A Little Quid Pro Quo by Bob Clyman
Bob Clyman’s plays have been produced Off-Broadway and at regional theatres, such as the Alley Theatre, Laguna Playhouse, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, San Jose Repertory Theatre, George Street Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Colony Studio Theatre in Los Angeles, Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, and LA Theatre Works, in addition to touring Scotland. His play Secret Order was initially commissioned and produced by The Ensemble Studio Theatre under the auspices of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It was subsequently produced at 59E59 Theatre in New York, where it was nominated for an Outer Circle Critics Award for Best Script of 2008, and has since been produced at many regional theatres. His play Tranced has been produced by San Jose Repertory Theatre and the Laguna Playhouse, where it received an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award in 2008, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre. His most recent play, The Exceptionals, which was an ANPF 2010 winner, has since been produced at The Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the Contemporary American Theatre Festival. It was supported by another Edgerton Award and nominated for both Best Play and Best New Play of 2012 by The Independent Reviewers of New England. Four of his earlier plays were produced at the Circle Rep Lab in New York. He has been awarded a number of national prizes, including a Eugene O’Neill Summer Conference Fellowship, Geraldine Dodge Fellowship, New Jersey State Arts Council Award, Edward Albee Foundation Fellowship, Berrilla Kerr Foundation Award, Djerassi Foundation Fellowship, Shenandoah Valley Playwrights Fellowship, Playwrights First Award, and Theater in the Works Fellowship. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild. bobclyman-playwright.com
In A Little Quid Pro Quo (now titled The Good Bet), Mark, a respected moral philosopher, has never wavered from his bedrock belief that people are fundamentally good. Ben, who investigates intellectual property fraud, is equally convinced that any apparent act of kindness is simply a more subtle tactic for pursuing the same self-serving results. Their close but unlikely friendship since childhood has always been tense, with Mark’s persistent efforts to help Ben achieve greater fulfillment matched in intensity by the seething resentment his efforts stir up in Ben. When Ben decides to stop investigating white-collar criminals and instead begins turning previously law-abiding employees into them, he proposes a bet, ostensibly to settle their longstanding argument over human nature but in reality with a much darker purpose in mind.
Directed by John Stadelman. Cast: Mauro Hantman, Al Espinosa, Rachael Warren, U. Jonathan Toppo, and Holly Weber Neimark. Underwritten by Norma and Fred Wright.
The Groyser by James Harmon Brown
James Harmon Brown is an Emmy Award–winning writer based in Los Angeles who has worked on numerous daytime and nighttime television shows. He has been the head writer on such daytime series as All My Children, The Guiding Light, Port Charles, and Loving, in addition to co-creating the ABC daytime series The City. He has also written several TV movies and episodes and was the executive story editor on the iconic nighttime soap Dynasty. Prior to his career in television, James was a reporter and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, where he wrote about television and radio. He received an Emmy Award as a writer for The Guiding Light and is a five-time Emmy nominee. James has also been nominated for six Writers Guild awards. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America.
The Groyser is a Yiddish term meaning “the oldest” or “the big one.” For Dinah Sanderson it was the impersonal name her mother gave her as the oldest child of Holocaust survivors, and Dinah has carried this hurt into middle age. Her husband hasn’t worked in a while, and their already strained relationship is exacerbated by his growing fondness for scotch. Their son, Jason, has just married an Afro-Brazilian girl—a green card marriage which Dinah opposed. With everything in her life at a high pitch, Dinah is thrown one more curve: Jason and his new wife turn up on Dinah’s doorstep with her mother, Bess, for the purpose of making a documentary about Holocaust survivors and their children, a story Bess has never told to anyone. The Groyser is about mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, parents and children, who all try so very hard to understand and be understood by the people they love.
Directed by Kenneth Albers. Cast: Catherine Lynn Davis, John Pribyl, Dee Maaske, Jeremy Thompson, Monique Robinson, and Kenneth Albers. Underwritten by Jane and Bill Bardin.
Homecoming by Michael Edan
Michael Edan started writing plays in 2009. He won Best Play and Best Actor in both the 2010 Aery Theatre Festival (Garrison, NY) and the 2010 Harvest One Act Festival (NYC) for his play Last Actor Standing. His first full-length play, Strangers, was performed by Variations Theatre Group (NYC) in 2011. Homecoming is his second play and was a 2013 semifinalist for the Playwrights First Award through the National Arts Club. Other plays produced include Eclipse (finalist, 2013 Aery Festival, NY); The Shrine (Theatre Three, Port Jefferson, NY, 2013 Spring Festival of New Works; Old Library Theatre 4 x 4 One Act Festival 2014; Depot Theatre, NY, Spring Showcase 2014; third place, 2013 Frostburg University Play competition; and finalist, 2014 Dubuque Fine Arts One Act Play competition); The Scent of Life (Stage Door Productions, VA, second place, Spring 2013 Play Festival); The Box (Depot Theatre, NY, 2011); Black Hole (Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, UK, Spring 2014 Women Festival of New Works); and The Facing (City Theatre of Independence, MO, Summer New Works Festival 2014). His full-length play The Lost Kingdom is currently a finalist for New Voices/New Generation at the Actor’s Theatre in Charlotte, NC. He has monologues published in Contemporary Monologues from Young Women’s Plays #2 and One on One: Playing with a Purpose: Monologues for Kids 7–15 (Applause books). Michael is currently completing a 75-minute solo performance piece about silent film star Clara Bow and a full-length three-act drama, Voices, about a young man diagnosed with schizophrenia.
