A pair of mismatched college roommates tries to write a play together.
Prevention by Amelia Carter: There’s been an accident — or a suicide —- and Kyle was a witness. But when the police start piecing together what happened, it seems that nothing is as it seems.
Heads Up by Marcella DelPlato: A penny tossed on the ground changes many lives.
To Find Mona by Taina Diaz: Seven-year old Mona doesn’t have friends and doesn’t get attention from her mother, but she does have four treasured dolls that she brings to life with her imagination.
The Obstacle by Ethan Keeley: When Thomas goes in for his job interview, nothing has prepared him for the test that it is.
The Leaving by Clara O’Connor: While Cady waits in the doctor’s office, a strange man enters needing help —- from her.

Engraving of Captain Nemo viewing a giant squi...

Our Halloween treat this year is working on the next workshop in FONT, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Check out Sean’s post on the specifics of this workshop, and then explore the wonders and dangers of the world under the sea in this adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1870 science fiction classic. Puppetry, projections and live actors tell the story of the mysterious Captain Nemo as he travels from the Red Sea to the Antarctic in his submarine, the Nautilus. You’ll experience the amazing underwater landscape alongside Professor Aronnax and his companions, who are torn between their singular adventures and the desire to escape Nemo’s watery prison. This puppetry adaptation will be created by Sean Daniels, Jon Ludwig and Jason Hines – Jon and Jason are from the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, where they know a thing or two about puppetry! The cast features Lou Sumrall as Captain Nemo, Joel Van Liew as Professor Arronax and Maggie Lacey as the professor’s daughter. A special workshop presentation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on Oct. 31 at 7pm will be followed by a conversation with the team, and an opportunity to get a closer look at the puppets.

Tanya Barfield, American playwright

Our next workshop, Chat, by Tanya Barfield, was commissioned by Geva and Primary Stages. The parents of terminally ill children find support in an online community, but when Andre and Liz move from a message board to private chat, the conversation goes beyond their sick kids. As their talk gets more personal, they find themselves on dangerous ground – will their friendship move in to the real world, and at what cost? This drama investigates how the digital age has changed our concept of intimacy. Join us on Nov. 2 and Nov. 4 at 7 pm for a staged reading and conversation with Tanya and director G.T. Upchurch. Remi Sandri will return to FONT for this play, and will be joined by Marc Damon Johnson, Jeanine SerrallasKianné Muschett and Stephen Barker Turner.

And finally, the last play we’ll develop is a return of one of the plays from our Regional Writers Showcase this past spring, Stop the Presses, by David Andreatta, an investigative reporter at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. If he doesn’t know what he’s talking about with this play, I’ll eat my hat. (well, not literally…) Geva’s Jean Ryon will direct. In the play, Stan, the Editor-in-Chief of the Buffalo Star, is out of ideas to keep his struggling paper in business when a major story breaks in his office – literally.  As national news outlets rush to pick up the story, can the Star stay a step ahead without compromising its journalistic standards?  And can Stan use all the attention to save the paper? Join us on Nov. 3 at 7pm for this reading and a conversation with Jean and David.

Where will you be for the next two weeks? Why not join us for an inside glimpse at how new plays are created?


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