Recommended by Jillian Blevins

  • Pre-War
    15 Apr. 2024
    PRE-WAR exemplifies a fundamental truth about human connection: though the specifics of our individual experiences are endlessly varied, joy and heartache and grief are universal. This powerful scene between two women with seemingly nothing in common (aside from their apartment building) underscores the ways we’re all linked, and reminds us to get to know our neighbors.
  • A Life Enriching Community
    15 Apr. 2024
    With a pitch-perfect balance of snark and sentiment, A LIFE ENRICHING COMMUNITY’s retirees pop off the page. It’s remarkable how naturally Middleton Williams is able to convey decades of romantic history in this brief interlude as the couple transitions into their shared life’s final chapter. This funny, tender 10-minute play would be an excellent showcase for two older actors and a welcome addition to any festival.
  • The Extension
    27 Mar. 2024
    Ricardo Soltero-Brown is one of the most exciting playwrights working today. With wit, empathy, and intellectual deftness, his plays explore the ways modern social and linguistic conventions constrain and divide us. His characters, trying and failing to say the “correct” thing, end up saying the quiet parts—the things we’re not supposed to say—out loud.
    In THE EXTENSION—on the surface about a politician and a loan shark—Soltero-Brown takes aim at sexual politics, and how our gender-based expectations and grievances stand in the way of communication and connection. A taut two-hander full of twists and turns.
  • THE DEAD DADZ CLUB
    18 Feb. 2024
    Surrey Houlker captures the pain, awkwardness, and joys of tween friendship alongside the persistence and strangeness of grief in THE DEAD DADZ CLUB.
    The early 2000’s setting is both nostalgic and smart; these kids are barely on the internet and have one “emergencies-only” cell phone between them, forcing them to seek connection “IRL”.
    The play’s nonlinear structure (and one very clever scenic device) keeps us on our toes as the Club’s dynamics shift. At heart, TDDC is a sensitive character study, its six kids distinctly and tenderly drawn, each trying to deal with impossible grief.
  • BANSHEE
    12 Feb. 2024
    What determines our destiny? Social, familial, and religious expectations? Our genetics, generational curses and inherited traumas? Force of will? Or is it as as the Greeks once believed, an inevitable and certain end, regardless of the path we take to get there?

    BANSHEE obsesses over this question, circling around it again and again. Richter’s lyrical prose keeps this briskly-paced one act buoyant, even as it delves into darker and darker territory. His vivid characters are matched by a powerful sense of place; designers would be lucky to render this moody supernatural fable.
  • SCHOOL PICTURES
    7 Feb. 2024
    I heard an excerpt from SCHOOL PICTURES on This American Life and was charmed, moved, and desperate for more. The play doesn’t disappoint; Cramer creates funny, tender portraits of tweens and teens, peppered with self-deprecating humor that’s recognizable to anyone who’s felt like an imposter pretending to be a grown-up, or desperately wanted to be liked by a kid (notoriously impossible). They play’s thesis—about who gets to tell stories, and about our broken education system and our broken world—is an open-ended question, rather than a statement. Grown-ups are just looking for answers, too.
  • More of a Heart
    26 Jan. 2024
    Dave Osmundsen’s plays consistently affect me in three ways: they make me cry, make me laugh, and challenge me. MORE OF A HEART is powerful play about how society suppresses and fetishizes neurodivergence, and how important it is for autistic people to control their own lives and their own narratives. It’s also just a fantastic family play, touching and infuriating and full of messy imperfect love. MORE OF A HEART is a story that I will continue to carry with me as a parent, reminding me that best way to love my kids is to listen.
  • Impossible Theories Of Us
    26 Jan. 2024
    ITOU is the best kind of sci-fi, where abstract concepts—faith, identity, the afterlife—are made literal and urgent by speculative circumstances (in this case, advanced AI technology which can recreate consciousness from recorded memories).

    ITOU reminds me a bit of my favorite episode of Black
    Mirror, and a bit of John Mighton’s quantum physics romance, POSSIBLE WORLDS—but this play is uniquely John Mabey. Gina’s transness is an essential element of her character and the play. It’s not her trauma, but her superpower, allowing her to imagine a self that shifts and expands and contains multitudes.
  • Julie
    25 Jan. 2024
    JULIE is a funny, furious, and surprisingly faithful adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie. Transposed to post-pandemic NYC with Pride standing in for Midummer’s Eve, playwright Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin’s retelling recasts Jean, Julie and Christine (here Kristin) as queer women, an effective choice which neutralizes the original play’s misogyny problem and refocuses the story on class disparity.

    Garvin also dispenses with Strindberg’s naturalism, allowing Jean & Julie’s coupling to warp reality in more ways than one. The violent and seemingly inevitable ending is where this adaptation really soars beyond the source material. Screw landlords.
  • Hey Babe
    18 Jan. 2024
    A refreshing psychological horror without a drop of blood a single casualty; the creeping terror playwright Heyman has wrought is much more subtle and sinister. Echoes of Jeffrey Dahmer’s “zombie” fantasy resound in this short play about power and control, submission and dominance. HEY BABE is dark and disturbing (and, like many of its predecessors in the horror genre, discomfortingly sexy). The allegory about financial abuse and coercion is resonant and thought provoking, inspiring questions about the power imbalances in our own relationships. HEY BABE would be an unforgettable addition to any horror-themed playfest.

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