New Works Reading Series
About the New Works Reading Series
Following a theme of women breaking through adversity, these four new works from new voices were inspired by real experiences. On Thursdays and Fridays from November 5th to December 4th, we share these stories in the form of staged readings. Settle in for a series of touching and thought-provoking evenings! All Performances will be livestreamed at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time. See below for details.
by Lyra Yang
Directed by Desdemona Chiang
From 1910-40, roughly 175,000 Chinese immigrated to the United States through Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. Paper Dream is the story of four Chinese women: a self-proclaimed aristocrat, her husband’s second wife’s obedient daughter, a working-class mother, and a talented young courtesan as they find themselves trapped like prisoners in a “land of freedom.” It is about the ghosts they left behind, the spirit of who they are, and the dream of what they might become. A haunting period drama that reckons with the spectre of nationalism still stalking immigrants at America’s borders.
27 Ways to Say Goodbye
Directed by Erin Kraft
(Content Warning: Drug Use and Attempted Suicide)
Dad died. It happened and it sucks. And now the kids left are grappling with identity, place, and the oppression of a mother whose narcissism may just be the thing that rips them all apart. The story centers around Ari, a single-mother of a sixteen year old and her struggle with mental health, death in the family, and love of Dolly Parton
The play focuses on collaboration with performers and producers to create a unique story that each group identifies with. Hopefully the message of loss and overcoming loss is universal.
The Medea Complex
by Patricia Crespin
Directed by Diego Robledo
In a cold, dank interview room in a prison in Texas, Medéa, a young Mexican Immigrant woman, is to be executed in the morning, after spending years on death row for committing four unspeakable murders. She never revealed the truth at her trial about her violent crimes and Gilberto, a Latino journalist Medéa hand picks to interview her, demands to know the reasons for them. How could a mother drown her own daughters? Why did she butcher the state’s most beloved Senator and his daughter? Are the stories true that she also killed Jason, the father of her children? Can anything justify her crimes? As Medéa’s story unfolds, Gilberto is drawn into an ominous tale of the past, wondering all the while if he can believe her incredulous account. And now that Medéa has poured her heart out to Gilberto, can she rely on him to tell her story to the world and give her the peace she so desperately seeks?
Emme and the Taking of the Woods
by Jef Petersen
Directed by James Lortz.
Emme, a precocious and intelligent nine-year old, likens theirself to the heroes of all the very best myths and legends of yore. But when they answer a call for help emanating from the woods behind their house in the dark of night, they find theirself facing a destructive force that is obliterating entire worlds across the multiverse. Along the way Emme meets an assortment of companions to aid in the fight, but in the end they must learn that even the best heroes will sometimes roll a critical failure.
Guest Artist Bios
Lyra Yang - playwright, Paper Dream
Lyra Yang is a DMV-based playwright originally from China. Her play Paper Dream won the 2020 Judith Royer Excellence in Playwriting Award, and
received staged reading at Spooky Action Theatre’s New Play Series (D.C.), Avant Bard Theatre’s Scripts in Play Festival 2019 (Arlington), Silk Road Rising (Chicago), Three Cats Production’s New Play Festival 2019 (Chicago), Chicago Brokenbell Read, was nominated for L. Arnold Weissberg Award and Playwright Center's fellowship, and a semi-finalist for O'Neil National Playwriting Conference. World Behind the Fence was commissioned by Nothing Without a Company for Chicago New World Play World Festival (2019). Her other plays have been showcased at the Kennedy Center, American Dramatist Guild’s New Play Workshop, Adventure Theatre, Chicago Dramatist, Round House Theatre (D.C.), Chicago Livingroom Playmaker and Tradewind Arts Asian American Artist (Kansas). Alumna of Northwestern University (MFA) and Television Academy Program. Currently a playwright fellow at Cohesion Theatre.
Desdemona Chiang - Director, Paper Dream
Desdemona Chiang is a stage director based in Seattle, WA and Ashland, OR. Co-Founder of Azeotrope (Seattle). Directing credits include Guthrie Theater, Alley Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, California Shakespeare Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Playmakers Repertory Company, Studio Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, ACT Theatre Seattle, American Shakespeare Center, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Village Theatre, Theatre Latte Da, Heritage Theatre Festival, Book-It Repertory, Aurora Theatre Company, Theatre Latte Da, Seattle Public Theatre, Shotgun Players, Crowded Fire Theatre Company, Azeotrope, Impact Theatre, Playwrights Foundation, Golden Thread Productions, Washington Ensemble Theatre, One Minute Play Festival, Ohio Northern University, University of Washington, and Cornish College of the Arts, among others. Assisting and dramaturgy credits include: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Playmakers Repertory Company, A Contemporary Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Arizona Theatre Company, Intiman Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Magic Theatre, Theatreworks, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, among others. Intersection for the Arts Triangle Lab Artist-Investigator. Adjunct Faculty, Cornish College of the Arts. Awards/Affiliations: Princess Grace Award (Robert and Gloria Hausman Theater Honor), Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Theatre, SDC Sir John Gielgud Directing Fellowship, Drama League Directing Fellowship, TCG Young Leader of Color, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and Directors Lab West. Gregory Award Recipient for Outstanding Direction. BA: University of California at Berkeley. MFA Directing: University of Washington School of Drama.
