2019 Chicago New Work Festival
January 12 to February 2, 2019
curated by Wendy Schmidt, Three Cat Productions Literary Manager
Three Cat Productions proudly presents the Seventh Annual Chicago New Work Festival. Developed with the goal of showcasing Chicago playwrights, fostering relationships between playwrights and directors, and bringing new work programming to the neighborhood, the Chicago New Work Festival performances run from January 12 to February 2, 2019 at the Berger Park Coach House Theater.
“Shine Down on Us” by Spencer Huffman, directed by Scott Ozaroski
January 19, 2019 at 12pm
With the law hot on his tail and a bloody trail behind him, Franky arrives at his brother’s home seeking vengeance. Joe, a police officer torn between helping Franky and turning him in, must face his own role in shaping Franky’s bleak life. As Joe’s guilt mounts and the police close in on Franky, the brothers and their family grapple with their shared past and endure the painful process of taking responsibility for a family’s suffering.
About Spencer Huffman
Spencer Huffman is a playwright, actor, and director based in Chicago. His plays include: When We Were Little (2017 National Playwrights Conference Semi-Finalist), Shine Down On Us (American Stage’s 21st Century Voices New Play Festival Finalist; Landing Theatre Co. New American Voices Finalist; Broken Bell Table Reads, Chicago, IL), The Swamp Play (developed at The New Colony, Chicago, IL), Like Some Deep Booming (StageFemmes One-Act Festival, Kenyon College), and If Only We Were Ghosts. He was a member of the Writers Room 7.0 at the New Colony in Chicago and was named a finalist for the One Company Writers Residency in Long Valley, NJ. His directing credits include Bug by Tracy Letts and Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth. Spencer graduated from Kenyon College with a BA in Theater and English.
“The People of Chicago” by Helen Valenta, directed by Carolyn Nelson
RESCHEDULED TO January 23, 2019 at 7pm (originally scheduled for 1/19/19 at 3pm)
What would you do if you were depressed and had no one to turn to? What if your cat was also depressed and wouldn’t share his Prozac, your friends are all slackers listening to 90s music in subterranean bars and you had no inner resources? And then one day you start to notice the people around you–the crossing guard who yells at you, the nurse who takes your blood, the stranger who helps you up when you fall. Everyone who cares about your life–the people of Chicago.
About Helen Valenta
Helen Valenta is a Network Playwright at Chicago Dramatists. She has had work appear at The Artistic Home Theater, Westchester Civic Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Starlite Players, Three Cat Productions, Small Fish Radio, Arc Theatre. Two of her plays have been featured in Polarity Ensemble Theatre’s Dionysos Cup Festival (2011 and 2014). She has an MA in writing, and her poetry has appeared in many small journals. Her play ‘Beautiful Man’ was a finalist in the 2018 Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation’s award recognizing work on LBGT issues, and her radio play, ‘We are all foreigners here’ was on the BBC’s commended list.
“You Must Act Now” by Michael Higgins, directed by Dylan Roberts
January 26, 2019 at 12pm
Master salesman Joe Barkman never worried much about truth. As king of the TV infomercial, he made millions hawking products like Super Fork™ – the fork that will change your life! But when a mysterious young fan arrives on his doorstep, Joe is forced to confront the lies of his past – lies that could cost him everything. You Must Act Now is a comedy about honesty – and other items not sold in stores.
About Michael Higgins
Michael Higgins is a Chicago writer and playwright. His short play THE CHIP has been produced in New York and Chicago and was recently published in the Smith and Kraus anthology, The Best Ten-Minute Plays 2018. Michael’s full- length comedy LAUNCH DAY (LOVE STORIES FROM THE YEAR 2108) received a staged reading in 2018 at Benchmark Theatre in Denver. In 2017, LAUNCH DAY was read at Capital Stage in Sacramento and at Chicago Dramatists. Michael’s comedy HORRIBLE WEAPONS OF THE FUTURE was a finalist for The Navigators’ 2017 Lift-Off New Play Series in New York. Two of his short plays – ENHANCED and TRACY AND HER DREAM GUYS – were performed in 2018 at Otherworld Theatre’s Paragon Play Festival in Chicago. In January 2019, his play THE ACTION HERO’S WIFE will be produced at Phoenix Stage Company’s One Act Play Festival in Oakville, CT. A Cleveland-area native, Michael has worked as a garbage collector, sewer cleaner and assistant to the guy who scrapes roadkill off the highway. As a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, he wrote hundreds of articles about major trials, legal disputes and political scandals. michaeljhiggins.com
The British Exit” by Edward Thomas-Herrera, directed by Emma Skorepa
January 26, 2019 at 3pm
Edmund is an ambitious young drama student who desperately wants to impress his faculty advisor, Mr. Swovik. But when Mr. Swovik falls asleep during a performance of Edmund’s latest production, Edmund watches those hopes evaporate as he speculates on what the future has in store for him. Featuring a special guest appearance by Jerzy Grotowski.
About Edward Thomas-Herrera
Edward Thomas-Herrera was born and raised in Houston, Texas where he eventually studied musicology at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University. Graduate school at the Theatre School, DePaul University brought him to Chicago. Edward’s early work as a performance poet and monologuist has lead to many rewarding years with several Chicago theatre companies – most notably Live Bait Theater, the Neo-Futurists, and BoyGirlBoyGirl – as a performer, playwright, director, and producer. He is the author of three plays (OF DIAMONDS AND DIPLOMATS, MONDO EDWARD, and DEATH ON A PINK CARPET), two solo shows (COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL and FUN WHILE IT LASTED), and one yet-to-be-but-possibly-never produced musical (HELL IS FOR THE VERY HOT).
“Paper Dreams” by Lyra Yang, directed by Helen Young
February 2, 2019 at 12pm
Paper Dream is a two-act play which sets in Angel Island Immigration Detention Center, San Francisco Bay in 1930s. We follow the journey of a group of Chinese women–a self-imposed aristocratic lady, her claimed poetry-loving daughter, a mother of six children, as well as a outcasted talented young woman, who came to the land of America to seek freedom but found themselves trapped on an island like prisoners.
About Lyra Yang
Lyra Yang is a Chicago-based playwright originally from China. She has received workshop productions for her short plays with American Dramatist Guild’s New Play Workshop and Chicago Dramatist from 2016 to 2018; her full-length play Goldfish has been showcased during Kennedy Center’s 15th Annual Festival in Washington D.C. in 2016. Her two short plays Nap and 2Kool4U premiered at Round House Theatre during the 3rd Annual OMP Festival in 2017; her short play Homoskitten premiered at Representation Matters/Changing the Narrative festival produced by Tradewind Arts Asian American Artists in Kansas City, Missouri in 2018. Her short film Zi won best original screenplay at her college in spring 2017. Her works focus on cross-cultural experience, immigration experience, dysfunctional family, shifting boundaries with regard to culture and gender, ethnicity and ideology. Besides writing, Lyra loves cooking, traveling and practicing taekwondo. Lyra is currently pursuing her MFA in Writing for the Stage and Screen at Northwestern University.
“I’m Not the Darkness: The Kellyanne Conway Story” by Kristen Field, directed by Bec Willett
February 2, 2019 at 3pm
As Kellyanne Conway deals with the war waging inside her after getting Donald Trump elected to the highest office in the country, she finds herself attacked from all sides: her kids hate her, people want her dead, and no one thinks she can sing. In the midst of this chaos, Conway goes on trial with her twins as her defence attorneys, Mika Brzezinski as her prosecutor, and her mother as her judge. I’m not the darkness is an absurd look into a shattered mind and an exploration of just how much pressure we can take before we crack.
About Kristen Field
Kristen hails from Melbourne, Australia and is a graduate of Northwestern’s MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage. Her first full-length play she will fade at the finish was part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2014 and the following year she wrote her undergraduate thesis on the presence of the outsider in the plays of Sarah Ruhl. She participated in a rehearsed reading at Chicago Dramatists in the spring of 2017 and her short play Sway was performed at Theater for the New City in New York (after being workshopped for a week in Aspen) as part of the Theater Masters National MFA Playwrights Festival, also in 2017. She is thrilled to now be working as the Literary Manager at Redtwist in Chicago.
Past 2019 Festival Readings:
“Granite Pass” by Lisa Scott, directed by Dylan Roberts
January 12, 2019 at 12pm
Held captive by an enemy tribe in a far-future Pacific Northwest, teenage Gish loses herself in dreams of love, while her fellow captive Swift seeks an outlet for consuming rage. When Gish’s dreams are destroyed, she joins Swift on a dangerous escape, led by Swift’s Aunt Meadow and the war orphan Otter. Arising from the zeitgeist of the #MeToo era, Granite Pass is a hero’s journey story that places women and queer people at the forefront.
About Lisa Scott
Lisa Scott is a Chicago-based playwright and storyteller whose work focuses on the emotional exploration of moral issues. She has written three full-length plays: Granite Pass, La Familia Dune, and Tell Me When It Hurts. The last, her first play, was produced in 2013 at Three Cat. Three Cat also has produced several short plays by Lisa as part of its annual multi-writer holiday show. Those include the Inner World of Christmas Trees, subsequently turned into a short animation, and Ten Little Match Girls. She is a regular performer at Chicago-area storytelling shows, most frequently Loose Chicks and Serving the Sentence. Her stories also have appeared in the Atlanta and Minnesota fringe festivals. Lisa graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and minors in philosophy and economics.
“Last” by Jacob Hoover, directed by Nich Radcliffe
January 12, 2019 at 3pm
Last tells the story of the only surviving human being on Earth. Held in captivity in a mysterious Academy, the Human spends its days “thinking” for the amusement and education of unseen spectators and scientists. With its only friend, the baboon Aristotle, the Human begins a journey of self-discovery which threatens to uncover uncomfortable truths about humanity’s past and the Academy’s intentions.
About Jacob T. Hoover
Jacob T. Hoover is a graduate of Tufts University’s Department of Drama, and his plays have been produced in Chicago and Boston. His short play, A Recipe for Stone Soup was recently produced as a part of St. Sebastian’s Players’ 10-Minute Play Festival in June of 2018. Jacob currently lives in Chicago.