The BPF board sadly announces that our communications head, William "Bill" Toohey, has recently passed away. He came to Baltimore as a reporter, then interim news director, and eventually evening news anchor for the old Johns Hopkins radio station WJHU, now WYPR. He worked as a city spokesman, then was part of Sen. Barbara Mikulski's staff and later worked for Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes. Bill was the Baltimore County police spokesman for years and eventually went to work as the communications director for the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention. He also taught communications at Towson University. "Bill Toohey was an old school kind of guy with absolute integrity and the highest standard of professionalism," Barbara Mikulski said. "He was a man with such generosity, always there with a kind word and helping hand." Thank you, Bill, for all the time and effort you spent making the Festival the best it could be.
The Baltimore Playwrights Festival proudly announces the winners of this year’s Festival, the 33rd annual celebration of Baltimore theater:
For the script:
- 1st place (Carol Weinberg Award, $250 cash prize): Under the Poplar Trees by Rosemary Frisino Toohey, directed by Miriam Bazensky, and produced by Fells Point Corner Theatre.
- 2nd Place ($100 cash prize): Fourteen Days in July by Lewis Schrager, directed by Barry Feinstein, a production of the Theatrical Mining Company
- 3rd Place ($50 cash prize): The Soulman’s Soul by Joycelyn Walls, directed by Nathan Couser, a production of the Theatrical Mining Company.
This is the third time Frisino Toohey has taken first place in the Festival. In 2005 she won for Cornered, and in 2009 she won for G-Man.
For the production:
- 1st place: Under the Poplar Trees by Rosemary Frisino Toohey, directed by Miriam Bazensky, a production of Fells Point Corner Theatre.
- 2nd Place: Fourteen Days in July by Lewis Schrager, directed by Barry Feinstein, a production of the Theatrical Mining Company.
- 3rd Place: The Soulman’s Soul by Joycelyn Walls, directed by Nate Couser, a production of the Theatrical Mining Company.
The awards were presented in an event Sunday evening, September 28 at the Fells Point Corner Theatre.
More rave reviews are in for Rosemary Frisino Toohey's Under The Poplar Trees! Maryland Theatre Guide:
In spite of its serious subject matter, Popular Trees reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit and the need to celebrate those people who made a difference, especially because they did not have long to live.
Fourteen Days In July by Lewis Schrager has a review on WYPR by J. Wynn Rousuck and Jamyla Kay:
The insights in “Fourteen Days” help illuminate the misinterpretations and missed opportunities that not only prevented peace then, but continue to embroil relations today.
Melissa Gerr has written a profile of Theatrical Mining Company's production of Fourteen Days In July. The profile features quotes from playwright Lewis Schrager as well as director Barry Feinstein.
Schrager believes the facts of the agreement “put on the table in 2000” have been forgotten by many people, including government leaders, journalists and even the public. He is an educator at heart and believes people learn best if content is engaging and entertaining, not didactic; he hopes to achieve that with his play. It’s also important to him to remain objective in his role as playwright, he said, regarding the political content of the story as well as a great respect he holds for Ross as a trusted politician and a close friend.
“It is an interesting experience to have a Sunday afternoon basketball practice interrupted by a phone call by Yasser Arafat or Yitzchak Rabin.” recalled Schrager of time spent with Ross playing on Rockville’s Kol Shalom Congregation basketball team, where they are both still members. “But that was the nature of the game. We’ve been friends ever since, and I cherish that friendship,” which began about 20 years ago when Ross was actively involved in the peace negotiations, he added.
Check out Amanda Gunther's review in TheatreBloom of Fells Point Corner Theater's production of Under The Poplar Trees by Rosemary Frisino Toohey:
...this play is a startling gem; a true testament that engaging ideas are still being produced in the world of theatre. Balanced with levity and hope against enormous sorrow and agony, Toohey has written the perfect play; a masterpiece with vision.
The opening of Theatrical Mining Company's production of The Soulman’s Soul, by Joycelyn Walls, has been postponed from July 25 to August 1. The show will run from August 1 through August 10th.
Spotlighters regrets to announce that In A Yellow Wood will be not presented in August.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the previously announced Vagabond Players production of Mrs Maslow's Boarding House by Cheryl Adam is canceled.
