The Dayton Playhouse’s annual in-person FutureFest of new works is canceled as previously reported, but three of the six finalists will be streamed featuring talkbacks with the playwrights.
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The streamed productions are:
• “A Ghost of a Chance” by Kimberly Shimer of Media, Pa. In this contemporary comedy of love and loss, a deceased wife gets the chance to return to earth to reconcile with her husband. Under the direction of Annie Pesch, the cast consists of Jackie Pfeifer as Evelyn Schaffer, Andrew Ian Adams as Sidney, Harry Schaffer as Dave Nickel, Carly Laurette Risenhoover-Peterson as Jenny Cuthbert, Richard Young as Dave Roseberry, Fran Pesch as Ann Jameson, Brad Bishop as WALR Announcer, and Becky Milligan as Female TV Announcer/Stage Directions. The play will be available from July 17 through July 23. A talkback with Shimer is planned for Sunday, July 19 at 2 p.m.
• “The Good Deli” by Kevin Cirone of Wilburn, Mass. After a family patriarch has a health scare, he longs to visit the delicatessen that reminds him of better days, particularly with his daughter. This is another contemporary comedy exploring the central theme of reconciliation as well as forgiveness and hope. Under the direction of Debra Kent, the cast consists of Kayla Graham as Julia (Jules), Saul Caplan as Wilford, Cheryl Mellen as Dana, Jeff Sams as Max, Jared Mola as Peter, Kelli Locker as Leila, and Cassandra Engber as Narrator. The play will be available from July 24 through July 30. A talkback with Cirone is planned for Sunday, July 26 at 2 p.m.
• “Before Lesbians” by Elana Gartner of Brooklyn, N.Y. A Civil War-era drama concerning Charlotte and Vivian, military wives who fall in love while their husbands fight on the battlefield. Under the direction of Kim Warrick, the cast consists of Adee McFarland as Charlotte, Shanna Camacho as Vivian, Aaron Gouge as James, and Adonis Lemke as Henry. The play will be available from July 31 through Aug. 6. A talkback with Gartner is planned for Sunday, Aug. 2 at 2 p.m.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Gartner is pleased to have been named a finalist for a play that holds great relevance, especially for the LGBTQ community.
“These characters were inspired by an article called ‘The Female World of Love and Ritual’ by Carroll Smith-Rosenberg I read in a Queer History Class at Oberlin College,” she said. “In it, there was a great discussion about the love affairs that women carried on with each other through letters which I found truly fascinating. Most of these affairs were able to be secret because of the letters and because their men were often at war. But I didn’t write the play for another 18 or 19 years. When the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida was attacked in June 2016, these characters bubbled back up. They emerged, nearly fully formed, in seven weeks. It wasn’t until I began reflecting upon the experience that I realized the Pulse Nightclub was the key that unlocked it. Stories about the past of LGBTQ need to be told; it’s not a fad. It’s not new. These very natural feelings of love that people have for each other have been in existence for as long as we have been human, whether we had words for them or not. This is why this play is important to me.”
HOW TO GET TICKETS FOR STREAMING
Tickets for the streaming productions will be available beginning Monday, June 22. Individual productions will cost $10 and a package of all three will cost $25. Ticket buyers will receive an access link via e-mail in advance of each week.
Additionally, a series of three Playwright Dialogues with all six playwrights will take place on the Playhouse’s YouTube Channel. Moderated by Playhouse Board Chair Matt Lindsay and lasting roughly 30 minutes, each Playwright Dialogue features two of the FutureFest finalists in conversation about their plays, inspirations and themes in their work.
>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Dayton arts community ‘facing a crisis’
The sessions will be available to view for free. The playwright pairings are:
• William Cameron of Washington, Pa., and Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich of Montclair, N.J. Cameron wrote “Truth Be Told,” a dramatic tale of gun violence involving a mother of an alleged mass shooter and the true-crime writer who seeks to interview her for a book on the shooting. Blumenthal-Ehrlich wrote “Thoughts and Prayers,” an equally dramatic tale of gun violence concerning a teacher battling grief in the wake of a school shooting.
• Shanti Reinhardt of Los Angeles and the aforementioned Gartner. Reinhardt wrote “Otis,” a charming character study about Manhattan apartment dwellers desiring connection while riding the titular elevator.
• The aforementioned Shimer and Cirone.
Furthermore, the Playhouse is selling commemorative FutureFest T-shirts in recognition of this year’s lineup. T-shirts are priced at $19. Orders must be placed by Saturday, June 27. For more information about the shirts and FutureFest overall, visit daytonplayhouse.com.