New thoughts

Brown/Trinity Rep's summer fare
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  July 10, 2007

It’s summertime and the thoughts of even serious theatergoers turn from Proust to light beach reading. So it’s also time for the summer season of three plays at the Brown/Trinity Playwrights Repertory Theatre. Two comedies and a musical are running through August 4, one weekend per play, with all three reprised August 1-4.
Lowry Marshall, who has headed the series for its three years, is especially proud of this lineup. “All of these playwrights are young, powerful new thinkers,” she says. Marshall is a director and a professor of theater at Brown University.
The two previous seasons weren’t just tossed off, though. Last year’s Speech & Debate, by Stephen Karam, will be the first production in a new black-box space at Roundabout Theatre Company this fall.
“We are absolutely thrilled with that — it really puts us on the map in New York City, that one of our plays from the second season will open a brand new theater in New York,” Marshall says.
Playwright Peter Nachtrieb, whose new play boom is the first in the series, suddenly became a hot artistic commodity earlier this year. He won the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Award for the best new American play produced outside of New York City. The $25,000 prize is the most generous playwriting award in the country.
“I think that every year we’ve improved the production qualities — we’re very determined not to turn this into a design show,” Marshall says, though each year the scenic designer they’ve been able to tap has been Michael McGarty, who was a 1996 Tony nominee for Master Class.
“My goal is to do what I think we are already achieving, which is to turn this into a nationally recognized organization where the best young, emerging playwrights in the country are coming to develop their new work,” Marshall says.
She stresses that the Brown/Trinity series presents professional, not undergraduate productions. “They make more than they would if they worked on Broadway. This is a fully professional company in the summertime — which is sometimes hard to convey to people.”
Underscoring the achievement is the caliber of speakers who have agreed to participate in a panel discussion in Leeds Theater, at 10 am on the last day of performances. They are James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim’s collaborator; Peter DuBois, associate producer at the Public Theatre; John Lloyd Young, the Tony-winning star of Jersey Boys; and Curt Columbus, artistic director of Trinity Repertory Company.
The plays are:

boom | By Peter Nachtrieb, directed by Ken Prestininzi (July 12-14 and August 3 at 8 pm and August 4 at 1 pm) The end of the world is near, not to mention the end of such earthly distractions as casual sex. Jo and Jules are about to tryst in an underground biology lab but their earth-moving experience appears likely to be from a nuclear explosion. Does the prospect of death in less than a fortnight concentrate interpersonal relationships as well as the mind? What are those fish in that tank trying to tell them? And what’s with that woman in the corner who is pulling levers?

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