Baltimore Playwrights Festival Well Ahead of Major New York Theaters in the Diversity of its Playwrights
When the Baltimore Playwrights Festival kicks off in July, three of the five playwrights will be women. By contrast, in its most recent season, Broadway can claim no such diversity. The 2013-14 season on Broadway had no new plays written by women, and the immediate future is not much better. So far, according to playbill.com no new plays by women have been announced for the upcoming season on Broadway.
It is a different story in Baltimore with the BPF. There are three new plays by women: Mrs. Maslow’s Boarding House, by Cheryl Adam, a look at the residents of an offbeat boarding house in Baltimore; The Soulman’s Soul by Joycelyn Walls, a two-act, fictional, musical play based on the life of Gospel, Pop & Soul Singer, Sam Cooke; and Under the Poplar Trees by Rosemary Frisino Toohey, focusing on two prisoners in a concentration camp: one an idealist, the other a realist, who become friends under the most desperate of circumstances.
The women playwrights this year are joined by two talented playwrights who are men. In a Yellow Wood by Garry Michael Kluger focuses on the plight of the author of children’s books who must deal with the hard reality of his wife’s sudden death. Fourteen Days In July by Lewis Schrager tells of the ultimately futile effort in July 2000 by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at Camp David to hammer out terms of an historic Mideast peace agreement.
Women playwrights have been recognized by the BPF numerous times. Kathleen Barber, Rosemary Frisino Toohey and the late Carole Weinberg have all won first prize twice. Other women playwrights honored with first-place awards by the festival are Kimberley Lynne and Mimi Teehan. All of these women, and many others, have also been honored with second or third prize awards. Dozens of other women have participated in the Festival since its first season 33 years ago, and dozens more will have the opportunity in the years ahead.
The importance of women in the Festival is permanently noted in the First Prize award given every year: The Carole Weinberg Award for Best Play. Carole Weinberg, a playwright and Goucher professor, died of cancer in 2002 at age 54. Festival organizers chose to honor Weinberg because of her great talent as a playwright and her tremendous richness as a person. As a playwright, she examined social issues, such as racial prejudice and the women’s movement, with sensitivity and insight. As an individual, she came to epitomize the best of the Festival: she was a talented playwright, but also a caring teacher who provided collaborative support to other playwrights working to perfect their skills. Her strengths enriched the festival, those who took part in it, and the Baltimore theater audience. Every year the name Carole Weinberg is equated with the best of Baltimore Theater.
Submissions for Season 34 of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival will be accepted beginning March 1st, 2014. This is a change. The submission season will end on May 31st, 2014. A limit of 75 scripts will be accepted. When the librarian has received 75 scripts, the submission period will close, and the closing will be announced at this website.
As before, the application with your contact info and the check for the submission fee must be sent in the physical mail. The script---anonymized with no author name---should only be emailed to [email protected]. Physical hard copies of scripts will not be accepted.
For more information, please see our submission guidelines.
Winners have been announced for the 32nd Annual Baltimore Playwrights Festival:
For the script:
- 1st place (Carol Weinberg Award, $250 cash prize): Countdown to the Happy Day by Thomas W. Stephens, produced by Heralds of Hope Theater
- 2nd Place ($100 cash prize): When The Letter Writers Have All Died by Tricia Schwaab, produced by Theatrical Mining Company
- 3rd Place ($50 cash prize): Sick Stories, Gentle Granddaddy by S. Ann Johnson, produced by Theatrical Mining Company
For the production:
- 1st place: Countdown to the Happy Day, directed by Margaret Locklear and Percy Thomas at Heralds of Hope Theater
- 2nd Place: When The Letter Writers Have All Died, directed by Barry Feinstein at Theatrical Mining Company
- 3rd Place: Sick Stories, Gentle Granddaddy directed by Tyrone Requer and Shelby Chapman at Theatrical Mining Company
Open Hydrant Theater Company at The Point, a not-for-profit, OBIE-winning Community Development Center, is seeking talented playwrights to participate in its first annual, Short Play Festival, November 22-24, 2013.
