Last year, in honor of recently deceased actor extraordinaire Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the American Playwriting Foundation inaugurated a competition called the Relentless Award – funded, interestingly, with the settlement from a libel suit by Hoffman and Foundation founder David Bar Katz against the National Enquirer. With a $45,000 purse, it’s the largest annual cash prize awarded to a playwright in recognition of a new play. The judges for 2015 included some heavyweight playwrights, including Eric Bogosian, Thomas Bradshaw, Lynn Nottage, John Ortiz, Jonathan Marc Sherman and Lucy Thurber. Two emerging playwrights shared the first year’s top prize, one of them being Sarah DeLappe for The Wolves.
Set for an August 29 world premiere via Playwrights’ Realm at the Duke on 42nd Street in New York City, under the direction of Lila Neugebauer (Wayside Motor Inn, 4000 Miles, Kill Floor), The Wolves is generating lots of buzz on account of the fact that it provides nine juicy roles for young actresses. It takes place during a warmup session for a girls’ indoor soccer team, whose conversation quickly spins beyond their will to win in a suburban sports match to the conflicts of the larger world.
This brand-new black comedy gets its final workshop performances before the “official” premiere at Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater beginning this Thursday. Shows begin at 8 p.m. on July 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30, at 7 p.m. on July 24 and at 2 p.m. on July 23, 24, 30 and 31. Post-show discussions with the playwright and director will follow the evening show on Tuesday, July 26 and the Saturday matinée on July 30. Tickets to The Wolves cost $40 each.
Also on the Powerhouse schedule this weekend will be two performances of three excerpts from Taylor Mac’s multi-year opus-in-progress, A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. Described as “Part-concert, part-ritual, all-fabulous,” the wildly ambitious project charts the history of popular music in America from the nation’s founding to the present day, one decade per hour. Performances beginning at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, July 22 and 23 in the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film’s Martel Theater will cover the decades 1836-1846, 1856-1866 and 1876-1886. The entire first half of the performance cycle will be presented from noon to midnight on Saturday, July 30. Tickets cost $30 for the three-decade chunk or $50 for next weekend’s 12-hour marathon.
Powerhouse’s summer season is also home base for a Theater Training Company, who put on performances at the new Environmental Cooperative at the Vassar Barns in the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve, for free. A production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, reimagined as a music-infused vaudevillian romp, directed by Andrew Willis-Woodward, will be performed beginning at 6:30 p.m. this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 22 to 24.
For more info on these and other Powerhouse Theater 2016 offerings, call the box office at (845) 437-5599 or visit https://powerhouse.vassar.edu. The Vassar College campus is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie.