Trustus Announces Winner of the 2014 Playwrights’ Festival

Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich
Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich

Trustus Theatre’s Artistic Director Dewey Scott-Wiley and Literary Manager Sarah Hammond announced on Thursday July 24th that Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich’s Big City was named the winner of the 2014 Trustus Playwrights’ Festival. The script will receive a staged reading at Trustus in Fall 2014, and the fully staged world premiere production will run August 21 – 29, 2015.

 

The Trustus Playwrights’ Festival saw over 500 submissions from all over the nation this year, and Blumenthal-Ehrlich’s Big City was chosen as the festival winner. Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich is a Boston-based writer and member of Boston Public Works, a producing collective of playwrights. Her work has been produced/developed in NYC at Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, Roundabout, Rattlestick, Women’s Project, EST, New Georges, AracaWorks, Urban Stages, the New York International Fringe Festival, Fringe NYC Encore Series, and the Summer Play Festival; Regionally, at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Trinity Rep, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Hangar Theatre, Victory Gardens, Boston Playwrights Theatre, LA’s Elephant Theatre, Long Beach Playhouse, New Mexico’s Fusion Theatre, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Festival, and Chicago’s Collaboraction Theatre. Published by Smith & Kraus and Indie Theatre Now, she won or placed in the Woodward/Newman Drama Award, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Sundance Playwriting Lab, Princess Grace Award, the Heideman Award, Labyrinth Theatre Summer Intensive, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and Julie Harris Award, among others. She is an affiliated artist at New Georges in NYC and Boston’s Interim Writers writing group, The Accomplice.

 

A modern tale about 21st Century relationships and communication, Big City introduces audiences to Jane and Joe. These friends have been living with each other for a while and are “just roommates,” except for Friday nights and the occasional Sunday morning. Now he’s drowning in urban angst and wants a deeper commitment  — a baby! — but Jane says no. Deep down, are they really in love? Or is it just the narrowing of options and fear of being alone that comes from being closer to 30 than 20. Anything can happen over a meal of Chinese takeout and muscle relaxants, especially when unexpected guests invade the small apartment they call home.

 

“I started writing Big City when I was feeling like the world was operating at a faster, scarier, more absurd pace,” said Blumenthal-Ehrlich. “Thanks to wifi, our work follows us everywhere. Twitter and Facebook bring a false sense of friendship and intimacy. Not to mention that the world is scarier since 9/11. The irony is that in a world of heightened fears and isolation, we need each other more than ever. This can make for some oddball and heartrending hookups. That’s the back story of Big City, a quirky high-stakes comedy about Jane and Joe, engaged in an escalating conflict over their life as not-so-platonic urban roommates.”

 

Trustus Theatre is located at 520 Lady Street, in Columbia, SC.

 

For more information call Trustus Theatre Tuesdays through Saturdays 1-6 pm at 803-254-9732. Visit www.trustus.org for all show information and season information.

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IndieGoGo Fundraising Campaign for Local Filmmaking Camp S.M.I.S.T.

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Are you a big fan of the Indie Grits Film Festival? What about Girls Rock Columbia? Man, wouldn’t it be great if somebody combined those two ideas??

As it turns out, local filmmaker O.K. Keyes has. She is currently working to raise funds for SMIST (Space. Movement. Image. Sound. Time.), a self-proclaimed “workshop-in-the-woods for women DIY filmmakers.” Based on the premise that most DIY film shoots require Jill-of-all-trades rather than dedicated experts, the camp offers a vast crash-course in the basics of filmmaking as well as instruction on the ethos of independent and experimental filmmaking. With guest speakers, nightly screenings, and a daily morning “Meditation in Maya [Deren],” this is an ambitious, and awesome, undertaking worthy of your support if you care about feminism, local filmmaking, or just the young women in your community. Keyes is a top-notch filmmaker herself (she was a co-winner of last year’s 2nd Act Film Festival), and she’s already put a lot of sweat (and financial) equity into making this camp–something that she likely would have loved as a young women herself–a reality.

Check out the IndieGoGo video and fundraising page here. The campaign runs through July 24, 2014.

 

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Trustus Playwright’s Festival Welcomes Play by Deborah Brevoort of The Women of Lockerbie Fame

Deborah Brevoort
Deborah Brevoort

Internationally produced playwright Deborah Brevoort premieres her new farce The Velvet Weapon at Trustus Theatre in The Vista. This script is the winner of the Trustus Playwrights’ Festival, an annual competition that gives a full production to a new original work. This world premiere production of Brevoort’s The Velvet Weapon will run from Friday August 8th at 8:00pm through August 16th, 2014. Tickets may be purchased at www.trustus.org.

 

Trustus Theatre prides itself on its mission to produce and nurture new American scripts and playwrights with the Trustus Playwrights’ Festival. The festival has produced the work of many playwrights who went on to enjoy further success, including Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. This festival allows Trustus to become a voice in the national theatre scene by fully producing new works by American playwrights, while also bringing provocative and original stories to Columbia audiences.