Up to 6 winners from this festival will be selected for an up-coming Equity production. This is a great opportunity to form a meaningful and long lasting connection with the primary theater company in the Bronx.Continue reading
The Dramatists Guild will present a full reading of Strangers by Stanley Gabor, with a talkback to follow, at Single Carrot Theater (1727 North Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201) on Thursday, September 19th at 7:30 PM. Strangers had a public reading by the Baltimore Playwrights Festival during season 31 in 2011.
In addition to the excerpts from BPF's summer productions, The Kennedy Center's 12th Annual Page to Stage will also feature a revised version of Steven Levingston's play Before Oscar Was Wilde, which was given a public reading earlier this year by the BPF under the title Oscar Wilde In America.
Check out Zsun-nee Matema's review of Countdown to the Happy Day in DC Metro Theatre Arts:
It’s official, Baltimore actors are at the top of the acting ladder. The production, Countdown to the Happy Day by Thomas W. Stephens, is absolutely breath taking...the portrayal of down and out souls fluctuating between fight and flight determined the strength of this play.
Morgan Halvorsen gives When the Letter Writers Have All Died a wonderful review in MD Theatre Guide:
Barry Feinstein has created a premiere that is elegant, simple, and moving. The devotion to an authentic experience, right down to casting a Vietnam veteran (who provides a narrative featured in the program), is what truly makes this production worth seeing.
The Baltimore Playwrights Festival is sad to announce the death of Chris Dickerson, who founded the Baltimore Playwrights Festival in 1982 along with John Bruce Johnson of the Vagabond Players. Chris was a playwright, actor and member of Corner Theater (a theater focused on producing new works) when he and JBJ developed the idea of getting local theaters to produce new plays in their summer season. In BPF's first Season, Chris's play Deadline was produced at FPCT. He also had By Any Other Name produced in 1986 by Arbutus Theater, a play he co-wrote with Hollis Pashen. In 1992, Chris played the lead in the BPF play, The Dark Eyes at FPCT. Chris served as Chairman of the Board of BPF in its early days, working to give the BPF a foundation that was strong enough to support its continuation these past thirty-two years.
Bret McCabe of City Paper has published a wonderful review of Fells Point Corner Theatre's production of Rich Espey's The Rainbow Plays, playing through this weekend, July 21.
Plays by Espey, who is also an actor and president of the Single Carrot Theatre’s Board of Directors, have appeared in the BPF since 2001, and he’s become—like Joe Dennison, Mark Scharf, and Rosemary Frisino Toohey—a local playwright who’s name is enough to make a theatergoer curious...in brevity Espey explores a kind of ordinary humanism. You just can’t go too deep in a short format, and these plays don’t aim for grandiose statements about the human condition. Instead, Espey allows almost sketch-comedy setups to become snapshots of relationships.
ZSun-nee Matema of DC Metro Theatre Arts gives Theatrical Mining Company's production of S. Ann Johnson's Sick Stories, Gentle Granddaddy, playing weekends through July 28th, a five star review.
If it’s a good evening at the theater you’re looking for, I’ve got a top of the line drama...from the first line spoken you sense that great storytelling is going to unfold...kudos to Directors Tyrone Chapman and daughter Shelby Chapman for fantastic blocking and sensitive, flawless movement during each scene.
Auditions for Trishia Schwaab's "When the Letter Writers Have all Died" will be held at Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann Street, Baltimore, MD 21231, on Wednesday June 12th from 7:30 - 9:00 PM.
Auditioning for lead actress "Lorie," 25-30 years old.
Actors in the age range 45-65 are also needed.
Compass Rose Theater of Annapolis will debut a New Play Festival May 17, 18 and 19, 2013 by presenting a diverse mix of staged readings and featuring Lee Blessing, an award-winning playwright, as the keynote speaker on Saturday evening, May 18.
The festival will include a play written by Compass Rose student, Hannah Geib; a reading of Freefall by frequent BPF playwright Mark Scharf; a play for young audiences by local playwright Dan Baum; and a Page to Stage presentation by local life story authors. Selections of Lee Blessing’s play, Eleemosynary, the most recent production in the Compass Rose season, will be presented Saturday night as part of the keynote evening.
For more information visit Compass Rose Theatre's web site.
