Ashland New Plays Festival is excited to announce the winners of the 2022 Fall Festival!

Clarence Coo Ashland New Plays Festival 2022

Clarence Coo

Chapters of a Floating Life

Lisa Langford Ashland New Plays Festival 2022

Lisa Langford

The Breakfast at the Bookstore

Victor Lesniewski Ashland New Plays Festival 2022

Victor Lesniewski

The Hunt for Benedetto Montone

Novid Parsi Ashland New Plays Festival 2022

Novid Parsi

Remains and Returns

Jonathan Spector Ashland New Plays Festival 2022

Jonathan Spector

Best Available

We greatly look forward to welcoming the playwrights to Ashland this October 18 through 23 for a week of play readings, development, and community gatherings.

These five playwrights were selected as part of ANPF’s unique, long-standing reading process that brings together theatre lovers from Southern Oregon and beyond for a months-long process where hundreds of plays are read—without authorship being revealed—and discussed, moving forward toward the finalists. About 2% of the total plays submitted are given to the artistic director with authorship revealed. From there the final winners are selected by the artistic director with discussion and collaboration among our three associate artists.

This year’s Festival Week is celebratory in more ways than usual. In addition to our excitement with the selection of the winning plays and the unveiling of their authors, we are also feeling immense gratitude for the return to in-person performances after two and a half years of Zoom theatre and virtual workshops. We are also in the midst of our 30th anniversary season, a milestone year of supporting new works for the stage.

 

We also heartily congratulate this year’s finalists!

 

Nightbird by R. Eric Thomas

AGATHE by Angela J. Davis

I Would Dance Naked in This Rain by Drew Katzman

Per Aspera by Quan Barry

Stoop Pigeons by Christin Eve Cato

In the Cervix of Others by Alice Eve Cohen

 

Watch this space or join our mailing list to see further details about the winning playwrights and the 2022 Fall Festival.

Save the date:
This year's Fall Festival will be held October 18—23, 2022.

ANPF 2022 Fall Festival logo

The Plays

Clarence Coo Ashland New Plays Festival 2022
Chapters of a Floating Life

It's the Second World War and two couples from China are trying to make ends meet in New York City. One husband and wife live uptown, obsessed with a past of poetry, painting, and gardens. The other two face the day-to-day reality of keeping a Chinatown restaurant in business. Their worlds, once separated by class and education, converge when the two women find each other in Central Park and fall under the spell of the Chinese language.

From Clarence: “When I lived in Beijing, I came upon a translation of a book written in the early 19th century called Six Chapters of a Floating Life. This collection of autobiographical essays was written by a government official who was obsessed with poetry and gardening, and who lost his wife after she fell in love with a woman.

The English translation was created by another Chinese scholar, one who lived in the 20th century and who himself had an interesting life—he had tried (and failed) to design a mass-producible Chinese typewriter after he moved to the US. The stories of these two literary men fascinated me and I ended up with this play, which is a strange combination of their two lives.

It's a look at a Chinese culture that people outside of China might not be familiar with: one that is sensual, romantic, and endlessly inventive.”

Playwright
Lisa Langford Ashland New Plays Festival 2022
The Breakfast at the Bookstore

It’s 1973, five years after the 1968 Glenville Uprising, started by a shootout between police and Black nationalists. Dot wants to be an activist and support the Black liberation movement by opening a revolutionary bookstore. Sharpe, Dot’s common-law husband and a former Black nationalist, wants anything but. And Spacemen. Yep.

From Lisa: “This play was inspired by a history podcast, Backstory. There was an episode of the show, hosted by University of Virginia professors, that explored UFOs in American history. In one segment, Stephen C. Finley, professor of Africana Studies and Religion at Louisiana State University, discussed African American close encounters and how they differ from White close encounters. White stories of alien contact tend to follow a narrative of being kidnapped, terrified, and exploited—a narrative that sounds a lot like the experience of being colonized. Black close encounter narratives tend to be positive and revelatory, with added elements of Africanist spirituality and the idea of a greater justice than earthly justice.

I was fascinated by Professor Finley’s observations and thought it would be an interesting way of interrogating race theatrically. I was also reading James Robenalt’s book, Ballets and Bullets, which chronicled Carl Stokes’ bid to become the first Black mayor of a major city and how Cleveland Black nationalists affected his term in office. The Glenville Riot/Uprising negatively affected Stokes’ political capital with White Clevelanders. The riot was started by a shootout between the police and a Black nationalist bookstore owner who believed he had seen a UFO and was amassing weapons for a race war. I like the idea of setting the piece in 1973 because that was a liminal time between the progress of the 60s and the failures of the 70s, not unlike today, when we look back at the time between the buoyant hope of 2008 and the despair of 2020.

