A collection of short plays about the “ache” of life; a comedy about a woman who gives up on men because none of them can rival Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice;” especially as portrayed by Colin Firth; the preview of a season at a youth theater.
These are the offerings of Montgomery County-based theaters in the annual Page-to-Stage New Play Festival at the Kennedy Center.
Local (but Alabama-born) playwright Audrey Cefaly is the author of the “Ache Collection” – in her words – “Tell Me Something Good,” and several other works, such as “The Gulf,” “Love is a Blue Tick Hound” and “Maytag Virgin.” She has developed plays with the Quotidian Theatre Company in Montgomery County, among many theaters, and has received praise for both brutal honesty and compassion.
Cefaly is directing her play, which Unexpected Stage Company is sponsoring.
“She is such a devoted artist and her work is very moving, while at the same time allowing room for humor,” said Rachel Stroud-Goodrich, co-producing artistic director. “I remember several of us sitting together reading excerpts of our work one evening at the retreat, and she read part of what would later become one of the storylines in ‘Tell Me Something Good,’ so it’s very exciting that we are now able to present this work at Page-to-Stage.”
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“Tell Me Something Good” has five parts, and is about people who are “really lost in their specific worlds and have lost the power of human connection,” Cefaly said.
“The plays are really different,” Cefaly added. “One is a sort of love story about a midlife crisis, two people sitting on a ledge about to jump. Another is about a single father with a seven-year-old daughter who feels invisible and struggles to communicate with his child.”
Cefaly’s message is that “we should embrace and share each other’s vulnerability.”
This is the fourth time The Highwood Theatre of Silver Spring is participating in Page-to-Stage. The theater is dedicated to bringing the performing arts to the community through student theater and education in Washington DC and our surrounding community.
“We’ve seen a growth in attendance [at the festival] every year,” said Matthew Nicola, artistic director.
This year, Highwood is going to present songs and scenes from the upcoming plays and musicals, as a preview of its 2018-2019 season.
That includes highlights from “The Glass Menagerie,” by Tennessee Williams, to run Sept. 28-Oct. 7.
“This is the first time Highwood is doing the play,” Nicola said. “Previously, the rights were limited to professsional theaters.”
“The Glass Menagerie,” the work that launched Williams’s career, has strong autobiographical elements, featuring characters based on its author, his mother and sister.
The Page-to-Stage highlights of “The Glass Menagerie” will focus on the memory aspect, the main focus of the show, Nicola added.
Highwood’s preview of its musical program will highlight “Peter and the Star Catcher,” a sequel to Peter Pan. There will be two productions, one for grades 2-7 and the other for grades 8-12.
“The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” is another musical from the season to be introduced at Page-to-Stage.
A third Montgomery County-based theater participating in the festival is Best Medicine Rep, which specializes in contemporary comedies. The theater’s contribution to the festival is “Die, Mr. Darcy,” a play by artistic director John Morogiello about an unrealistic woman.
Now in its 17th year, Page-to-Stage features several D.C.-area theater companies at the Kennedy Center for a series of free readings and open rehearsals of plays and musicals in development by local, regional, and national playwrights, librettists, and composers. Page-to-Stage at the Kennedy Center offers these theaters accessible space to perform and workshop new plays, while receiving feedback from others.
All performances in the festival, which takes place from Saturday to Monday of Labor Day Weekend, are free. Kennedy Center is located at 2700 F St., NW, in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.kennedy-center.org.