BPF Playwright Rosemary Frisino Toohey is getting many of her plays produced this year:
Gladys In Wonderland, produced in the BPF in 1999, is being produced this weekend April 25-28, at the Colorado City Opera House in Colorado City, Texas.
Frozen Fishsticks will be done by Drip Action Theatre Company in this year's Arundel Festival in Arundel, England, August 17-24. This is a festival where they do a bunch of plays in all different spots in this town in England.
In The Tank (now produced more than 50 times) will be done at Ontario High School, in Ontario, California 5/15. Both Frozen Fishsticks and In The Tank were produced as part of Seafood Buffet by the BPF in 2001.
10-18-02 is in New York's 15 minute play festival at the American Globe Theatre on W. 46th in Times Square this Sunday, April 28, at 8:00 PM.
Congratulations to her for all of these productions!
Steven Levingston, whose play Oscar Wilde In America was given a public reading in 2013, writes about the experience of writing a new play in The Washington Post. The Baltimore Playwrights Festival plays a wonderful role in the story.
The Baltimore Playwrights Festival's 2012 productions of Mark Scharf's Hired Gun, Rich Espey's Following Sarah and Kevin Kostic's Passport have received multiple nominations for the BroadwayWorld Baltimore Awards! You can see all the nominees and vote for the winner here!
Nominations for Hired Gun:
- Best Actor in a Play (Non-Equity): Rodney Bonds and Tucker Foltz
- Best Actress in a Play (Non-Equity): Sarah Eberhart
- Best Direction of a Play or Musical: Stacey Bonds
- Best Lighting Design: Charlie Danforth
- Best New Play or Musical: Mark Scharf
Mike Ware, a member of the cast of Hired Gun, was also nominated for his roles in Darwin in Malibu and Cabaret.
Nominations for Following Sarah:
- Best New Play or Musical: Rich Espey
- Best Direction of a Play or Musical: Anne Shoemaker
Nomination for Passport:
- Best New Play or Musical: Kevin Kostic
Congratulations to the winners of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival Awards for season 31:
The Carol Weinberg Award for Best Play
|1st||Following Sarah||Rich Espey|
|3rd||Hired Gun||Mark Scharf|
|1st||Following Sarah||Fells Point Corner Theater|
|2nd||Hired Gun||Theatrical Mining Company|
|3rd||Passport||Theatrical Mining Company|
Read all about it at MD Theatre GuideSee photos of the event
Stephanie Durnford is offering free writing classes in her "Guinea Pig" session. For more information visit her web site at http://visibleandreal.wordpress.com/. Her description of the class:
We are all storytellers.
We tell stories about who we think we are. We tell stories about who we want to be. We tell stories about where we’re going.
Visible and Real writing classes aren’t just about writing. They aren’t about being a writer. They aren’t about becoming someone we aren’t. Instead, it's about seeing our lives and our selves as they truly are. It's about watching our minds in those quiet moments when we slow down. Incorporating meditation/prayer/silence with writing practice, Visible and Real writing classes are a non-religious dive into what comes out on the page when we simply show up and move out of the way. Our lives are busy. We don’t create space to see how those stories shape our days, and our relationships, and the way that we live our lives. What would happen if you allowed yourself to see your story? To truly see it and allow yourself to shape the story of your life?
What could you create? Join me to find out.
Amanda Gunther of DC Metro Theatre Arts loved Following Sarah. An excerpt of her review says it all:
Espey’s work is poetic; each of the girl’s creates a strong personality on stage, coming together to form a very solid notion of what life and the pressures of prep school are like. His scenes are nothing short of creative genius, often delving into the subconscious emotions of the characters through imaginative instances; conversations shared with ghostly apparitions or anthropomorphism of a single running shoe. His work is detailed and captivating, drawing the audience into the stories of these girls’ lives. Director Anne Shoemaker does an incredible job of compartmentalizing everything that is happening on the stage.
Mike Giuliano of the Baltimore Sun gives Hired Gun a rave review:
...zestfully exploring the musical melodrama exploding like an angry guitar riff. This well-written play knows how to set up a confrontational situation that's destined to end up with a guitar being wielded as, er, a battle ax.
