Playwright Jen SIlverman works on a scene for a new play in the Twin Cities.
The Playwrights’ Center kicks off its annual new play festival Monday with bare-bone readings of works by three talked-about writers, plus the talents of notable actors, directors and designers.
The series offers a first-look at works that often make it to production and impact the theater landscape; over 65% of the plays that have been workshopped in PlayLabs over the past decades have gone on to full productions across the country, according to the center.
Things kick off in earnest with Alice Tuan’s “A Humbling in St. Paul.” The play, whose reading runs Monday and Friday at the Playwrights’ Center, was inspired by Tuan’s own near-death experience a year ago after she contracted an infection while working on another play at the center.
In “A Humbling,” an out-of-town playwright reconnects with friends in St Paul, only to experience a life-threatening scare that tests her will to live. The cast features Marlina Gonzalez, Larissa Kiel and Sophia Kim, all under the direction of Laurie Woolery (7 p.m. Mon. & Fri.).
Actor Linda Kelsey headlines the next show in the line-up, Jason Gray Platt’s “Take Care,” which deals with a family’s struggle to have end-of-life conversations, even as time is running out. That workshop is helmed by director Tracy Brigden, longtime former head of Pittsburgh’s City Theatre. Her cast includes Tracey Maloney, Kimberly Richardson and Clarence Wethern. The reading, which takes place at the center, also has design elements by Kate Sutton-Johnson (7 p.m. Tue. & Sat.).
The third show in the line-up is Jen Silverman’s “In the Time of the Volcano,” about family's struggles and dreams. The action centers on a man who becomes a janitor at a school after losing his job. Playwright Center producing artistic director Jeremy Cohen directs a cast that includes Stephen Yoakam, Angela Timberman, Stephanie Bertumen and Shelby Richardson (7 p.m. Wed. & Sat.).
PlayLabs also includes a showcase of scenes by fellows in the 2017-18 cohort, including scenes by Mia Chung, Jessica Huang, Rachel Jendrzejewski, Tim J. Lord, Tori Sampson, Mfoniso Udofia and Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay. The cast of that broad sampling of shows includes Barbra Berlovitz, Stephanie Bertumen, Audrey Park, Nora Montañez Patterson, Mikell Sapp, Traci Allen Shannon, Momoko Tanno and Ricardo Vázquez. Kate Powers directs.
All events are at the Playwrights’ Center, 2301 E. Franklin Av., Mpls. Tickets are free but reservations are encouraged. 612-332 7481.