Theatre Lab Kicks Off Season with Virtual Masterclasses
Theatre Lab, the professional resident company of Florida Atlantic University’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, has announced updated information regarding the 2020-21 season. In keeping with recommendations for social distancing, the series will take place in the virtual world.
On Sundays throughout October, Theatre Lab will once again welcome some of the nation’s emerging and established playwrights to share readings of their newest plays followed by a discussion about the work, their process, and the importance of new play development. The first event in the series will be a master class with Rachel Teagle followed by a reading of her play, “The Impracticality of Modern-Day Mastodons.” The play was scheduled for a full production as part of Theatre Lab’s annual Heckscher Theatre for Families programming.
“Currently we are using the show to create inventive new educational outreach programming to support teachers and engage students from the area and around the country in the arts,” said Matt Stabile, Theatre Lab producing artistic director. “By offering our audiences an opportunity to meet this play and playwright this October, we hope to build excitement for the full production next summer.”
The remaining three events in the series will be new audio plays commissioned by and written exclusively for Theatre Lab. In addition, prior to the readings, playwrights will offer a 90-minute workshop designed to guide participants through the various stages of playwriting. Participants in the master class series will be encouraged to use the series to develop their own short plays. As in past seasons, the short plays developed as part of this series will be eligible for submission to Theatre Lab’s 2021 New Play Festival, which offers an opportunity for budding and established playwrights to see their work produced at Theatre Lab.
The master class and playwright’s forum events will take place on the following dates:
Sunday, Oct. 4, 2 to 3:30 p.m.: Playwright’s Master Class with Rachel Teagle
Sunday, Oct. 4, 4 p.m.: Playwright’s Forum. Reading of “The Impracticality of Modern-Day Mastodons” followed by talkback with Rachel Teagle. This play is being used as the centerpiece of Theatre Lab’s educational outreach program, The Future PAGES Project, this fall and will be produced by Theatre Lab in 2021 as the Heckscher Theatre for Families Production.
Sunday, Oct. 11, 2 to 3:30 p.m.: Playwright’s Master Class with Jeff Bower
Sunday, Oct. 11, 4 p.m.: Playwright’s Forum. Reading of a new audio play by Jeff Bower followed by talkback with playwright.
Sunday, Oct. 18, 2 to 3:30 p.m.: Playwright’s Master Class with Jahna Ferron-Smith
Sunday, Oct. 18, 4 p.m.: Playwright’s Forum. Reading of a new audio play by Jahna Ferron-Smith followed by talkback with playwright.
Sunday, Oct. 25, 2 to 3:30 p.m.: Playwright’s Master Class with Vanessa Garcia
Sunday, Oct. 25, 4 p.m.: Playwright’s Forum. Reading of a new audio play by Vanessa Garcia followed by talkback with playwright.
All sessions will take place on Zoom and tickets will be on sale in September. Master Classes are $30 per event and readings are $15 per event. More information will be posted at www.fau.edu/theatrelab.
At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Theatre Lab immediately responded with innovative new programming, the Online Original Monologue Festival, to help artists in need and continue to support its mission to “inspire, develop, and produce new work, artists, and audiences for the American theater.”
“With no clear indication of when it may be safe to once again gather in person in the theater space, we have continued our forward-looking approach to programs being offered this season.” said Stabile.
Due to contractual obligations and a desire to keep the previously announced “season of world premieres” intact, Theatre Lab is moving the announced 2020-21 season including a rolling world premiere of “Predictor” by Jennifer Blackmer, a rolling world premiere of “Refuge” co-created by Andrew Rosendorf and Satya Chavez, and a world premiere of local playwright, Gina Montet’s “Overactive Letdown,” to the 2021-22 season.
“While these three plays will have to wait another year for their full productions, we have a litany of exciting new plays we want to produce,” said Stabile. “As soon as we are cleared to welcome patrons back into the space, we plan to do so, starting with last season’s postponed production of “To Fall In Love” by Jennifer Lane and, hopefully, adding at least one other new play to culminate the Spring season.”
Rachel Teagle is a playwright, librettist, and comedian who grew up in the Silicon Valley, moved around the country, and settled in Minnesota. She helped found the Atlanta Fringe Festival and the Twin Cities Playwright Cabal. She was awarded the Leah Ryan’s Fund for Emerging Women Writers prize for her play The Ever and After. She currently resides in St. Paul with her family. More at rachelteagle.com
A former teacher, professional mascot, and assembly line worker, Jeff Bower earned a bachelor’s in mathematics from Binghamton University and an M.F.A. in theater from Florida Atlantic University. After moving to Los Angeles, Bower was accepted into the advanced studies improv program at the Upright Citizens Brigade and performed sketch and improv for more than three years on the iO West mainstage, winning a Del Close Award along the way. He has acted and written for countless web series, short films, and TV pilots and yet mainly gets recognized for his five seconds of screen time in an episode of “1,000 Ways to Die.” He has a play published by Samuel French, won and placed in over a dozen screenplay competitions (ScreenCraft, PAGE, Tracking Board, Slamdance, Austin, Nashville, etc.), and primarily writes dark hour-long TV dramas even though he still hopes to one day grow up to be a muppet. Bower is repped by Paul Weitzman at Culture Creative Entertainment and Alex Creasia at Pathfinder Media.
Jahna Ferron-Smith is a Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow at the Juilliard School, as well as a member of the Obie Award-winning playwrights collective, “Youngblood.” Her plays have been performed at Ensemble Studio Theatre, and the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival. Her plays include, “THE WOODS” (developed at SPACE on Ryder Farm); “SIR” (published by Samuel French); and “SALT: A Rom Com” (The Lark Jerome New York Fellowship Finalist).
Vanessa Garcia is a multidisciplinary artist working as a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and journalist. Her debut novel, “White Light,” was published in 2015, to critical acclaim. Named one of the best books of 2015 by NPR, Al Dia, Flavorwire, and numerous other publications and institutions, it also won an International Latino Book Award. Her plays have been produced in Edinburgh, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and other cities around the world. These include the immersive hit, “Amparo” (“Miami’s Hottest Ticket,” according to People en Español), winner of The Ruth Foreman Award. Most recently she's written for Sesame Street and adapted the national award winning book, “Waiting for Snow in Havana” into a limited series. As a journalist, feature writer, and essayist, her pieces have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Narrative.ly, Huffington Post, and American Theatre Magazine, among numerous other publications. She has a Ph.D. from the University of California Irvine in English (with a focus in creative nonfiction), an M.F.A. from the University of Miami (in fiction), and a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University (English and art history).