Orlando Shakespeare Theater Announces Titles for Playfest 2017


Theater’s annual play festival will feature seven new works that reflect the vibrancy of human emotion and explore the diversity of their experience

Orlando, FL – Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF (Orlando Shakes) invites audiences to take a risk on new plays at PlayFest presented by Harriett’s Charitable Trust (PlayFest 2017) from October 27 – 29, 2017 and November 3 – 5, 2017. Tickets to individual PlayFest readings ($10) will be available to the general public on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 12:00 PM and may be purchased online at http://www.orlandoshakes.org, by phone at (407) 447-1700 ext. 1, or in person at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 East Rollins Street). PlayFest Passes ($49) and PlayFest VIP Passes ($100) are on sale now and may be purchased by phone or in person.

This season’s PlayFest lineup will feature groundbreaking new works from Miranda Rose Hall, Meridith Friedman, Mark St. Germain, Deneen Reynolds-Knott, Eric Pfeffinger, Lauren Gunderson, and Rachel Lynett.

“We are excited about this year’s selections because each of the plays address current sociological topics with humor, deep personal perceptions, and urgency,” said Kristin Clippard, producer in residence at Orlando Shakes. “It is a crucial step for a writer to hear their work read aloud by capable actors and guided by the hand of a director. PlayFest offers them that opportunity.”

PlayFest 2017 will feature the first stage readings of Mark St. Germain’s adaptation of John Updike’s bestselling novel, Gertrude and Claudius. Orlando Shakes commissioned the prequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet for a scheduled world premiere in 2019 as part of their 30th Season.

Hamlet is Shakespeare’s most famous and popular play, and the idea that we can dive deeper into its legendary cast of characters is really exciting,” said Jim Helsinger, artistic director at Orlando Shakes. “Updike’s narrative fills out the backstory of the love affair between Gertrude and Claudius perfectly and we could not think of a better playwright to adapt it for us than Mark St. Germain.”

Casting for all PlayFest readings and special events will be announced at a later date. PlayFest is made possible through the generous support of Harriett’s Charitable Trust with additional support from Frank Santos & Dan Dantin.

PlayFest is a nationally recognized program, representing one of the strongest commitments to new plays in the United States. Since its inception in 2003, PlayFest has helped nurture and develop over 100 new plays–many of which have received subsequent productions in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Audience favorites from PlayFest are handpicked and developed into full productions in the Theater’s Signature Season. Funding for the commission of Gertrude and Claudius generously provided by Rita and John Lowndes.

Orlando Shakespeare Theater is supported by United Arts of Central FloridaThis project is funded in part by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program. Orlando Shakespeare Theater is also sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida.

Gertrude and Claudius
An Adaptation by Mark St Germain of John Updike’s novel

Friday, October 27, 2017 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 2:30 p.m.
John Updike’s bestselling novel tells the story of Gertrude and Claudius, the “villains” of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Claudius is the killer of Hamlet’s father and usurper of the Danish throne and Gertrude—Claudius’ lusty consort—marries him before her late husband’s body is cold. But in this imaginative “prequel” to the play, Updike makes a case for the royal couple that Shakespeare only hinted at. Gertrude and Claudius are seen afresh against a background of fond intentions and family dysfunction, on a stage darkened by the ominous shadow of a sullen, erratic, disaffected prince.

Well Intentioned White People
By Rachel Lynett

Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.
Cass is a queer black professor being targeting in hate crimes who refuses to deal with it because she has conditioned herself to expect the behavior. Friends and coworkers try to help, but even the best intentions can be hollow in execution. Cass has to decide if she will smile and nod along with the white people in her life or try to make a change. Well Intentioned White People is a succinct and humorous look at how liberal arts colleges handle the gamut of isms.

Ada and the Engine
By Lauren Gunderson

Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 8 p.m.
In this poetic yet scientific Victorian world of Ada Byron Lovelace, her father, the infamous Lord Byron, haunts her past. Her mother, Lady Byron, conspires to control her future. Ada shares a passion for mathematics with Charles Babbage, the brilliant mind behind early formulas to create analytical computing machines. Filled with steam power, math, and music, these soul mates are the visionaries of their time.

Your Best One
By Meridith Friedman

Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 2:30 p.m.
Richard’s father may be even crankier in his old age, but he still recognizes his son Richard’s “best one” in David. Several years after Richard and David went their separate ways, a series of events conspire to reunite the family, including Richard’s sister and David’s adopted teenage son. Meridith Friedman gives us another chapter in the lives of the contemporary and wryly humorous family we loved in The Luckiest People—part of the 29th Signature Series at Orlando Shakes.

Human Error
By Eric Pfeffinger
Friday, November 3, 2017 at 8 p.m.
When a fertility clinic mistakenly implants Madelyn and Keenan’s embryo in somebody else, an unlikely relationship is forged between two couples with wildly different backgrounds. A shared pregnancy with Heather and Jim brings out the best and worst in each of them, as they all work to understand one another and build a friendship that at first seems a complete impossibility. Human Error is a comedy that crosses party lines and explores both shared and disparate views.

By Deneen Reynolds-Knott

Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.
Ava is on a date with Tim, when news breaks about riots in Baltimore where a young black man has died while detained by the police. As tempers on the street reach a fever pitch, Ava and Tim grapple with the specter of police brutality and systemic racism. For Ava another specter is raised as well—that of her life five years earlier when she defended her fiancé for torturing a black man with his baton. When the date ends back at her apartment, Ava has to make decisions about whom she trusts and what she believes.

The Hour of Great Mercy
By Miranda Rose Hall

Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.
Bethlehem, Alaska is a tiny town lit by the Northern lights. Roger and Maggie’s marriage mirrors the bleak Alaskan landscape as they struggle to come to terms five years after their daughter’s death in a hunting accident. Roger’s brother Ed returns home uninvited, seeking reconciliation and forgiveness. A haunting and poetic play by recent MFA graduate Miranda Rose Hall.

PlayFest Party!  
Saturday, October 28, 2017 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Buffet dinner provided by Bubbalou’s Bodacious Barbecue.
Saturday, November 4, 2017 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Buffet dinner provided by Spoleto – My Italian Kitchen

Join the featured PlayFest 2017 playwrights and actors for an exclusive PlayFest Party inside the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center. Tickets ($12) for the PlayFest Party can be added onto your PlayFest 2017 tickets online at http://www.orlandoshakes.org, by phone at (407) 447-1700 ext. 1, or in person at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 East Rollins Street). Only 60 slots per PlayFest Party available.

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