TheatreWorks hosts a week-long Writers' Retreat every year to provide our family of artists the much needed time, space, and resources to refine the next draft of their new play or musical.
- pas de deux (lost my shoe)
About the piece: The bonds between siblings are as layered, complex and true as all great loves. At a time when she had just overcome her own addiction, Ms. Ramirez lost her younger brother, a principal dancer with the Oakland ballet, to alcoholism. Upon his death, she enrolled in a ballet class and attempted to learn the dances he had performed. In trying to retrace his steps, she traveled through the complicated terrain of their childhood and tried to come to terms with why she survived and he didn’t. A semi-autobiographical dance theater piece about memory, grief, forgiveness and freedom.
The play was originally developed at the Cherry Lane Theatre's Mentor Project in New York.
Lisa Ramirez and Reiko Aylesworth have been collaborating on various original film and TV projects recently and are looking forward to exploring pas de deux (lost my shoe) through a new lens and medium (Zoom).
- The Voice Box
About the piece: The Voice Box is a story set in a very small town located deep in the mind of the author. The township is of the belief that it is a vast and powerful country, here to silence Marianne and run her life forevermore with smallness and lies. This attempt at healing through a one-woman show is a journey of self, embracing humor, songs, characters, and storytelling to expose the battling voices within to the light of truth and to reclaim the territory that is one’s own right to life.
About the piece: Currency breaks open Merchant of Venice and pieces it back together with text, music and video, telling it from the perspectives of the Shylocks of our world. Told with the energy of the marketplace, on 4 corners, in four styles, docked at the ports of our cities.
About the piece: An intergalactic, pan-dimensional, haunted, Noh-inspired fall down the proverbial worm hole into Native American liberation and Japanese American resilience. Fates intertwined; epigenetic trauma and joy braided together through the fabric of time.
- Melvin Tunstall, III and Shea Sullivan – Henry & Me
About the piece: A play about the unlikely and epic friendship between tap master Henry LeTang and his protégé Shea Sullivan. And yes, there’s tap dancing!
- Lisa Hori-Garcia– (Un)Comfortably Numb
About the piece: In 2018 I decided to travel to Santiago, Chile to find my biological father. I had no information except a name, my plane ticket and a backpack. This piece explores identity, family secrets, historical trauma and ultimately finding a voice. (This piece is still in early development stage)
- Jenny Giering and Sean Barry – What We Leave Behind
About the Piece:
WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND is a new musical about what it means to fall ill and how our lives can be radically redefined by illness. This autobiographical, one-woman show—written by Jenny Giering and Sean Barry—relates the story of Jenny’s experience with breast cancer and the mysterious illness that followed upon her treatment. At the same time, the musical delves into a previous period in Jenny and Sean’s marriage when life was open and adventurous, and the couple embarked on a year-long relationship with another woman.
WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND juxtaposes the moments when life opens with those when it closes, challenging us to reconsider what it means to be ill: Are we the sick person? The illness itself? Or are we still that person we were before, longing for the life we’ve left behind?
- Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen – Eric Hermannson’s Soul
About the piece: In a small prairie schoolhouse, the leader of a religious sect goads Eric Hermannson, wildest troublemaker and greatest fiddler on the Nebraska frontier, into renouncing his sinful ways. Two years later, visiting socialite Margaret Elliott encounters the now taciturn Eric and vows to save him from his ascetic existence and reawaken his passion for music. Margaret's undertaking proves more dangerous than she thought, as both her and Eric's lives are forever changed. Based on the short story "Eric Hermannson's Soul" by Willa Cather.
- Min Kahng– Untitled
About the piece: Starting from scratch, I'll be using the retreat to explore an idea or two that have existed only as concepts in my head. Right now, the one that seems most befitting for the retreat is an untitled musical that could be described as an Asian American senior sex scandal murder mystery. We'll see what the week will yield!
- The Kilbanes and Lynn Rosen – Untitled
About the piece: Helen Gurley Brown, author of "Sex and the Single Girl" and creator of flirty Cosmo Magazine, and Betty Friedan, combative leader of the second wave of feminism and author of "The Feminine Mystique" butt heads as they battle it out to define what a woman should be. Though they seem like opposites, their lives, needs, and struggles were oddly parallel. Could one pivotal (real life) meeting between them change the course of feminism? Gurley! blends fact and fiction, sexy and serious, humor and pathos to spin a tale of ambition, heartbreak and courage.
- Suzanne Bradbeer, Gary Negbaur, and John Cariani – Librarians in Love
About the piece: It’s Christmas in Wyoming and Louise Campbell has recently started her job as the head librarian at the Littleton Public Library. And even though Christmas makes her sad and her coworker Lance resents her, Louise is determined to make the best of her new life in the Rocky Mountain West. But when our librarians uncover a plot to privatize the historic building, resentment turns to romance as Louise and Lance rally the community and work to save their beloved library.
