Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

The Morgan-Wixson Theatre proudly presents its inaugural New Works Festival

 

January 6, 2021

Courtesy of The Morgan-Wixson Theatre

For 75 years, the Morgan-Wixson has brought the Santa Monica community high-quality productions of theatre classics: from Shakespeare to Neil Simon to August Wilson to Fiddler on the Roof to a robust selection of children's entertainment. But over the next month, the Morgan-Wixson is bringing life to a handful of new, one-day classics.

MWT's Inaugural New Works Festival is producing workshop staged readings of seven previously unproduced works – live and onstage!* – running every weekend through October 23. Each weekend will feature a different new work from an exciting slate of burgeoning and established playwrights, including LaDarrion Williams, M.J. Kang, Elke Thoms, Bushra Burney, Cris Eli Blak, John Bolen, and Diana Burbano.

"The pandemic allowed us to mix things up and do things differently at the Morgan-Wixson," says MWT President Michael Jackson Heimos. "Over the past year and a half, we have led a variety of digital community discussions and digital out-of-the-box performances. So when we got the green light to reopen our doors, we could think of no better way to continue this exciting new chapter at MWT than by offering playwrights the opportunity to see their new works come to life on our stage. And in continuing our DEI growth of the last three years, we gravitated toward stories we haven't traditionally done in the past, written by people of color and other marginalized voices."

The festival is produced by Mirai Booth-Ong and Jonathon Saia, with dramaturgical assistance by Kennedy Center ACTF National Dramaturgy Fellow Melanie Anthony. What I'm really excited about in this festival is all the new faces and creative forces we've brought into the Morgan-Wixson family," says Booth-Ong. "Seven playwrights, with dynamic and original stories. Seven directors who have never directed here. 90% of the festival actors

have never performed on our stage before. It's really exciting to see our community grow at MWT! We'ee also made the tickets by donation, so that people who may have not had access to live theatre before, can experience a taste of it."

"The most exciting thing about watching new work come to life is that there are no preconceived notions on how the performance, how the production, 'should' be. It is a fresh slate," adds Saia. "But more than anything, this festival is a reminder to all of us that art, that theatre, is a place that requires innovation and fresh, bold perspectives to make an impact. And boy, do these plays pack a wallop. I am honored to have worked with these amazing creatives."

This is the first time the Morgan-Wixson has worked with so many new plays in such a condensed timeframe, so bringing on a dramaturg to facilitate dialogue with the playwrights was an important decision made early in the process. "Coming into the Morgan-Wixson, I was carrying with me the importance of how we are in a time of reckoning and listening," says Anthony. "So my approach to being involved in selecting plays and facilitating discussion about them was to consider how the voices of the playwrights draw us as audience members into interesting, timely and necessary conversations. And that can happen through works that are comedic or dramatic, historic or contemporary. What has been so gratifying and such an honor for me as a dramaturg is to be welcomed into our artists' affinity spaces as a thought partner to help in any way I can to contextualize the worlds of the plays and, in turn, act as a bridge to the audiences we hope to invite into these remarkable works."

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm at The Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica 90405.

Free parking available at 2509 Pico Blvd. -- General seating tickets available at http://www.morgan-wixson.org or by phone at 310-828-7519 or by email at [email protected] -- Tickets are FREE with the code "newworks"

For ages 14+; some of the plays deal with racial language and/or racial conversations, which may be triggering for some patrons. Viewer discretion is advised.

WEEK 3: Friday October 8 and Saturday October 9, 8pm

THE ADDICT'S LOVE LETTER TO HIS PRAYERBOOK: by Cris Eli Blak - Directed by: Kelly Hamlin

Starring: Ashley Amezcua, Christopher Aruffo, Diana Cabuto, Sean Mann, and Marci Urling

On the difficult path out of addiction, is it possible for love, hope, and recovery to prevail? Out of trauma and mistrust and under a constant cloud of uncertainty, a dramatic, gritty, poetic, and heartfelt journey to self-awareness and faith comes to life.

WEEK 4: Friday October 15 and Saturday October 16, 8pm

A TANGLED AFFAIR: by John Boden - Directed by: Mirai Booth-Ong

Produced by: Ann Villela - Starring: Erin Brownett, Estelle, Daniel Koh, and Richard R. Rosales

What does ownership mean when we're thinking about art and matters of the heart? Journey to Venice, CA for a modern romance that celebrates the 'meet cute' screwball comedy and takes a resonant and gripping look at family, trust, mental health, and social status.

WEEK 5: Friday October 22 and Saturday October 23, 8pm

BEHEADING COLUMBUS: by Diana Burbano - Directed by: Samantha Barrios - Produced by: Bouket Fingerhut

Stage Managed by: Melodie Rivers - Starring: Christopher Aruffo, Ashley Diaz, Arielle Fiore, Sherry Mandujano, and Bill Wilday

What really defines family and how we identify as who we are? Two sisters grapple with what happens when a DNA test tells them more than they may have wanted to know. A crisp, comedic, thoughtful and thought-provoking look at the trauma of colonialism that explores what it means to find our voices and ourselves.

*COVID: All audience members will be required to have their temperature taken upon arrival, mask up for the performance, AND be fully vaccinated. Audience members must display proof of their vaccination either on a smartphone, or by showing a physical copy of their vaccination card, or by showing the State of California Digital Vaccine Record (available at: https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov), along with a government-issued ID. Guests who are unable to be vaccinated must request ADA/medical accommodations prior to ticket purchase by contacting the box office. Children under 12 must provide proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arriving at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, along with a school-issued ID. ALL performers and theatre staff have been fully vaccinated. For those unable to attend due to COVID, we will be sending out a link to watch from your home after a reservation has been made.

 

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