BOISE, IDAHO: Boise Contemporary Theater (BCT) has announced the selections for its inaugural BIPOC Playwrights Festival, running Aug. 2-14 at the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts.
“BCT’s mission is to inspire our community to examine our perspectives and better understand ourselves, each other, and the world around us by creating thought-provoking stories of the human experience,” said festival director Lily Yasuda in a statement. “This festival allows us to bring new stories, penned by artists from all over the country, to Boise.”
“Week one will give the writers, actors and directors time and space to work on the new scripts,” explained Benjamin Burdick, producing artistic director of BCT, in a statement. That work will culminate in several readings on the Morrison Center Stage on Aug. 6 and 7. The festival will also include a playwright’s panel on Tues., Aug. 10, moderated by Lily Yasuda and featuring all of the participating playwrights. A fully produced new play with live music, M’Balia Singley’s, Turn, will be offered in the final weekend of the festival.
BCT’s inaugural BIPOC Playwrights Festival selections are:
- Middle of the World, written by Juan Alfonso, who spent 20 years as a media executive before writing his first play, An Educated Guess, based on his experiences as an immigrant in the U.S. The play was developed at New York Theatre Workshop and Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. Alfonso is writing his next two plays during a residency at the Geffen Playhouse’s Writers’ Room program. In his day job, Juan is a television producer who has worked on over 25 shows, including the Emmy-winning American Crime and Marvel’s Agent Carter, as well as such documentaries as The Clemente Effect and L’Arbitre, winner of the United Nations prize at the New York Festival in 2010.
- Half of Chopsticks by Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters, who is a Barrymore-nominated actor, playwright, and teaching artist in Philadelphia. She is an InterAct Theatre core playwright and the lead artist on the Philly Asian Performing Artists’s Playwrights Project. She earned a spot on the 2020 Kilroy’s List and Table Work Press Recommended list. Jeff Liu, director of Half of Chopsticks, is a writer and director for theatre, film, and web. He formerly worked as literary manager for East West Players, and is a member of the O’Neill National Directing Fellowship cohort of 2016. He is currently a resident dramaturge for the Ojai Playwrights Conference.
- Turn by M’Balia Singley, a Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary artist who explores the human condition through story, song, and audience engagement. She has self-produced three albums of her original music and can be heard on John Legend’s Grammy-nominated debut album, Get Lifted, and on Orrin Evans’ #knowingishalfthebattle. M’Balia was selected as a 2017-18 Kimmel Center Jazz Resident as co-composer of Doug Hirlinger’s Dear Philadelphia, and she composed music for Nadine George-Graves’s children’s musical Anansi, The Spider King, which debuted at the University of California, San Diego. She is the creator of Jams For Junior Jawns, an online children’s music program, and she produced Meet Me on the Moon, the podcast celebrating the influence, legacy, and sound of singer-songwriter Phyllis Hyman through the lived experiences of some of Philadelphia’s finest Black women vocalists. M’Balia is a graduate of Yale University, and she will begin pursuing her Master’s in Social Service this fall at Bryn Mawr College.
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