Colorado New Play Festival comes to Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There’s a slew of new plays in various stages of development, and this week, they’ll be workshopped, rehearsed and brought to life for the first time in Steamboat Springs as part of the Colorado New Play Festival, which runs through Saturday, June 8.
“These theater companies have been working with a playwright, but they don’t have the time or resources to have completed the play yet,” the festival’s director of communications Jamie Lynne Burgess said. “That’s what this week provides.”
The festival, which operates as a nonprofit, brings each partner theater company’s creative team — about 50 people total — to Steamboat Springs and hosts the development and community of each play throughout the week.
“The artists can focus on the play and work with the people they want to work with,” Burgess said.
Play rehearsals take place at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs, and readings of the final script will take place Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8, at the Chief Theater. There will also be a Friday evening dinner at Bésame with the festival’s artists and a Saturday evening wrap party.
Rehearsals, readings, the dinner and wrap party are all accessible to the public with a festival pass.
“It’s exciting to be at the forefront of a play’s development,” said artistic director Andrew Leynse, who has led the festival for the past 12 seasons. “To see the author’s voice lift from the page and to experience the collaboration of all the artists in the room.”
The festival’s co-executive producer Lori Steinberg offers some advice for watching rehearsals and staged readings.
“Take a moment and observe the playwright and director taking notes, shaking their heads or chuckling,” she said. “When you attend a reading, you become part of the process, and when you see it on stage as a full production with a set, lighting design and costumes, you’re not only an audience member, but you were an integral part of the development. Live theatre is a very collaborative art form.”
Tickets to the Colorado New Play Festival are available at CNPFsteamboat.org.
Full Festival Party Pass: $175
Festival Reading Pass: $70
Friday Festival Pass: $90
Saturday Festival Pass: $95
Individual Reading Tickets: $20
The festival is currently in its 22nd season. It began as a way for Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp’s teaching faculty to try new plays and offer students further performance opportunities.
This year’s festival includes Pittsburgh’s City Theatre Company, Denver’s Curious Theatre Company, New York’s The Public Theater, Orange County, California’s South Coast Repertory and Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.
Plays to be developed include one about a young Honduran girl journeying through Central America into South Texas; one about about a woman who during her honeymoon experiences amnesia; one about the crumbling of a black political dynasty; and a coming-of-age story set in middle school.
“The plays are politically relevant and emotionally relevant,” Burgess said. “They’re very diverse in terms of each one’s story.”
Some of the 2019 festival’s best-known actors include Brett Dalton, from the ABC series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Glenn Davis and K. Todd Freeman, who was nominated for a Tony for Best Actor In a Play for “Airline Highway.”
One play is a musical and another includes puppetry and bilingual storytelling. There is even a play that hasn’t been written yet — a task that will be tackled during festival week.
More than 70% of the festival’s works go on to regional and New York stages, according to the festival website.
“It is extraordinarily gratifying when we see something that incubated here go on to production out in the world,” co-executive producer Jim Steinberg said. “It is also very satisfying to know that we have played a part in taking something that is sometimes no more than an idea and watching it grow and blossom into something fully realized.”
As important as developing the plays themselves, festival organizers and artists also aim to create a week of community.
“It really does take a village of artists to develop a new play,” Leynse said.
“It’s about the process, collaboration and being together,” Burgess added. “The events are meant to be very open to people in the community who love theater.”
Find the full schedule and purchase tickets at CNPFsteamboat.org.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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