Colorado 2018/19 Season In Review by Josh Hartwell
For the past few years as I’ve been writing these articles, I’ve tried to capture just how vibrant and exciting Colorado’s theatre community is. I’ve touched on the new writers groups, on new plays and festivals, and on individual artists. Theatre in Colorado is booming (but don’t move here; we’re getting crowded).
Theatre is thriving so sweetly, in fact, that I’m sure I’ve missed some of the new plays that have premiered over the last year or so. This is a highlight and not a complete listing so please excuse the imperfection but have a glance and appreciate what’s happened here this past season.
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts gave us [the world premiere of] Last Night and the Night Before by Donnetta Lavinia Grays. The play was read at the 2017 New Play Summit and had an additional workshop in the summer of 2017 at the Denver Center. In February, the DCPA produced The Whistleblower by Itamar Moses. And back in October, Off-Center (part of the Denver Center) brought Bite-Size: An Evening of Micro Theatre environmentally at BookBar. This was a wonderful opportunity for five Colorado playwrights.
Last May, Curious Theatre Company presented the world premiere of Your Best One, the second play in a trilogy by Meridith Friedman. Curious also premiered and toured the play black. by Lamaria Aminah. Aminah wrote black. while participating in Curious’ young writers program, Curious New Voices. Curious is currently workshopping my own play Home, Oblivion.
In a previous article I wrote about Benchmark Theatre’s Fever Dream Festival, which celebrates new works in October. Benchmark also premiered our beloved Colorado playwright Jeffrey Neuman’s What You Will in November.
Theater 29 helped usher in several new plays by local writers. Burnt Offerings by Dakota C. Hill was produced there by Chase & Be Still Productions and Feral Assembly. Yet Another Night of Grand Guignol by Rhea Amos and Jeff Garland and Atomic Sea Fish Death Romp from the Deep by Amos and Jerod Brito were produced by Pandemic. The Mrs. Wheatland Pageant by Lisa Wagner Erickson was brought to us by Lulubird Project at Theater 29.
Local Theatre presented Wisdom From Everything by Mia McCullough, Paper Cut by Andrew Rosendorf, and Discount Ghost Stories by Jessica Kahkoska and Alexander Sage Owen. Local’s Lab plays in workshop or development included Clockwork by Emily Zemba, Ladybits by Rehana Lew Mirza, Orange Crush by Daniel Goldstein, Flame Boiled…or the ugly play by Rodney Hicks, and Coriolanus by Shakespeare; a new adaptation by Sean San Jose; commissioned by Play On!
And Toto too Theatre Company presented The Way Station/South Star by Rebecca Gorman O’Neill—A regional and world premiere respectively. And Toto too’s annual Play Crawl (a collection of eleven micro plays) was again a great success. The company’s Show of Force by Beverly Coyle is another world premiere.
This summer, Creede Repertory Theatre is premiering Hazardous Materials by Beth Kander. For 2018, both of Creede’s premieres were courtesy of their education department: They Were Abandoned Way Out West by Diana Burbano and The Seeds of Change (seen by 35,000 kids across six states) by Lojo Simon with music by Ian LeRoy.
In Golden, Miners Alley Playhouse produced my adaptation of A Christmas Carol for the second year and is now in rehearsals with my Queen of Conspiracy.
Boulder-based Square Product Theatre did two “non-traditional” premieres: TesserACT (a collaboration with the Non-Binary Monologues project) and Everything was Stolen created by Emily K. Harrison.
And more new plays kept happening all around Denver and the surrounding areas: The Aurora Fox gave us a very staged reading of David Nehls’ Killer Wigs from Outer Space in October. Arvada Center found great success with Sin Street Social by Jessica Austgen. Emancipation Theater Company presented the Henry Award-nominated Honorable Disorder by Jeff Campbell. The always smart and prolific Buntport Theater made Coyote, Badger, Rattlesnake. Athena Project killed it with Honor Killing by Sarah Bierstock. Coal Creek Theater of Louisville had An Evening of Colorado Grown One Acts.
Impressive works from impressive companies’ seasons. And the new works will naturally keep coming here.