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Michael Oberholtzer, Geneva Carr, Steven Boyer, Marc Kudisch, and Sarah Stiles in a scene from Robert Askins' "Hand to God" on Broadway. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Ojai Playwrights Conference Announces Lineup for Summer New Works Festival

A reading of Robert Askins’s ‘Hand to God’ kicks off a new-work slate of eight new plays.

OJAI, CALIF.: The Ojai Playwrights Conference (OPC) has announced the lineup of the OPC Summer New Works Festival (Aug. 2–9), highlighting eight new plays and featuring special events. The festival’s theme is “fault lines,” with an emphasis on new voices of theatre speaking about social pressures and the shifting tectonics of American society. Mike Daisey, Ellen Fairey, Nick Gandiello, JC Lee, Gina Loring, Christopher Gabriel Núñez, Jiehae Park, Sunni Patterson, Gideon Jeph Wabvuta, and Jaha Zainabu are the playwrights who will feature new work alongside writers-in-residence Robert Askins, Stephen Belber, and Alice Tuan.

“We will be exploring the tensions and pressures building within American society,” said artistic director Robert Egan in a statement. “Race, religion, economic justice, and urban violence are just some of the fault lines our OPC artists will examine in the hopes of taking us to new horizons of human connection and community.”

The first performance to kick off the festival will be a reading of Robert Askins’s play, now running on BroadwayHand to God (Aug. 6). Askins will perform and direct.

Next will be Gina Loring, Sunni Patterson, and Jaha Zainabu’s 3 Women (Aug. 7), a performance art project exploring the voice, integrity, song, and humor of black womanhood. Jennifer Newman will direct.

Following will be Gideon Jeph Wabvuta’s Mbare Dreaming (Aug. 7), a biographical story about growing up in one of Africa’s most populated housing projects. Ron Lagomarsino will direct this collaboration with Almasi Arts Alliance.

Next is Jiehae Park’s Peerless (Aug. 8), about a set of Asian-American twins vying to get into college who will do anything to beat out a one-sixteenth Native American rival’s shot. Elliot Quick will direct.

Following will be Christopher Gabriel Núñez’s The Surgeon and Her Daughters (Aug. 8), about a cardiac surgeon who lost his wife and daughter and must form relationships with his new lover’s college-aged daughters. Egan will direct.

Next will be Ellen Fairey’s Support Group for Men (Aug. 8), about four men whose weekly male support group is threatened by the arrival of an uninvited guest. Kimberly Senior will direct.

Next is JC Lee’s Women of a Certain Age (Aug. 9), about a prominent feminist author and her quest to rise above  an up-and-coming rival writer. Casey Stangl will direct.

Following will be Nick Gandiello’s The Blameless (Aug. 9), about a family that reconciles with the father of their son’s murderer. Hal Brooks will direct.

The festival concludes with Why We Hate Art (Aug. 9), an exploration of the meaning of art and who it serves, written, performed, and directed by Mike Daisey.

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