Chicago Northside and North suburban playwrights, several whose hit shows have been performed across the U.S. and overseas, will premiere 13 new plays and musicals at Next Theatre Company, 927 Noyes St. during the Chicago Writers' Bloc 2013 Festival of readings, April 29 - May 22.
The Fest begins with a gala benefit performance of Genderella, an original musical that launches the Festival at 7 p.m. with free food and drinks, a silent auction, and a raffle. Tickets for the gala are $20. All other shows are $10 and begin at 8 p.m.
A Festival Pass good for all performances, many featuring Equity actors, is available for $25. Tickets may be purchased from Brown Paper Tickets, at 800-838-3006, online at www.brownpapertickets.com, or by paying at the door.
Funds raised help support the Chicago Writers' Bloc and ease the cost of readings for playwrights. The Festival is supported, in part, by the Dramatists Guild Fund, Inc. Additional donations are welcome. For further information about Chicago Writers' Bloc, including contact information, see our website at www.writersblocfest.org .
- April 29: Genderella chronicles one person's gender journey based on a story by Honey West. Book is by Joanne Koch and Honey West, music by Ilya Levinson and lyrics
by Myrna Petlicki. An Evanston resident, Dr. Koch has had 17 plays and musicals produced throughout the US including Soul Sisters, American Klezmer, and Belle Barth: If I Embarrass YouTell Your Friends. A Midwest Emmy and American Film and Video Award winner, Dr. Koch is the director of the National Louis University Graduate Writing Program. Chicago composer Ilya Levinson has been widely praised for his operas, musicals, symphonic and chamber music, and film scores. He is Assistant Professor at the Music Department at Columbia College Chicago. Myrna Petlicki is a freelance arts writer, arts columnist for Pioneer Press
newspapers and managing editor of Footlights, a theater program publication. She was the lyricist for Black, White and Gray produced at Theatre Building Chicago. She lives in Skokie. Honey West is very proud to be a 2012 inductee into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of
Fame. Her cabaret act ran for 13 years in Chicago and in touring productions. Recently she appeared as Big Mama in Hell in a Handbag's Pussy on the House by Ryan Landry for which she received a Best Actress Award from BroadwayWorld.com . She lives in Chicago.
- April 30: Jersey Justice by June Finfer traces what happens when an elderly white shopkeeper is killed in Trenton, NJ, and the police arrest African American men who confess to the crime. Only the sister of one of the accused, and another woman, a white suburban housewife believe in the men's innocence and fight to reverse their death sentences.. Her play is based on the book "Jersey Justice" by Cathy Knepper. A documentary film maker and playwright, Finfer's musical, The White City, last year received a special performance celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Chicago World Columbian Exposition. Her play The Glass House, focused on Mies van der Rohe's famously contentious construction, was recently produced by Resonance Ensemble Theatre in New York. Finfer, a West Rogers Park resident, is active in several local historical societies.
- May 1: In Zipporah Porton's The Beneficiary, Harry Gold has found a way to make millions of dollars. While his methods may be legal, are they morally ethical? Agent Fiona Tower doesn't think so. Porton holds an MFA in playwriting from the University of Southern California. Her plays have been produced at USC, Cypress College, Princeton University and in Los Angeles and Australia. Her play Breakfast was chosen as Best One-Act Play 2000 by the Internet Theatre Workshop and was published in an anthology. She is a resident of Roscoe Village.
- May 6: features Blake Levinson's drama, By Reason of Sanity, which explores the relationship between a troubled white therapist who shares a fascination for the benefits of violent uprisings with her client, a battered black woman. The startling results begs the question: "Do Two Wronged Women Make a Right?" The play also was selected for a staged reading at Chicago Dramatists. Two of Levinson's plays, Wishboner and Speed Bumps were produced this year at the Bodhi Spiritual Center's short play fest. A Lakeview resident, Levinson became a co-founder, writer and performer with the improv group, Slippery When Wet after studying acting and improv with the late Byrne Piven.
