As chilly weather settles into Minnesota, local playwright Kira Obolensky has a wintery new musical to share. The Overcoat: A Low-Fi Musical is the first play in the Playwrights’ Center’s 2017-18 Ruth Easton New Play Series, a long-running series offering Playwrights’ Center Core Writers 20 hours of workshop time to develop a new play and giving theater fans a chance to see free public readings of the plays in progress. Readings of The Overcoat: A Low-Fi Musical will take place Monday, December 4 and Tuesday, December 5 at 7 p.m. at the Playwrights’ Center, 2301 E. Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis. Reservations are recommended and can be made at pwcenter.org.
Kira Obolensky is a beloved and celebrated playwright, especially in the Twin Cities where she is known for her collaborations with Ten Thousand Things Theater. For The Overcoat: A Low-Fi Musical, she worked with composer Brian Harnetty on a haunting and minimal score to accompany her reimagining of Nikolai Gogol’s short story “The Overcoat.” In the play, poor beleaguered Charlie Shoe needs a new coat to keep Winter away—she’s there, on the bridge, on the stair, waiting for his body and soul. Funny and tragic, this short musical wonders if empathy and love are really enough to save us from the clutches of coldness.
The workshop and readings will be directed by Seth Bockley, joined by a cast of Eric Sharp*, Katherine Fried, Thomasina Petrus*, Jennifer Baldwin Peden*, Joy Dolo, Skyler Nowinski, Craig Johnson*, and Malick Ceesay (*Member of Actors’ Equity Association).
Damian Baldet and Maulik Pancholy in The Remains by Ken Urban, part of PlayLabs 2016. Pancholy will appear in the world premiere production of The Remains at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2018. Photo by Paula Keller.
The public season at the Playwrights’ Center— the PlayLabs festival and the Ruth Easton New Play Series—features top local and national actors and incorporates design elements, giving audience members a unique way to experience new work and a chance to be part of the creative process. These readings are free to attend and take place at the Playwrights’ Center, located at 2301 E Franklin Avenue in Seward.
The 2017-18 season:
PLAYLABS (October 23-29):
Reservations for PlayLabs will open approximately a month before the festival.
RUTH EASTON NEW PLAY SERIES:
Kira, John, and Harrison are all Twin Cities-based playwrights.
Find play descriptions and other details at pwcenter.org/season.
The 2016-17 Ruth Easton New Play Series at the Playwrights’ Center concludes April 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. with public readings of “Minneapolis/St. Paul” by Core Writer Lee Blessing. 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 Lee Blessing grew up in the Twin Cities and now lives in Los Angeles. He has been involved with the Playwrights’ Center since the 1970s and is a permanent Core Writer with the Center. Plays by Blessing recently premiered in the Twin Cities include “For the Loyal” at the Illusion Theater and “Courting Harry” at History Theatre. Blessing has been nominated for Tony and Olivier awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize.
In “Minneapolis/St. Paul,” a celebrated crime novelist leads two different lives, one as Randall, the middle-aged husband and father, and the other as Mandy, the newly-wedded wife and stepmother. In a play that is both poignant and bitingly funny, Mandy/Randall struggles with the complexities and repercussions of an identity too vast to fit within binaries.
As Blessing explains, his hometown felt like a particularly apt setting for this new play: “I wanted to write a play about a bigamist situation in which a person was a husband in one case and a wife in the other. It struck me that the Twin Cities would be very handy for that because they are their own different spheres of experience. You can live in one of them and never be that much in the other, even though they’re cheek by jowl.”
Playwrights’ Center Producing Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen** will direct, Trevor Bowen (2016 Emerging Artist Ivey Award winner) will serve as costume design consultant, and the lead role will be played by Jeffrey Carlson*, a well-known Broadway actor also celebrated for his portrayal of transgender character Zarf/Zoe on “All My Children” (*Member of Actors’ Equity Association; **Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society). In 2001, Carlson made his Off-Broadway debut in the Signature Theatre Company production of Lee Blessing’s “Thief River.”
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