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By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Samantha Reading
March 29 – April 23, 2017
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE This “sharp and funny 80-minute drama” (Washington Post) was one of the most produced new plays in America this past year. Caroline is a sardonic cynic. Anthony is an easygoing athlete. When thrown together to complete a school report on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, they discover they have more in common than they could possibly anticipate. In this unconventional romance “spring-loaded with the element of surprise” (Boston Globe), award-winning playwright Lauren Gunderson explores the mysteries of human connection and the courage it takes to be vulnerable in our uncertain world.
LAUREN GUNDERSON (Playwright) is one of the most produced playwrights in America, and the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award, Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award, and a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at companies across the US including South Cost Rep (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful And Her Dog!), The O’Neill, Denver Center, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Olney Theatre, Geva and more. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You, Exit, Pursued By A Bear, and Toil And Trouble) and Samuel French (Emilie). She is a Playwright in Residence at The Playwrights Foundation, and a proud Dramatists Guild member. She is from Atlanta, GA and lives in San Francisco. LaurenGunderson.com and @LalaTellsAStory.
SAMANTHA READING (Director) Company Member since 2010. People’s Light: Director: Biloxi Blues, Pride & Prejudice, Stargirl, Beautiful Boy, A Wrinkle in Time, Kidnapped. Choreographer: Sense and Sensibility, The Cherry Orchard, Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon, Cinderella, Noises Off, The Winter’s Tale, Aladdin, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Fight Director: All My Sons, Fences, Bach at Leipzig, Of Mice and Men, The Three Musketeers, Legacy of Light. Playwright: Co-Author Musical Pantos Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon and Aladdin. Theatre Includes: Passage Theatre, McCarter Theatre, 1812 Productions, Arden Theatre Company, Lantern Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Delaware Shakespeare Festival, Act II Playhouse, Mauckingbird Theatre Company and Villanova Theatre. Samantha co-founded Dancing With The Students, a non-profit organization that offers ballroom dance instruction to 5th - 8th grade students in North Philadelphia, teaches at Drexel University, is an eight time Barrymore Nominee, and received the 2014 & 2015 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Choreography/Movement.
By Dwayne Hartford
Based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo
Directed by Stuart Carden
April 29 – June 4, 2017
Leonard C. Haas Stage
PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE Join us for this breathtaking adventure by two-time Newbery Medal-winning author Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux), adapted by Dwayne Hartford, featuring music by Erik Hellman and Jessie Fisher (Once on Broadway). As a very dignified china rabbit travels from the arms of a child to the bottom of the ocean, from a trash heap to a moving train, from the streets of Memphis to worlds beyond, this epic journey reminds us of the transformative power of love and friendship. Based on his Chicago Children’s Theatre production, Stuart Carden directs this must-see play for all generations that is “so captivating for every age whether you happen to be accompanied by children or not” (Chicago Sun Times).
KATE DICAMILLO’S (Playwright) writing journey has truly been a remarkable one. She grew up in Florida and moved to Minnesota in her twenties, where homesickness and a bitter winter led her to write Because of Winn-Dixie — her first published novel, which became a runaway bestseller and snapped up a Newbery Honor. The Tiger Rising, her second novel, was also set in Florida, and went on to become a National Book Award Finalist. Since then, the best-selling author has explored settings as varied as a medieval castle, a magician’s theater, and the bustling streets of Memphis, while continuing to enjoy great success, winning two Newbery Medals and being named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
In Raymie Nightingale, Kate DiCamillo’s latest novel, she returns to her roots, once more setting the story in the Central Florida of her childhood. Like Raymie Clarke, the hero of this novel, Kate DiCamillo grew up in a small southern town in the seventies with a single mother, and she, too, entered a Little Miss contest and attempted to learn to twirl a baton. But while Raymie’s story is inspired by the author’s own life, Kate DiCamillo has transformed these seeds of truth into fiction — and in doing so, has captured a more universal truth.