 

This year’s winning script The Velvet Weapon is an intelligent, raucous, and political farce by internationally produced playwright Deborah Brevoort. The script takes audiences to the National Theatre of an unnamed country in an unnamed city where a matinee audience rises up in protest over what is being performed on stage and demands something new. They begin a performance of their own of “The Velvet Weapon,” a play by an unproduced playwright of questionable talent. Inspired by the Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia, The Velvet Weapon is a humorous exploration of populist democracy told through a battle between high-brow and low-brow art.

 

Deborah Brevoort is a playwright and librettist from Alaska who now lives in the New York City area. She is best known for her play The Women of Lockerbie which won the Kennedy Center’s Fund for New American Plays Award and the silver medal in the Onassis International Playwriting Competition.  It was produced in London at the Orange Tree, off-Broadway at the New Group and Women’s Project, and in Los Angeles at the Actors Gang and Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. It has been produced all over the US and internationally in Scotland, Japan, Greece, Spain, Poland, Belarus, Australia, and has been translated into seven languages.

 

Brevoort’s The Velvet Weapon is a metaphorical examination of The Velvet Revolution, a non-violent transition of power in what was Czechoslovakia in 1989. The period of upheaval and transition lasted just over ten days.  Students, older dissidents, and artists demonstrated against the one-party government of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The final result was the end of forty one years of Communist rule and the subsequent conversion to a parliamentary republic. Brevoort was inspired by events involving Vaclav Havel, revolutionary leader and artist who had been censored and imprisoned by the regime. “Havel, a playwright, orchestrated the revolution with a group of theatre artists and rock musicians from the green room of the Magic Lantern theatre in Prague,” said Brevoort. “With over a million people shouting ‘Havel to the Castle!’ in Wenceslas Square, Havel donned a suit from the theatre’s costume shop, went to the castle and was sworn in as President by voice vote from the polis. He and his fellow theatre artists took over the government in what was one of the most pure democratic events in human history.”

 

Brevoort has been working on The Velvet Weapon for years preceding the script winning The Trustus Playwrights’ Festival.  “One of my dear friends Pavel Dobrusky, defected from Czechoslovakia in the early 1980s while the country was still being run by the Soviet regime,” said Brevoort. “Although Pavel remained in the USA after the Velvet Revolution, he was able to go back to Prague every year after the country became democratic. About fifteen years after the Revolution, Pavel and I decided to apply for a grant from CEC ArtsLink to travel to Prague to interview the ringleaders of the revolution, many of whom were his old theatre friends.  Our goal was to make a theatre piece about the revolution that I would write and he would direct.” The show was intended to be produced at a Czech theatre.

 

What followed was years of grant-funded travel for Brevoort and Dobrusky where they gathered interviews and learned first-hand about the people and ideas that made the Velvet Revolution happen. However, as time passed leadership changed at the Czech theatre that intended to produce the script and the play found itself without a producing agent. Brevoort had seen the Trustus Playwrights’ Festival cited in many trade “opportunities” lists, so she submitted her new farce to the festival and it won. “Pavel passed away last year,” said Brevoort. “I am sad that he will not be able to complete The Velvet Weapon project with me, but I am glad and very grateful that the project will continue and that it will begin its life on the stage at Trustus Theatre.”

 

(L- R) Scott Herr, G. Scott Wild, Katrina Blanding, Hunter Boyle
(L- R) Scott Herr, G. Scott Wild, Katrina Blanding, Hunter Boyle

Artistic Director Dewey Scott-Wiley directs this world premiere production of The Velvet Weapon, with a talented comedic cast featuring the talents of Trustus Company members G. Scott Wild (Clybourne Park) and Katrina Blanding (Ain’t Misbehavin’, Ragtime). Actors Hunter Boyle (Young Frankenstein, Ragtime), Scott Herr (The House of Blue Leaves, A Christmas Carol), Raia Jane Hirsch (The Motherf**ker With The Hat), John Edward Ford, Libby Campbell (August: Osage County), and broadcast personality Taylor Kearns round out the cast bringing this show to life for the first time.

 

Trustus Theatre’s The Velvet Weapon opens on the Trustus Main Stage on Friday, August 8th at 8:00pm and runs through August 16th, 2014. Thigpen Main Stage shows start at 8:00pm Thursdays through Saturdays, and Sunday matinees are at 3:00pm. Tickets are $22.00 for adults, $20.00 for military and seniors, and $15.00 for students. Half-price Student Rush-Tickets are available 15 minutes prior to curtain.

 

Trustus Theatre is located at 520 Lady Street, behind the Gervais St. Publix. Parking is available on Lady St. and on Pulaski St. The Main Stage entrance is located on the Publix side of the building.

 

For more information or reservations call the box office Tuesdays through Saturdays 1-6 pm at 803-254-9732. Visit www.trustus.org for all show information and season information.

 

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