Past Reading Festivals
The New Group Off Stage and NRDC proudly present
Facing the Rising Tide:
A free digital festival of play readings and conversations about environmental racism, the climate crisis and hope.
With these online readings of new plays by five extraordinary emerging writers, we are celebrating the ways truly imaginative art can get our minds working in new directions around the climate crisis and the impacts of environmental racism. The playwrights’ characters are pressured by their circumstances to decide and act, and these stories, whether they are depicting real, recent crises or possible futures that we hope to avoid, let us locate ourselves and the choices we face in a rapidly, radically changing world.
Each reading will be followed by a discussion with a climate expert and members of the creative team
Cut by Stacy Osei-Kuffour
Directed by Whitney White
Monday, April 1 at 7pm
In a small village, a man tells his wife that he will kill her unless she becomes pregnant. Inspired by a true story, CUT follows Jackeline Mwende on her feverish journey to survive in the face of violence, and what happens when she connects with an outsider who wants to help. Stacy Osei-Kuffour creates an endlessly imaginative, scathingly funny yet dark landscape that continues to surprise while taking a deep look at the compromises people make in order to endure.
The Bandaged Place by Harrison David Rivers
Directed by David Mendizábal
Tuesday, April 2 at 7pm
Jonah is a dancer.
Jonah is injured.
Jonah has an ex-boyfriend.
A brutal and lyrical play about the things we hang on to and the price of moving forward, the bandaged place tells the story of one man’s attempt to free himself from the abuses of his past. Jonah is forced to turn to his precocious daughter and tough love grandmother for support when a former lover resurfaces, re-opening a painful wound.
Our Boy by Rob Urbinati
Directed by Kip Fagan
Wednesday, April 3 at 7pm
Mark is a small town “golden boy”, sporty, handsome, popular, kind. Or at least that’s something his parents can agree on. When he is implicated in something they could never imagine, they begin to realize how little they actually trust him, or each other. A potent look at the shifting sands of parenting and responsibility, and our deep confusion around teens.
Dearborn by Betty Shamieh
Directed by Lisa Peterson
Monday, April 8 at 4pm
Dearborn is a story of two unconventional Arab-American teenage cousins, who work together in their family’s gas station in the Arab section of Detroit. Sarai Ayoub doesn’t have the tools to combat harassment during an internship in the auto industry, until a troubled son of one of the most powerful men in Detroit offers her a chance at revenge. Amir dreams of being a comic, and can only hint at the truth of his sexual orientation within his comedy sets. A timely drama that explores the intersection of sexism, racism, and homophobia in the aftermath of the Me Too movement, Dearborn is the second part of a cycle of plays about Arab Detroit following Roar, which originally premiered at The New Group.
OK! by Mark Gerrard
Directed by Cynthia Nixon
Wednesday, April 10 at 4pm
On the stage of Melody Barn Theater in 1983 in a dry county in Utah after the evening’s performance of Oklahoma!, two young actors and a teenage intern find a bottle of Scotch and have a night to remember in this gently harrowing comedy about summer stock, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Eugene O’Neill, first kisses, second kisses, friendship, horny chorus boys, dream ballets, box socials, upset stomachs, growing up, growing old, the 80s, and stage management.
OK! was commissioned through a grant from the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation’s Theater Visions Fund.
Three Girls Never Learnt the Way Home by Matthew Paul Olmos
Monday, October 22, 4pm
Directed by Elena Araoz
with Alfie Fuller, Déa Julien, Danielle Slavick, Stephanie Weeks,
After being bussed to a newly integrated high school, three friends find themselves straddling two different worlds and fighting to not get lost or lose each other. Poetic and visceral, this play explores the question of what happens to children caught in the middle of complicated adult fears.
Pose by Rae Binstock
Tuesday, October 23, 4pm
Directed by Ellie Heyman
with Cleo Gray, Olli Haaskivi, Kathryn Kates, Zdenko Martin, Tom Pecinka, Nicole Spezio, Stephanie Weeks
The job of a figure model is simple: strip, pose, and whatever you do, keep still. But when Jiin, a veteran model, finds herself sharing the stage with Henry, an opinionated newcomer, her usual ways of holding herself together no longer seem enough. As lines between the two models are drawn, blurred, and eventually crossed, she risks being truly exposed.
