Wednesday, March 11, 2009

JIHAD JONES Playwright Is Finalist For Largest National Playwrighting Award

InterAct congratulates and wishes luck to the playwright of InterAct's upcoming JIHAD JONES & THE KALASHNIKOV BABES, Yussef El Guindi, on his nomination for the 2009 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA Award. Nominated for his play, OUR ENEMIES: LIVELY SCENES OF LOVE AND COMBAT, Yussef is one of six finalists for the award given annually by The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), recognizing the best new scripts produced professionally outside New York City during 2008. OUR ENEMIES depicts Muslim-Americans struggling among themselves over how to portray their cultural identity and how deeply to assimilate in the post-9/11 world. The play was produced in March 2008 by Silk Road Theatre Project in Chicago.

The other finalists for the 2009 award are Steven Dietz, playwright of InterAct's production of LAST OF THE BOYS, who is nominated for his play BECKY's NEW CAR; Lee Blessing, playwright of WHEN WE GO UPON THE SEA which was commissioned by InterAct in 2008, who is nominated for his play, GREAT FALLS; Octavio Solis; E.M. Lewis; and Tracy Letts.

Consideration for the Steinberg/ATCA awards is limited to new plays not yet produced in New York City by the end of the year. The six 2009 finalists were selected from plays nominated by ATCA members, then evaluated by a committee of 13 theater critics from around the country. The winner and two additional citations will be presented April 4 at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival of New American Plays. The top award includes a cash prize of $25,000 – currently the largest national new play award – with $7,500 for each citation.

Read more about the Steinberg Award and this year's nominees here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

InterAct Visits The Inspiration For Its Biggest Hit: PERMANENT COLLECTION

Thanks to a posting on
Wendy Rosenfield's Drama Queen blog, we're pleased to learn that an article posted yesterday by The Chicago Tribune reports that back in 2005, President Barrack and First Lady Michelle Obama attended a performance of Northlight Theatre's production of PERMANENT COLLECTION, a drama that received it's World Premiere at InterAct in 2003.

For those who missed it, PERMANENT COLLECTION uses a fictionalized account of the story behind the
Barnes Foundation to frame a compelling and thought-provoking examination of race relations in the United States. Written by InterAct's Resident Playwright, Thomas Gibbons, PERMANENT COLLECTION is, to date, the best-selling play in InterAct's history and has gone on to become one of our most subsequently produced premieres, with over two dozen national and international productions.

This all served to remind me that I had neglected to post a note about InterAct's recent visit to the Barnes Foundation:

During the recent run of THE RANT, InterAct Artistic Director Seth Rozin arranged for a field trip to the Barnes for the production's playwright, actors and InterAct's administrative staff. Having grown up in the neighborhood nearby, Seth thought it would be a fascinating point of local interest for Aldo Billingslea and Andrew Case, the production's out-of-town artists, as well as an important lesson in InterAct history for the show's artists, the staff and a few close friends of the company, since most of us had not visited the inspiration behind the company's biggest hit. He also thought it was important for us to go while the Barnes is still in its original home in Lower Merion, before it's relocation to the museum district in Center City, since changes to the permanent collection (hence the title) serves the most pivotal role in the plot of the script.

Left to Right: Seth Rozin, Julie Grega, Rebecca Wright, Jessica Hurley, Dwight Wilkins, Kimberly Fairbanks, David Golston, Aldo Billingslea, Elena Araoz and Daniel Sumile. Not pictured: Kathy Jaffari, Andrew Case, Kia Feindt, David Ingram, Joshua Lieberman and David & Ziva Brown

On a personal note, before moving to Philadelphia I had the privilege of working on a production of PERMANENT COLLECTION at Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, MO. Prior to researching the play, I had no knowledge of the Barnes - I was soley drawn into the play's dramatic story and important message. Throughout the course of marketing the show I learned a lot about the Barnes and its unique creation and subsequent history, however, nothing prepared me for the jaw-dropping experience of seeing it in person. I was taken, as was most of the those in our group, by complete surprise at the astounding quality (and sheer volume) of a collection that was originally amassed as the whim of one man's passion. Everyone in our group left that day with a renewed appreciation for the power and beauty that amazing art brings to the world...

- David Golston, Director of Marketing & PR