‘Birth of a Play’ discussion to kick off ambitious Stage Exchange project

by JAY LUSTIG
From left, playwrights Chisa

From left, playwrights Chisa Hutchinson, Nikkole Salter and David Lee White.

Playwrights David Lee White, Nikkole Salter and Chisa Hutchinson will discuss playwriting, play development and production at a panel discussion titled “Birth of a Play,” March 24 at 7 p.m. at the Madison Public Library. The free event will kick off an ambitious new program, “NJPAC Stage Exchange: The Commissions,” that will bring new plays to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark as staged readings, and then to different New Jersey theaters as full productions during their respective 2016-17 seasons.

June Ballinger, Cheryl Katz and John Pietrowski, the artistic directors at the three theaters that will be be presenting the full productions (Passage Theatre Company in Trenton, Luna Stage in West Orange and Writers Theatre of New Jersey in Madison, respectively), will also participate in the discussion, which is being presented by the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and will be moderated by playwright and Princeton University professor  Robert Sandberg.

NJPAC started Stage Exchange, featuring staged readings of new works by New Jersey playwrights, in 2014. Proceeds from the readings go to nonprofit organizations dealing with issues addressed in the plays.

The three upcoming plays are:

“Sanism,” by David Lee White, a “docu-play” about mental illness. Staged reading April 29 at NJPAC, with proceeds going to NAMI Mercer, a local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Full production at Passage Theatre Company in Trenton (dates TBA).

“Indian Head,” by Nikkole Salter, about a woman who tries to get an “Indian” mascot removed from a local high school. Staged reading May 20 at NJPAC, with proceeds going to the Newark Museum’s Arts of the Americas Collection. Full production at Luna Stage in West Orange (dates TBA).

“Surely Goodness and Mercy,” by Chisa Hutchinson, about the relationship between a Newark elementary student and a lunch lady. Staged reading June 24 at NJPAC, with proceeds going to New Jersey SEEDS (Scholars, Educators, Excellence, Dedication, Success). Full production at Writers Theatre of New Jersey in Madison (dates TBA).

For information, visit the Stage Exchange page at njpac.org.

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