Four plays in four days. How do they do it? Experience.
Performance Network Theatre’s Fireside New Play Festival has a great track record of staging professional, rehearsed readings of new plays that go on to find full productions. In fact, in its 10-year history, the Fireside New Play Festival has launched over 20 plays to full productions across the country.
For example, Emerging playwright David Wells was selected to showcase “Brill” at last year's Fireside Festival as a staged reading starring Phil Powers and Sarah Ann Leahy. The script was so well received by the audience that Performance Network Theatre added the piece to the 2012-2013 mainstage season. And it was a smash hit.
This latest version of the Fireside Festival kicks off on Sunday, March 10 and runs through Wednesday, March 13; all events start at 7 p.m. and admission is on a “Pay-What-You-Can” basis. The featured authors previewing their latest works include Steve Moulds, Linda Ramsay, CJ Hettinger and Joseph Zettelmaier. Tickets can be reserved at the PNT website or over the phone at 734-663-0681.
The purpose of hosting staged readings of scripts that are still in development is two-fold: it gives PNT audiences the first look at promising new American plays and, more to the point, it allows for an audience talk-back after each performance, through which the playwrights can gather feedback.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back at the Fireside Festival,” said Joseph Zettelmaier. “I’ve had several plays go on to full productions from the Festival, and nothing tells a playwright if their script works like a live audience. I’m particularly excited to see ‘Pulp’ on its feet. It’s most likely the strangest script I’ve written to date, and I’m really hoping the fun of it in my head translates to the stage.”
Here’s the lineup for the March Fireside New Play Festival.
Sunday, March 10, 7 p.m. – “The Body,” by Steve Moulds
A father and his 9-year-old stepdaughter receive a mysterious package while her mother is away on a business trip. When the contents seemingly take on a life of their own, father and child find their trust tested in a matter of life and death.
Monday, March 11, 7 p.m. – “Sugarhill,” by Linda Ramsay
In 1941 in Louisiana, a grief-stricken family mourns the loss of a teen child, when a mysterious black man arrives with a wounded leg and bloodhounds on his trail. As the family harbors the fugitive, secrets about his past, and theirs, are brought into the light.
Tuesday March 12, 7 p.m. – “Belief,” by CJ Hettinger
A Schizophrenic patient believes she can communicate with numerous angels, both good and evil, whose appearance heralds the end of the world. As her psychiatrist tries to sort delusion from reality, he finds his wavering faith both questioned and reaffirmed.
Wednesday, March 13, 7 p.m. “Pulp,” by Joseph Zettelmaier
Los Angeles, 1933. PI Frank Ellery doesn’t know it, but he’s taken on the strangest case of his life. A literary agent has been gruesomely murdered. The four suspects: his remaining clients, all writers for different pulp magazines. Frank dives into the mystery, and his world turns upside down as life begins to imitate literature.
Fireside New Play Festival reservations can be made at the Performance Network Box Office at 734-663-0681, online at or at Performance Network Theatre (120 East Huron St., Ann Arbor, 48104) Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.