Kamarie Chapman - playwright, 27 Ways to Say Goodbye
Kamarie Chapman is a Senior Instructor here at Western. Her personal research focuses on underrepresented voices in playwriting and collaboration of new performance. Kamarie has been teaching playwriting, theatre theory and dramaturgy, as well as criticism and introduction to cinema for the Department of Theatre and Dance since 2010. Read Kamarie's full profile.
Erin Kraft - Director, 27 Ways to Say Goodbye
Erin Kraft is a Chicago-based director whose recent projects include: In A Word (Urbanite Theatre, Sarasota), the world premiere of The Great Inconvenience (Annex Theatre), We Are Proud to Present a Presentation...,The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, Circle Mirror Transformation, Tender, The Lady From the Sea, and The Merchant of Venice (The Theatre School). She’s directed new play workshops and world premieres for Seattle Repertory Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, 20% Theatre, Prop Theatre, Washington Ensemble Theatre, Book-It Repertory Theatre, and Northwest Playwrights Alliance. She is a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, the SDCF 2018-2019 Observership Class, and earned her MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University, where she is currently a directing faculty member for the Summer High School Training.
Patricia Crespin - Playwright, The Medea Complex
Patricia Crespín is a writer, actor, director, producer, and has never been accused of tedious storylines. She is the founder of Wize Latina Productions, her company dedicated to creating powerful roles in theatre and film for the underrepresented, yet unique Latina. She is a fellowship recipient from the University of New Mexico’s Center for Regional Studies. Her plays include We are Hispanic, American Women…Okay? (2006), Confessions of a Hispanic American Woman (2007), The Medea Complex (2008), The Three Señorita Pigletitas y el Diablo the Wolf (2008), Living Purgatory (2009), El Corrido de Jórge-George’s Song (2010), The Sad Room (2012), and Fallout, (2017). Patricia has had the incredible opportunity to work with many intrepid theatre companies and directors, including Valli Rivera from Puerto Rico who directed The Medea Complex, and Michael Goldfried from New York who directed Living Purgatory, both in UNM’s Words a Fire Festival. The Breath of Fire Theatre Ensemble from Santa Ana, CA produced The Medea Complex in 2009, and the National Hispanic Cultural Center and Teatro Paraguas both produced The Medea Complex in 2012. Patricia started her film career after her play, We are Hispanic, American Women…Okay? was optioned by Yellow Hat Productions in the Summer of 2009. Patricia co-wrote and co-produced the movie which became a Universal Studios film in 2012 titled Before We Say Goodbye. She has written two short films, Michelle, (2013) which was a finalist in the 48-hour horror film festival, and Land of Heirs, (2016) which premiered at NMHU’s film studies department and has evolved into a horror series about Latino cultural urban legends. Patricia has a B.A. from New Mexico Highlands University and an M.F.A from the University of New Mexico. She lives in Las Vegas, NM, where she continues to explore and elucidate the often, complicated construction of the Latino culture in New Mexico, through theatre, storywriting, and film, using risqué narratives seeped in the history of the breathtaking land, and it’s quixotic people.
Diego Robledo - Director, The Medea Complex
He is a writer, stage director, musician, sound, and lighting designer living and working in Mexico City. His art is focused on the study of human behavior and the impact our development’s had in both societies and nature. He’s written and directed more than 20 plays in different styles and genres such as realism, science fiction, musical theatre, documentary theatre, and surrealism. His body of work explores themes such as global warming, migration, social justice, scientific disclosure, human relations, and death. His plays have been published by some of the most publishing houses in Mexico: Tierra Adentro, El Milagro, Paso de Gato, and Red Escénica Magazine in Madrid, Spain. His shows have been produced with funds from some of the most important cultural institutions in Mexico such as the National Institute of Fine Arts (Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes), the National Theatre Company (Compañía Nacional de Teatro), the International Cervantino Festival (Festival Internacional Cervantino) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Teatro UNAM). His shows have toured in North and South America, Europe and Asia, in countries such as Costa Rica, Colombia, the United States, Singapore, and Spain.
Jef Petersen - Playwright, Emme and the Taking of the Woods
Jef Petersen is a playwright, director, educator and sometimes actor. He currently lives on the border of Washington and Idaho in the beautiful area known as the Palouse. He holds an MFA in Playwriting and Directing from the University of Idaho, an MA in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Playwriting Pedagogy from the University of Oregon. His plays have been performed in Oregon and Idaho, and his play An Elaborate System of Ropes and Pulleys was performed as a fully staged reading in Emory University's Brave New Works Festival. His most performed play, which surprises even him, is The Naked Play. Petersen has directed a wide range of plays in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, including: The Dog in the Manger by Lope de Vega, Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlow, Dead Man's Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl, Ordinary Time –a new work by Sandra Hosking, and multiple devised and improvised shows. Jef teaches theatre and art classes at Lewis-Clark State College and the College of Western Idaho. He is currently the KCACTF Region VII National Playwriting Program Chairperson. Jef has worked professionally as an improv actor in Oregon and Idaho but has been on a bit of an improv hiatus for the past eight years. He is an avid painter and does it any chance he gets, which is not often enough.
James Lortz - Director, Emme and the Taking of the Woods
James Lortz is a Professor of Acting here at Western. He has been a faculty member for 24 years, producing many popular productions. His background includes professional acting at well-known venues in well-known works. Read his full bio.