The 2016-17 Ruth Easton New Play Series at the Playwrights’ Center continues March 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. with public readings of “The Sea & The Stars” by Twin Cities playwright Harrison David Rivers. The readings will take place at the Playwrights’ Center, 2301 E. Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis. The events are free, but reservations are recommended and can be made at pwcenter.org.
Playwright Harrison David Rivers moved to the Twin Cities in 2014 for a Many Voices Fellowship at the Playwrights’ Center, and in 2015 he was selected as a McKnight Fellow in Playwriting. He is now a Core Writer, a three-year program supporting professional playwrights through play development workshops and connections to theaters.
Rivers describes “The Sea & The Stars” as “a play about love, karaoke and the sea.” In the play, Simon, who is a lifeguard, meets Finn, who is terrified of water. Both are adrift, with broken hearts, returning to the tiny beach town of Jupiter and to families who need them.
David Mendizábal will direct, and the cast includes Jon-Michael Reese*, Eric Sharp*, Jasmine Hughes*, Christina Baldwin*, Austene Van* and Sasha Andreev* (*Member of Actors’ Equity Association).
“Plays come from different places,” says Rivers. “Some come from joy, others from history or from research of a specific topic. This particular play was born of heartbreak—prompted by the kind of breakup that leaves you bereft, struggling for air, wearing the same outfit for days at a time and bursting into tears in random places—the supermarket, for example. I felt, at the time, like the only thing I could do to combat my grief—because nothing else was working—was to write a play. And to write a funny play, at that. Writing ‘The Sea & The Stars’ was therapeutic. It wasn’t therapy! But it was therapeutic.”
“This was one of the first plays I read by this gorgeous writer,” says Playwrights’ Center Producing Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen. “As with other plays within Harrison’s body of work, this piece warms his audiences into a pliable state of compassion and understanding, so that, by the time the crises arrive, he’s found a way to more freely invite our individual experiences to sit alongside the larger universal ones he poses.”
Harrison David Rivers is the winner of a GLAAD Media Award, a McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting, a Many Voices Fellowship, a Van Lier Fellowship, an Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship and the New York Stage & Film’s Founders Award. He was the 2016 Playwright-in-Residence at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. His plays include “Sweet” (National Black Theatre), “And She Would Stand Like This” (The Movement Theatre Company), “Where Storms are Born” (Williamstown) and “When Last We Flew” (Sundance). Harrison is an alumnus of the Emerging Writers’ Group at the Public Theater. M.F.A.: Columbia University. http://harrisondavidrivers.com
The Ruth Easton New Play Series at the Playwrights’ Center, now in its 12th year, provides selected Core Writers with 20 hours of workshop time to develop a new play in collaboration with top-notch actors and other theater artists. Plays receive two public readings, giving audience members a unique and immediate way to experience new work and a chance to be part of the creative process. Plays recently seen in the Ruth Easton New Play Series that had full productions this theater season include George Brant’s “Marie and Rosetta” Off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater and Carlyle Brown’s “Finding Fish” at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis.
The 2016-17 Ruth Easton New Play Series will conclude with “Minneapolis/St. Paul” by Lee Blessing on April 3 and 4. Details at pwcenter.org/ruth-easton-series.
All events in the Ruth Easton New Play Series are free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended; reserve your spots at pwcenter.org or by contacting the Playwrights’ Center at (612) 332-7481 or firstname.lastname@example.org.