|When George Floyd was killed and the BLM message exploded, veteran MultiStages artists took to the streets. The streets were our theater, the screams were real and the pain was palpable. In deciding how to support this movement, address the slew of Asian-American attacks and the twisted COVID world surrounding us, Artistic Director and activist, Lorca Peress, created the idea of a multicultural, multidisciplinary SPEAKOUT call-to-action Festival.|
Gena Bardwell, Melody Cooper, Fengar Gael,Dorothy Tan & Nathan Yungerberg
Each created a short new work to address the times we are living in through stories they want to tell. Hear them “Speakout” about Anti-Asian Attacks, BLM, Climate Crises, LGBTQ Identity, The Pandemic, Politics, Women’s Rights, and more.
MEET THE PLAYWRIGHTS AND THEIR NEW SHORT PLAYS
“BEAUTIFUL MORNING,” a play by Dorothy TanDirected by Eugene MaFeaturing Wai Ching Ho, Michael Striano and Lu Yu In Mandarin and English with subtitles.
“Beautiful Morning” is a three-character play, acted in Mandarin and English (with subtitles), that takes place when a stranger interrupts two friends chatting on the morning of a protest. Tan was inspired to write this Anti-Asian-Hate protest play by the rising number of violent attacks on US streets.
Dorothy Tan is a playwright and novelist. Her produced plays are: “The Loved One” and “Womb Song” in Boston, “The Palace of Loneliness” produced OOB in NYC by MultiStages was the premiere winner of MultiStages’ New Works Contest, and a play for children, “Tabbit,” which was awarded the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild’s Marilyn Hall Award
“THE KEEPERS” by Melody CooperDirected by Lorca Peress
Featuring Rainbow Dickerson, Brie Eley and Amanda Salazar
“The Keepers” is a sci-fi climate change fantasy that centers on three women who meet on a zoom-type platform across time: a Lakota activist marching against the Pipeline, a Latina rebel fighting against oppressors in the future, and a young African-American woman in Flint Michigan who does not yet know the water is toxic.
Melody Cooper is currently story editor on NBC Universal’s “Law & Order: SVU.” She was previously staff writer on Stage 13’s “Two Sentence Horror Stories,” now on Netflix. A 2019 HBO Access Writing Fellow, she has been named one of the Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2021 by ISA. She received a Ford Foundation grant to develop her Rwanda play, “Sweet Mercy,” and won the Jane Chambers Award and MultiStages New Works Contest for “Day of Reckoning.”
“LESSONS ON SOLIDARITY,” a play by Gena Bardwell
Directed by Kimille HowardFeaturing Messeret Stroman Wheeler
“Lessons on Solidarity” is a personal story about a once in a life-time meeting of an Iconic activist at her grandfather’s famous African-American book shop, in the heart of Los Angeles. Through Gena’s pre-teen eyes, we learn how meeting a cultural shero significantly impacted her young life. Looking back on that moment in time, in the turbulent 1970’s, she grapples with questions and the need for answers that escaped her on that life-changing day spent with her learned grandfather, Frank James Whitley and an authentic Black goddess who took her breath away.
Gena Bardwell’s plays have been developed at Crossroads Theater in NJ and MultiStages in Manhattan. Her latest arts project, “The Most Dangerous Animal,” which addresses the plight of 21st Century Sudanese people, was written, directed and produced by Al Sutton and performed at the United Nations. She is also an actor.
“MY BODY, MY BATTLEFIELD” by Fengar Gael
Directed by Kimille Howard
Featuring Kate Bornstein and Vanessa Guadiana
“My Body, My Battlefield” takes us into a zoom conversation following a traditional online church service. A female Reverend with a deep secret and a pregnant congregant filled with conspiracy theories clash in this absurd mismatching of minds and “alternative” facts.
Fengar Gael has had workshops and/or productions at the Sundance Playwrights Lab, the InterAct Theatre, New Jersey Repertory, Moxie Theatre, Athena Project, Landing Theatre, and in New York at Ego Actus Theatre, MultiStages (two-time New Works Contest winner), Urban Stages, Turn to Flesh Productions, Project Y Theatre, and TRU Resources. She is a recipient of the Craig Noel Award, Playwrights First Award, Wilde Award and Julie Harris Award and is the winner of two MultiStages New Works Contests.
“TRILOGY,” a short play by Nathan Yungerberg
Directed by Toussaint Jeanlouis
Featuring Dimitri Carter, Michael Gene Jacobs, Donnell E. Smith
“Trilogy” is a play about three Black men who are healing. They’re gonna burn sage, palo santo, cinnamon sticks, and lather on Shea butter while gazing at the moon. They’re gonna feel too much, cry in front of their children, and create a class about Black self-love. They’re gonna ride horses for the first time— free to go where they please.
Nathan Yungerberg’s plays have been developed or presented by The Cherry Lane Theatre, JAG Productions, LAByrinth Theater, The National Black Theatre, The Fire This Time Festival, 48 Hours in Harlem, The Lark, The Playwrights’ Center, Crowded Fire Theater and The Bushwick Starr. He has had fellowships with Jerome Hill (2021-22), National Black Theatre of Harlem (2021), Djerassi Resident Artist (2019) and O’Neill National Playwrights Conference (Semifinalist, 2016). He is also a writer for Sesame Street. His play, “Esai’s Table” was presented in MultiStages’ Script Development Series.