Fresh ideas make debut at Perry-Mansfield’s New Works Festival 20th anniversary this weekend |

Fresh ideas make debut at Perry-Mansfield’s New Works Festival 20th anniversary this weekend

Perry-Mansfield’s New Works Festival 20th anniversary

Away from concrete jungles, away from the traffic snares and crowds, a blank canvas awaits.

Rustic, secluded and detached, the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp offers an exploration of creativity through its annual New Works Festival.

Now in its 20th year, the nationally recognized Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival will feature five prestigious theater companies — South Coast Repertory, Primary Stages, Curious Theatre Company, Seattle Repertory Theatre and Tectonic Theater Project — bringing selected actors, playwrights, directors and dramaturges to work on fresh material, rework productions and rewrite five new plays.

In front of a Steamboat Springs audience, readings of five new works will be staged with professional actors at 4 and 8 p.m. Friday at the Chief Theater and at 12:30, 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Julie Harris Theatre at Perry-Mansfield.

"This year's festival includes a stellar line-up of five premiere plays, four of which are by women writers, in partnership with five of the top theatrical institutions in our industry and including actors and directors from across this nation,” said Andrew Leynse artistic director. “The New Works Festival at Perry-Mansfield has become the essential destination for the theatrical landscape."

Plays, which were developed at the New Works Festival, have been premiered across the country at venues like the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Dance Nation, South Coast Repertory Theatre, Primary Stages, Mixed Blood Theatre of Minneapolis and on and off Broadway. "Zoey's Perfect Wedding," a play developed as part of the New Works Festival last year, will premiere at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in January 2018.

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An inside look at this year's new works:

"Sugar Plum Fairy"

Written and performed by Sandra Tsing Loh; presented by South Coast Repertory; directed by Bart De Lorenzo; dramaturgy by Jerry Patch; featuring Tony Abatemarco and Shannon Holt.

What it's about: The Madwoman in the Volvo is back, and Scrooge isn't the only one bitter about the holidays.

"Sandra has written a play drawn, as with most of her work, directly from her life," said Bart De Lorenzo, "Sugar Plum Fairy” director. "This one mainly tells a hilarious story of crushed dreams in the super-dramatic way that could only occur to a 12-year-old, which is the age of the protagonist.  It's also a Christmas story and a ballet story and a coming-of-age story about finding your place in the world, all scored super-dramatically to soaring classical music of the Romantic period."

"God Hates You"

Written by Emily Dendinger; presented by Curious Theatre Company; directed by Chip Walton; dramaturgy by Dee Covington; featuring Anastasia Davidson, Tara Falk, Josh Hartwell, Jim Hunt, Curtiss Johns, Chloe McLeod and Josh Robinson

What it's about: Inspired by an article in the New Yorker, director Chip Walton said the piece chronicled how Megan Phelps, granddaughter of Fred Phelps who founded the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, started using social media to spread the church's message, and how ultimately that led to her leaving the church altogether after being exposed to the world outside of their insular culture at Westboro.

"It will be very interesting to see how audiences react," Walton said. "There's a lot of things that this church says and does that will make most of us very uncomfortable, but hopefully, it will also make us think about larger questions such as religion faith and humanity."

"Part and Parcel"

Written by Jenny Rachel Weiner; presented by Primary Stages; directed by Kip Fagan; featuring Kathryn Grody, Louisa Krause, Richard Masur and Mark Nelson.

What it's about: In a father-daughter road trip, the two must learn to get to know each other in the absence of the one person who held them together. With heart, humor and rock ‘n’ roll, “Part and Parcel” explores what unfolds in the vastness of grief, and what can happen when we decide to truly let go.

"The Voice Of"

Written by Lauren Yee; presented by Seattle Repertory Theatre; directed by Joshua Kahan Brody; dramaturgy by Kristin Leahey; featuring Stephanie Hsu, Francis Jue, Joseph Ngo and Kate Wisniewski

What it's about: Throughout the 20th century, the Voice of America radio broadcast served as the United States’ propaganda tool in the fight against Communism, blaring news and music to our frenemies around the world. But who was listening and what might they beam back to us, if given the chance? An exploration of family, music and memory across time and space.

