Azuka Introduces new artistic associate Maura Krause to lead New Pages.
Hot on the heels of receiving the Independence Award for Outstanding Production of a New Play (The Gap by Emma Goidel) at The Barrymore Awards, Azuka Theatre announces a new writers’ program designed to develop new works by Philadelphia playwrights. Azuka has long been a champion for local voices and this new writer’s group represents the next level of support. New Pages gives local playwrights a unique writer-centric space to develop their work. Based on the needs and processes of the individuals in the group, New Pages seeks to support Philadelphia playwrights from the spark of an idea to a production-ready script. Azuka Theatre has committed to producing one play per season by a writer from this group for the next three years, beginning in its 2019-2020 season. This is the first writers group in Philadelphia to make a commitment for full productions, and Azuka hopes to not only foster playwrights as they build full bodies of work, but to help them deepen their roots in the Philadelphia theatre community.
Inaugural member playwrights include a who’s who of local talent, including Val Dunn, Jacqueline Goldfinger, James Ijames, Erlina Ortiz, Bruce Walsh, and Douglas Williams. New Pages will be guided by Azuka’s new Artistic Associate Maura Krause. She brings with her extensive experience in bringing new local works to the stage as former Orbiter 3 Artistic Director. Additionally, Krause will coordinate a new plays festival down the road, taking inspiration from the successful Cleveland Public Theatre's Entry Point Festival. Look for more information about those programs in 2019. New Pages is supported with a generous grant from the Independence Foundation.
“Through New Pages, Azuka is able to help Philadelphia playwrights in the development of their work,” said Azuka Theatre Artistic Director Kevin Glaccum. “Instead of just sitting by waiting for them to finish a play and connect with us, we wanted to be part of the process from the start. Azuka has extensive experience in collaborating and partnering with some of these inaugural members (and other playwrights) already. Now, New Pages will help us shine the spotlight on development of news works as a year-round, every season initiative. We strongly believe in bringing local voices to the stage, and now we can dedicate even more energy and resources to make sure they have the support they need for success.”
Leading the creative charge for New Pages will be Azuka’s new Artistic Associate Maura Krause. Krause is a local director and the former Artistic Director of Orbiter 3, an organization that had a defined timeline to produce works by local playwrights and succeeded.
“Maura had just finished her stint as Producer for Orbiter 3, (the playwright collective theater that was founded to produce one play by each of its members then disband) so she had a lot of first hand experience working with new plays,” said Glaccum. “The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Orbiter 3 was ceasing production at the same time that Allison Heishman, our Associate Artistic Director, was taking over Simpatico Theater. This was a seamless transition that ended up being a win-win for all involved. Maura was the perfect person to step in and bring my vision to life for New Pages. We are proud to have her in the Azuka family.”
For the inaugural members of New Pages, Krause will lead the writers’ group with a who’s who of local talent, many who have connections or who have worked with Azuka in the past. Inaugural members include Val Dunn, Jacqueline Goldfinger, James Ijames, Erlina Ortiz, Bruce Walsh, and Doug Williams. All members are active, professional playwrights at various stages of their career.
Membership in the group includes participation in bi-monthly meetings, public readings/events determined by the writers’ needs, physical resources to writers as needed, and no expiration on group membership. Azuka is hoping to create a familial atmosphere where writers can build long-term relationships with each other as artists as well as with Azuka as a producing organization.
Glaccum added, “By meeting regularly, and with guidance from Maura, the plays are able to reach their potential and head to production. Also, having a play produced is a very different experience for a playwright from the experience of getting a reading of their work. By providing them with a full production we’re helping them take their craft to the next level.”
When asked about New Pages, Ortiz said, “New Pages is such an exciting and game-changing group. To be given a space without an agenda to say this is for you, how can we help you make your play the best it can be, or how can we help you continue to grow and develop as an artist. There are not too many other organizations like Azukadoing this, especially in Philadelphia. I admire Azuka's commitment to celebrating new plays and new playwrights, and am so honored to be included. At my first meeting I felt like I had reached boss level in a video game. This is what I've been working towards! Even though I am one of the younger (newer) playwrights in the group, I feel the same level of respect shown towards me as is shown to the more accomplished playwrights.”
Fellow playwright and member Williams added, “New Pages has changed the way I write! Being a playwright can be a lonely business. Usually we work alone for months (years even!) plugging away at page after page in solitude. New Pages has completely opened up my writing process where I’m able to bring in pages and scenes that are not even close to fully formed, and get a response from some unbelievably talented writers. This group not only provides feedback on developing work, but also a supportive environment, where a collective of some of Philly’s most exciting writers are honing their craft with an eye to production. It’s unlike any writer’s group I’ve been a part of, especially knowing it will lead to more new, innovative plays soon to be produced on Azuka’s stages.”
