Friday, July 13, 2012

Midwestern Voices Starts on Sunday With Philip Dawkins and "Miss Marx"

New plays all around! Right now, new one-acts by Midwestern writers are being celebrated in Heartland's "New Plays from the Heartland" project (and what a great forum last night with playwright Doug Post in conjunction with that), and it's almost time for the other new play initiative in town -- the Illinois Shakespeare Festival's Midwestern Voices Playwrights Festival -- to start up, as well.

The Midwestern Voices Playwrights Festival is a way for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival to showcase three up-and-coming playwrights from the region by giving each a four-day residency that includes readings of their new plays as performed by members of the ISF professional acting company. All three readings are open to the public, and they'll take place at Bloomington's historic Vrooman Mansion.

Philip Dawkins
The first chapter in the Midwestern Voices project takes place this Sunday, July 15, with a reading of Philip Dawkins' new play, "Miss Marx: The Involuntary Side Effect of Living," scheduled at 3 pm The Miss Marx in the title is Eleanor Marx, daughter of Karl, the German economist and philosopher who wrote "The Communist Manifesto" and "Das Kapital," defining socialism as an alternative to capitalism and changing the world for generations. From each according to his abilities -- to each according to his needs. Progress can be measured by the social position of the fair sex, the ugly ones included. Workers of the world unite: You have nothing to lose but your chains!

Dawkins' play deals with Eleanor Marx's "efforts to create a world where every human is respected and loved." Even the ugly ones.

A resident playwright at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre, Dawkins is the author of "The Homosexuals," presented by About Face Theatre at Victory Gardens last year in a very well-received production. The Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones called the play, "ambitious, substantial and deeply impressive." Dawkins’ new play, "Failure: A Love Story," will take the main stage at Victory Gardens beginning November 16.

Jennifer Blackmer
Playwright Jennifer Blackmer is the next "Midwestern Voice" to share a reading, as her new adaptation of Margaret Atwood's novel, "Alias Grace" gets the spotlight on July 29 at 3 pm. "Alias Grace" involves Grace Marks, one of Canada’s most notorious murderers. Grace, an Irish immigrant, maintains that she has no memory of killing her employer or his housekeeper. Raising issues of insanity, memory, culpability, innocence and guilt, "Alias Grace" is described as "a thrilling exploration of... the darkest places of the human mind."

Currently living in Indiana and teaching theater at Ball State University, Blackmer is a director, educator and playwright. Her play, "The Human Terrain," was selected for Playwrights’ Week at The Lark Play Development Center and was a finalist at the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theater Center.

Ike Holter
Ike Holter's "Hell-Care," a provocative new play about the American way of health, finishes up the "Midwestern Voices" season on August 5 at 3 pm. In the play, a Chicagoan almost loses his mind when he tries to jump through all the hoops in his way to get to free health care. In the end, he must choose which is more important, his health or his very sanity.

Holter also wrote "Hit the Wall," which enjoyed a sold-out run at the Steppenwolf Garage and then became a selection for the summer season at Chicago’s Theatre on the Lake. "Hit the Wall" was a production by Chicago's Inconvenience company, where Holter is resident playwright. He is also the Associate Artistic Director at Nothing Without a Company.

The free performances begin promptly at 3 pm. Each will include an artist talkback immediately following the performance.

The Vrooman Mansion is located at 701 East Taylor Street in Bloomington, Illinois. Street parking is available.

If new plays are your thing, if Philip Dawkins is your thing, if you are a student of Marx or Marxism or playwriting or you'd just like to sit inside the Vrooman Mansion and hear some provocative new theater from a brilliant new voice, you'll want to pencil this one in on your schedule.

To recap the important bits for this weekend: Philip Dawkins, "Miss Marx: The Involuntary Side-Effect of Living," 3 pm, Sunday the 15th, Vrooman Mansion.

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