"The Very Extraordinary Mr. Law"

Written by Jeffrey LaHoste; presented by Tectonic Theater Project; directed by Amanda Gronich; featuring Philippe Abiyouness, A.J. Cedeno, Avery Glymph, Cindy Gold, Hamish Allan-Headley, Edward Hibbert, Valeka J. Holt and Mairin Lee

What it's about: A Scottish gambler arrives at Versailles with a trick he says will make everyone rich — turn paper into gold. This comedy reveals the origin of the word "millionaire," and how America's most improvised city was founded on a gamble.

Single tickets for each reading are $15 in advance. Festival passes start at $60 for all five readings. Tickets are available at

Choreographic themes come to life

Perry-Mansfield will host a Professional Dance Showcase at 8 p.m. Sunday in the Main Studio of the campus, featuring an evening of newly choreographed contemporary and ballet works  – one choreographed with Perry-Mansfield's Co-Director of Dance Chris Compton, two with New Dialect's existing repertory and one new work Bouldin started researching with her company while on campus the past two weeks.

Dancers of the show will include those from Perry-Mansfield's Professional Dance Intensive program, which is designed for college students on the verge of becoming professional dancers, as well as members of the New Dialect contemporary dance company, which has received regional acclaim for its inventive, collaborative, choreography and performances to sold out crowds.

After the performance, New Dialect Dance Company members and their choreographer Banning Bouldin will participate in a free question-and-answer session.

"My process is highly collaborative," said Bouldin, a Juilliard School graduate who is internationally known for working with some of the world's most renowned dance companies dancers and choreographers. "I often will come into the studio with a list of physical cues, a motif, or image I want to explore, and act as a sculptor shaping the dancers’ movements in space and time. Each dancer’s individuality is essential to my creative process, and I enjoy working with a diverse array of artists to conceive of multi-disciplinary dance theater performances."

An inside look at the dances


"A playfully theatrical duet that explores two dancers’ mutual interest and suspicion of one another," Bouldin said. "I co-created this piece with acclaimed international dancer Ana Maria Lucaciu in 2014, and it is one of the signature works in New Dialect’s repertory."


"To create this piece for Perry-Mansfield’s college students, New Dialect and I shared some of the compositional and improvisation games we play to create new dances," Bouldin said. "Together, we explored motifs of physical manipulation, avoidance, collapse and rescue to expand each dancer’s movement vocabulary and unlock new approaches to collaborating with their peers."

“Limitation Etudes: 1-5”

"The dancers in this sculptural work are conjoined by long elastic bands that act as support systems and mechanisms of constraint in any given moment," Bouldin said. "I began researching this work on New Dialect at Perry-Mansfield and look forward to building on these etudes next year."


"This dance theater work has been hailed by audiences as ‘an ode to life’ and is a celebration diversity, inclusion and the value of embracing our differences," Bouldin said.


If you go: 

What: Perry-Mansfield’s New Works Festival 20th Anniversary 

When: 4 and 8 p.m. on Friday, June 16

Where: Chief Theater, 812 Lincoln Ave.


If you go: 

What: Perry-Mansfield’s New Works Festival 20th Anniversary 

When: 12:30, 4 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 17

Where: Julie Harris Theater at Perry-Mansfield campus, 40755 Co Rd 36,


If you go: 

What: Perry-Mansfield’s Professional Dance Showcase

When: 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 18

Where: Main Studio at the Perry-Mansfield campus, 40755 Co Rd 36


Reading Schedule

4 p.m. | Friday | The Chief Theater | “Sugar Plum Fairy” by Sandra Tsing Loh

8 p.m. | Friday | The Chief Theater | “Part and Parcel” by Jenny Rachel Weiner

12:30 p.m. | Saturday | Julie Harris Theater | “God Hates You” by Emily Dendinger

3:30 p.m. | Saturday | Julie Harris Theater | “The Voice Of” by Lauren Yee

7:30 p.m. | Saturday | Julie Harris Theater | “The Very Extraordinary Mr. Law” by Jeffrey LaHoste