Second Annual
New Year/New Plays Festival
January 10 – January 12, 2020
Five fascinating, evolving plays will receive readings by some of South Florida’s finest actors from January 10-12, when The Dramaworkshop hosts Palm Beach Dramaworks’ second annual New Year/New Plays Festival. A huge hit during its inaugural season, the Festival provides playwrights with the invaluable opportunity to hear their words performed in front of a live audience, which is instrumental to the development and growth of a play. Audiences not only share in the excitement of seeing something brand new, but have the chance to offer feedback to the playwrights.

The plays are The People Downstairs by Michael McKeever (3pm Friday, January 10), Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom by Padraic Lillis (7pm Friday, January 10), The Standby Lear by John W. Lowell (3pm Saturday, January 11), As I See It by Jenny Connell Davis (7pm Saturday, January 11), and The Hat Box by Eric Coble (3pm Sunday, January 12). In addition, all five dramatists will participate in a Playwrights Forum at 1pm on Saturday, which is free with the purchase of a ticket to any of the plays. The Festival concludes with a Champagne Toast at 6pm on Sunday, which is also free with the purchase of a ticket to any play. Earlier in the day, at 12:30pm, there is a Lunch with the Artists for an additional charge. 
“New play development is so important to the theatre,” said Bruce Linser, manager of The Dramaworkshop. “As the world evolves, our stories and the voices that tell those stories must evolve with it. While theatrical themes are universal, the way those themes are presented must speak to a wide cross-section of audiences if the art form is to thrive. There is nothing like live theatre to bring people together in the same space to share a collective experience and help us find our common ground. And I can’t think of anything that the world needs more, especially right now.”

Each season, The Dramaworkshop accepts new, unpublished, unproduced scripts from some of the finest playwrights and literary agents in the business. All submissions are screened, and the top 25 scripts are read and assessed by The Dramaworkshop’s resident artists, a committee of theatre professionals with decades of experience in acting and directing. Ten make the final cut, and a robust deliberation ensues in order to help Producing Artistic Director William Hayes select the works for the Festival. One of the plays, McKeever’s The People Downstairs , was commissioned by PBD for a future mainstage production. 
The Plays:

The People Downstairs
by Michael McKeever
For two years and one month, Anne Frank and seven others hid in four small rooms concealed behind a bookcase in the building where her father worked. Her diary revealed their ordeal to the world. But what of the people who hid them, got them food, and kept them informed? This play explores the complex challenges faced by these brave individuals on their journey of rebellious morality during the horrors of the Holocaust.

Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom
by Padraic Lillis
Giovanni Montorfano, a third-generation artist, has been commissioned by the Duke of Milan to paint the Crucifixion. The fresco will adorn the wall facing another commission, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. As Montorfano works on the painting with his apprentice, keenly aware of da Vinci’s genius, he grapples with his craft, his faith, and his place in the world.

The Standby Lear
by John W. Lowell
Augie, an aging actor understudying the role of King Lear, is given an opportunity most actors only dream about: he’s going on for the star that evening. But Augie is paralyzed with fear, uncertain that he’s still got what it takes to step into one of theatre’s most daunting roles. His wife, Anna, a retired actress, tries desperately to keep Augie from walking out. What happens when the last great moment in an actor's life arrives, and the actor is afraid that it may be too late?   

As I See It
by Jenny Connell Davis
Painter Alice Neel is tired of working in obscurity at the fringes of the New York art scene. Poet Frank O'Hara, curator for MoMA and gay playboy, is its gatekeeper. Neel convinces him to let her paint his portrait and over the course of five sittings these two forces of nature test each other, best each other, and reveal themselves in ways they never imagined. Inspired by real people and events – and paintings – this play is a rendering of two brilliant outcasts clawing their way to fame in Mad Men -era NYC.

