New Plays, New Faces, & New Places Herald ANPF's 2023 Season

January 18, 2023

Featuring readings of new works by lauded playwright Lisa Loomer and emerging playwright Carlos-Zenen Trujillo, a warm welcome to new Associate Artist Victor Lesniewski, and a season-long venue at Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University

After a celebratory and successful 30th anniversary last year, Ashland New Plays Festival will produce six in-person events throughout its 2023 season. Adding to this excitement, ANPF welcomes new Associate Artist Victor Lesniewski and a continued collaboration with Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University’s Theatre Program.

The company will kick off the year in March with the debut workshop of a new play by acclaimed playwright Lisa Loomer, followed by the workshop of a new play by ANPF New Voices playwright Carlos-Zenen Trujillo in April, which will be co-produced by Bag&Baggage Productions. The season will wrap up with the annual flagship Fall Festival from October 18–22.

ANPF 2023 Season Banner Graphic

“We are so thrilled to be welcoming Lisa and Carlos. We are grateful to support such talent and share their powerful new works with our audiences,” says ANPF Board President Peggy Moore. “Right now, our readers are working diligently in the months-long process to select the Fall Festival finalists, who will be announced this summer. Whoever our four winners are for the Fall Festival, we look forward to working with them as well.”

All of the season’s reading performances will be presented at the Main Stage Theatre at Southern Oregon University.

"We are immensely grateful to my colleagues in the SOU Theatre Program for sharing such a great performance space with us,” says ANPF Artistic Director Jackie Apodaca, who is also a professor at the university. “We’re excited to once again have eager students joining our audiences.”

With public readings on March 25 and 26, ANPF’s first production of the season will be Lisa Loomer’s new play Side Effects May Include… Loomer is a multi-award winning playwright with credits including the play Roe, which premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and received the 2017 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Drama. Her screenwriting credits include the Oscar Award winning film Girl, Interrupted. Loomer’s powerful new piece explores the side effects of some commonly prescribed pills and their devastating impacts on a family.

“I found the early draft of this play harrowing and heartbreaking,” says Apodaca. “It’s an unflinching look at pharma, consent, and motherhood–a necessary exploration of and for our times.”

Tickets for this event will be available on ANPF’s website starting in February.

On April 29 and 30, ANPF 2021 New Voices playwright Carlos-Zenen Trujillo returns to ANPF with their new play Our Utopia. This immersive story, in development with Bag&Baggage Productions of Hillsboro, delves into the darker side of an idealistic community. Trujillo is an alumnus of Southern Oregon University, and their play Christmas Contigo premiered in 2021 at the Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Currently, Trujillo is a cohort member of Artists Repertory Theatre’s PATHWAYS Mentorship Program. This workshop is co-produced with Bag&Baggage and will have its world premiere there in the fall of 2023.

“Oregon is home to its share of idealistic dreamers, communes, and, well, cults. Our Utopia asks what we are willing to give up so that we can belong,” shares Apodaca, who is also directing the piece both for ANPF and Bag&Baggage.

Finally, October 18–22, ANPF will present its flagship Fall Festival, with readings of the four winners of this international new plays competition. The winning playwrights will come to Ashland and work with world-class directors and actors to develop their scripts, which will be shared with the community in evening and matinee readings followed by audience talkbacks. The reader process leading toward the selection is currently underway—with 70 volunteers reading 350 scripts, working toward selecting the finalists. Once those finalists are known, Artistic Director Apodaca, with support from the Associate Artists, will choose the four winning playwrights.

For two seasons, ANPF Associate Artists have been collaborating with the artistic director on play and artist selection, programming, and matters of inclusion and equity. This year ANPF is proud to welcome two-time ANPF winning playwright Victor Lesniewski to the cohort of Associate Artists. He will be joining nationally renowned playwright Octavio Solis and Kyle Haden, Senior Associate Head of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University. Outgoing Associate Artist Sarah Cho completes her appointment after a successful ANPF presentation of her coming-of-age play, stains, last year. At the 2022 Fall Festival, Lesniewski was a winning playwright with his play The Hunt For Benedetto Montone; in 2018 he first came to ANPF as a winner with Cold Spring. He is a former Uncharted Artist in Residence at Ars Nova and proudly sits on The Dramatists Guild’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access Committee.

“My experiences at ANPF have been among the best in my career,” says Lesniewski. “I'm humbled and honored to be named an Associate Artist and thrilled to be able to contribute to the ANPF community in this new way.”

Ashland New Plays Festival has been part of the fabric of the Rogue Valley theater community for over 30 years. A small non-profit theater company with a national reputation, ANPF has served as an incubator for new plays since its inception in the spring of 1992.

“[ANPF] was an all-around extraordinary experience,” said 2022 winning playwright Novid Parsi. “As a playwright, I gained so much from the thoughtful pre-fest discussions with the artistic director and resident playwright about my play and my objectives. The detailed, thorough communications with the program and production managers. The generous amount of time to rehearse my play and improve the script in collaboration with my exceptional director and cast. The enriching interactions with the other playwrights and with ANPF’s formidable army of volunteer readers. And of course: the staged readings themselves. Plus, it all takes place in a beautiful mountain town whose community all-caps LOVES theater. How wonderful for playwrights and for theater that ANPF exists.”