No matter where her books are set, their themes of hope and belief amid impossible circumstances and their messages of shared humanity and connectedness have resonated with readers of all ages around the world. In her instant #1 New York Times bestseller The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, a haughty china rabbit undergoes a profound transformation after finding himself facedown on the ocean floor — lost, and waiting to be found. The Tale of Despereaux — the Newbery Medal–winning novel that later inspired an animated adventure from Universal Pictures — stars a tiny mouse with exceptionally large ears, who is driven by love to become an unlikely hero. The Magician’s Elephant, an acclaimed and exquisitely paced fable, dares to ask the question, What if? And Kate DiCamillo’s second Newbery Medal winner, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, was released in 2013 to great acclaim, garnering five starred reviews and an instant spot on the New York Times bestseller list.
Born in Philadelphia but raised in the South, Kate DiCamillo now lives in Minneapolis.
DWAYNE HARTFORD (Adapting Playwright) is a playwright/director/actor based in Phoenix. People’s Light produced his adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities in 2009. Dwayne is a playwright in residence at Childsplay, the nationally renowned theatre for young audiences and families in Tempe, Arizona. Most of Dwayne’s plays for young audiences have been developed and premiered at Childsplay, including The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Other plays include: The Color of Stars, Rock the Presidents (a musical revue), The Imaginators, Pete or the Return of Peter Pan, and Eric and Elliot (named 2005 Distinguished Play by the American Alliance of Theatre & Education). Dwayne’s plays have been produced around the country and in Canada, including productions at: Seattle Children’s Theatre, Dallas Children’s Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, South Coast Repertory Company, Wheelock Family Theatre in Boston, and Imagination Stage in Bethesda. Dwayne is originally from Maine. He holds a BFA from the Boston Conservatory. In July 2016, Dwayne will become Artistic Director of Childsplay.
STUART CARDEN (Director) is a Chicago based director specializing in new plays, ensemble devised works, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and lo-fi/hi-imagination storytelling for the theatre. Most recently he has been building new theatrical fables with music, performed by actor/musicians including The Hunter and The Bear and The Old Man and The Old Moon with PigPen Theatre Co. and adaptations of Leo Leoni's Frederick and Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane with Chicago Children's Theatre. As the Associate Artistic Director of Writers Theatre from 2009-2014, Stuart helped lead the theatre's Literary Development Initiative landing and facilitating projects ranging from the national premiere of Conor McPherson's The Dance of Death to the world premiere of Laura Eason and Alan Schmuckler's Days Like Today. Prior to Writers, Stuart spent two years as the Associate Artistic Director of City Theatre in Pittsburgh. Stuart lives in Chicago's South Loop with his wife, contemporary art curator, Neysa Page-Lieberman and their toddler twins Dashiell and Griffin. He is a proud alum of Carnegie Mellon University's M.F.A. Directing program and a member of SDC.
By Karen Hartman
June 7 – July 9, 2017
WORLD PREMIERE Philadelphia is home to a revolutionary court designed by a passionate and shockingly funny group of women. Every day these lawyers, judges, parole officers, and staff work to transform the lives of women repeatedly convicted for prostitution. In this daring and vital new play in which seven actresses portray multiple participants and members of the court, Karen Hartman probes the thin lines between freedom and slavery, activism and obsession for women on both sides of the law. Inspired by Hartman’s extensive first–hand research inside Project Dawn Court, this play is the first world premiere from our nationally renowned New Play Frontiers Residency & Commission program at People’s Light (NPF).
KAREN HARTMAN (Playwright) held the Playwright Center’s McKnight Residency and Commission for a nationally recognized playwright last season. Current and upcoming: Roz & Ray (Alley All New Festival), The Book of Joseph (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Project Dawn (People’s Light), and a Yale Repertory Theater commission about the landmark anti-affirmative action Supreme Court case Ricci vs DeStefano. Her new dialogue for Mozart’s The Magic Flute appeared in Pacific Music Works’ production at the Meany Center in Seattle, 2015. Hartman’s Goldie, Max, and Milk premiered at Florida Stage and the Phoenix Theater, nominated for the Steinberg and Carbonell Awards. Other works: Goliath (Dorothy Silver New Play Prize), Gum, Leah’s Train, Going Gone (N.E.A. New Play Grant); Girl Under Grain (Best Drama in NY Fringe); Wild Kate, ALICE: Tales of a Curious Girl (Music by Gina Leishman, AT&T Onstage Award); Troy Women; and MotherBone, score by Graham Reynolds (Frederick Loewe Award). New York: Women's Project, National Asian American Theatre Company, P73, the New York Fringe (Best Drama), and Summer Play Festival. Regional: Center Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, Dallas Theater Center, the Magic, and elsewhere. Publications: Theater Communications Group, Dramatists Play Service, Playscripts, Backstage Books, and NoPassport Press. Awards: Sustainable Arts Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio, the N.E.A., the Helen Merrill Foundation, Daryl Roth "Creative Spirit" Award, Hodder Fellowship, Jerome Fellowship, Fulbright Scholarship. Her prose has been published in the New York Times and The Washington Post. An alumna of New Dramatists and longtime Brooklynite, Hartman is now Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington School of Drama.
