When we think about a masterful piece of artistic expression – visual art, poetry, music, theatre, dance, etc. – how often do we really consider how that artwork came to be? Intellectually, we know that there is a process to creativity: it takes time and a fair amount of trial and error to create something new. It’s a rare thing, however, to witness creation firsthand. Geva Theatre Center’s annual Festival of New Theatre (FONT), (October 30 through Dec. 2) is an opportunity to do just that.

During the Festival, we invite you to step into the artistic process and hear actors read brand new plays, written by both professional playwrights from around the country, and by local writers and area teenagers. Geva is committed to planting seeds for the future of the American theatre and it begins with our Young Writers Showcase, where we offer six area high school students the opportunity to watch their writing develop from the very earliest idea to a fully staged production. These young people represent the next generation of theatre artists, and we’re proud to play a role in their creative lives.

Audiences at FONT are active participants, with opportunities at all of the readings to engage with the playwrights, to learn about their writing processes and the inspiration for their plays. Each of the scripts is still in-process, so as the writers are actively engaged in exploring the most engaging ways to tell their stories onstage, audiences responses inform their re-writes. Scientific minds might compare this process to that of research and development; marketing professionals might think of it as a focus group. The key idea is that new play audiences both give and receive – playing an essential part in the creation of theatre, and simultaneously enjoying the discovery of a new story enacted by talented performers.

In addition to the short plays by Rochester area teens, this year’s festival offers a sneak peek of plays by some of the country’s most exciting professional playwrights including Lila Rose Kaplan’s fantastical The Magician’s Daughter, which will have its world premiere at Geva in January; the first public reading of Elyzabeth Wilder’s The Color Girl, a Rochester story inspired by challenges faced by Kodak’s early color processing; Clarence Coo’s beautiful, soul-stirring imagery in On That Day in Amsterdam; local playwright Jay Hanagan’s exploration of family secrets in Just Like Sisters; and the chilling dystopian future of Philana Omorotionmwan’s Before Evening Comes. A fun and unpredictable experience, the Rochester Bake-Off, features reflections on the wondrous and wacky Artisanworks gallery.

We hope you’ll join us at Geva for an invigorating experience, and help shape the next great theatrical masterpieces. A full schedule can be accessed here. We encourage reservations, but all tickets are free.

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