Bill Costanza's play Postcards, which was given a reading by the Baltimore Playwrights Festival in 2007, will be produced by the Detroit Repertory Theatre. The production will open on January 10, 2013 for a 10-week run. Congratulations to him!
Congratulations to frequent BPF Playwright Mark Scharf (whose play Hired Gun will be performed by Theatrical Mining Company in this year's BPF Season)! His play Fortune's Child, which was an O'Neill semifinalist and Great Plains Theatre Conference Lab Play in 2010, will have a free staged reading at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.Continue reading
Fells Point Corner Theatre is presenting "10x10" featuring ten ten-minute plays, each by a different playwright. Many of the same playwrights who participate in the BPF are also part of 10x10. This review by City Paper's Laura Dattaro features a play by Sharon Goldner, who had a play read this year in the BPF public readings.
On April 14th, 2012 Arena Players, Inc. will be recruiting 100 volunteers to help us fix and clean up the Playhouse. They are building a new Black box theater on the third floor of our venue, and are presently searching for volunteers and donations of paint. 20 gallons of flat black paint and 20 Gallons of flat white paint are needed. They also need lots of black curtains (legs or otherwise) and various other items (see below.)
Call 410-635-0887 to register as a volunteer or donate.Continue reading
The last weekend of this month, the alumni of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts (where Mario teaches classes in comedy) will be producing Our Lady of Sandwich, a comedy he wrote with his friend, Keith Bridges. Our Lady of Sandwich had a public reading at the Baltimore Playwrights Festival's "marathon" session on March 10th. The play takes place in Sandridge, North Carolina, a small Southern town that finds itself suddenly turned “head-over-Tarheels” when a diner waitress says she and her best friend were visited by the Virgin Mary. The only thing more bizarre than the reported apparitions are the comical events they set into motion around the town – pitting locals against sightseers, Baptists against Catholics, and truth against fiction. The story provides a funny, yet thought-provoking, look at the nature of miracles.
Show times are March 29 @ 8 pm, March 30 @ 8 pm, March 31 @ 3 pm and 8 pm, and April 1 @ 3 pm.
Admission is free, but seating is limited. To reserve seats, call 202-333-2202. (There will be a suggested donation of $10 at some perfs. )Continue reading
The Oberon Theatre Ensemble will present a staged reading of Mark Scharf's play The Whispers of Saints on Sunday, March 25th at 7 p.m. at The Lambs (America's First Professional Theatre Club - est. 1874) located at 3 W. 51st Street, New York City.
The Whispers of Saints won both Best Play and Best Production in the 2002 Baltimore Playwrights Festival.
The Baltimore Playwrights Festival is proud to announce that The Chick Files by local playwright Sharon Goldner, will receive an independent reading at 7:00 pm, Saturday, March 10th, at The Strand Theater, as part of their Second Saturday Reading Series. The event is free of charge, and open to the public. There will be a discussion with the playwright following the reading, at which audience members are encouraged to give their feedback.Continue reading
Ken Davenport is a Broadway producer whose credits include Godspell, Chinglish, Oleanna starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles, Speed-the-Plow, Will Ferrell's You're Welcome America, Blithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury, and 13. His production company, Davenport Theatrical, offers a Script Coverage Service, which aims to provide writers working on new plays or musicals with dramaturgical feedback from a Broadway producing professional, as well as advise on the piece's commercial potential and possible next steps.
For more information, see http://www.davenporttheatrical.com/submissions.html.
Morgan Jenness, currently a Creative Consultant representing playwrights at Abrams Artists Agency, has also worked in various capacities from literary manager to associate producer at the Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop and as a dramaturg, workshop director, artistic consultant and teacher at theaters, play development programs and universities across the country. She will bring her wealth of expertise to PlayPenn with this workshop to provide perspective on what thrills, frustrates, and inspires the people you send your work off to. Beginning with participants' short writing samples, this one-day workshop is designed to help playwrights break through their particular writing challenges and move forward towards their best work. The class will take place on February 25th.
For more information, see http://playpenn.org/class_jenness.html.
The Baltimore Playwrights Festival congratulates Adam Meyer, Mark Scharf and Rosemary Frisino Toohey, all alumni of the BPF whose works will receive independent productions in New York, Maryland and Virginia this month.Continue reading