In Homecoming an ironic incident at his parents’ home on Thanksgiving Day begins the civilian reintegration process for Robert, a disabled Iraq War veteran returning to his small hometown in Michigan. We see challenges with his wife, Jenna; his enduring connection with his childhood friend, Jake; and his stubborn resistance to therapy. Displaying a false resiliency, Robert keeps hidden his pain from both the trauma of war and a specific haunting memory, until a late night confessional with his father, who has his own traumatic memories of Vietnam. The Homecoming looks at how the after-effects of war require a different kind of courage: a willingness to face truth and not turn away.
Directed by Barzin Akhavan. Cast: Peter Wickliffe, Christine Albright, Catherine E. Coulson, Douglas Rowe, Mickey Rowe, and Olena Hodges. Underwritten by Teresa and Ted Rihn.
Irreversible by Jack Karp
Jack Karp’s plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and across the country. His full-length play Incendiary Agents completed a successful run at the New Ohio Theatre in New York City in 2013, and Irreversible has had staged readings at the Great Plains Theatre Conference and The Tank in New York, where it won the Theatre Slam competition. Jack’s plays have also appeared in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival and the Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival. Currently, he is helping conceive and write the interactive technology-driven show The Photo Album for the August 2014 New York International Fringe Festival with his immersive theatre company, The Story Gym. Jack has also won the David Mamet Playwriting Competition at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, Best Play at MadLab Theatre’s Divide & Conquer Festival, and Best Play at the Long Island City One Act Festival. Jack has an MFA in creative writing from American University. He is a founding member of Crosstown Playwrights, the Nylon Fusion Writer’s Collective, and The Story Gym and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. jackkarp.com
In Irreversible it is 1944 and Robert Oppenheimer and his brother, Frank, are frantically working to beat the Nazis to the nuclear bomb. Afraid that Germany has a two-year head start, Robert and his boss, General Groves, push their scientists to avoid “waking up to a mushroom cloud over New York.” With difficulties mounting and growing concern over his Communist associations, Robert has no time to think about the consequences of his “gadget.” But in 1945, when they finally see their weapon’s devastation, Frank has doubts about its use. General Groves, however, is determined to go forward, and when he tells Robert that opposing the weapon will ruin his and his brother’s careers, Robert is forced to choose between his conscience and his ambition, his brother and his bomb.
Directed by Catherine Lynn Davis. Cast: Geoffrey Riley, David Wood, Vilma Silva, Tony DeBruno, Kenneth Albers, Caitlin Lushington, and Catherine Lynn Davis. Underwritten by Lucretia Weems.
Host Playwright EM Lewis
EM Lewis, an ANPF 2008 winner with her play Song of Extinction, returns to Ashland again this year as our host playwright. She will welcome this year’s winners, moderate the talkbacks, and lead the playwriting workshop. Ellen received the 2012 Fellowship in Playwriting from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts, a 2010–2011 Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, and both the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for Song of Extinction and the Primus Prize for Heads from the American Theater Critics Association. Her plays have been produced around the world and published by Samuel French. Recent productions include Song of Extinction at the Guthrie and Hostos College; Heads at the Pittsburgh Playhouse; Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday at HotCity Theater in St. Louis; Infinite Black Suitcase at University of Southern California and Staples High School; and the world premieres of The Study (or Reading to Vegetables) at University of Washington in Seattle and True Story at Passage Theater in New Jersey. She continues to make progress on her epic Antarctic adventure story Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World, which she worked on this spring during a nine-week residency at the William Inge Center for the Arts; the play received readings at Moving Arts in Los Angeles and Project Y in New York City in summer 2014. Ellen recently completed a yearlong course of study to become an opera librettist as a resident artist in American Lyric Theater’s 2013–2014 Composer Librettist Development Program; her first chamber opera, The Resurrection Engine, written with composer Evan Meier, was performed in New York City in June 2014. Her play The Gun Show (a one-person show about guns and gun control) received its world premiere at 16th Street Theater in Chicago in July 2014. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and lives on her family’s farm in Oregon. emlewisplaywright.com
Lewis moderates the talkbacks after all the readings and leads the playwriting workshop.