Jenifer Nii’s THE WEIRD PLAY premieres March 1-11

Playwright Jenifer Nii on THE WEIRD PLAY (one of 10 recipients nationwide of the inaugural Writers Alliance Grant from the Dramatists Guild Foundation and her 6th world premiere with Plan-B), premiering March 1-11 in a co-pro with Sackerson. Click here for tickets. I have no business being in theatre. When I first met Jerry Rapier at Plan-B nearly a decade ago, I had written all of one “play.” I’d seen a handful of shows in my youth (including a particularly alarming Idahoan-interpreted MAN OF LA MANCHA). I’d never read a play just for fun. But life is a wild ride. Mine had just steamed through most of a music degree at university, then swerved toward journalism after a Schumann etude ate my finger. Then, through some loopty-loops I still can’t really follow, I landed in the back row of a campus production of Marsha Norman’s play GETTING OUT that cracked my heart and I saw, for the first time, how theatre can transport, and open up and shake. I saw that show every night of its run. The night it closed, I went home and wrote a play. It was not a good play. But somehow it got passed around and then my phone rang and it was this man Jerry who wanted to talk. Even then, knowing nothing about the way theatre works, I knew something nearly-miraculous was happening. Jerry was willing to read draft after draft of what was surely amateur, ignorant writing, and then help to identify strengths and shave away the muck. Through The Lab at Plan-B, I have been given me the opportunity to hear...

Our upcoming co-productions with Sackerson (THE WEIRD PLAY) and Flying Bobcat (JUMP)

Last December, as I was finalizing our 2017/18 season, I started thinking about the unique needs and opportunities of Jenifer Nii’s THE WEIRD PLAY and Austin Archer’s JUMP. And then I started thinking about the exciting work I was seeing from Sackerson and Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory. And then I started thinking how rewarding it has been for us over the years to co-produce work with KUER, Art Access and NOVA Chamber Music Series. And then I started thinking about how rewarding these co-productions have been because they were focused on artistry and audience development rather than sharing production costs. And then I talked to Dave/Alex/Morag of Sackerson and Scott/Andra of Flying Bobcat: “The productions are funded. What we want is your points-of-view. How would you like to come play with us?” And two co-productions were born. [Well, you might even say three, since Sackerson and Flying Bobcat have since co-produced Morag Shepherd’s HOW LONG CAN YOU STAND ON THE TRAIN TRACKS: A GAME FOR TWO SISTERS, which was read in Plan-B’s Lab early in 2017]. Jenifer Nii’s THE WEIRD PLAY (March 1-11) asks: Whom do you love? What do you love? And why? The play lives in the space between romance and devotion and is funded in part by a national grant that we can’t make public until early in the new year but we can tell you only ten plays nationwide have been so honored. Austin Archer’s JUMP  (April 5-15) asks: How will you die? Will you see it coming? What if you’re given a second chance? The play explores the impact of survival on those we love and is funded in...

Today is the global day of giving known as #GivingTuesday

HOW TO GIVE! ***Exciting update: we have already raised $5,655 toward our $6,683 goal – will you help us raise the additional $1,028?*** Funds donated through Facebook today, beginning at 6am MST, will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And Facebook is waiving all fees! Click here to give (and please share it on your Facebook page when given the option at the end of the transaction – you will also have the option to directly share it with your friends)! If you are not a Facebooker you may click here to give. WHY GIVE TO PLAN-B? Since 1991, we have developed and produced unique and socially conscious theatre created by Utah playwrights. We are the only professional theatre company in the United States producing full seasons of new work by local playwrights. We have produced nearly 100 world premieres, including Utah’s first by an African American playwright and first by an Asian American playwright. Locally, our work with local playwrights has garnered Governor’s Leadership in the Arts Award and Salt Lake City’s Mayor’s Artist Award. Nationally, five of our world premieres have been nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg Award for Best New American Play Produced Outside New York, four have enjoyed extended lives in New York and two have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Internationally, we have been recognized the past two seasons with the International Centre for Women Playwrights 50/50 Applause Award for our commitment to gender parity. We are the only professional theatre company in Utah creating new work each season specifically for elementary students. We are also the only professional theatre company in Utah creating new...

Announcing the 2017/18 Script-In-Hand Series!

As the only professional theatre company in the United States producing full seasons of new work by local playwrights, we invite you to join us for three public readings of plays-in-progress. Announcing the 2017/18 Script-In-Hand Series sponsored by Lee & Audrey Hollaar (click here to reserve your free-but-required tickets)! THE PRIESTHOOD November 15 by Carleton Bluford author of MAMA (2015) I was thinking about growing up in a place that is predominately occupied by the Mormon religion.“The Church” has always been in the news politically, all of my friends have been affected by it in some way or another, and there really is no escaping it if you choose to live in the Beehive State. Most of my friends are very liberal and have ended up turning their backs to the Church. However I grew up with many Mormon friends who are still Mormon who were kind to me, nice to me, loved and didn’t judge me, and stood up for me on many occasions. Sometimes even saving my life, literally. They have families and jobs and they seem very happy. Whether they are or not is not for me to decide, as there are two sides to every story. So in writing THE PRIESTHOOD, I wanted to discuss a very controversial event in the Church’s history examining those two sides. I also wanted to make it deeply human because, in the end, talking about spirituality and the soul is very personal. The Church’s 1978 decision to allow blacks to hold the priesthood is called a revelation from God. Some people say the Church just bent from heat of...

Playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett’s Sweet 17 at Rose Exposed

Plan-B Theatre has premiered 16 ten-minute plays by Matthew Ivan Bennett; the 17th premieres this Saturday as part of ROSE EXPOSED…THE SKY IS FALLING! Matt has also premiered seven episodes of RADIO HOUR and his full-length plays BLOCK 8, DI ESPERIENZA, MESA VERDE, ERIC(A), DIFFERENT=AMAZING and A/VERSION OF EVENTS at Plan-B. RADIO HOUR EPISODE 4: FRANKENSTEIN received a Utah Broadcasters Association Gold Award; MESA VERDE was nominated for the American Theatre Critics Assocation/Steinberg Award for Best New American Play Produced Outside New York; and ERIC(A) toured coast-to-coast and was named Best Drama at the United Solo Theatre Festival. THE CAUSE was read at the Great Plains Theatre Conference and his play A NIGHT WITH THE FAMILY was read at Salt Lake Acting Company, received its world premiere at Omaha Community Playhouse and was produced by PYGmalion Theatre Company.  So this is my (sweet) seventeenth 10-minute play produced by Plan-B at the Rose Wagner. If we watched all of them back-to-back, it would take about two and a half hours and would need a cast of at least 12 actors with each actor appearing in multiple roles. Or around 40 actors if each one played one role. Each play took me at least ten hours to write, or theoretically a week of my life without stopping to sleep or eat but just type. Some of these plays are oddball comedy, like “Smells Like Bacon,” in which a philosophy professor falls for a stripper and gets advice from a psychic named Pig. Some of them seeded many months of work, like the 10-minute play “Adaptation” that became the full-length historical drama called...

Austin Archer on creating our third subscription offering: JUMP

Austin Archer’s play JUMP is the current recipient of the Plan-B Theatre grant from The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists and is the third subscription offering of our 2017/18 Season (our 27th! – click here for tickets and subscription info – performances April 5-15). Most recently, Austin contributed “Swipe Right” and “Swipe Left” to Plan-B’s (IN)DIVISIBLE and directed IN THE HEIGHTS for Good Company Theatre. His play THICK METAL BALL was produced at Weber State University. As an actor, he has appeared onstage at GCT, Utah Rep, SLAC and PTC.  How will you die? Will you see it coming? What if you’re given a second chance? JUMP explores the impact of survival on those we love. A co-production with Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory. I’ve been writing songs for over a decade (music catalog here). It started slowly when I was in high school. I’d finish a song every few months or so, and I was never pleased with the result. I wanted to be a great songwriter like Bob Dylan or Elliot Smith. I believed that if I kept it up I’d eventually get better at it. And while that was true, I thought I’d get better after ten or twenty songs. In reality, I don’t think I started to get decent until I’d written maybe 100. By then I was in college and finishing a new song about every other week. I’d adjusted my methods, I’d grown as a guitarist and lyricist, but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be. As time passed my obsession grew deeper. I’d write song after song, most of them only lasting in my...

Jenifer Nii on creating our second subscription offering: THE WEIRD PLAY

Jenifer Nii’s latest play, THE WEIRD PLAY, is the second subscription offering of our 2017/18 Season (our 27th! – click here for tickets and subscription info – performances March 1-11). Jenifer proudly calls Plan-B her creative home. She has previously premiered five plays with the company: KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (the first original musical in our history created with composer and co-lyricist David Evanoff); THE SCARLET LETTER and SUFFRAGE (garnering back-to-back nominations for the American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg Award for Best New American Play Produced Outside New York); RUFF! (our third annual Free Elementary School Tour); and WALLACE (co-written with Debora Threedy).  Whom do you love? What do you love? How do you love? And why? THE WEIRD PLAY lives in the space between romance and devotion. A co-production with Sackerson. It’s all in the title, I suppose. I just couldn’t think of another way to describe the content or the process of my latest play. It’s all different, and weird. My hope is that it’s a good weird, and not just weird weird. THE WEIRD PLAY began as a challenge to myself: to step outside everything I was comfortable with and everything I’d done before, to face head-on the aspects of theatre that had frightened me in the past. I wanted to experiment with language, to discover whether I could retain my “voice” using another style of expression – and a style I wasn’t seeing presented in theatre at the time. I wanted to utilize the set, light, props, and movement in a way I hadn’t tried before. It’s the first time I’ve scripted in any detailed way a vision of what I wanted...

