Audrey Zielenbach is the Artistic Assistant at Gulfshore Playhouse.
It’s almost that time of year again! In just under a month, we will begin our Fifth Annual New Works Festival which will feature 5 excellent new plays.
As you may or may not know, the selection process for our New Works Festival takes over 10 months. It begins when we open submissions to playwrights and then the submitted plays are distributed to a group of readers who help us read through all 150 submitted plays. These readers are theatre professionals who are familiar with Gulfshore Playhouse and have a keen understanding of how a play works in performance. We cannot thank them enough for their willingness to read 20+ plays completely voluntarily. Their investment is essential to the success of the New Works Festival!
The other important aspect of the selection process is that all of these plays are submitted blindly. What this means is that the playwrights are asked to remove their name from the script before submitting it so when you read the script, you have absolutely no knowledge of who that person is. We mostly did this to prevent ourselves from giving any preferential treatment to playwrights we might already have familiarity with because the theatre industry, although widespread, is very small and everybody tends to know everybody.
When the initial reading process is through, each reader presents the Gulfshore Playhouse Artistic Team with their top 3 plays. From those plays, Jeff Binder and I decide which we think should be the 10 semifinalists and then those 10 are read by Kristen who ultimately decides the 4 finalists. 10 months later, we are ready to announce and start preparing for the New Works Festival!
This year’s selection of plays is incredibly diverse in content and themes (comedies, mysteries, and drama!) – not one play is like the other except that they are all fabulous and we can’t wait to share them with you!
Tycho’s Fool by Ross Peter Nelson (September 7th)
Tycho Brahe, the greatest astronomer of the 16th century is dead, and there are whispers he was poisoned. There is no shortage of suspects, ranging from his glory-seeking student Kepler, to his relations at court: Rosenkrantz and Guildenstierne (really!), to the King of Denmark himself. Tune in as an intergalactic cabaret harnesses the electrons of a 40-year old TV show to re-enact the past and solve the mystery.
Hungarian Rhapsody by Susan Cinoman (September 8th)
In a little rural town outside of Budapest, Angala, a stern and judgmental farmer’s wife is left home alone, while her cheerful husband leaves for a business trip. A knock at the door announces Baysha, a mysterious gypsy, and his rabbit, who break into Angala’s home and change her perspective on love, normalcy, passion, and gypsies.
Buried Under a Blackbird Sky by Stephen Spotswood (September 9th)
Buried Under A Blackbird Sky: Half a lifetime ago, Eve Beecher, ran away from her hometown of Aaronsville, escaping an abusive home life and a fraught romantic relationship with her best friend, Samantha. As an adult—and one of the world’s premiere forensic anthropologists—she finds herself forced to return, tasked with examining the remains of an ancient skeleton discovered on church property. Eve wants to do her job and escape a second time, but is drawn deep into her own past, helped along by a father desperate for forgiveness and the church’s minister—her one-time love, Samantha.
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Elusive Ear by David MacGregor (September 10th)
London. December 1888. 221B Baker Street. The notorious and as-yet undiscovered genius Vincent van Gogh presents the master-sleuth Sherlock Holmes with a most unusual case. Aided by his partner Dr. Watson and his paramour Irene Adler, the trio embarks on a rousing adventure. Join the world’s greatest detective as he dashes forth to solve one of the most audacious crimes of the Victorian era.
And, we have a special addition to the New Works Festival this year. In the spring of 2018, Gulfshore Playhouse will present the World Premiere production of Miss Keller Has No Second Book which was an audience favorite from last year’s New Works Festival. You will have the chance to fully immerse yourself in the process of a play journeying from a workshop to a full production by attending the staged readings of Miss Keller Has No Second Book on September 14th and 16th and then coming back in the spring to see the final product!
Miss Keller Has No Second Book by Deb Hiett
It’s been nearly 50 years since the notoriously reclusive Agnes Keller published her first and only book. In the wake of a life-changing event, Agnes’ small sanctuary is punctured by interruptions from a series of unwanted visitors. Starring Playhouse favorites Amy Van Nostrand and Maureen Silliman, this funny and touching play grapples with the inevitability of change, the tangled tethers of family, and the very big question: what does an artist owe the world?
For more information about the New Works Festival, please visit this page.