Stories of family, faith, friendship, history, law, and relationships will be showcased at the Dayton Playhouse’s 32nd annual FutureFest of new plays, slated July 15-17.
Returning in-person for the first time since 2019, the nationally recognized, all-volunteer event will present six previously unproduced plays over the course of three days.
Chosen from 378 submissions across the country and narrowed from a field of 12 semi-finalists, the six finalists are:
“The Docent,” written by Donna Kaz of Blue Point, New York. This nostalgic tale concerns a Central Park urban forestry expert looking back on a pivotal friendship that defined her early days of working in New York City in 1981.
“Every Livin’ Soul,” written by William Cameron of Washington, Pennsylvania. This Depression-era drama involves legendary bank robber “Pretty Boy” Floyd, named “Public Enemy No. 1″ by the FBI shortly before his death in 1934.
“Griswold,” written by Angela J. Davis of Los Angeles, California. This drama spotlights Estelle Griswold, civil rights activist and feminist known as a defendant in the landmark 1965 Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down laws barring married couples from access to birth control.
“Lakshmi Counts Her Arms and Legs,” written by Holly Hepp-Galván of Astoria, New York. This drama is based on the true story of Lakshmi Tatma who was born with eight limbs in the village of Bihar in India in 2005.
“The Little Sisters of Littleton,” written by Kate Katcher of Sandy Hook, Connecticut. In this comedy, two elderly sisters fall in love with the same man.
“The Wild Boar,” written by Daniel Damiano of Brooklyn, New York. This drama concerns a newly retired teacher befriending a wild boar on a remote island.
“We are so excited for FutureFest 2022,” said FutureFest program director Fran Pesch. “For the past two years we acknowledged playwrights and their new works virtually, but this year we will once again be able to celebrate the sense of community between playwrights, adjudicators, and audience that only an in-person FutureFest permits. Attendees will be treated to a diverse collection of plays in terms of genres, presentation, comedy and drama. There is something for everyone.”
The plays will be judged by professional adjudicators in criteria including dialogue, language, plot page-to-stage, and the next stage. Adjudicators will be announced at a later date.
Two playwrights are repeat finalists. Cameron, originally selected in 2020, was selected as a finalist last year for “Truth Be Told.” Davis was a 2017 finalist for “The Spanish Prayer Book.”
“I had the best time last year and am thrilled to be chosen again for the 2022 FutureFest,” Cameron said. “My only regret last year was the festival had to be held online. Craig Smith did a brilliant job directing ‘Truth Be Told’ last year, and he had a stellar cast to work with, but there truly is nothing like live theater. As for being selected again, it’s a great honor. I’m also grateful to be forging a relationship with the Dayton Playhouse. I admire what they’re doing and am glad to be a small part of it. I think I mentioned last year that my mother was born and raised in Dayton, so I feel a special connection to the city.”
At 67, Cameron doesn’t consider himself an emerging playwright, but is thankful for the attention his work will receive due to its inclusion.
“FutureFest is a much-needed affirmation that the work I’m doing has value,” he said. “Professionally, FutureFest allows me to network with theatre artists and critics from across the country. The professional respondents that the Playhouse brought in last year were extraordinary. Their kind support and thoughtful commentary were so important to me. Since then, I have folded many of their insights and suggestions into ‘Truth Be Told’ and am hoping to do the same with ‘Every Livin’ Soul’ this year.”
Davis is also eager to return to Dayton, particularly with a play with a strong historical figure at its center and a resonance stretching beyond generations.
“I was delighted to be selected again in 2022, and particularly after the extraordinary challenges that have beset theatrical organizations during the pandemic,” Davis said. “I found the character of Estelle Griswold – a 65-year-old woman who changes the course of history by engineering her own arrest – irresistibly compelling. My discovery that there was an invisible thread directly linking Estelle Griswold to an African American gay man who was arrested in 1994 Texas made it impossible for me to stay away from the story, its inherent theatricality, and its human heart.”
Considering ongoing controversy involving the leaked draft Supreme Court majority ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade, Davis is aware of the increasing relevance of “Griswold,” which she began writing in early 2020. She hopes audiences are prepared to be reminded of Estelle’s thought-provoking legacy in order to grasp how far we have come as a society.
“The Griswold v Connecticut Supreme Court case struck down the birth control ban, established a right of sexual privacy, and set a precedent that directly paved the way for other guarantees of liberty, including, on the 60th anniversary of the Griswold case, the U.S. Supreme Court case that recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry,” Davis explained. “I’m of course aware that ‘Griswold,’ in our current climate, may pose questions that some of us forgot we needed to ask. But it’s critically important to me that the play succeeds as a piece of theater and that audiences are deeply moved by the humanity at the core of the play. Theater should move audience’s hearts, not just their minds. And my hope is that ‘Griswold’ will do that.”
FutureFest Performance Schedule July 15-17:
“The Wild Boar” – Directed by Jennifer Lockwood
Friday, July 15 at 8 p.m. (fully staged)
“Griswold” – Directed by Shanna Camacho
Saturday, July 16 at 10 a.m. (staged reading)
“Lakshmi Counts Her Arms and Legs” – Directed by Annie Pesch
Saturday, July 16 at 3 p.m. (staged reading)
“The Little Sisters of Littleton” – Directed by Dawn Roth Smith
Saturday, July 16 at 8 p.m. (fully staged)
“Every Livin’ Soul” – Directed by Ray Gambrel
Sunday, July 17 at 10 a.m. (staged reading)
“The Docent” – Directed by Aaron Washington
Sunday, July 17 at 3 p.m. (fully staged)
Auditions for the fully staged shows will be held Monday, May 23. Staged reading auditions will be held Tuesday, May 24. Auditions will be held both evenings at the Playhouse beginning at 7 p.m. Proof of COVID vaccination will be required. All ethnicities are strongly encouraged to audition. For complete audition information, visit daytonplayhouse.com.
FutureFest weekend passes are priced at $100 and will go on sale June 1. Single tickets are priced at $20 and will go on sale June 15. Also, due to COVID protocols, the Playhouse will not be offering meals at this year’s festival.
The Playhouse is located at 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., Dayton.
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