- May 7: showcases Lincolnwood resident Zan Skolnick's Enduring Loves, about two septuagenarians dealing with aging, personal and financial loss, loyalty, friendship, death and the surfacing of a secret love. It's a comedy recently tested in New York; one noted director found the play's characters "lovely and fascinating," another thought its theme "wonderful." Skolnick's produced plays include ...And Puppy Dogs' Tails, Whale, Down From the Hill, and God Help the Rabbi which set box office records in each of three different Chicago/suburban productions. Other Skolnick plays have won major local, national, and international awards.
- May 8: Judy Veramendi's sizzling comedy, Men Around the World, catalogs an innocent's relationships abroad. Many of her works have a Latin American flavor. Last year Alegrias y lagrimas (Happiness and Tears) mixed true stories of Latino immigrants with dances from their countries in a co-production at Raven Theatre with Centro Romero. Next Theatre hosted a production of Hall of Hungry Ghosts, a drama about the disappeared during Argentina's "dirty war." Forever Flamenco, a musical covering three generations of gypsy dancers was produced at Instituto Cervantes, Chicago. Now an Evanston resident, Veramendi's plays have also been produced in Argentina and Uruguay.
- May 13: Bev Rosen 's comedy, I Owe You a Lullaby, concerns a former diva who receives a visit from her daughter after 40 years of separation. The show had an earlier reading at Boxer Rebellion Theater. Her play Near Niagara was produced at Snowmass, CO, and at Chicago Playwrights Center. A Lakeview resident, Rosen has had several short plays performed in festivals at Circle Theatre, Oak Park, and at the Open Door Ensemble Short Plays Festival.
- May 14: Parasol, Chloe Bolan's haunting play about a survivor of the Eastland, a tourist ship that in 1915 capsized in the Chicago River drowning 850 people, is explored in musical scenes — book and lyrics by Bolan, music by Gerald Bailey. Parasol was a semifinalist in the Moondance Film Festival. Bolan's children's play, M. KiKi, about a French truffle-hunting pig published by Heartland Plays, now has drawings by artist Beth Bird. Bolan, an East Lakeview resident, teaches English at Truman College. Bailey, an actor/director/composer, has worked with CWB playwrights for several years.
- May 15: Liz Ellison will offer Itch Loves Louie. Two home-schooled sisters, closely watched by their nervous, unpredictable parents, feel ready to see what the real world looks like, but Itch and her younger sister, Dobs, find their escape plans aren't much alike. Ellison is a 2012-2013 Core Apprentice at the Playwrights Center. Her plays have been developed and produced in Chicago, New York, Omaha, Aspen and Ypsilanti. She has been a semifinalist for the Princess Grace Award and a three-time O'Neill National Playwrights Conference semifinalist. A Ravenswood resident, she is a 2011 alum of the MFA program in dramatic writing from Carnegie-Mellon University where she was a recipient of the Steven Bochco Fellowship.
- May 20: One Red Grain of Sand, by emerging playwright Gerald Cole, concerns a Muslim family that moves to Cairo, IL, where they learn about prejudice and kindness. A trained Shakesperean actor, he's performed in many plays and musicals. He was head writer for a cable children's tv show B.N. Explorer. A resident of Avondale, Cole recently received a Master's in Writing from National Louis University.
- May 21: Verve, a 90-minute musical that follows five women at a gym as they lose the fat fetish and find friendship was written by Fran Zell (book and lyrics) and Karena Mendoza (music). They developed Verve at Midwest New Musicals. Zell is an award-winning playwright and fiction writer, who lives in Evansville, WI. Mendoza is an award winning vocalist and composer based in Riverside, IL.
-May 22: Nikki Paley Cox's comedy, All Other Nights, concerns a family's daughter who returns home for a Passover Seder to try reconcile with her family, but real-life signs and wonders force her to question her belief in family and faith. A Lakeview resident, she recently completed a movie version of Lift and Separate that premiered at Writers' Bloc Fest 2011.