I love history. It was my major in college. I’m terrible at remembering dates and battles, but I’ve always been interested in cultural history—the way normal people live their lives while History is going on around them. By focusing on what characters want or who they love, I feel like I learn more about the historical significance of an event than if I’d just read a synopsis of an event. Writing plays about history is my way of making sense of things.”

Playwright
Victor Lesniewski Ashland New Plays Festival 2022
The Hunt for Benedetto Montone

Amid the German occupation of Italy during World War II, Pietro struggles to provide for his family while caught between Fascist law and Catholic morality. A play about our susceptibility to government-sponsored fear and hatred.

From Victor: “As a playwright, I am interested in telling stories that address large societal issues. I write plays where the world is much bigger than the characters of the play. This is not to say that nuance of character development is lost, but that I am more attracted to plays where the characters are forced to deal with their positions in the world and their relationships with other people in that world, as opposed to solely dealing with smaller interpersonal relationships. Even when tackling a play set in the past (or future), my goal is always to be reflecting on the present. I want our conversations as a theatre community to help enlighten our current socio-political moment and spur further discussion beyond the walls of the theatre itself.”

Playwright
Novid Parsi Ashland New Plays Festival 2022
Remains and Returns

In 2018, as an Iranian-American family talks about nothing and everything at once, the two middle-aged brothers—one who has remained near their childhood home, the other who returns—confront their elderly immigrant parents about the impending realities of old age. Thirty years earlier, in 1988, the parents confront their teen sons about the impending realities of adulthood and their own hopes for their children’s futures—until the family dynamic takes a sudden shift. Returning to 2018, Remains and Returns considers how we deny our familial, societal, and political pasts, and how our pasts endure.

From Novid: “I was inspired to write Remains and Returns as I noticed our culture’s collective amnesia around the intense trauma and violence that gay Americans experienced when coming out in the not-so-distant past. I felt an emotional whiplash as a culture that had been hostile to gay people now expressed support of sexual and gender difference, even if an ambivalent support. This indicated progress, of course, but also our penchant for denying our history. Americans are adept at this, and so are families. In Remains and Returns, we come to see how one Iranian-American family elides its own traumatic past. And we come to see how the past persists, even in silence. The play explores how we do and don’t speak about who we are and what we’ve lived.”

Playwright
Jonathan Spector Ashland New Plays Festival 2022
Best Available

We're not going to talk about the sudden departure of our previous Artistic Director, because we want to focus on the future, not the past. The one thing we're all on the same page about it is: We Need Change. Change that builds on the remarkable legacy of our institution.

It's just like the Ancient Blessing, May You Live In Interesting Times.

From Jonathan: “A few years ago, a mid-size theater in my region was searching for a new artistic director. They invited me and a few other local artists to be in the room as the final candidates came through and made their pitches. It was a profoundly strange experience, but also a wildly theatrical one.

Having a hunch there might be a play in there, I then spent several months interviewing artistic directors from around the country about their hiring and transition experiences. I also spoke to some board members and managing directors who have been on the other side of the table. I was not surprised to hear how disrespectfully people felt they were treated in these processes but I was still sometimes shocked by the details.

I was mid-way through a first draft when the pandemic hit, and I abandoned the play. I simply didn’t have the heart to continue writing a play critical of institutional theater while there was no theater. Then last summer, I was reading yet another story of an awful leader being forced out of a troubled organization and found myself being drawn back in. More than anything, I felt a need to honor all the stories and experiences people had shared with me during the interviews. I still have no idea what the regular audience will make of the play, and I am thrilled to have this opportunity to begin to share it with the public.”

Playwright

The Host Playwright

Beth Kander

Beth Kander is a playwright and novelist with roots in the small-town Midwest and the Deep South. Playwriting honors include the Henry Award for Best New Play or Musical; Headwaters New Play Award; Equity Library Theatre Showcase; Ashland New Plays Festival; Eudora Welty New Play Awards; and the Charles M. Getchell New Play Award, among others.

In addition to playwriting, Beth is an acclaimed author. Her dystopian trilogy Original Syn won a Foreword INDIES Award, her ghost story 13 Jericho Lane was a Pitch Wars selection, and she has at least two new books coming out in the next two years. The granddaughter of immigrants, she is interested in the intersection of new ideas and identities with old stories, secrets, and legends. She holds an MSW from the University of Michigan and an MFA from Mississippi University for Women.

Beth is represented by Allison Hellegers at Stimola Literary Studio. She lives in Chicago with her favorite characters—her quirky little family.

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Testimonials

Thank You to Our Grantors

City Of Ashland
Oregon Cultural Trust
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Miller Foundation
The Carpenter Foundation
Oregon Community Foundation