Manar by Melis Aker
Wednesday, October 24, 7pm
Directed by Whitney White
with Justin Ahdoot, Melis Aker, Jamar Brathwaite, Sinan Eczacibasi, Robin Galloway, Rick Holmes
In Dearborn, a white teenage boy fascinated by Islam has disappeared, and his mother is convinced that she sees his eyes behind the veil of an executioner in an ISIS video. His father tries to reach out to the Muslim girl and shopkeeper their son had befriended, which further ignites the cultural segregation between them, dredging up memories and paranoia that threaten the community’s fragile peace.
Tongue Tied Tight, and Delivered by Kirsten Greenidge
Thursday, October 25, 4pm
Directed by Evan Yionoulis
with Erica Bradshaw, Amelia Fowler, Robert David Grant, Austin Ku, April Matthis, Sean Meehan, Amanda Quaid, Gameela Wright
Lindy has three children, a teaching job that is gradually being cut back, and a white husband who just wants to abandon it all and live off the land – but she clings to her middle-class life by her fingernails. One day a white mom from their children’s preschool invites herself back to Lindy’s for tea, and the life she thought she wanted begins to look frayed and strange.
The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin by Jessica Huang
Friday, October 26, 4pm
Directed by David Mendizábal
with Sasha Diamond, Vanessa Kai, Jon Norman Schneider, David Shih, Alex Trow, Luis Vega,
Harry Chin bought forged documentation, entered the U.S. as a ‘Paper Son’, underwent a brutal detention and interrogation, and lived his life keeping this secret from his American wife and daughter. Told through the eyes of a middle-aged Chin, in crisis after losing his wife, the drama uses dreamlike leaps of time and space and the powerful assistance of ghosts to portray the personal and political repercussions of making a group of people “illegal.”
Gold Person by Dominic Finocchiaro
Tuesday, May 29, 7pm
Directed by Steve Cosson
with Desmin Borges, Deborah S. Craig, Blake DeLong, Jackie Hoffman, Birgit Huppuch, Tedra Millan
Bobby used to be the biggest star on the biggest competitive reality show on television. Now he’s doing Valtrex commercials and fighting not to be forgotten. What happens when everyone stops watching? What do you do… after reality? A play about the American Nightmare.
Lover Think Lover by Tegan McLeod
Wednesday, May 30, 7pm
Directed by Kevin Hourigan
with Dahlia Azama, Abby Corrigan, Jack DiFalco, Polly Lee
On a crumbling, British housing-estate, teenage Jessa is struggling to make ends meet. Having just lost her job, and with her parents absent, she’ll soon be out on the streets. When she turns up at the door of her old tutor Debra, seeking shelter, her welcome turns into a dangerous co-dependence that begins to unravel both women’s lives. Lover Think Lover is a dark and thrilling examination of intimacy under psychological and social pressure, and the lies we must tell ourselves in order to survive.
I’m Revolting by Gracie Gardner
Thursday, May 31, 7:30pm
Directed by Scott Elliott
with Heidi Armbruster, Ceci Fernandez, Judy Gold, Josh Hamilton, Caroline Kaplan, Tedra Millan, Larry Pine, Julian Rozzell Jr., Rita Wolf, Gameela Wright
In this crafty dark comedy set in a skin cancer outpatient surgery, a group of people wait together to be called into the room alone – and then wait some more, and be called in again, each time coming out a little lighter, physically if not spiritually. A day in the life of these bodies sharing a hilariously terrifying experience, helping each other in whatever way they know how.
Selling Kabul by Sylvia Khoury
Friday, June 1, 3pm
Directed by Leigh Silverman
with Tala Ashe, Peter Ganim Marjan Neshat, Dominic Rains
Taroon once served as an interpreter for the US military. Now the Americans – and their promises of safety – are gone. Hiding from reprisals in his sister Afiya’s apartment, he can’t even go to his son’s birth. With no good options and time running out, they must navigate a country left in upheaval, where each must fend for herself and few can be trusted.
Columbus Street by Amina Henry
Saturday, June 2, 5pm
Directed by Mia Rovegno
with Brian D. Coats, Danielle Davenport, Chad Goodridge, Brad Heberlee, Amy Staats
Lucy and Clay, black Muslims from Detroit, move to a small – and very white – town in Indiana for jobs at the local university, and meet the well meaning working class couple next door. When Lucy asks Clay to fence in a garden plot that may touch the property line, the best of intentions on both sides can’t prevent buried feelings from spilling out.
This work was commissioned by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.