New Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2003


The 5th annual collection of new plays contains an eclectic mix of styles and subjects, all produced during the 2002-2003 theatrical season. Includes an introduction by Francis Hill, Artistic Director of Urban Stages, an Off-Broadway theater in New York City.
Smashing by Brooke Berman A comedy about a young woman determined to confront a novelist who has thinly fictionalized their love affair when she was a teen and he was a student of her ...
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The 5th annual collection of new plays contains an eclectic mix of styles and subjects, all produced during the 2002-2003 theatrical season. Includes an introduction by Francis Hill, Artistic Director of Urban Stages, an Off-Broadway theater in New York City.
Smashing by Brooke Berman A comedy about a young woman determined to confront a novelist who has thinly fictionalized their love affair when she was a teen and he was a student of her father (a successful novelist.
Corner Wars by Tim Dowlin A poignant drama about teenaged drug dealers in Philadelphia. This play won the prestigious Oppenheimer Award, which is annually awarded to the outstanding debut by a new playwright.
Midnight by David Epstein A backstage showbiz comedy set in the 1950s.
Spanish Girl by Hunt Holman A comedy about college students. Homebound by Javon Johnson A drama about juvenile delinquents in a detention facility.
Phat Girls by Debbie Lamedman A very inventive comedy about teen female self image.
The Sweepers by John C. Picardi A comic drama about Italian American women keeping the home fires burning during World War II.
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Editorial Reviews

"Don't let the title of this collection fool you. These plays are not yesteryear's news. They are vivid, important pieces, as relevant, readable, and stageworthy today as they were two-plus years ago, when first produced. They include plays that dramatize problems tearing at our social fabric, such as Tim Dowlin's fine, powerful, if sometimes melodramatic Corner Wars, which chronicles the world of street-corner hustling in the inner city, as well as work written in a much more entertaining key, such as David Epstein's Midnight, a witty period comedy set in the 1950s. Though none of the playwrights in this collection are household names yet, or close to it, all of them write the kind of vivid, well-crafted work that deserves attention. Dowlin's pitch-perfect ear for street slang, alone, makes his play worth a look. "
August 2005
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781575253862
  • Publisher: Smith & Kraus, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2005
  • Series: New Playwrights Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword by D. L. Lepidus 
Introduction by Frances Hill 
Smashing by Brooke Berman 
Corner Wars by Tim Dowlin 
Midnight by David Epstein 
Spanish Girl by Hunt Holman 
Homebound by Javon Johnson 
phat girls by Debbie Lamedman 
The Sweepers by John C. Picardi 
Rights and Permissions 
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Twenty years ago as a writer of several plays, I asked myself a few questions. "Who helps playwrights?" "Who seeks out the unknown brilliant writer who has a fascinating tale to tell?" "Who develops the new play and brings it to the stage in a noncritical environment?" "Who encourages the playwright who embodies the soul of the theater?" "Where would the theater be if there were no writers to address the confusions of the world and try to put some order to our chaos?" "Who helps the playwright develop the skill to make us laugh at ourselves and see our follies?" "What would all those actors do if they could not find a talented playwright?" There are several theaters across the country that desperately try and reach out to the talented writers who surface in their piles of scripts. However, I realize there are not enough theaters and facilities for good playwrights, especially when I see the piles of manuscripts that stack up on the floor of my office in New York. I look at the stacks every day with great passion as I touch the play on top and realize all the work, the love, the dedication, the concentration, the research it took to produce the play that I am holding in my hand. I feel the energy of the writer who is waiting to hear that we would like to consider his or her script for a New York production. With great interest I read the writer's biography and many times I am amazed at the level of education, life experience, and breadth of writing experience. In my stacks are writers of every age from children to senior citizens, from every profession, and from every ethnic background. That is what I love about these scripts - each one is a surprise, each one is a lesson in a different subject, and each one has a story to tell.I love writers. I understand their agony when they are writing