Directed by Pete Pryor
July 19 – August 13, 2017
Leonard C. Haas Stage
This madcap comedy from the author of Lend me a Tenor centers on two fading stage actors who may have one last shot at stardom if they can just keep their act, and relationship, together. On the brink of divorce while touring Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives in repertory, George and Charlotte Hay learn that Frank Capra is coming to their matinee. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong in this side-splitting farce directed by Pete Pryor (Noises Off, Bach at Leipzig).
KEN LUDWIG (Playwright) has had 6 shows on Broadway and 7 in London’s West End, and his plays and musicals have been performed in more than 30 countries in over 20 languages. His first play on Broadway, Lend Me A Tenor, which the Washington Post called "one of the classic comedies of the 20th century,” won two Tony Awards and was nominated for seven. He has also won two Laurence Olivier Awards (England’s highest theater honor), the Charles MacArthur Award, two Helen Hayes Awards, the Edgar Award for Best Mystery from The Mystery Writers of America, the SETC Distinguished Career Award, and the Edwin Forrest Award for Services to the American Theatre. His plays have been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Bristol Old Vic. He has written 22 plays and musicals, including Crazy For You (5 years on Broadway and the West End, Tony and Olivier Award Winner for Best Musical), Moon Over Buffalo (Broadway and West End), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Broadway), Treasure Island (West End), Twentieth Century (Broadway), Baskerville, Leading Ladies, Shakespeare in Hollywood, The Game’s Afoot, The Fox on the Fairway, The Three Musketeers and The Beaux’ Stratagem.His play A Comedy of Tenors was chosen to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Cleveland Playhouse and was co-produced by the McCarter Theatre.His newest book, How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare, won The Falstaff Award for Best Shakespeare Book of 2014 and is published by Random House. His plays have starred Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Lynn Redgrave, Mickey Rooney, Hal Holbrook, Dixie Carter, Tony Shalhoub, Anne Heche, Joan Collins, and Kristin Bell. His work is published by the Yale Review, and he is a Sallie B. Goodman Fellow of the McCarter Theatre. He holds degrees from Harvard, where he studied music with Leonard Bernstein, Haverford College and Cambridge University. For more information, please visit kenludwig.com.
PETE PRYOR (Director) Company Member since 2010. People’s Light: Director: The Three Musketeers, Stella and Lou, Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon*, Bach at Leipzig, Cinderella, Aladdin*, Noises Off, Mr. Hart & Mr. Brown, Treasure Island (*co-author). Actor: The Three Musketeers, Biloxi Blues, The Cherry Orchard, Pride and Prejudice, The Rainmaker, The Winter’s Tale, Of Mice and Men, Treasure Island, A Wrinkle in Time. Pete has directed the last eight holiday pantos and serves as the Associate Artistic Director. His play Beautiful Boy was produced at People’s Light in 2012. Theatre Includes: The Wilma, The Arden Theatre, Act II Playhouse, The Philadelphia Theatre Co, Theatre Exile, Azuka, 1812 Productions, Montgomery Theatre, PA Shakespeare, Delaware Theatre Co, Cape May Stage, The Boarshead, and Pittsburgh City Theatre. Co-founder and former Producing Artistic Director of 1812 Productions. Resident artist/drama instructor at the Pathway School since 2005. Pete is a Lunt-Fontanne fellow and Independence Fellowship Artist and winner of four Barrymore Awards. Film/Television Includes: Limitless, Lebanon Pa, Cellar, Backwards, Mayor Cupcake, Seduction of the Will, Hack, The In Crowd, NBFS, Surrender Dorothy.
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