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Announcing the Writers of Playwrights' Week 2015

Lark News
Playwrights' Week Writers


The Lark is proud to announce that seven plays by eight writers have been chosen, through its open access program, for the 22nd Annual Playwrights’ Week.  This year’s plays and playwrights are: The Ghosts of Lote Bravo by Hilary Bettis, People Sitting in Darkness by Clarence Coo, Nothing Left to Burn by Adi Hanash and Patrick Vassel, Moon Man Walk by James Ijames, Abominable or The Misappropriation of Beverly Onion by Forces Beyond her Control by Katie May, Human Error by Eric Pfeffinger and Dear Galileo by Claire Willett. Playwrights’ Week will culminate in a festival of public readings, which will take place October 4th – 8th, 2015.  For the full schedule and for information regarding tickets, visit our Events page.

“For the first time ever, our number of submissions hit a staggering four figures.  These seven plays stood out as richly imagined and definitively theatrical explorations,” said Andrea Hiebler, Lark’s Director of Scouting and Submissions.  “Whether invoking far-off lands, the distant past or the very immediate here and now, they offer distinct perspectives on how we go about navigating our worlds and the stories that guide those journeys.

This year’s plays were selected by the Literary Wing, a team of 22 theater artists and community members who volunteer their time to read for The Lark, from a pool of nearly 1,300 submissions, the most ever in the program’s history.

“There are people coming from many points of view, with differing tastes in theater,” says Jennifer Dorr White, who has been a member of the LitWing since the group’s inauguration. “The Lit Wing does a good job of staying true to its goals of open accessibility and giving every play a chance.”

Playwrights’ Week aims to provide support for plays in various stages of development, by writers at a range of places in their careers.  Every submission is thoroughly evaluated using a multi-step process, beginning with a blind reading of the script, followed by a written review of the play’s strength of voice, diversity of perspective, and emotional impact. Recommended plays then advance through a careful assessment of the author's statement, which details his or her goals for developing the script, and how he or she believes The Lark's particular process could be beneficial.

The selected playwrights participate in an intensive seven-day retreat, designed to foster a peer-based community among the writers, their creative teams, and Lark’s staff, through a series of conversations around the work. After defining their goals, the playwrights receive ten hours of rehearsal in advance of a public staged reading, focusing on the writer’s self-stated developmental goals.

Playwright Mando Alvarado, whose play Parachute Men was part of the festival last year, said of his experience, “As a playwright, you reach a moment in your draft where you feel like you can either trash the play and start all over, or plunge ahead and hope you find the reason for the play's existence.  If it wasn't for The Lark Playwrights’ Week, I don't know if I would have found the time or the courage to take the plunge.”  Parachute Men was recently featured by The Latina/o Theatre Commons (LTC), in collaboration with HowlRound, at the 2015 Carnaval of New Latina/o Work.

Other recent work developed in Playwrights’ Week include: Detroit ‘67 by Dominique Morisseau, winner of the 2014 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, produced by the Public Theater and Classical Theatre of Harlem; Guadalupe in the Guest Room by Tony Meneses, produced by Two River Theater; The Nether by Jennifer Haley, winner of the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, winner of seven Ovation Awards (2013) including “Playwriting for an Original Play,” produced by Center Theatre Group; and Dreams of the Penny Gods by Callie Kimball, which will receive its world premiere at Halcyon Theatre in March 2016.

Playwrights' Week is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from the New York State Council on the Arts, and Axe-Houghton Foundation.


The Ghosts of Lote Bravo by Hilary Bettis - In Juárez, Mexico, the most violent city in the world, Juanda’s daughter goes missing from the sweatshop they work in. When the crooked policia refuse to help, Juanda's only hope is to ask the dark saint, La Santa Muerte, to guide her. Charging through dreams and visions, Juanda must risk everything if she ever hopes to see her daughter again.

People Sitting in Darkness by Clarence Coo - In this adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in the early twentieth century, a small town in the occupied Philippines prepares to stage a performance of Huckleberry Finn for their American colonizers. But insurgents have infiltrated the rehearsals–with plans to commit an act on opening night that will change the course of history.

Nothing Left to Burn by Adi Hanash and Patrick Vassel - “This is a love story. Unlike most love stories, this one ends with me setting myself on fire.”

A young man sets himself ablaze in rural Tunisia, setting off a wave of revolution in the Middle East. As it turns out, the political is personal, and the Arab Spring began (as so many springs before it) with a love story.  In the end, is that love worth it? And does revolution just bring us back to the same place we started?