The Hat Box
by Eric Coble
Do we ever really know our parents? Do we ever really want to? Two sisters are about to find out when they discover a hat box hidden in the back of their recently deceased father's closet. What sits inside sends them off to visit eccentric Aunt Esther and on an increasingly wild ride down memory lane. With surprising twists and hilarious turns, this comedy of family lore revels in the bizarre and beautiful mysteries that make up a life.  
The Playwrights: (click photo for hi-res download)
Michael McKeever has written 30 full-length plays that have been produced at theatres around the world. Theatres in North America include Penguin Rep, Marin Theatre Company, NCTC, Phoenix Theatre, Stage West, and Florida Studio Theatre. His work has also been seen in major European cities, including Berlin, Warsaw, and Vienna. His play Daniel's Husband , produced in New York by Primary Stages, was nominated for an Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Work and went on to successful runs at the Westside Theatre (Off-Broadway) and the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. His play After was seen Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters this past spring. McKeever has won numerous Carbonell and Silver Palm awards, and has been nominated four times for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award. McKeever is a co-founder of Zoetic Stage, a Miami-based theatre company dedicated to developing new work. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
Padraic Lillis is a writer, director, educator, and the founding artistic director of The Farm Theater. This past fall he was the Humana Visiting Scholar and artist-in-residence at Centre College. His plays have been produced across the country and are published by Dramatists Play Service. He has written and performed numerous solo shows, including Hope You Get To Eleven or What are we going to do about Sally? , a play about suicide awareness that was voted Best Solo Show at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity in 2016. Padraic’s adaptation of his play Hand Over Hand was awarded Best Short Film at the Milan International Film Festival. He is a recipient of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Director and an Overall Excellence Award in Directing from the New York International Fringe Festival. Padraic is a member of the LAByrinth Theater Company and a lifelong Yankees fan.
John W. Lowell Plays include Drawing Fire , The Standby Lear , The Letters , Sheridan Square , Autumn Canticle (L.A. GLAAD award nominee), Leo Tolstoy Is In The Next Room Dying , Two Women In A Garden , The Genius Of The System , Taken In , and Rensselaer . Since its premiere in Los Angeles, The Letters has been produced in Chicago, Berkeley, Austin, Alexandria, Santa Cruz, Orlando, and elsewhere. Mr. Lowell’s other work has been featured in theatre festivals around the country, including the US West Fest at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. His plays have also received productions or readings at the Eureka Theatre Company, Walnut Street Theatre, San Jose Stage Company, The Acting Company, Circle Repertory Company, Richmond Triangle Players, and as far away as Lima and London.
Jenny Connell Davis Plays include  End of Shift Goddess of Mercy The Dragon Play , and  Scientific Method . Her work has been produced or developed at Chance Theater, the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, the Playwrights’ Center, Icicle Creek Theatre Festival, ACT Seattle, Asolo Repertory Theatre, New York Stage and Film, The Gift Theatre Company, and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, among others. She currently has film and television projects in development with Fox Animation and Iconoclast/Anonymous Content. Jenny has an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, is a former member of Ars Nova’s Play Group, and an Affiliated Writer with the Playwrights’ Center. She is a proud member of Chicago’s Gift Theatre Company and ScriptWorks in Central Texas, and an inaugural member of the Hyde Park Playwrights Group in Austin, where she currently resides.
Eric Coble was born in Edinburgh and raised on the Navajo and Ute reservations in New Mexico and Colorado. His work has been produced on Broadway ( The Velocity of Autumn ), Off-Broadway ( Bright Ideas ), in Disney Theme Parks ( Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple ), in all 50 states, and on several continents. Theatres that have produced his plays include MCC Theater, The Kennedy Center, Playwrights Horizons, Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, Denver Center Theatre Company, Arena Stage, South Coast Rep, Cleveland Play House, Alliance Theatre, Habima Theatre (Israel), Teatro Bellas Artes (Spain), and Teatr Polski (Poland). Awards include two AATE Distinguished Play awards for Best Adaptation, an Emmy nomination, the Chorpenning Playwright Award for his body of work, and the National Theatre Conference Playwright Award. Twenty-eight of Mr. Coble’s scripts have been published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing, Smith & Kraus, and others. 
The Schedule:

Friday, January 10
3pm - The People Downstairs by Michael McKeever
5pm - Dinner break
7pm - Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom by Padraic Lillis

Saturday, January 11
1pm - Playwrights Forum: A discussion with the Festival’s five dramatists*
3pm - The Standby Lear by John W. Lowell
5pm - Dinner break
7pm - As I See It by Jenny Connell Davis

Sunday, January 12
12:30pm - Lunch with the artists at Leila Restaurant**
3pm - The Hat Box by Eric Coble
6pm - Champagne Toast*


$20 – One play
$30 – Two plays
$50 – All five plays

*The panel discussion and champagne toast are free with a ticket to any play   
**$25 – Lunch with the Artists

or contact the box office at (561) 514-4042.

Palm Beach Dramaworks is a non-profit, professional theatre and is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the South Florida Theatre League, Florida Professional Theatres Association, and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.

The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, at 201 Clematis Street.