Ashland New Plays Festival Announces Winners for In-Person 2022 Festival
Five new plays to be presented as part of celebratory 30th anniversary season
Ashland, Oregon – Ashland New Plays Festival will present readings of five new works by winning playwrights Clarence Coo, Lisa Langford, Victor Lesniewski, Novid Parsi, and Jonathan Spector at its flagship annual event, which runs October 18–23. The Festival will feature in-person evening and matinee readings followed by audience talkbacks with the playwrights. There will also be a playwriting workshop taught by the winning playwrights and the festival’s Host Playwright Beth Kander.
“This is our first in-person Fall Festival after two years of presenting our Festival virtually, and we are thrilled to be back,” says Board President Peggy Moore. “The only character missing from a virtual stage is the live audience. We have missed this vital part of theater and are happy to have the complete cast of characters on the SOU Main Stage for our 30th anniversary of presenting new plays.”
This year's winning plays approach stories of love, family, and betrayal, bringing light to subjects that are perhaps hidden or forgotten.
In Clarence Coo’s lyrical Chapters of a Floating Life, it's the Second World War and two couples from China try to make ends meet in New York City as their lives become inextricably linked through language, poetry, and romance. Lisa Langford’s The Breakfast at the Bookstore takes audiences to 1973 Cleveland, Ohio, where encounters with UFOs and spacemen intermingle with the Black liberation movement and a young woman’s journey of love and independence. Returning ANPF winner Victor Lesniewski examines World War II from another angle in The Hunt for Benedetto Montone. Set in Italy during the German occupation, the play follows a family caught between Fascist law and Catholic morality. Remains and Returns by Novid Parsi looks with humor and honesty at intergenerational care and neglect. The play explores how one Iranian-American family does not speak of its own traumatic past, yet how the past persists, even in silence. Finally, Best Available by Jonathan Spector is a laugh-out-loud tragedy looking at what happens behind the scenes during a theater’s selection of their new artistic director.
“I am really looking forward to my first in-person Fall Festival as artistic director of this compassionate, artist-focused company,” says ANPF Artistic Director Jackie Apodaca. “Selecting ANPF’s winning plays is a true privilege. I can’t wait to be in the room with audiences as they experience these remarkable new works from some of the industry’s most exciting up-and-coming playwrights.”
The winning playwrights receive a $1,500 honorarium and a weeklong workshop of their plays with professional directors and actors, culminating in public readings. The time spent in collaboration with the gathered artists helps the playwrights refine and develop their scripts.
"I had a blast as an Ashland New Play Festival playwright,” says Meghan Brown, a winner from 2021. “The care and consideration put into the festival was consistently clear—this is a group of people who truly put the play (and playwright!) first, and are committed to crafting an environment where artistry can thrive. I couldn’t have been happier with my creative team, or with the communicative, accommodating, administrative staff. ANPF is a special organization doing incredible work, and I cannot speak highly enough of its process of new play development.”
Ticket sales for ANPF 2022 will open to the public in September. ANPF members receive advance access and discounts on tickets. Visit www.ashlandnewplays.org to learn more about the 2022 winning playwrights and their plays, as well as information on how to become an ANPF member. Join us in supporting new plays today for the theater of tomorrow.
Meet the Playwrights:
Clarence Coo is the recipient of a Whiting Award and the Yale Drama Series Prize. His plays include The Birds of Empathy; Beautiful Province (Belle Province); People Sitting in Darkness; Chapters of a Floating Life; and On That Day in Amsterdam. His work has been developed at the Atlantic Theater Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. He has received fellowships from the Dramatists Guild of America, the Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop at the Lark, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Playwrights Realm. He received his MFA in playwriting at Columbia University. He is a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab and an alumnus of New Dramatists.
Lisa Langford is a Cleveland-based playwright and actor. She received her B.A. in History from Harvard University and her M.F.A. in playwriting from Cleveland State University. Her play Rastus and Hattie was a Joyce Award winner (w/ Cleveland Public Theatre); a Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center National Playwrights Conference finalist; and a The Kilroy’s List honorable mention. The play was published by New Stage Press. Lisa’s other plays include How Blood Go, an August Wilson New Play Initiative reading series selection at Chicago’s Congo Square Theatre and part of Global Black Voices at the Roundhouse Theatre in London UK; The Art of Longing, a Leslie Scalapino Award finalist for Innovative Women Playwrights; and several short plays, including The Bomb, published in the anthology Black Lives/Black Words.
Victor Lesniewski's plays include The Fifth Domain (World Premiere at Contemporary American Theater Festival); Couriers and Contrabands (World Premiere at TBG Theatre in NYC, Critic Howard Miller’s Best of Off & Off-Off Broadway List); Cloven Tongues (World Premiere at The Wild Project in NYC); Where Bison Run (Ars Nova Out Loud Reading Series, NY Times Profile); Pipistrellus (The Dramatists Guild Fellowship); Khardal (Berkeley Rep’s The Ground Floor); Cold Spring (Ashland New Plays Festival); and Tentative City (SF Playhouse Play Reading Series).
Victor was the only American to be shortlisted for the inaugural Theatre503 Playwriting Award, which included six writers culled from over 1,600 applicants. He is a former Uncharted Artist in Residence at Ars Nova. In recent years he has also developed work at Roundabout Theatre Company, New York Theatre Workshop, Geva Theatre Center (NY), Pioneer Theatre Company (UT), Northern Stage (VT), Palm Beach Dramaworks (FL), Benchmark Theatre (CO), Playwrights' Arena (CA), and La Mama Umbria.
He is proud to sit on The Dramatists Guild’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access Committee.
Novid Parsi (NOH-veed PAHR-see, he/him) is a playwright whose work has been produced or developed by Golden Thread Productions (San Francisco), The New Group (New York), Paines Plough (London), Playwrights Foundation (San Francisco), Queens Theatre (New York), and Silk Road Rising (Chicago), among others. Most recently, the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival has selected him for its Confluence Writers Project, which will culminate in a staged reading of a new play in spring 2023.
Novid’s plays have been recognized by the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (two-time finalist and three-time semifinalist), the Jeff Awards (Best New Work nominee), the New American Voices Playwriting Festival (semifinalist), and the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference (four-time semifinalist).
A son of Iranian immigrants, Novid grew up mostly in East Texas, earned degrees in literature from Swarthmore College and Duke University, and then spent years in England and Chicago. Novid and his husband live in St. Louis.
Jonathan Spector is a playwright based in Oakland, California. His plays include Eureka Day (New York Times Critics’ Pick, upcoming at London’s Old Vic Theater starring Helen Hunt, published by DPS); This Much I Know (upcoming at Aurora Theater); Best Available (South Coast Rep’s Elizabeth George Commission); and, Siesta Key (Bay Area Playwrights Festival).
His work has been produced at theaters around the country and abroad, including Asolo Rep, Aurora Theatre, Colt Coeur, Custom Made Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Mugwumpin, Syracuse Stage, Spreckles Theatre, The State Theatre of South Australia, and Just Theater, where he was the long-time co-Artistic Director. Jonathan has developed works with Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor, Crowded Fire, New Harmony Project, Manhattan Theatre Club, PlayPenn, Roundabout, and South Coast Rep, among others.
Honors include the Edgerton Award, Glickman Award, Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award, Theater Bay Area Award, Global Age Prize and Rella Lossy Award. He is a Core Writer at Playwrights Center and has been a MacDowell Fellow and a Resident Playwright at Playwrights Foundation. He is currently under commission from Roundabout Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, and Manhattan Theatre Club.