Spanning the land of a few European countries, the Southwest region continues to go strong with our members producing their works here and beyond. We hit our stride in August when we conducted an ambitious tri-city meeting that included, Tucson, Phoenix, and Santa Fe. Connecting together via Zoom, members individually shared about their work and themselves and then broke into smaller groups to discuss their individual cities. Our Ambassadors John Perovich and Talia Pura have enrichened our collective experience and helped us address our vastness. I’ve always thought when a playwright lives in a vast landscape, their work grows to meet the breadth of the space. I believe the same is true of our Southwest region. We expansively grow in our work to match our home.
On the regional theatre front, Arizona Theatre Company (ATC) has joined Playwrights Welcome as has Brelby Theatre Company in Glendale. Upon his arrival, ATC’s new Artistic Director, Sean Daniels, immediately started workshopping new plays alongside ATC’s robust season with the focus that new works would be workshopped all the time. (Full disclosure: I work as their playwright-in-residence) It’s no surprise as Daniels is known for his love of new works, but I see his presence here as shifting some tectonic plates in terms of new work here in our region. Already, new plays by Steven Drukman (Pru Payne), Steve Yockey (Bleeding Hearts), and Christopher Oscar Peña (how to make an American Son) have received recent workshop/readings in Phoenix, starring regional talent, and the final one was under the direction of Kimberly Senior. DG members might not know that theatre runs a full season in both Tucson and Phoenix. Though ATC has done readings in the past, it is absolute thrilling to see a full-throttled commitment to new work development at the theatre. Watch this space.
Many theatres continue to move into the adaptation space. Community engagement abounded when Borderlands Theater built a pop-up theatre under a southside underpass for Virginia Grise’s adaptation of Helena Maria Viramontes’ Their Dogs Came with Them. It proved to be a great community-engaged activity and the performers were undeterred by bicyclists speeding through their scenes on a bike path. Talk about concentration. Their Associate Artistic Director, Milta Ortiz, will have her play, Judge Torres, performed at Teatro Milagro in Portland, Oregon later this season. Scoundrel & Scamp produced the world premiere of Holly Griffith’s new adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, using its ensemble cast to embody the titular character across race and gender.
Monica Bauer’s Made for Each Other enjoyed three performances at Tucson’s Invisible Theatre (IT) in mid-November. IT will be flying Bauer’s New York cast to Tucson for her show, Vivian’s Music for two shows in January 2020. Previously, Bauer was instrumental in bringing E.M. Lewis’s The Gun Show to IT to raise money for Giffords Pac: Gabby Giffords Courage to Fight Gun Violence. Earlier, Winding Road Theater Ensemble presented her Christmas Break as a staged reading to sold-out performances.
Indeed, our playwrights are everywhere. Phoenix playwright, Kirt Shineman headed to New York for a workshop of his play, Good Grief, with Athena Theatre at the Cell Theatre. Earlier, Pluck the Day made an appearance at Now & Then Creative Company in Phoenix as did Lottery House by Angelica Howland. Brian Maticic saw a workshop production of Luna & Solis at Brelby Theatre Company. Richard Warren’s Made in America received a reading at Scottdale’s Theatre Artists Studio. Playwright Joe Bardin had a staged reading of his play, Exit Dust, in Scottsdale at the end of November. Tucson’s Germane Shames’ new musical, Spirit Movies, opened the season for Theatre Elision in the Twin Cities and NOT Your Typical Murder Mystery was featured in Benchmark Theatre’s 2019 Fever Dream Festival in Colorado. Phoenix DG Footlights have also begun.
Theatre Santa Fé’s impressive third annual Theatre Walk, which involved 20 companies shows how robust new work is in our region. Ambassador Talia Pura hosted DG footlights in early December also at Theatre Santa Fé. q-Staff Theatre in Albuquerque saw the world premiere of Thomas Schuch’s Einstein’s Violin. Andy Mayo’s Blood and Water premiered at Aux Dog Theatre.
Expect more growth of new work in the Southwest region. It is as always . . . to be continued.