Seattle Repertory Theatre announced the line-up for its first New Play Festival in Winter 2013, including four plays-in-progress from three Seattle playwrights and a native Idahoan. From Jan. 5 to Feb. 3, Seattle Rep will present workshops and readings of new works by Robert Schenkkan (By the Waters of Babylon, The Kentucky Cycle), Samuel D. Hunter (A Bright New Boise, The Whale), and Elizabeth Heffron (New Patagonia, Mitzi's Abortion). Newcomer Justin Huertas rounds out the group with an innovative debut. Established Northwest directors Sheila Daniels (Dancing at Lughnasa, Seattle Rep; Ramayana, ACT) and Artistic Director Jerry Manning (I Am My Own Wife, Of Mice and Men) will direct.
"I am thrilled to present four works by four incredibly talented Northwest writers," said Seattle Rep Artistic Director Jerry Manning. "The variety of voices and subject material really highlights the diversity of talent we are fostering at the Rep. We have a rich tradition of developing new work."
Headlining the festival are readings of Seattle writer Robert Schenkkan's All the Way, Part 1 and All the Way, Part 2, biographical companion plays about President Lyndon B. Johnson. Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Seattle Rep commissioned Parts 1 and 2, respectively. OSF company members Kenajuan Bentley, Peter Frechette, Christopher Liam Moore, and Jack Willis join Seattle actors for these readings. This will be the first public reading of All the Way, Part 2.
Also on the roster is a reading of Seattle Rep's new commission by Samuel D. Hunter, Exodus (Working Title). The play centers around Walter, who has spent his life counseling teenage Christian boys whose parents fear their sons have homosexual tendencies. When a teenager arrives at a fellowship camp in the Idaho wilderness, Walter has a crisis of faith. Hunter's work has been produced nationally and internationally, making him a rising young star in the theatre world. His play A Bright New Boise won the 2011 OBIE Award for playwriting. Hunter hails from Northern Idaho and is currently a playwright-in-residence at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.
Seattle writer Elizabeth Heffron's newest work The Weathermen Project (Working Title) will be workshopped during the festival, directed by Sheila Daniels. Co-written with former Weathermen member Kit Bakke, the play tells the story of the radical Vietnam-era proto-terrorist group, the Weather Underground. Heffron is one of eight writers in Seattle Rep's Writers Group, a collection of local playwrights who have been awarded a two-year residency to develop and refine new works using Seattle Rep resources.
Justin Huertas is well-known in the Seattle arts community as an actor (Speech & Debate, Seattle Rep; Spring Awakening and Avenue Q, Balagan Theatre; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, ArtsWest), but this will be his first public foray into playwriting. Seattle Rep's new commission by Huertas, Lizard Boy with Cello (Working Title), will be workshopped during the festival under the direction of Artistic Director Jerry Manning. In Lizard Boy, a young concert cellist discovers he has superpowers that seem to emanate from his cello bow. Manning describes the play as "Marvel Comics meets chamber operetta". Huertas serves as writer, librettist, and composer for this new theatrical experiment with live music.