Eric Samuelsen on creating our season opener THE ICE FRONT

Eric Samuelsen’s latest play, THE ICE FRONT, opens our 2017/18 Season (our 27th! – click here for tickets and subscription info – performances November 9-19). Eric has been writing for Plan-B since 2004. Most recently, he was one of 12 playwrights creating short pieces for the Script-In-Hand Series event (in)divisible. He has previously premiered MIASMA, AMERIGO, BORDERLANDS and THE KREUTZER SONATA (a co-production with NOVA Chamber Music Series) at Plan-B. The company’s entire 2013/14 season, the #SeasonOfEric, was fully dedicated to his work and featured the world premieres of NOTHING PERSONAL, RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA, 3 and CLEARING BOMBS, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Fluent in Norwegian, Mr. Samuelsen is an Ibsen translator – his translations of A DOLL HOUSE and GHOSTS have been produced as part of Plan-B’s Script-In-Hand Series. His plays have been produced from California to New York. The actors of the Norwegian National Theatre find themselves in an uneasy truce with Nazi cultural authorities during the German occupation of Norway. When they are forced to perform a Nazi propaganda piece, conscience comes face-to-face with The Final Solution. THE ICE FRONT honors the heroism and dangers faced by the trilogy of Nazi victims – Jews, Gypsies and Homosexuals – by questioning what it means to be an artist, to be a patriot, to be human. It has taken me 30 years to write THE ICE FRONT. While living in Norway for three years, I found the story I could use as the vehicle for this celebration in my research files from my doctoral dissertation. In 1990, in the Norwegian National Theatre archives, I discovered the...

Playwright Elaine Jarvik on creating RIVER.SWAMP.CAVE.MOUNTAIN., this year’s Free Elementary School Tour

Elaine Jarvik’s plays BASED ON A TRUE STORY and MARRY CHRISTMAS premiered at Plan-B. Her other plays include DEAD RIGHT (Humana Festival of New Plays) TWO STORIES and [a man enters], Salt Lake Acting Company; THE COMING ICE AGE, PYGmalion Theatre Company; and NOT QUITE RIGHT, Teatro Paraguas. Elaine’s latest play, RIVER.SWAMP.CAVE.MOUNTAIN., created specifically for K-3, will tour as our fifth annual Free Elementary School Tour this fall. Click here for details on bringing RSCM to your school and for details on the October 14 performance as part of RDT’s Ring Around the Rose Series, as well as free performances at six Salt Lake City Library branches as well as three libraries in Davis County: Centerville, Davis County Central and Roy (presented by Davis Arts Council).   Five-year-old JJ (who has lots of questions) and eight-year-old Izzy (a know-it-all who doesn’t know it all) are siblings who have recently lost their grandmother. They embark on a funny and touching hero’s journey to try to make sense of loss, grief, death and life. Featuring Ashley Maria Ramos and Benjamin Young. Designed by Aaron Swenson. Directed by Cheryl Cluff. I volunteer at The Sharing Place, a support group for children who are grieving the death of someone close to them. Perhaps that makes it sound like I’m the kind of person who can walk into a funeral home and not get weak in the knees. But, in fact, I am still at some level a grown-up version of the child who could barely walk past the Funk and Wagnall’s encyclopedias on our hallway bookshelf because one of the “B” entries was “blood.” I grew up...

Thank you Jesse Portillo!

NOT ONE DROP (2017) NOT ONE DROP (2017) VIRTUE (2017) ONE BIG UNION (2016) KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (2016) BASED ON A TRUE STORY (2016) BOOKSMART (2015) THE KREUTZER SONATA (2015) PILOT PROGRAM (2015) A/VERSION OF EVENTS (2015) MAMA (2015) CHRISTMAS WITH MISFITS (2014) 3 (2014) CLEARING BOMBS (2014) NOTHING PERSONAL (2013) SUFFRAGE (2013) ERIC(A) (2013) ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA (2013) HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH revival (2012) THE THIRD CROSSING (2012) THE SCARLET LETTER (2012) LADY MACBETH (2011) BORDERLANDS (2011) MESA VERDE (2011) SHE WAS MY BROTHER (2010) AMERIGO (2010) DI ESPERIENZA (2009) BLOCK 8 (2009) EXPOSED (2007) Jesse Portillo has been designing lighting for Plan-B since in 2007. He became our resident lighting designer in 2010, having designed all but one Plan-B production since. He’s heading east to join the faculty of the College of Charleston in South Carolina, but we’ll see him back at least once next season. Above are images from most of Jesse’s Plan-B designs. Below are thoughts from his collaborators about him and his work. Break a leg in South Carolina – we love you and will miss you; we’ll miss your eye and especially the catty things you say from the top of the genie! Read more about Jesse on Howlround. We have worked together a helluva lot over the past decade. I should have realized that all those letters of recommendation would result in you actually moving on. Here’s the most recent one – the last paragraph says it all. Shit. I will miss you tremendously. Jerry Rapier, Artistic Director (and director of many a Plan-B show lit by...

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