Moon Man Walk by James Ijames - Bookish and introverted Monarch’s world is rock by the news of his mother’s sudden death. In the wake of her passing, Monarch learns the truth about his absent father. As he prepares for his mother’s funeral he meets an effervescent young woman who shows him love, and takes him on a journey literally to the Moon and back.

Abominable or The Misappropriation of Beverly Onion by Forces Beyond her Control by Katie May - When Luck and Fate make a wager to prove who is the more powerful force, the life of Beverly Onion, the world’s loneliest mortician’s assistant, becomes the medium for their contest. Beverly’s journey takes her from speed dating, to a penthouse apartment, and across the globe to Nepal, on a journey to discover her destiny and an unlikely soul mate.

Human Error by Eric Pfeffinger - Madelyn and Keenan are NPR-listenin', latte-sippin', blue-state liberals, and Heather and Jim are NRA-cardholdin' truck-drivin' red-state conservatives.  They might never have met if an error at the fertility clinic hadn't led to Madelyn's embryo being accidentally implanted in Heather's uterus.  Now the four of them face spending nine months as the awkwardest of families, trying to find a way to bring this child into the world without killing one another first.

Dear Galileo by Claire Willett - A little girl with big questions about the universe writes a letter in her diary to a long-dead scientist. So begins a dialogue that bridges faith and science, wonder and doubt, present and past, as three very different women in three different eras grapple with the legacies of their famous fathers. As the three stories move towards a point of convergence, each family’s destiny becomes inextricably bound with the others, linked across time by love, loss, hope, the search for identity and the mysteries of the stars.


Hilary Bettis’s plays include: Blood & Dust, The Ghosts of Lote Bravo, The History of American Pornography, Alligator, Dakota Atoll, Mexico and American Girls. She is a recent graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights’ Fellowship at The Juilliard School. Residencies, awards, fellowships, commissions and workshops: SPACE at Ryder Farm, Cape Cod Theater Project, The Lark/NYSF at Vassar, Alliance/Kendeda Prize Runner-Up, Leah Ryan Prize Runner-Up, DNA Series at La Jolla Playhouse, Nuestras Voices National Playwriting Competition Runner-Up, NNPN National Showcase of New Plays, O’Neill NPC, Kennedy Center/NNPN, 2050 Fellow at NYTW, Sloan/EST Commission, NYFA Fellow and Crossing Borders Festival at Two River Theater. She has had multiple plays on The Kilroys List and Honorable Mention List. Her play The Ghosts of Lote Bravo will receive an NNPN Rolling World Premiere in 2016 and her play American Girls will be produced at The Edge in Denver this Fall. She is working on several feature and short film projects, and has had short films selected for multiple national festivals. She is currently working on a webseries with Alyssa Milano. She is a member of EST, Project Y’s writer group, a New Georges Affiliated Artist and a NYTW Usual Suspect.

Clarence Coo received the 2012 Yale Drama Series Prize, judged by John Guare, for Beautiful Province (Belle Province). His other plays include People Sitting in Darkness, The God of Wine, Bahala Na, Braids, Proof Through the Night, and Removing the Glove. His work has been produced or developed at New York Theatre Workshop, Ma-Yi Theatre, New Dramatists, Second Generation, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the New York International Fringe Festival, Mu Performing Arts, the Great Plains Theatre Conference, Round House Theatre, East West Players, the Mark Taper Forum, the Young Playwrights Festival, and the Kennedy Center. His work has also been published by Temple University Press, the New Press, and Samuel French. Honors include an Arena Stage Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship, an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence Grant, a Kennedy Center commission, and a Larry Neal Writers’ Award. He received his MFA in Playwriting at Columbia University where he studied under Charles Mee. He is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, a 2012-2013 Dramatists Guild fellow, and the program administrator of Columbia’s MFA Writing Program.

Adi Hanash’s recent credits include: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Woolly Mammoth, Helen Hayes Nomination for Supporting Actor); Comedy of Sorrows (Hybrid Theatre Works); Nothing Left to Burn (Ars Nova ANTFest, Public Theater New Work Now! Actor/Co-Writer); AK-47 Sing Along (ERA); Cymbeline (New York Classical Theatre); Zoya’s ApartmentKate Crackernuts (ART/MXAT).  Film/TV: White Collar, Rubicon, Our Idiot Brother, Non-Stop, Person of Interest and The Bourne Legacy. Adi has an MFA in Acting from ART/MXAT at Harvard and an unnatural obsession with TheFast and the Furious movie franchise.

