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Theater Notebook: 3 theaters roll out play fests in April celebrating local, Black and emerging playwrights

Reanne Acasio, Carol Cabrera, and Alexandra Slade at the Old Globe's 2019 Powers New Voices Festival.
Reanne Acasio, Carol Cabrera, and Alexandra Slade perform a play reading at the Old Globe’s 2019 Powers New Voices Festival.
(Rich Soublet II)

The Old Globe, San Diego Rep and New Village Arts are hosting live and online play readings beginning Monday

Local, emerging and Black playwrights get the chance to shine on local stages and screens this month with new play festivals kicking off this month at three San Diego County theaters. They’re nestled close together because two were postponed from earlier in the year due to the COVID Omicron case surge. Here’s a look at the lineups.

The Old Globe 9th Annual Powers New Voices Festival

The Globe presents a weekend of readings of five new American plays presented April 8 through 10 in its Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre. Tickets are free but must be reserved, beginning at noon April 5, by calling (619) 234-5623. Visit theoldglobe.org.

“Celebrating Community Voices” — 7:30 p.m. April 8. An evening of two one-act plays: Miki Vale’s “And We Danced” explores the life and impact of Ruth Ellis, an openly gay Black activist in 1940s Detroit; and Queen Kandi Cole’s “Game Night,” about a diverse group of friends who dig deep into their souls while gathered for an evening of games and cocktails.

“Regular” by Ngozi Anyanwu — 4 p.m. April 9. This Globe-commission play examines the rarely explored topic of Black love — what it is and how it has changed over the years across generations and cultures.

“Exotic Deadly: Or the MSG Play” by Keiko Green — 7:30 p.m. April 9. A time-traveling adventure comedy about an awkward Japanese American high school student who discovers, to her horror, that her family is responsible for manufacturing the reviled flavor enhancer MSG.

“The Red and the Black” by Keelay Gipson — 4 p.m. April 10. Two Black couples spending a weekend in the Berkshires encounter troubled waters when they realize their shared skin color doesn’t mean they share the same politics.

Featured playwrights at the San Diego Rep Black Voices 2022 Play Reading Series
Featured playwrights at the San Diego Rep Black Voices 2022 Play Reading Series top row: Alexandra Espinoza, left, and Marti Gobel. Bottom row: Darren Candy, left, and R. Eric Thomas.
(San Diego Rep)

San Diego Rep Black Voices 2022 Play Reading Series

San Diego Repertory Theatre is presenting an online series of play reading over four consecutive Monday evenings. beginning this week. All readings are at 5:30 p.m. An in-person watch party will be held the Rep for the final play, “Backing Track.” Tickets are “pay what you can.” Online registration is required at sdrep.org/blackvoices.

“Homeridae” by Alexandra Espinoza — March 28. Two Black students at a mostly White college are passionate about Homer’s “The Odyssey.” When they discover the ancient Greek poet came from Africa, the revelation rocks their school and their overbearing siblings.

“Food Day” by Marti Gobel — April 4. Lynn, a popular Food Channel host and chef, has a life-altering moment when she receives a fan letter from an inmate at a maximum-security prison, raising discussions of who deserves quality food and who makes those decisions.

“Reparations” by Darren Canady — April 11. This sci-fi/Afrofuturism play is about a young Black woman participating in a government reparations program with a required blood test that unexpectedly unlocks the secrets of her family’s genetic history.

“Backing Track” by R. Eric Thomas — April 18. Mel, the mother of two daughters, tries to reclaim her place in a gentrified neighborhood while her kids learn firsthand how to balance their own lives.

New Village Arts First Draft New Play Festival

This three-day play festival April 1 through 3 features 10 new scripts by local playwrights, as well as a free discussion on equity and diversity (3:30 p.m. April 2) and a monologue-writing workshop taught by Gill Sotu (3:30 p.m. April 3, $10). Festival pass is $30. Individual plays are $10 to $15. All events take place at New Village Arts, 2787 State St., Carlsbad. Ticket prices vary. Details at newvillagearts.org

“10 Minute Play Festival” — 6:30 p.m. Friday. New plays by Russel Chow, Hannah Milon, Jen Olivares, Milena (Sellers) Phillips, Tori Rice and Jacob Surovsky on topics including a giant barn owl, an alien emergency, an indigenous woman reconnecting with her community and a jingle-writer revisiting a childhood imaginary friend.

“Weirdo, or (Make Nice)” By Simon Martin — 2 p.m. Saturday. Two students — one the class pariah, the other a wealthy but troublesome over-achiever — find common ground when they’re forced to spend recess together at school.

“The Forgotten Beasts” by Christian St. Croix — 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Two Black brothers who have hit rock bottom check into a motel and comfort each other with stories of the imaginary and fantastical world they created as boys to escape an abusive childhood.

“All News Radio” by Emma Caroline Lias — 2 p.m. Sunday. A late-night radio host gets an unexpected studio visitor while reporting the news of the assault and murder of a local teenager whose killing he knows more about than he should.

“The Somalis and the Semper Fi” by Morgan Kinnally — 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Mahdi, a Somali refugee and community leader in Southern California is overwhelmed by the problems in his community, including arrests, threats and hate crimes. When violence visits his own family, he questions his responsibility and what he can do to change.


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