In Arkansas, they start here: a groundbreaking script, a talented director and cast—and you. You’re invited to sit in on staged reading performances of brand new theatrical works, and impact their future development. After each new play reading join in on an intimate conversation with the playwright and cast—and help shape new works from the ground up.
READ BIOS of this year's playwrights (PDF) >
The 2011 Arkansas New Play Fest is dedicated to the memory of Sean Phillip Mabrey and Kathy Mellinger, friends who brought warmth, art and laughter to our stage and to our lives.
PLEASE NOTE that the Saturday, May 21 performance of "The Poe Show" has been canceled.
The Northwest Arkansas lineup includes:
Thursday, May 19, 2011
5:30pm – Opening Reception, (sponsored by BHK Kafé, Jammin’ Java)
6:30pm – Disfarmer by Werner Trieschmann
8:30pm – The Spiritualist by Robert Ford
Friday, May 20, 2011
6:30pm – They Want by Alan Berks
8:30pm – In The Book Of by John Walch
Saturday, May 21, 2011
1:00pm – Works in Progress, Arkansas Playwrights Workshop
3:00pm – National Writing Project Readings
9:00pm – Comedy Improv Showcase — featuring Dan’s Party and Phunbags Comedy Improv
Sunday, May 22, 2011
2:00pm – The Arkansas Young Playwrights Showcase
6:30pm – The 24 Hour Play-Off (Performances & Judging)
Disfarmer, by award-winning Arkansas playwright Werner Trieschmann, returns after two years’ further development since its debut at the festival in 2009. This comedic portrait tells the story of Disfarmer, an eccentric photographer from Heber Springs, Arkansas who charged townsfolk and visitors a quarter to have their picture taken in the early forties—and caused a minor speculative mania decades later as New York gallery owners “discovered” his work and descended on the small Arkansas town. Featuring Vickie Hilliard, John T. Smith, Shannon Webber, Bob Hart, and Drew Johnson. Directed by Kate Frank and performed Thursday, May 19 at 6:30pm.
The Spiritualist is a new work-in-progress by TheatreSquared’s artistic director and playwright-in-residence, Robert Ford. Inspired by true events, the play introduces Rosemary Dunn, an English widow who cooks for the school meals service—and communes with the spirits of dead composers. When an enterprising American reporter tries to unmask the self-proclaimed psychic as a fraud, he finds there may be more at play than simple musical sleight-of-hand. Featuring Kathy Logelin, Bruch Reed, Rick Holden, Amy Herzberg, and Maury Reed. Directed by Michael Landman (The 39 Steps, Rabbit Hole) and performed Thursday, May 19 at 8:30pm.
They Want, by Minneapolis-based playwright Alan Berks, dramatically explores the private struggles of a powerful family during a time of war. A modern retelling of the Oresteia by Greek tragedian Aeschylus, They Want revolves around a debt of vengeance forged by fateful choices made by the head of the household, the nation’s powerful Minister of War. A journalist entry into the family's inner sanctum upsets a delicate balance, and unleashes a dangerous chain of events. Featuring Kathy Logelin, Bryan Terrell Clark, Rick Holden, Amy Herzberg, Rebecca Rivas, and Justin Walker. Directed by Robert Ford (Drawer Boy) and performed Friday, May 20 at 6:30pm.
In The Book Of, by New York-based playwright John Walch, is an engaging new play that re-imagines the biblical book of Ruth in the modern day. Naomi, a U.S. Army Lieutenant stationed near Kabul, and Anisah, her Afghan translator, are reeling from the losses of both their husbands in Afghanistan. When Naomi is discharged and prepares to return to the States with her adult son, Anisah unexpectedly asks to go with them. A simple leap of faith brings this unlikely pair to a small town in Mississippi, where love and tolerance struggle to overcome hatred and fear as they try to rebuild their lives. Featuring Rebecca Harris, Bruch Reed, Casaundra Freeman, Rebecca Rivas, Justin Walker, and Jared Hanlin. Directed by Amy Herzberg (‘Twas the Night, Moonlight and Magnolias, The Last Five Years, Bad Dates) and performed Friday, May 20 at 8:30pm.
The Poe Show
At 6:30pm on May 21, T2 veterans Jordan Haynes, Liam Selvey and Sean Phillip Mabrey along with Artists Laboratory Theatre co-founder Erika Wilhite will present The Poe Show, featuring a group of actors with a fast-paced, interactive—and somewhat unorthodox—take on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Written and developed by TheatreSquared, this new work will tour to Arkansas junior highs and high schools during the fall of 2011. Directed by Morgan Hicks and performed Saturday, May 21, 6:30pm.
Comedy Improv Showcase
At 9:00pm on May 21, TheatreSquared presents the Northwest Arkansas Comedy Improv Showcase, featuring popular local troupes Dan’s Party, Phunbags Comedy Improv and musical guests Black & Tan. Audiences are invited to join in for a night of spontaneous comedy created on the spot—and to set the scene for laughter with their suggestions and ideas. May 21, 9pm.
The 24-Hour Play-Off
As part of Walton Arts Center’s Artosphere Festival (artospherefestival.org) and in addition to four staged reading performances of new works, TheatreSquared is partnering with Fayetteville-based Ceramic Cow Productions to present the Northwest Arkansas 24-Hour Play-Off, a perennial favorite for artists and audiences alike. Teams of five artists will write, rehearse, and perform a new ten-minute play, all within the space of 24 hours. ARTISTS: Apply online to take part in the 24-Hour Play-Off by downloading the application here. May 22, 6:30pm.
Additional Free Events
TheatreSquared is hosting two free public events in the afternoon of Saturday, May 21. At 1:00pm, the Arkansas Playwrights Workshop, a group of local writers who meet monthly to read and develop new scripts, will present readings from works in progress. At 3:00pm, Northwest Arkansas teachers participating in the National Writing Project, a countrywide service program, will present free readings of works developed during this school year’s writing initiatives. On Sunday, in partnership with the University of Arkansas Brown Chair of Literacy, TheatreSquared is proud to present, for the third year, the Arkansas Young Playwrights Showcase. Students from across the region have been invited to submit scripts, and five will be selected for public readings at the Arkansas New Play Fest. The free public readings will take place Sunday, May 22, at 2:00pm.