By Jay Handelman, ATCA Chair
About two dozen ATCA members and their guests gathered Feb. 10-12 at the Denver Center Theatre Company for the seventh annual Colorado New Play Summit, a weekend collection of staged readings and two world premieres. Playwrights and industry professionals mixed with critics and eager patrons who filled the various theater venues for the readings of plays that touched on everything from homeless youths (Lisa Loomer’s “Homefree) to an imaginative play about future technology that will allow us to spend eternity with our favorite memories (Michael Mitnick’s “Ed, Downloaded”).
Richard Dresser looked at how far our realities have been warped by television in “The Hand of God”: Lauren Feldman’s “Grace, or the Art of Climbing” uses rock climbing as a metaphor for human and emotional connections. the theater also put a lot of resources into an elaborately staged reading of Jeffrey haddow and Neal Hampton’s new “Sense & Sensibility: The Musical,” which got standing ovations from audiences and a lot of buzz at the festival.
As usual, the Denver Center staff made our members feel welcome, setting up interviews and providing plenty of sustenance for the three-show days. Sylvie Drake, a former ATCA ExCom member and Director of Publications at the center, extended Artistic Director Kent Thompson’s open invitation to ATCA for future gatherings at the summit.
The world premieres were Lisa Loomer’s controversial “Two Things You don’t Talk About at Dinner,” set at a Passover seder with an array of guests debate Middle East politics, and Samuel D. Hunter’s well-received “The Whale” about a morbidly obese man who is eating himself to death and the people in his life. Both plays had been featured as staged readings in the 2011 festival.
The weekend included a late-night Playwright Slam, with 10 authors reading brief scenes from new works in a cabaret kind of environment with popcorn and beer being served.
During the weekend, the ATCA Executive Committee met to discuss issues involving the budget and membership, which you’ll be hearing more about soon. Now we focus on plans for our annual conference in Chicago, June 13-17, with a follow-up side trip to Milwaukee. Details to be posted soon.