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Eugene O’Neill Theater Center Announces 2020 Summer Lineup

The season, the last under artistic director Preston Whiteway, will take place entirely online.

WATERFORD, CONN.: The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center has announced its summer season of plays, musicals, and other works in development. Special events, happy hours, classes, and workshops will be available to the public throughout the summer.

“For the first time, the O’Neill’s summer season will unfold entirely online,” said CEO/producer Preston Whiteway in a statement. “For the safety of our staff, artists, students, and audiences we know that this is the best course of action for our 56th Season. I’m inspired by the innovation taking place within our institution as we move online together and the mission and values of the O’Neill—as the launchpad of American theatre—remain vibrant and vital. Each of our programs continue to support exciting new artists, voices, and work. This summer also marks my final one leading this special institution. It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of the story here. The O’Neill’s future is bright.”

The National Puppetry Conference, led by artistic director Pam Arciero, will take place June 8-12. Artists from across the globe will participate in workshops on puppetry, mechanism building, writing, performance, marionettes, and more. Teachers will include Tim McKeon, Jim “Nappy” Napolitano, Edwin Sala, Jim Rose and Kurt Hunter, Alice Gottschalk, and Jean Marie Keevins.

Next, artistic director Alexander Gemignani will lead the National Music Theater Conference. Selected from a pool of 360 submissions, two musicals will be developed this summer as part of the conference. The selections include:

  • Azul Otra Vez [Blue, Revisited] with book by Melis Aker and Tatiana Pandiani, music by Jacinta Clusellas, lyrics by Jacinta Clusellas and Rubén Darío.
  • Two Nights and Three Days with book, music, and lyrics by Kim Jinhyoung and Marcus Perkins.

Following will be the National Playwrights Conference, under the direction of Wendy C. Goldberg. Each of the selected plays will receive direct monetary and developmental support. Additionally a design team including Emily Auciello, RezaBehjat, Raquel Davis, Matt Hubbs, Anne Kennedy, Brian Lilienthal, Lawrence E. Moten III, and M.Florian Staab will provide support. Chosen from 1,546 blind submissions, this year’s plays include:

  • Beacon by Kirstin Greenidge, with dramaturg Kristin Leahey
  • …but you could’ve held my hand by JuCoby Johnson, with director: Lileana Blain-Cruz
  • visiting hours by Arika Larson, with director: Robert O’Hara
  • Kidnapping Jane Doe by David Zheng, with director Raelle Myrick Hodges

The programming will continue with the Cabaret & Performance Conference, directed by John McDaniel, from Aug. 3-7. Master teachers include Barb Jungr, Natalie Douglas, Betty Buckley, and Lennie Watts. Returning music directors will include Tracy Stark, Mark Hartman, and Brian Nash. The 2020 Junior Fellows program, for middle and high school students, takes on the music of Kenny Loggins through the medium of music videos, under the mentorship of Brad Simmons and Michael Holland.

The National Critics Institute, directed by Chris Jones, will take place July 6-10. The selected arts journalists and theatre critics who complete the online intensive will be offered a position to return for NCI 2021 on-campus, for two weeks, with full financial support.

The National Theater Institute, under the direction of artistic director Rachel Jett, will focus on virtual theatremaking, filmmaking, podcasts, and devising. Teachers for the four-week course will include David Auburn, Melia Bensussen, Michael Berresse, Blackwell, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Oliver Butler, Rachel Chavkin, Jeremy Cohen, Donna Di Novelli, Colman Domingo, Sarah Einspanier, Julie Foh, Alexander Gemignani, Maria Goyanes, Jennifer Haley, Jeremy O. Harris, Jessi Hill, Samuel D. Hunter, Tom Kitt, Forrest McClendon, Lindsay Mendez, Dominique Morisseau, Matt Newton, Robert O’Hara, Karen Olivo, Ren Santiago, Charly Evon Simpson, Stephen Sondheim, Josh Wilder, Roy Alexander Weise, Malik Work, and the Debate Society.

The National Directors Fellowship will soon select its 2020 fellows and emerging directors with a network of writers. The 18-month program is a joint initiative of the O’Neill, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National New Play Network, and Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation.

New for the 2020 season will be the Administrative & Technical Observerships program. A total of 15 emerging artists, technicians, and administrators from across the U.S. will have the opportunity to learn about professional theatre and new work development collaboration with the O’Neill’s professional programs.

In addition to the programming announcement, the O’Neill has released this statement: “National actions have continually dehumanized, abused, and ignored the lives of our fellow humans. Our neighbors, collaborators, students, family members, and friends are impacted daily by these acts of systemic racism, and the work of the Black Lives Matter Movement shines a vital light on these acts. As an institution, we must commit more of our resources to educate and engage our staff and audiences towards building anti-racist, inclusive, and empathetic spaces for all. Specific details of this plan are forthcoming and will be made public. We pledge to uphold our mission as the Launchpad of American Theater; to uplift artists of color and produce stories reflecting the entirety of human experience in American culture. We stand with artists grappling with the anguish, compassion, violence, and unrest occurring in daily life. We believe their experiences and voices are vital to the future of American theatre.”

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