As New Pages gets off the ground, Glaccum sees not only the incredible potential in this new program, but also the crossover in supporting what Azuka’s younger audiences want.
“We are so fortunate to have tapped the interest of the next generation of theatre-goers. The work we select is frequently written by younger writers and features younger characters. These audiences are drawn to us because they’re seeing themselves represented on stage. In addition, our Pay What You Decide box office policy has enabled younger audiences, who normally can’t afford $30-$40 tickets to see a play, to attend Azuka shows and pay what they can afford. With a younger audience, comes this craving for new work and experiences. We hope to use New Pages to feed that desire. While there are a variety of writers groups around the country, most of them only provide a reading of the playwright’s work. Azuka has committed to producing at least one show a year for the next three years that come out of New Pages. Our reputation, relationships and that commitment have netted us amazing talent for the program’s launch - and we hope it helps us continue to net top talent as the New Pages matures.”
Azuka Theatre thanks Independence Foundation for their support of New Pages. For more information about New Pages, or the current season, please visit http://www.azukatheatre.org/
ABOUT NEW PAGES MEMBERS
Val Dunn is a Philadelphia-based playwright who creates plays, performance art, and rituals. She is a member of the Foundry and Writers on the Rocks with whom she has developed A Shock of Wheat, I Know the Wind for the Things It Touches, and Down in the Holler (semifinalist, Bay Area Playwrights Festival). Val’s work has been supported by the Orchard Project, Centrum, Juniper Productions, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, Azuka’s Spotlight Series, SANDBOX, and Philly Plays @ the Drake. B.A. Washington College.
Jacqueline Goldfinger is a playwright, dramaturg, and co-Founder of The Foundry @ PlayPenn. She grew up in the rural South and prefers all things fried. You can read most of her work on the New Play Exchange. She won the Yale Drama Prize, Smith Prize, Brown Martin Award, Barrymore Award, and Philadelphia Critics Award. She's been nominated for the Weissberger Award, Blackburn Prize, and Foote Prize. Her upcoming book, Bottle Fly, was a Finalist at the 2018 International Book Awards. Her plays have been developed by theaters including: New Georges, The National Theatre/London, Wilma Theatre, The Kennedy Center, La MaMa, Disquiet/Lisbon, Florida Studio Theatre, Westport Playhouse, and Kansas City Rep. Her plays have been produced by theaters including: Perseverance Theatre, Capital Stage, Azuka Theatre, Seattle Public, Manhattan Theatre Works, Flashpoint, and the NYC International Fringe Festival. She has collaborated on public art projects with Philadelphia FringeArts/Reading Terminal Market, Missing Bolts/After Orlando, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Her plays are published by Yale Press, Samuel French, Playscripts, and others. Her work has been supported by Yaddo, NEA, Audrey Residency, The Lark, The Drama League, Independence Foundation, Emerson Stage, PlayPenn, Sewanee Writers Conference, and The Mitten Lab, among others. As a dramaturg she has worked with companies including PlayPenn, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Arden Theatre, North Coast Rep, Native Voices, and La Jolla Playhouse (assistant dramaturg). She teaches undergraduate playwriting at University of Pennsylvania and in the MFA Playwriting Program at Temple University. She sits on the Boards of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) and The Directors Gathering. She is a member and former Rep of The Dramatists Guild. She is represented by Abrams Artists Agency. For more information, go to: www.jacquelinegoldfinger.com
James Ijames is a Philadelphia based performer and playwright. He has appeared regionally in productions at The Arden Theatre Company, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, InterAct Theatre Company, The Wilma Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Mauckingbird Theatre Company, and People’s Light and Theatre. James’ plays have been produced by Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon (Philadelphia, PA), The National Black Theatre (NYC), Ally Theatre (Washington DC) and have received development with PlayPenn New Play Conference, The Lark, Playwright's Horizon, Clubbed Thumb, Villanova Theater, The Gulfshore Playhouse, Wilma Theater, AzukaTheatre and Victory Garden. Ljames is the recipient of the The National Arts Club's 38th Kesselring Prize, an award of $25,000 given annually to a rising American playwright, for his play Kill Move Paradise. He is also a recipient of the 2011 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist recipient, and he also won two Barrymores for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play for Superior Donuts and Angels in America and one Barrymore for Outstanding Direction of a Play for The Brothers Size with Simpatico Theatre Company. James is a 2011 Independence Foundation Fellow, a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting, the 2015 winner of the Terrance McNally New Play Award for WHITE, the 2015 Kesselring Honorable Mention Prize winner for ....Miz Martha and a 2017 recipient of the Whiting Award. James is a founding member of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia’s first playwright producing collective and a mentor for The Foundry. He received a B.A. in Drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and a M.F.A. in Acting from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. James is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Villanova University and resides in South Philadelphia.
