The mission of the three-day festival, which will include readings of plays and musicals in development, is to give “playwrights a chance to hear their works in development in front of an audience and to give the audience at Bay Street and the East End Community a chance to experience cutting edge voices in the theater.” Each play will be read by professional actors in its entirety, accompanied by minimal staging. Each reading will be followed by a talkback.
The plays included in the festival are The Roommate by Jen Silverman, Community by Stephen Kaplan, From Ship to Shape by Walker Vreeland, and the new musical The Man in the Ceiling by Jules Feiffer with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa.
The Bay Street New Works Festival is curated by Scott Schwartz, artistic director at Bay Street Theater, and Will Pomerantz, associate artistic director at Bay Street Theater.
Descriptions of each of the new works follow:
The Roommate by Jen Silverman, directed by Mike Donahue. The play is "about Sharon, someone who is recently divorced and needs a roommate to share her Iowa home. Robin, also in her mid-50s, needs a place to hide and a chance to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover Robin's secrets, they encourage her own deep-seated desire to transform her life completely... and a dangerous new world begins to emerge. A dark comedy about what it takes to re-route your life - and what happens when the wheels come off."
Community by Stephen Kaplan, directed by Rob Urbaniti, is a "play-within-a-play that tackles issues of race in the theatre community. Chris Marshall has just been cast as George in Mt. Laurel Community Players' production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He invites Zach, the young, Black actor who's been cast as Nick, over for a drink to give him some actorly advice - and possibly to kill him. Whatever works. When the production's Martha and Honey show up uninvited, they find themselves caught in this play about a play tackling deadly issues like race and, perhaps even more dauntingly, community theatre. This ferocious comedy asks questions about how we view stories on race and the not-just-color blindness that many have when trying to talk about it."
From Ship To Shape by Walker Vreeland. The play "begins in the summer of 2003 when 24 year-old performer Walker Vreeland got a job as a lead singer for Norwegian Cruise Lines. But he could never have imagined the voyage that lay ahead. Boarding the Bermuda-bound ship would mark the onset of a mental breakdown so severe he would wake up months later in 1 of the 101 beds at Johns Hopkins Hospital's Mood Disorder Psychiatric Ward. From Ship to Shape is a funny and heart-wrenching account of one young man's struggle with mental illness in today's world, his journey in pursuit of healing, and how sanity can be found in the most unexpected of places."
The Man in the Ceiling with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa , book by Jules Feiffer, based on the illustrated novel by Jules Feiffer, directed by Jeffrey Seller. "Someday he'll be an artist! But for now, Jimmy is a flop as a boy: hopeless in class, helpless at sports, clueless as Mom and Dad. Can he find happiness as a boy cartoonist? A Pulitzer Prize cartoonist joins a Tony-nominated composer and the producer of Hamilton to find out."
Reserve seats online at www.baystreet.org or by calling the Bay Street Theater Box Office at (631) 725-9500.