Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Louisville Playwrights Explore New Work at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference

Rachel White
David Clark
Brian Walker

Three local playwrights will be featured in the Play Lab at the 20th Annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference, taking place this week in Valdez, Alaska. The full-length Bananapocalypse by David Clark, FB: a ghost story by Brian Walker and Green River by Rachel White will each receive a developmental staged reading at the conference, which runs June 10-16.

The conference brings playwrights and participants from around the country to Valdez each summer to participate in developmental play readings, classes and panel discussions on the craft and business of playwriting, and evening performances from Alaskan theatre companies.

According to their mission statement, The Last Frontier Conference “strives to create an educational experience for playwrights, actors, directors, and theatre enthusiasts that enriches participants’ minds and inspires their souls.” Focusing on early and mid-career playwrights, the 2012 conference will produce readings of one-act and full-length works by 50 playwrights. All readings receive a cast, rehearsals and feedback from a panel of theatre professionals and the conference participants. Ten-minute plays and monologues were also solicited from the Play Lab participants, and plays by David Clark and Rachel White will be part of nine plays featured in the Ten-Minute Play Slam on the final afternoon of the conference.

The Louisville playwrights bring their own unique voices to the conference, including a satiric comedy on America’s economy and politics, an obsessive story of grieving in the digital age, and a dramatic struggle in a mining town in Western Kentucky.

Rachel White recently returned to Louisville, Ky., from New York City, where she graduated from the New School for Drama in 2009. Her full-length play Green River received a workshop production at the New School for Drama New Voices Festival and a reading at the Ensemble Studio Theater LA. New York City credits include Blank (Strawberry One-Act Festival Semi-Finalist), Broken Wing (Midtown International Theater Festival, Outstanding Production of a Short Subject) and Gravity (Turnip Theater Company 15-minute Play Festival, Winner Audience Favorite). LA credits include Blank (Moving Arts Productions One-Act Festival, Finalist). She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Playwrights Gallery. Her play Green River follows the struggles of Edith, a smart girl trapped in a small and defunct mining town. Charlie is a lonely drifter who senses Edith’s repressed ambition and aims to draw it out.

Ms. White, a contributor to Arts-Louisville says, “We are all very excited about the conference, and I will definitely be going.  It’s a week-long conference of readings and workshops.  Dawson Moore, the conference coordinator, was so amazed that he got so many great submissions from Kentucky writers that he asked me, 'What is going on in Kentucky?' I felt really proud of that. So I told him what a wonderful and blossoming arts and theater community we have here in Louisville and that there will be more to come.”

Brian Walker is the artistic director of Louisville, Kentucky-based Finnigan Productions. He has written and produced several full-length plays in the Louisville area, including: Smoke this Play, dirty sexy derby play, Great American Sex Play and my daddy’s name is Big Oil. Brian is the creator of Finnigan's Festival of Funky Fresh Fun, a 10-minute play festival celebrating Louisville theatre artists, now in its fifth year. Brian's plays have also been seen in Chicago, Ill., Albuquerque, N.M., Baton Rouge, La., Madison, Wis., Cleveland, Ohio, Detroit, Mich., Houston, Texas, Omaha, Neb., Brooklyn, N.Y. and Lewiston, Maine. Brian was awarded the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship Emerging Artist Award for playwriting by the Kentucky Arts Council in July 2010. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild, The Playwrights’ Center and The Kentucky Playwrights Workshop. FB: a ghost story is a play about grieving in the digital age, the power we give to people who aren't around anymore and the things we give power to by our adoration/obsession of them.

David Clark has also recently returned to Kentucky, having graduated from the M.F.A. in Playwriting program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale last spring. His play In Retrospect appeared in the 2007 Fusion Theatre play festival “The Seven” in Albuquerque, N.M., and was a finalist for the 2003 Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville. His plays gods Play and Laundry were produced at Southern Illinois University. Readings of his work appeared at the playwriting symposium and the Fringe Festival at the Mid America Theater Conference in 2010-2012. His play The Chocolate Girl premiered this past April in Finnigan’s Fifth Festival of Funky Fresh Fun in Louisville, Ky., and he is premiering his play Everything and Nothing (abbreviated title) at the 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival in August. Bananapocalypse was a finalist for the Kentucky Theatre Association New Play Award (now the Roots of the Bluegrass New Play Award) in 2009.

Complete with congressional dance numbers, French-Canadian mad scientists, and a crumbling fourth wall, Bananapocalypse is a dark satiric comedy in which a scientist, trying to save the world, incites a global crisis over bananas when he is forced to trick the U.S. Government into funding his renewable energy project.

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