Read more about each of the playwrights and their new plays in
“Better Together: Four Playwrights Share Their New Plays with Ashland”
The Madres by Stephanie Walker
Stephanie Walker is a Chicago native who now lives in Los Angeles. Her full-length plays have garnered awards, workshops and productions across the country including the 2015 critically-acclaimed premiere of The Art of Disappearing at Chicago’s 16th Street Theater. Walker is also author of the book and blog, Love in the Time of Foreclosure, which has been called “a heartbreaking work of staggering acceptance” and featured by the Los Angeles Times, NPR, Business Week Magazine, and ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer.
The Madres: It’s 1979 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where people are disappearing right off the street. The so-called “Dirty War” waged by the military Junta against its own people is in full swing. Carolina and her mother, Josefina, are covertly searching for their pregnant daughter/granddaughter, Belén, who has been missing for twelve weeks. When they receive a surprise visit first from a priest who is now the chaplain to the military at ESMA (one of the known concentration camps) and then by a soldier from the neighborhood who is also stationed at ESMA, they come up with a plan to try to see Belén one last time. Will it work? Will they be able to save her baby? Will they be able to save themselves?
The play has been chosen for a number of awards, including finalist for the 2016 O’Neill Playwrights Conference, for the Source Festival in DC, and for the Humanitas/CTG Playwriting Prize; and, winner of the BETC Generations Prize.
Directed by Leah Anderson
Underwritten by Jane & Bill Bardin
Hazardous Materials by Beth Kander
Beth Kander is a Chicago-based writer of plays, children’s books, and novels who “loves nothing more than a good story.” Kander’s works have been recognized by The Ruckus’ 2016 summer festival; BechdelFest 2016; Ashland New Plays Festival 2015; The Kilroys List (Honorable Mention 2015, 2016); Leapfest 2015; Downstage Left residency 2014-2015; Charles M. Getchell New Play Award 2012; and, three Eudora Welty New Play awards. She studied comedy writing at The Second City and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women.
Hazardous Materials takes place in a single apartment, but in two different eras – 2015, and 1955-1956. In 2015, new co-workers Hal and Cassie are sent by the county to investigate a Chicago apartment where an elderly Jane Doe recently died. In alternating scenes, two stories unfold: As Hal and Cassie pick through the physical wreckage of a stranger’s life while dealing with the metaphorical wreckage of their own lives, they must assess which items can identify the Jane Doe; in scenes from the earlier era, Lynley and Esther must assess what their encounter might mean. With each object or truth unearthed or ignored in each era, one small apartment reveals itself as home to a world of human longing.
Directed by Kyle Haden
Underwritten by Betsy Bradshaw & Peggy Moore
Oberon Springs by Michael Erickson
Michael Erickson has had plays produced by theaters and colleges including the Ensemble Studio Theater, MadLab, Moving Arts, the Imaginary Theater Company, and Tesseract Theater. He was playwright-in-residence at the Nashville Repertory Theatre and Coe College. Erickson’s awards include an NEA Fellowship in Playwriting; a California Arts Council Award; and the Mobil International Playwriting Prize (Royal Exchange Theatre, England). His Alien Hand Syndrome was published in Regional Best 2011, an anthology of new plays. Last Tree, Easter Island, will be published this fall in the Smith and Kraus, Inc. anthology, 105 Five-Minute Plays for Study and Performance. A graduate of the MFA Theater Program at the University of California, San Diego, he teaches playwriting at Webster University in St. Louis.
Oberon Springs follows newly minted doctor Jennifer Maynard, pregnant with her first child, as she returns to her hometown of Oberon Springs, Missouri, with her life partner to take over her aunt’s medical practice. The aunt, Dr. Cassandra Maynard, raised Jennifer after the early deaths of her parents and has always expected Jennifer to become a doctor and practice in Oberon Springs. But nothing has prepared Jennifer for the poverty and environmental-caused illnesses she encounters in Oberon Springs, particularly among children. And nothing could have prepared Jennifer for the hostility the community feels toward her aunt for documenting and exposing the links between area factory farming and human sickness. Now, after just a few days on the job, Jennifer questions her decision to return. She sees a life of endless work for little money and even less appreciation in Oberon Springs. Worse, her own child could be affected by the reproductive and autoimmune disorders afflicting so many children there. She’s been offered a spot in a family practice in St. Louis and tells her partner Jaron that they should take it and go. But first she must tell her aunt her decision, and that won’t be easy.
Directed by Kenneth Albers
Underwritten by Elaine & Dick Sweet
EdanEv by Mike Teele
Mike Teele lives in New York City. His work has been performed at theaters that include the Theatre for the New City; HERE Performing Arts Center; Abingdon Theatre; John Houseman Theater; Producers Club, Hudson Guild, and Catch a Rising Star. He has produced more than nine works for the stage and was a Walt Disney Studios /ABC-TV Fellowship finalist. Teele also created and wrote The Real Friends, a live weekly sitcom that played NYC comedy clubs, and has written dozens of educational films for kindergarten through senior high. He was awarded the Cine’ Golden Bear International Film & Video Award for his work.
EdanEv takes place over two weekends in Spring 2004 at Evalyn’s Manhattan apartment, when each old friend makes a drastic and impulsive decision: Following the wedding of Danny and Kit’s oldest daughter, Edgar and Evalyn, filled with a deadly cocktail of loneliness and nostalgia, find themselves in bed together for the first time since college. Meanwhile Kit, in a not-too-well-thought-out fit of empty-nest syndrome, announces to her husband that she has decided to try living on her own, a scenario that both pisses off and confuses the hell out of poor, unsuspecting Danny. The actions of the first weekend reverberate emotionally and chaotically six weeks later, the weekend before same-sex marriage becomes legal in Massachusetts.
At its heart, EdanEv is the story of two couples at a crossroads. While they have all come to terms with past regressions, compromises, and tragedies, they now face the question of how they are going to design and define the rest of their lives. Now what?
Directed by Scott Kaiser
Underwritten by Lucy Dobson
ANPF 2016 Testimonials:“I was treated with respect and admiration as a playwright and that is worth more than everything else combined…I learned so much about my play from the excessively talented actors, from the deeply intelligent director, and from the smart and eager audience. My ANPF experience is among the most important, inspiring, enlightening and downright fun events I have had as a writer! I must begin work on my next play so I can maybe, just maybe, be invited back!” – Mike Teele, Edanev
“It’s a packed week of rehearsals and rewrites with a terrific director and brilliant actors. A week culminating in two public readings in front of full houses of smart, enthusiastic theater-goers…The takeaway is inspiration, a much improved play, and a smile.” – Michael Erickson, Oberon Springs
“The week I spent in Ashland as one of the winning ANPF playwrights was one of the best weeks in my life as a playwright. The people of ANPF have downright spoiled me for any other residency experience…The other amazing thing about the week is getting to know the other playwrights. I left with more confidence in my play and many more friends than when I arrived.” – Stephanie Walker, The Madres
“The intense, immersive residency experience I had at the Ashland New Plays Festival this year might have been the best embodiment I have yet experienced of how powerful the contributions of other artists and thoughtful audiences to the evolution of a play can be.” – Beth Kander, Hazardous Materials–More testimonials here.