The mid-Hudson Valley is such a great base of operations for folks who love live theater. Aside from being only a two-hour bus or train ride away from Broadway, we’re really got it all right here. Whatever you fancy – new works still in development by up-and-coming playwrights, revivals of crowdpleasing musicals, avant-garde experimental theater, Shakespeare and Greek tragedies, bare-bones staged readings, out-of-town tryouts with topnotch Actors Equity casts or the youthful energy of college theater department productions – it’s easily within our reach, at ticket prices that even working-class audiences can manage.
Among our many tantalizing stage options are several local theater groups who sponsor competitions for new works or short plays, the winners of which get a production, often as part of an annual festival. It’s a great vector for struggling playwrights to build up a name for themselves; and sometimes a new play (and perhaps even its author’s ability to make playwriting his or her day job) will thus be launched into viability, worming its way into the affections of community theatrical groups via word-of-mouth without necessarily ever having seen the lights of the Great White Way.
So if you’re among those arts fanciers who think it a shame when the productivity of highly talented dramatists is limited by their hours spent waiting on tables in order to keep body and soul together, it behooves you to check out the 2014 NEWvember New Plays Festival coming up in Tivoli. That town’s feisty little theatrical collective, the Tangent Theatre Company, in collaboration with AboutFACE Ireland, has since 2011 been conducting an annual search for terrific new works that exemplify Tangent’s commitment to “character-driven plays that explore the complexities of relationships and behavior.” Rehearsed readings of this year’s six winning entries will be performed at the intimate Carpenter Shop Theater on Broadway in Tivoli November 6 through 9.
Nearly 500 plays contended in the 2014 NEWvember competition, received via blind submission and reviewed by a panel of 17 readers. Here’s the lineup of winners:
Thursday, November 6, 8 p.m.: The Soldier’s Daughter by Ryan Sprague of Astoria. In the wake of her Army father’s death, Carly befriends Jasper. Secrets slowly rise to the surface, showing that her father may not be the war hero he was once perceived to be.
Friday, November 7, 8 p.m.: Next to Him by Jessica Moss of Toronto. Ash is struggling to fit in at his new school, until he makes a new friend, Peter. And then things get really interesting, in this drama about what it means to be different.
Saturday, November 8, 2 p.m.: Futurama by Samantha Charlip of Brooklyn. A self-improvement workshop at a second-rate amusement park forces two park employees to overcome debilitating emotional paralysis and attempt to change their lives.
Saturday, November 8, 8 p.m.: Strong Force by Shawna Casey of Los Angeles. A fantastical rom/com that takes a look at love from the standpoint of life, death and romantically skewed physics in a surreal metropolitan hospital.
Sunday, November 9, 2 p.m.: Do Not Leave Unattended by Jan Rosenberg of Ardsley. Eddie has a dangerous new playmate who brings some wild company with him. A darkly funny look at what constitutes “family” and the lengths we’ll go to preserve it.
Sunday, November 9, 6 p.m.: Two Men Missing in the Hudson River by Caitlin Saylor Stephens of Brooklyn. After an epic night of partying, Mike and Greg find themselves at the bottom of the Hudson River. A search party is thrown on behalf of the living. Are the two men forever gone, or are they just missing?
Discover some great new talent at a mere $15 per show, $60 for the full festival pass, available online at www.showclix.com/events/8147. With the exception of Moss on Friday evening, all performances will have the playwrights on hand for a question-and-answer session afterwards. You can find out much more about them all at https://newvemberfestival.com/the-playwrights/2014-playwrights.
Tangent Theatre Company’s fourth annual NEWvember New Plays Festival 2014, Thursday-Sunday, November 6-9, $60/$15, Carpenter Shop Theater, 60 Broadway, Tivoli; (845) 230-7020, https://newvemberfestival.com, www.tangent-arts.org.