Erlina Ortiz is a Dominican-American playwright, actor, and theatre maker from Reading, PA based in Philadelphia. She graduated with a BA in Theatre from Temple University #templemade. Erlina wrote and directed Power Street Theatre Company’s first production MinorityLand, and has since had three other works developed and presented to positive reception with PSTC where she is proud to be resident playwright. Erlina is a member of The Foundry, a Philadelphia Emerging Playwrights Lab. She has received the Amtrak Writer’s residency, Signal Fire Outpost Residency, her play She Wore Those Shoes had a developmental reading at Theatre Exile’s Studio X-hibition Series, and she has received the Bartol Grant for her bilingual playwriting course with PSTC. Erlina believes being an artist is a superpower, she believes in using her powers for good.
Bruce Walsh received an MFA in Playwriting from Indiana University in 2017. Before attending IU, he lived in Philadelphia for over a decade, writing and devising theater, predominantly in the Philly Fringe, Live Arts, and FringeArts Festivals. He also worked extensively as an arts journalist for the Philadelphia Metro and City Paper. His short play, Grown-Ass Louis, won the 2017 Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Full length plays for the stage include Berserker (Kennedy Center MFA Playwrights’ Workshop), Prospect Hill (IU Theatre), and Whisky Neat (Azuka Theatre). His site-specific works include Holly’s Dead Soldiers, co-written with Douglas Williams and Chris Davis (FringeArts), Chomsky vs. Buckley, 1969 (Philly Fringe), and The Guided Tour (Philadelphia Live Arts Festival). Other recent honors include The Gary Garrison National Ten Minute Play Award, The BETC Generations Residency (finalist), and the Seven Devils Playwrights’ Conference (finalist). His site-specific works have received numerous Phindie.com Best of the Fringe Awards, and a City Paper Barryless Award for political theater. He is a proud alumnus of The Foundry, a Philadelphia Emerging Playwrights Lab.
Douglas Williams is a playwright based in Philadelphia. Williams is the Playwright-In-Residence at Azuka Theatre and a co-founder of the acclaimed playwrights producing collective Orbiter 3. His play Shitheads (Azuka Theatre) was the winner of 4 Philadelphia Critics' Awards including Best New Play & Best Overall Production and was recommended for the Harold & Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. Other plays include Moon Cave (Azuka Theatre) and Breathe Smoke (The Painted Bride & Orbiter 3). Williams has had two plays developed at PlayPenn (Moon Cave, Shitheads). Plays have also been developed at the Great Plains Theatre Conference, Bristol Riverside Theatre, New York Theatre Experiment, Act II Playhouse, and the Philadelphia New Play Initiative. He has been a finalist for the Lark’s Playwrights Week, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and InterAct’s 20/20 Commission. Williams’ experimental and collaborative work has been produced in the SoLow Fest (Four’s the Floor, Solstice) and the FringeArts Festival (Bon Iver Fights A Bear, Holly’s Dead Soldiers, Safe Space). Playwright Sam Shepard presented him with the Silver Award from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. Williams is a former member of the Foundry, a lab for new plays, and a graduate of Temple University. www.douglaswilliamsplaywright.com
ABOUT MAURA KRAUSE
Maura Krause is the Artistic Director of Barrymore-award winning company Orbiter 3, Philadelphia's first producing playwrights collective, in addition to being a new work director, dramaturg and producer. She is a former National New Play Network Producer-in-Residence at InterAct Theatre Company, and an Associated Artist with Applied Mechanics. Maura has also worked with the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, EMP Collective, PlayPenn, The Renegade Company, Arcadia University, Hedgerow Theatre, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, and Tiny Dynamite, among others. Favorite projects include Lost in the Meadow (PearlDamour), Red Ash Mosaic(Cleveland Public Theatre), Breathe Smoke by Douglas Williams (Orbiter 3), flesh flesh flesh: A Ghost Play by Lena Barnard (self-produced), and Tilda Swinton Adopt Me Please (The Greenfield Collective). Current project: This Is On Record (Applied Mechanics).
ABOUT AZUKA THEATRE
Azuka Theatre strengthens the connection and shared humanity among its diverse audiences by giving voice to the people whose stories go unheard.Azuka is committed to producing contemporary plays that reflect and speak to the area’s diverse community. Azuka’s audiences are predominantly under the age of 40, with students and post collegiate professionals making up a large part of Azuka’s audiences; they represent the next generation of theater goers. These new and younger audiences are reached by telling stories relevant to today’s complex society, selecting stories that revolve around people who feel out of sync with the world around them and are unable or unwilling to find their niche in modern society. By presenting plays that are smart, edgy and exciting, new audiences are drawn to see work that speaks to them in a voice they do not often hear on stage. Azuka is currently at 43 productions, 21 world premieres, 18 Philadelphia premieres. Azuka is a Resident Partner at The Drake and an Associate Member of the National New Play Network.