Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Premiere Stages at Kean University to Stage Free Public Readings of 2017 Play Festival Finalists

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UNION, N.J. – Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, has announced its four finalists for the 2017 Premiere Stages Play Festival, and will offer free public readings of the plays by professional actors during its 13th Annual Spring Readings Series. The readings will take place Thursday, March 9 through Saturday, March 11 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 12 at 3 p.m. in the Murphy Dunn Theatre, located in Vaughn Eames Hall on Kean’s main campus (1000 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J.).

This year’s readings will feature the following finalists: Foster Mom by Chris Cragin-Day, a founding member of Firebone Theatre and alumna of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group; Cam Baby by Jessica Moss, a Canadian Comedy Award nominee and a Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow at The Juilliard School in New York; 1980 (Or Why I’m Voting For John Anderson) by Patricia Cotter, an Emmy Award-winning writer for Comedy Central’s Win Ben Stein's Money and recipient of the American Academy of Arts & Letters Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater; and Seder by Sarah Gancher, whose recent projects include Hundred Days at The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and commissions for Ars Nova and Second City Theatricals. One new play will be read by professional actors at each performance, and the public is encouraged to actively participate in the new play development process through post-reading dialogues with the writers and written evaluations.
The Premiere Stages Play Festival is an annual competition for unproduced scripts that offers developmental opportunities to playwrights with a connection to the greater metropolitan area (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut).

Four finalist plays are selected from approximately 400 submissions, given professional readings, and considered for expanded development as part of Premiere Stages’ 2017 Season. One of the four plays will be selected for an Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) staged reading in June, and the most promising play will be awarded a fully produced AEA production in September. All of the finalists also receive cash awards ranging from $500 to $2,000.

The Festival has become one of America’s leading programs for new play development, with a focus on social issues that afford opportunities for collaboration and engagement with local communities. Numerous plays developed through the Festival have been subsequently published, produced and honored by the American Theatre Critics Association.

The schedule for the March events is as follows:

Thursday, March 9 at 7 p.m. – Foster Mom by Chris Cragin-Day
Leslie’s decision to adopt a child is complicated by two factors: a skeptical mother and an unexpected romance. As the relationship with the new man intensifies, so does her conviction about foster parenting. In the end, Leslie must choose between two things she wants desperately: the love of her life and the foster child she's never met.

Friday, March 10 at 7 p.m. – Cam Baby by Jessica Moss

Matabang and Joseph are secretly webcamming girls and sharing the footage with the Brobonic Union, their secret society of friends. When they rent a room to Clara, who fails to live up to their beauty standards, the operation is in jeopardy until Clara starts dating Tim and suddenly everyone wants to watch. Touching on issues of privacy, consent, identity, and the value of women, Cam Baby is a highly topical and fast-paced ensemble comedy about the selves we create and the stories we watch.

Saturday, March 11 at 7 p.m. – 1980 (Or Why I’m Voting For John Anderson) by Patricia Cotter

In a country hungry for a new voice, an inspiring, independent contender emerges for President. Four very different (and slightly lost) campaign workers advocate tirelessly for their long-shot candidate, convinced he can change their country and their lives. 1980 (Or Why I’m Voting For John Anderson) is a contemporary comedy about class, race and the politics of hope.

Sunday, March 12 at 3 p.m. – Seder by Sarah Gancher

In Hungary, retired KGB typist Erzsike comes face-to-face with her own photograph on a museum’s Wall of Murderers—and learns her estranged daughter put it there. The incident fuels a contentious Seder, where deep family secrets call into question a mother’s morality, honor, and sacrifice. Inspired by a true story.

“These are four compelling and thought-provoking new plays, each very unique in style and theme," stated John J. Wooten, producing artistic director of Premiere Stages. “And given that two of the four will continue to be developed as part of our 2017 season, I am very intrigued by how the plays will resonate with our patrons.”

This year’s finalists were selected by Premiere Stages staff in partnership with panelists May Adrales, Kia Corthron, Vincent Delaney, William Eddy, Rachel Hutt, Lysna Marzani, Carole Shaffer-Koros, and Ernest Wiggins. The following semifinalists were also honored in this year’s competition: Honor Killing by Sarah Bierstock, The Niceties by Eleanor Burgess, Heartland by Gabriel Jason Dean, Hype Man by Idris Goodwin, Motherland by Allison Gregory, Sam & Lizzie by Emily Kaczmarek, Stop-Motion by Liz Kerin, The Chemist by Larry Leinoff, Everything is Wonderful by Chelsea Marcantel, Ends of the Earth by Lia Romeo, Death of a Driver by Will Snider, Gifted and Talented by Mara Sokol, Stewart & Lamb by James Anthony Tyler, and Tectonic Mélange by Deborah Yarchun.

Admission and parking for the Spring Reading Series is free. As seating is limited, reservations are highly recommended; please contact the Kean Stage box office at 908-737- 7469 or email to reserve. For more information, please visit
Premiere’s 13th Annual Spring Reading Series is part of The New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival, which offers dozens of performances, workshops, classes, and events at the state’s professional theatres, performing arts centers, libraries, schools, senior centers, and other community venues. The program was developed to encourage New Jersey’s residents to attend their local professional theatres by making the experience affordable, accessible, and fun. Since its inception 20 years ago, the program has served over 190,000 people. The Stages Festival is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; Bank of America; and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. Additional program support has been provided by The Smart Family Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, F.M. Kirby Foundation, and PSEG Foundation. For more information on the Stages Festival, please visit or

Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advanced notice. Please call(908) 737-4092 for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances. For more information, visit Premiere Stages online at

Premiere Stages is also made possible in part through funding from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The Wallerstein Foundation for Geriatric Life Improvement, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival and through the generous support of individual patrons. Discover Jersey Arts is our marketing partner. Visit for more information about other arts programming happening around the Garden State.

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