Telluride Playwright’s Festival is a laboratory for playwrights, actors, and directors. It is a place where dynamic, meaningful work is germinated with the help of the community. By encouraging audience feedback after the staged readings, the playwright can gather valuable insight to help further along a future draft of the play. The featured playwrights at this year’s festival workshops are Philip Gerson, James Still and James McLindon, all highly regarded in the field of theatre and television.
New this year, Playwright’s will also host public readings of new plays by visiting artists on Thursday, July 8. There will be a lunchtime discussion at the N. Oak St. mall titled “The Importance of New Plays.” The public is invited to come and hear new works being read and discussed throughout the day.
Staged readings will take place at the Sheridan Opera House on Monday, July 12 and Tuesday, 13, both at 7:30 p.m. at 7.30 p.m. at the Sheridan Opera House. Both readings are free and open to the public.
In a collaboration with the Telluride Repertory Theatre, Playwright’s is producing a work-in-progress, never-before-staged production of Philip Gerson’s This Isn’t What it Looks Like, July 15 – 18, at the Palm Theatre. The production will take place with the audience sitting on the stage, with open discussion following the play.
THE PLAYS AND PLAYWRIGHT’S Dead and Buried by James Mclindon will be staged July 12. McLindon is currently in residence at CAP21 in New York where he’s developing his play, Salvation, for production next season. In the last two years, he has had 17 plays produced in theaters across America and the United Kingdom. His plays have been published by Dramatic Publishing and Level 4 Press. His play, Dead and Buried, will be developed and performed at this year’s festival.
In Mclindon’s dark comedy, involving a missing mother, father and child, three cemetery workers, searching for what they’ve lost, find each other instead. McLindon says Dead and Buried for me is a contemplation of the powerful bond of mother and child, of loneliness and of the need for community. It's a play about not getting what you want, but finding what you need.”
James Still’s Love Me Some Amnesia, will be staged July 13. Still’s award-winning plays have been produced throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia. He is the playwright in residence at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, and was recently elected to the National Theatre Conference in New York. He was also inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the Kennedy Center.
Love Me Some Amnesia takes place in a small town where buzzards feast on a dead Chevy, the local Wal-Mart hires only college graduates, and three men wait out the night in the company of a high school football trophy they've rescued from obscurity. It is a play that wants to be about revenge and glory and being a man – if only the characters could agree on what they can't remember.
This Isn’t What It Looks Like is Philip Gerson’s work-in-progress play, which will be performed by the Telluride Rep at the Palm Theatre, July 15-18. Gerson‘s theatre work includes the plays Jumping Blind (NY Gayfest) and Night (NY International Fringe Festival); the book for the musical The Last Metro, based on the Francois Truffaut film (Musical Theatre Works in NY; Colony Theatre in LA); and the books for the musical parodies Fiddler on the West Hollywood Roof and West Hollywood Gypsy, which were produced to benefit AIDS charities with permissions of the original authors. He wrote for two of the most popular series in TV history – Murder, She Wrote (story editor), and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (co-executive Producer). Gerson is the recipient of the Film Advisory Board Award, The Prism Award from the Entertainment Industry Council, and the Dialogue Award from the Institute for Mental Health.
Gerson’s play, This Isn’t What it Looks Like explores how a liberal good guy ends up repeatedly stabbing a sexy right-wing pundit-therapist with a carving knife. It is a feverish comedy about a middle-class marriage in crisis in the brave new world of out-migration to California-stan, government jobs out-sourced to Nepal, and the bedside of Terry Schiavo.
Gerson says, This Isn’t What It Looks Like was written in fury and disbelief – it’s meant to provoke and hilarify (to coin a word). I want people to laugh and be surprised by the absurdity of this man’s life falling apart in this outrageous way – which frankly is becoming less outrageous every day – and also to be moved by the harrowing story of a marriage snapping apart under the pressures of our 24-hour media assault cycle, which is something brand new in world history.”
The Telluride production of This Isn’t What it Looks Like will feature a cast of local talent and will be directed by William Missouri Downs, who is himself a playwright. Downs earned his MFA in acting from the University of Illinois, but switched to playwriting when his first play won his acceptance to the Circle Repertory in New York. He then moved to Hollywood where he earned an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA, and wrote for several NBC television shows including Fresh Prince of Bel Air and My Two Dads. But his first love has always been the theatre. Downs has written twenty plays, which have been produced all over the world including the Kennedy Center and the Berkeley Rep. His plays have won such awards as the Jefferson for best production in Chicago and the Bay Area Critics Award for best production in San Francisco.
Find out more about the 2010 Telluride Playwright’s Festival at sparkyproductions.org.