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Theater Notebook: Cygnet rolls out its next Finish Line play commission ‘Run/Fire’

Herbert Siguenza's play "Bad Hombres/Good Wives," seen here in its world premiere at San Diego Repertory Theatre in 2019
Herbert Siguenza’s play “Bad Hombres/Good Wives,” seen here in its world premiere at San Diego Repertory Theatre in 2019, was developed at Cygnet Theatre’s Bill and Judy Garrett Finish Line Commission new play festival.
(Courtesy of Jim Carmody)

This week’s theater roundup also includes news from San Diego Musical Theatre and Common Ground Theatre

Cygnet Theatre will continue its Bill and Judy Garrett Finish Line Commission new play festival next month with the opening of Aurin Squire’s “Run/Fire,” in a streaming production that will play Feb. 8 through 14.

Now in its fifth year under the sponsorship of longtime Cygnet donors Bill and Judy Garrett, the new play series usually includes forums, workshops and performances that are open to the public. This is the first time it is being produced virtually.

Each year, three plays are selected for development. One of the plays developed at the 2019 Finish Line festival, Herbert Siguenza’s “Bad Hombres/Good Wives,” went on to receive its world premiere later that year at San Diego Repertory Theatre.

The series kicked off quietly in November with a one-week Zoom workshop of “The Wiring and the Switches,” described by its playwright Angelica Chéri as a thriller about gaslighting, mental illness and troubled relationships in the Black community. It’s about a forensic psychologist whose former romantic partner — who she believed to be dead — turns up very much alive. The play was originally conceived in the Geffen Writers Group at Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, where Chéri lives. The workshop was closed to the public, but Chéri, the play’s director Reginald L. Douglas, and festival director Rob Lutfy talked about experience in a video that can be found on Cygnet’s Youtube page at youtube.com/user/cygnetsd.

The next play, “Run/Fire,” is about a college student who has been implicated in a crime spree and his quest for justice sets off a chain reaction that ripples across the entire town. The play’s weeklong Zoom workshop, under the direction of Lamar Perry, will be available to the public in the streamed production for a pay-what-you-can price scale of $5, $15, $25 and $50. For tickets, call (619) 337-1525 or visit cygnettheatre.com.

Lutfy said it was important to adapt the series for the pandemic and carry on because it celebrates the voices of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) artists like Squire and Chéri.

“Bill and Judy Garrett understand that the biggest thing that we can do as a theater community is to continue to find ways to support the theater makers,” Lutfy said in a statement.

“We have stayed true to the mission of the program: to provide the time, flexibility, energy and resources to enable playwright’s to push their play to the final draft. This program has always been about the process and not the product.”

Carolyn Hennesy stars San Diego Musical Theatre's "Date Night" concert Feb. 11-14.
Actor Carolyn Hennesy will be featured in San Diego Musical Theatre’s “Date Night” concert event streaming Feb. 11-14.
(Courtesy photo)

SDMT plans ‘Date Night’ for V-Day

San Diego Musical Theatre has announced plans for a filmed concert that will stream on Valentine’s Day weekend starring Emmy Award-winning actor Carolyn Hennesy and four San Diego musical couples. “Date Night” will feature musical performances by couples Kelly Derouin and David Humphrey, Luke Monday and JD Dumas, Stephen and Eve Jack and Katie Sapper and Charlie Gange. The show will be available for streaming Feb. 11 through 14. Tickets are a minimum $15 donation. Visit sdmt.org/shows/date-night.

‘Uplifting Black Voices’ continues

Common Ground Theatre will present the next event in its virtual “Uplifting Black Voices” play-reading series on Saturday at 4 p.m.

The afternoon event, which will be shown on Zoom, is billed as the “Mental Health Edition” of the series. It will feature two plays readings directed by Common Ground artistic director Yolanda Franklin.

The first, “Pruning Ivy” by A.D. Brown, is about a Black woman named Ivy dealing with anxiety, stress and hidden pain as she nears graduation with a doctorate from Harvard University. The second, “This is a Low” by Cris Eli Blak, is about a Black teen named Jude who is coming to terms with his emotions and actions with the help of a social worker named Mister.

Two of Blak’s one-act plays were featured last month in the opening edition of “Uplifting Black Voices,” the legal quandary “Burden of Proof” and the story of a gay teen coming out to his dad, “Boy.” For registration, visit commongroundtheatre.com.

Pam Kragen writes about theater for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com.


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