a play, since no one said playwriting is easy. It is very hard to keep an audience interested AT ALL TIMES in what the writer wants to say through the characters the writer has created. Theater cannot be boring or it is DREADFUL. So that is a great challenge to the writer, who must have many talents to stimulate an audience and create an emotional response to the words in the script. The writer must have a keen imagination, a sense of humor, a writing style, a good understanding of the language, and most important have a desire to communicate through words and actions. How do I choose a play from this large stack? It breaks my heart as I realize we can only hold readings and workshops of eighteen plays and produce three, which is a big problem for these hopeful writers. Like many decisions, an emotional reaction to a play often allows me to make the choice. When I read John Picardi's The Sweepers, it said to me that the play had legs and through my tears at the end of the play, I decided to put it in the pile to be read in our reading series.I applaud Smith and Kraus for helping playwrights by publishing volumes dedicated to new plays. These books allow readers and theaters to be aware of new thoughts, new conclusions, and new characters. In this book you will have the thrill of discovering these new stories and new friends.D. L Lepidus' dedication to theater, plays, and playwrights is beyond anyone's I have ever known. Many thanks, D. L., for all your work tracking down the most exciting, entertaining, and provocative plays of the 2003 season. I know you readers will love these plays and the writers as much as I do.
Frances Hill
Founder and Artistic Director
of Urban Stages - New York City
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As you may have noticed, most of the shining faces on the cover of this book belong to women. I always make an effort in editing this series to find plays by women playwrights to include therein, to do my bit to counteract the heretofore grievous underrepresentation of work by women playwrights in our national dramatic repertory. In the 2003–2004 theatrical season, this effort was easy, because there were so many plays by women produced; and so many of them were so strong. I’m not the only one who’s dubbed 2003–2004 the "Year of the Woman Playwright." Look at the 2004 Humana Festival. Five of the six full-length plays presented there were by - you guessed it - women.So, here we have seven terrific new plays. I just realized, after reading the above paragraph, that Thomas Gibbons might feel rather slighted, like he’s the token male in this book. So, to compensate, let me start, in my brief words of description of these plays, with Bee-luther-hatchee, which I saw at the Blue Heron Arts Center in New York City in what I was told was its twenty-fifth production, the previous ones being amateur and professional productions around the country. It’s about a high-powered, black, female, book editor who finds, to her chagrin, that her recent best seller, a memoir by a mysterious black female housekeeper, is actually written by a white male. Does this make the book a fraud? Or, a great work of the imagination?Race as an issue is also dealt with imaginatively in Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel, which focuses on a black seamstress for rich white people in early twentieth-century New York; with Lisa Loomer’s Living Out, about an "illegal alien" nanny from South America, trying to please her harried employer as she tries to maintain some semblance of a home life; and Tracey Scott Wilson’s The Story, which is about a female black reporter with a fabricated past who may also have fabricated a story about female black gang members. Although these plays had productions outside New York originally, I saw them in New York City, at the Roundabout (Intimate Apparel), Second Stage (Living Out) and the Public Theater (The Story).I also saw The Beard of Avon off Broadway in New York - at the New York Theatre Workshop. This play is an inventive, theatrically charged comedy about the "Shakespearean Authorship Controversy," which it comes at in a way you may not have ever considered. What if Shakespeare was a front for the Earl of Oxford, but gradually became "Shakespeare" over the course of time? I’ll say no more. Read it - it’s great.Also very theatrically-inventive: Carson Kreitzer’s The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer, an award-winning play still unproduced in New York that deals with the controversial "Father of the Atom Bomb."Finally, I ventured far afield (for me) up to the wilds of northern New England, to see a summer stock production of a comedy by Marisa Smith. Since this was Ms. Smith’s first play and its premier production, I was wary. To my surprise, delight, and relief, her play, Book Group, turned out to be a hilarious, well-constructed comedy.
- D. L. Lepidus
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