- Tom Lindblade and Kim Sherman worked on their piece, A Letter From Santa Claus. The piece takes place in Hartford in the midst of booming 19th century immigration and freed slaves migrating north, and features two sisters discovering the true meaning of Christmas.
- Min Kahng and Brad Erickson worked on Lowcountry (assisted) Living, a piece inspired by the lived experience of Brad Erickson’s aging parents, exploring how the pressures of elder care both draws the disparate family together and threatens to upturn their lives and tear them apart. In this week, the team revised the book and lyrics and completed the composition of the music for Act I.
- Lynn Rosen and the Kilbanes continued work on their piece from last year, GURLEY!, about Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan and author of 1962’s bestselling Sex and the Single Girl, drawing parallels between the challenges faced by women in the 60s and those still faced by women today.
- Aaron Jafferis and Byron Au Yong continued work on their musical (Be)longing, which grew out of research and creative residencies at the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech. (Be)longing is a national initiative asking how we recover from violence and prevent its recurrence.
- Marella Martin Koch and Casey O’Neil worked on Danny & the Rocket, which is a musical that explores what happens when an emotionally isolated rocket scientist loses his last remaining living relative days before the culmination of his life’s work and must engage with the world in a new way.
- Lynn Rosen, Kate Kilbane and Dan Moses (The Kilbanes) began work on GURLEY!, a musical that examines the fun and fearless life of Helen Gurley Brown. The piece explores the costs – and the gains – of creating a fictional life in order to navigate a turbulent and ever changing world.
- Zack Zadek worked on his new musical Deathless, a dramedy with an indie folk-pop score, which takes place against the backdrop of the discovery of the cure for natural death as it is just released in America.
- David Hein and Irene Sankoff continued work on their musical Mitzvah. Set against a score of folk ballads and celebratory Klezmer music, it tells the story of a family: a young boy with autism growing up, a marriage falling down, and a mother who fights to give her son a Bar Mitzvah.
- Mindi Dickstein, Nolan Gasser, and Kirsten Guenther continued work on their musical adaptation of Benny & Joon, which is based on the MGM film of the same name.
- Jay Alvarez, Suzanne Bradbeer, and Gaby Gold worked on their musical Be Careful! The Sharks Will Eat You! which they wrote in collaboration with Grammy award winner Paquito D’Rivera.
- You Don’t Know Me from Adamis a new musical by Daniel Maté.
- Max Vernon is developing a show called Show & Tellin the Civilians R&D group.
- James D. Sasser and Charles Vincent Burwell worked on their production of Le Comte Noir, or The Black Count, which is inspired by the Pulitzer Prize-winning book from a few years ago called Black Count, about the life of Alexandre Dumas’ father.
- Lynne Kaufman and Alex Mandel worked on their musical, Picture Perfect: Normal Rockwell’s America.
- Peter Glazer and Tom Paxton worked on Citizen Tom Paxton.
- Min Kahng worked on his Four Immigrants, his musical adaptation of The Four Immigrants Manga,which is an American-style comic book written and illustrated by Japanese immigrant Henry Kiyama over the span of 1904-1924.
- Lauren Gunderson worked on Pemberly Christmas Project,which is a Jane Austen Christmas play.
June 2011/May 2012
TheatreWorks hosted playwrights Dan Dietz, Lauren Gunderson, Kait Kerrigan, Janine Nabers, and Peter Nachtrieb, and composers Jenny Giering, Adam Gwon, Michael Jackson, Brian Lowdermilk, and Chris Miller to collaborate on a new musical, conceived and written by all 10 writers, in conjunction with New Works Director Meredith McDonough. The team wrote a first draft in one week in June 2011 and returned in May 2012 to work on a second draft.
- Kara Lee Cothron and Justin Levine worked on a new musical commissioned by Naked Angels.
- David Clement and playwright Kate Moira Ryan worked on their new musical Weathermen, a rock musical focusing on 6 months (1969-70) in the increasingly tumultuous story of The Weather Underground as they escalate their tactics (think: nudity, rock music, and pyrotechnics).
- Playwright Jason Grote and composer Marisa Michelson worked on a musical adaptation of Jason's play Scheherazade. This musical was developed in Montclair State University's New Works Initiative and New Dramatists' PlayTime.
- Mike Pettry and playwright Lila Rose Kaplan worked on a new musical based on the short story by George MacDonald, The Light Princess, which is written for younger audiences, but is safe for adults as well.
- Nathan Tysen, Chris Miller, and Craig Wright worked on their TheatreWorks commission Molly's Delicious.
- Brian Lowdermilk and Kait Kerrigan started a new musical with Irish rock influence.
- Indie band The Spring Standards (James Cleare, James Smith, and Heather Robb) worked with playwright Darcy Fowler on a new musical set in a highly theatrical world where consumerism reigns.
- Playwright Matthew Lopez worked on the book for the upcoming musical of Mad Hot Ballroom.
- Playwright Bathsheba Doran worked on the new draft of her play
- Playwright and composer David Kirshenbaum started working on a new play.