National New Play Network 2008 annual meeting – Indianapolis

Last weekend I got to sit in on several sessions of the National New Play Network‘s (NNPN) annual two-day meeting.  It was held here in Indianapolis this year, at the Phoenix Theatre.

Thirty or so artistic directors, managing directors, and other leaders from the twenty member theatres from around the country gathered to share highlights and challenges from each other’s seasons, to pitch new plays to each other, to trade fundraising ideas, to evaluate what the Network has been doing since the last annual conference in terms of its ongoing programs, to do some strategic planning, and more.

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Theatre Review: “Our Dad is in Atlantis/Papa’ Esta’ en la Atla’ntida” at the Phoenix

Julio Cesar Chavez Juarez and Mark Presto in “Our Dad is in Atlantis”I just got home from an especially transformative night at the theatre.   (Well, actually, it was two nights ago, Thursday, as I finish writing this post.)

I drove downtown to the Phoenix Theatre to see the first Spanish performance in Indiana of “Papa’ Esta’ en la Atla’ntida” or “Our Dad is in Atlantis”, by Javier Malpica.  I had gone to the opening night performance, which was in English (English translation by Jorge Ignacio Cortinas), a couple weeks ago.

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A Conversation with James Still

IRT playwright-in-residence James Still

Last Sunday afternoon (5/4/08) I drove downtown to the Starbucks on the Circle to interview James Still, playwright-in-residence for the Indiana Repertory Theatre

Actually, he had invited me for coffee and conversation, which is not quite the same as an interview.  After we shook hands and said, “Nice to meet you” and so on, he tried to ask me about myself.  However, I knew he only had an hour or so, and I was greedy for information for my blog readers, so I asked if I could take notes while we talked about his art and then write about our conversation as part of my “Indy Theatre Habit.”  He graciously agreed.

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A Conversation with Jacob Appel

I had heard that Jacob M. Appel, the playwright of “Three Belles of Eden,” was flying in from New York City for the first Saturday night of this play’s world premiering run at Epilogue.  I asked if I could “ask him some questions” after the show.  He very graciously agreed, and one of the cast members, Priscilla Ruddell, said that I was welcome to talk with him at the post-show party at her home. 

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Storytelling Review: “Swingin’ with Duke Ellington” by Bobby Norfolk

Storyteller Bobby NorfolkA week ago Saturday night (4-26-08) I drove downtown for a special storytelling collaboration.  Bobby Norfolk told “Swingin’ with Duke Ellington,” accompanied by pianist Pete Ruthenburg.  The event was presented by Storytelling Arts of Indiana and the Indiana History Center.  Joyce Ellinger interpreted the piece in American Sign Language.

I had heard Norfolk tell children’s stories before at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee and at a public library here in Indiana.   I enjoyed his exuberant, highly physical telling style this time, too, as he told about jazz composer and director Duke Ellington’s life.

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Theatre Review: “Black Gold” at the Phoenix Theatre

Last Thursday night (4/17/08) I went to the Phoenix Theatre to see the rolling world premiere of Seth Rozin’s new satire, “Black Gold.”    It was directed by Brian Fonseca.  

A gentle African-American man, Curtis Walker (Kahlil Jahiz), buys an oil rig on e-Bay and installs it in his back yard in a depressed neighborhood in Detroit.  Turns out, there is an ocean of oil down there!  He and his family are going to be rich!

Aren’t they?

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