James Ijames is a Philadelphia based actor and playwright. He has appeared regionally at The Arden Theatre Company, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Wilma Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage and Interact Theatre Company. James is a founding member of Orbiter 3 Playwright Producing Collective, a member of the InterAct Core Writers Group and a mentor for The Foundry. James’ plays include The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington, Moon Man Walk, The Threshing Floor, and Osiris:Redux. ...Miz Martha was developed with PlayPenn and received its world premiere with Flashpoint Theater. Moon Man Walk was world premiered with Orbiter 3 Playwright Collective. His play White was a part of the 2015 PlayPenn New Play Conference. James was the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist recipient, a 2011 Independence Foundation Fellowship in Performing Arts and a 2015 Pew Fellow. He received a BA in Drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and a MFA in Acting from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. James is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Villanova University and resides in South Philadelphia.

Katie May is a playwright, Comedy Writer, and performer.  Her plays include Black Sheep Gospel (Great Plains Theater Conference), A History of Freaks (finalist for the David mark Cohen Award in Playwriting), and Manic Pixie Dream Girl (SF PlayGround fellowship commission), among others. Her short play Rapunzel’s Etymology of Zero (Best of Playground Festival, Short + Sweet Sydney) was published in the Best of PlayGround Anthology, 2011.  She is the recipient of fellowships from the Virginia Piper Writing Center and the National University of Singapore, a grant from the Society for Women in Film, and an E-merging Writer’s Award from San Francisco Playground.  She is also a contributing writer to the live sketch and video show, Mad Stash, produced by Battlestache Studios. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Arizona State University.

Eric Pfeffinger is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Writers Guild of America whose work has been produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Geva, the Phoenix, Childsplay, City Theatre of Miami, 16th Street Theatre, and elsewhere.  He has developed new plays through workshops and readings at PlayPenn, Page 73, Chicago Dramatists, Write Now, Red Bull, the Rattlestick, available light, Theatre of NOTE, Deep Dish, Long Island University, and others.  He's written new plays on commissions from the InterAct, Imagination Stage, the Signature and the Bloomington Playwrights Project, and his plays have been published by Dramatic Publishing, Smith & Kraus, Dramatics magazine, Howlround and Indie Theatre Now. He's received awards from the Ohio Arts Council, the Indiana Arts Commission, and the Midwestern Playwrights Festival.  He's writing a screenplay for Relativity, has written for American Theatre and National Lampoon, wrote and illustrated the daily comic strip Bleak Street, co-founded the comedy/improv troupe Don't Throw Shoes, and is co-author of the novel The High-Impact Infidelity Diet, published by Crown and available on finer remainder tables everywhere.  He is also co-creator of the web series Sad Dads and Rust Belt Rep.  He lives in Toledo, Ohio, and enjoys a robust midwestern humility.

Patrick Vassel is a director, writer, and teacher from Akron, Ohio. Recent credits include Lombardi (Palace Theatre, Wisconsin), Two Rooms (79 Clifton Place), Rum for Sale (Columbia University), The Gravediggers (Theatre East Reading), Six Characters in Search of An Author (Original Adaptation, University of Notre Dame), Connect (Workshop - Ten Bones), The Adventures of Boy and Girl (FringeNYC '13), We the People: America Rocks! (TheatreWorks USA nat'l tour), the world premiere of Font of Knowledge (Shelby Company), The Little Dog Laughed (The Gallery Players, 1st NYC Revival), Nothing Left to Burn (Ars Nova ANTFest and The Public Theater New Work Now!), and War (SoHo Playhouse). Assistant/Associate credits include: Hamilton (The Public Theater, Broadway), Magic/Bird (Broadway), Single Girls Guide (Capital Repertory Theatre), Stars of David (Philadelphia Theater Company), Broke House (Abrons Arts Center) and Working (Prospect Theater Company, NYC).

Claire Willett, a Portland native, is a proud company member of the Oregon writers’ collective Playwrights West and a founding artist of the Fertile Ground Festival of New Work. She was a finalist for the 2015 Jerome Fellowship at The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, has received grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and Regional Arts & Culture Council, and was the 2011 Oregon Literary Fellow for Drama.  In addition to Dear Galileo, which recently received its world premiere in Portland, produced by Playwrights West and CoHo Productions, Claire’s other works include: the Scottish folk musical Carter Hall (currently in development with Nashville songwriter Sarah Hart); Upon Waking; How the Light Gets In; That Was the River, This Is the Sea (with Gilberto Martin del Campo); the chamber opera The Witch of the Iron Wood (with composer Evan Lewis); and The Demons Down Under the Sea, an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee.” Her first novel, The Rewind Files, a sci-fi time travel adventure about Watergate, was released in September 2015 by Retrofit Publishing in Los Angeles.  She has a B.A. in Theatre from Whitman College and resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon.

Congratulations, writers!  We can't wait to hear your work!