The new play contest is produced by the Capital Repertory Theatre and features new works written by artists in the Capital Region and around the country. TheREP is the only professional theatre in the Capital Region, and has been creating, “meaningful theatre with an authentic connection to the community” since 1981. The theatre donates more than 83% of their profits back to their local community and tries to ensure that all young people are able to experience live theatre before they graduate high school.
TheREP also hosts an annual weekend-long summit to produce new plays. The New Play Summit “seeks to highlight new works that use theatre to address injustices, inequities, and cultural collisions, providing a voice for the unheard and unrepresented.” The Summit has drawn more than 4,000 audience members to date, but will take place online this year due to COVID-19.
The Summit will be held from July 13-16, and will kick off on July 13 at 7PM with the New Voices: Young Playwright Contest with readings from the winning six short plays written by young people ages 13-18 in the Capital Region. The top plays selected are: An Artist’s Hand (Grace Bombard), Just a Normal Friday (Jeremiah Choudhury), Almost a Fairytale (Megan Dellenbaugh), The Deadly Dinner Party (Clare Reilly & Regan Roberts), Our New Colossus (Maya TerryStein), and A Series of Unfortunate Ideas (Jasmine VanDyke & Jonathan Jordan). The plays include the poetic, the hilarious, the profane, and the poignant.
On Tuesday, July 14 at 7PM, SLAM!, the winner of the NextGen contest, will be read. NextGen is a collaboration between theREP and SUNY Albany’s Fresh Acts festival, which puts on new plays written by students. SLAM!, a comedy written by junior Billy Feerick, was chosen among the plays written and submitted to UAlbany’s Fresh Acts. The play is about students in a college poetry club vying for the coveted title of “Best Poet.” SLAM! was written entirely in iambic pentameter verse with rhyming and hip hop rhythms.
The play chosen to headline this year’s festival is A Distinct Society, written by director and playwright Kareem Fahmy. It was selected from more than 350 across the country and is inspired by the true stories of Iranian families reunited at the Haskell Free Library & Opera House at the border between Quebec and Vermont. Fahmy was raised in Canada by his Egyptian parents, but now lives in NYC.
The play is directed by theREP’s Megan Sandberg-Zakian, who directed Lobby Hero and The Royale during past seasons. Sandberg-Zakian and Fahmy are the founders of Maia Directors, a group which supports artists from the MENASA (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia) region. Fahmy is also a founder and chair of the Middle Eastern American Writers Lab at The Lark. The reading of A Distinct Society will be at 7PM on Wednesday, July 15.
The Summit will end on July 16 at 7PM with The First 15: You Be the Judge!, a reading of the first 15 pages of 4 plays submitted to Next Act. After 15 pages, the audience will be asked whether or not they would like to read the rest of the script. The show will be interactive and include a discussion.
Although all events will be available for free, theREP is accepting donations to help fund their new work development. The donations will allow theREP to continue to develop scripts and produce world premieres of new works every year. You can donate by going to www.capitalrep.org or by texting NEXTACT to 41444.