1429221631463.jpeg

The 24th annual New American Playwrights Project (NAPP) takes the stage at the Utah Shakespeare Festival from August 12 through August 27. Two plays will be presented as staged readings in the new Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre at 10 a.m. on selected dates. Chosen from hundreds of plays submitted, this year’s lineup includes One Big Union by popular Salt Lake City playwright Deborah Threedy and How To Fight Loneliness by nationally-acclaimed playwright Neil LaBute.

Playgoers will have the unique opportunity to see a staged reading of these new pieces and take part in an after-play discussion with the playwright, director and actors. Audience members should be aware that the plays in this series are written for contemporary adult audiences and contain themes and explicit language that some may find offensive and that may not be appropriate for children.                                                                

Tickets are $10 each and are on sale now at 1-800-PLAYTIX and www.bard.org.

How To Fight Lonelines by Neil LaBute will get its first public reading at NAPP August 19, 20, and 27 in preparation for a full-scale production and Utah premiere as part of the 2017 Festival season. It will be directed by Festival Artistic Director David Ivers.

One of LaBute’s first well-known plays was In the Company of Men, which premiered at Brigham Young University, his alma mater, and which he later adapted into a movie starring Aaron Eckhart. He has since written numerous plays, including reasons to be pretty, which appeared on Broadway and was nominated in 2009 for three Tony Awards; In the Beginning; Fat Pig; Miss Julie; Reasons To Be Happy; Good Luck; Over the River and through the Woods; and many more. In 2013, LaBute was recognized with the Arts and Letters Awards in Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

“Neil’s muscular and deft use of language, offset by his tightly conflicted characters will lend boldness, gravitas, and a fresh voice to our 2017 slate of programming,” said Ivers. “The play is provocative, funny, and heart-breaking all at once and should inspire audiences to engage about the importance of fostering the ‘Shakespeare’s of tomorrow.’”

The play explores a modern-day husband and wife, Brad and Jodie, who are at a life-changing crossroads. They must make a monumental decision, but can’t seem to do it on their own. To help, they enlist an old schoolmate, which brings unexpected results leading to a spiral of recrimination, deceit, and (ultimately) relief, in this surprising play about life, love, and the right to choose your own destiny.

In addition, LaBute, who recently had two successful shows close off-Broadway and has another, All the Ways To Say I Love You, opening this fall at MCC Theater, has agreed to host a special lecture and discussion, “Conversations with Neil LaBute” about playwriting and his current work. The event is free to the public and will be Saturday, August 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the Anes Theatre.

One Big Union by Debora Threedy will appear at NAPP on August 12, 13, and 26. It will be directed by Jerry Rapier, producing director of Plan-B Theatre in Salt Lake City.

Although not as well known to national audiences, Debora Threedy, who has degrees in theatre arts and law, is very well known in Utah and the Intermountain West. After many years appearing on stage in Salt Lake City, including at Salt Lake Acting Company, she turned to playwriting. She wrote and performed a one-woman show, Desert Wife, which toured the state with funding from the Utah Humanities Council. She has had a number of plays produced by Plan B Theatre in Salt Lake City, most recently The Third Crossing, which also was one of the winners of the Fratti-Newman New Political Play Contest in New York.

Her play, One Big Union, focuses on legendary union agitator Joe Hill who was executed by the State of Utah in 1915. Considered a martyr by many, his songs at the time envisioned gender and racial equality and criticized the gross income disparities of his time. Today, he remains an enigmatic folk hero, but beyond the mythology lies a larger story of protest, still relevant a century after his death.

 “Theatre companies have to look to the future as well as the past,” said Michael Bahr, Festival education director. “NAPP allows us to do this, and it helps audiences be informed by new works and the ideas of up and coming artists, as well as classic theatre. That’s when we can really tell the story of what it means to be human.”

Playwright biographies and more information are available at www.bard.org/napp.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts at Southern Utah University, which also includes the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA).