Press Release

The Ojai Playwrights Conference (OPC), one of the nation’s most acclaimed new play development programs, announces its 21st season with another inspirational and though-provoking program featuring playwrights, new play workshop presentations, and special performance events from August 5 through 12, 2018 in Ojai, California.

The 2018 OPC New Works Festival – Breaking Light – will feature twelve public events over six days with both seasoned and up-and-coming playwrights, with new plays by Jeff Augustin, Stephen Belber, Keith Bunin, Steph Del Rosso, Lily Padilla, Ruby Rae Spiegel, Alice Tuan and Charlayne Woodard.

The Festival will also include two Intersection Series events: Breaking Light: An OPC Artist Cabaret featuring OPC playwrights and other guest performers; and Ignition: New Stories For A New World – A theatrical adventure into potent, emotionally charged creativity with playwrights Elif Batuman and Bill Cain and Grammy-winning musical group QUETZAL, all bringing their newest works to the public for the first time. Actor Patrick J. Adams and other guest artists will be performing scenes from Bill Cain’s newest play, Road to Glory, during the Intersection Event on August 9.

“The 2018 OPC season is titled Breaking Light because this year’s playwrights are breaking through the darkness of division, despair and polarity, and lighting the way toward compassion, inclusion and hope,” comments OPC Artistic Director/Producer, Robert Egan. “When reviewing submissions for 2018, we were struck by the utter urgency and tremendous passion with which our writers are attempting to usher in a new era of equality, community and dignity for all Americans and citizens of the world. They are imagining a better planet for all peoples – regardless of ethnicity, gender, nationality or sexual orientation – and we embrace that at the Ojai Playwrights Conference.”

Seating is limited for the OPC New Works Festival; tickets ($30) may be purchased online.

OPC 2018 New Works Festival Schedule of Events

Sunday, August 5, 2018
Intersection Event #1:
Breaking Light: An OPC Artist Cabaret
Directed by Casey Stangl
6:00 pm – Zalk Theater, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

Experience the stories, the poems, the scenes and the songs of OPC writers and other guest performers as they shine brilliant, radiant light on how to move forward in building a more engaged and unified world.  Featuring OPC writers Jeff Augustin, Elif Batuman, Stephen Belber, Keith Bunin, Bill Cain, Steph Del Rosso, Patrick Harris, Lily Padilla, Ruby Rae Spiegel, Alice Tuan, and Charlayne Woodard.

Monday, August 6, 2018
OPC Artistic Intern Workshop
Directed by Alice Tuan
8:00 pm – Zalk Theater, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

Thursday, August 9, 2018
Intersections #2:
Igniting Light: Ignition: New Stories For A New World
Directed by Hal Brooks, Michelle Joyner and Robert Egan
7:00 pm – Matilija Auditorium, 703 El Paseo Rd., Ojai

Featuring Elif Batuman, Bill Cain and QUETZAL
A theatrical adventure into potent, emotionally charged creativity from three of America’s greatest literary, theatrical and musical voices. These artists will ignite their newest works in public for the first time:

Elif Batuman, a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for The Idiot, will share stories from her newest monologue. It’s 2016 and Batuman is unable to take a planned trip to Turkey because of airport bombings and coup attempts. Holed up in her Brooklyn apartment following Turkish purges and Trump’s election, a raccoon breaks in. Follow the adventures Elif as she weaves her tale of world history and a raccoon as it destroys her apartment.

Bill Cain, one of OPC’s most prolificplaywrights,unveils scenes from his newest play, Road to Glory. JOIN Bill Cain and an amazing group of actors in this explosive play about race that travels through time from a modern day, sports radio DJ to 1835 and a black and white man caught in the midst of America’s first race riots. (See bio under writers-in-residence section)
Grammy-winning musical group QUETZAL – a mix of Mexican, Afro-Cuban, jazz and rock featuring lead singer, Martha Gonzalez – is one of Los Angeles’ most significant and renowned bands. The group’s goal is to create music that tells the social, cultural, political, and musical stories of people in struggle. Weaving their remarkable music with tales from the American barrio and border, they will create a powerful musical and theatrical ritual celebrating social change and engagement.

Friday, August 10, 2018
New Play Workshop #1
Cocks Crow 
Written by Alice Tuan
Directed by Braden Abraham
6:00 pm – Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

Cocks Crow is what happens when Americans try to do business with China – is it a bad internet connection or am I being surveilled? Compelled by ambition, anxiety, and diminishing options at home, three Americans pursue wealth on capitalism’s wild new frontier. They find . . . well, they’re not in Kansas. The Middle Kingdom has its own rules, its own games, its own ambitious and longing entrepreneurs. A play about super power deflation in the new century.

New Play Workshop #2
Blue Green
Written by Ruby Rae Spiegel
Directed by Hallie Gordon
9:00 pm – Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

In the midst of a turbulent drug and alcohol fueled college frat-house party, two young strangers lock themselves in the attic bathroom. He’s awhite college sophomore, a lacrosse player with a criminal secret. She’s an African-America high school senior with a complex past and identity she wants to escape. He’s convinced she can save him; she knows that saving him could crush her. And the party rages on.

Saturday, August 11, 2018
OPC Youth Workshop Performance
Directed by Kim Maxwell
10:00 am – Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

New Play Workshop #3
Joan
Written by Stephen Belber
Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt
1:00 pm – Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

“There are times in our lives (probably far too many) when who we are, and who we wantto be, don’t quite match up.” Daughter, sister, lover, mother, artist, citizen – Joan is a restless, troubled soul who wants to capture the raw truth in a world in which truth is often fleeting. A poignant and probing play about the life of a contemporary American woman.

New Play Workshop #4
53% Of
Written by Steph Del Rosso
Directed by Nataki Garrett
4:00 pm – Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

The president is coming to town! And the ladies of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania are beside themselves planning for the big event. Their husbands drink beer, talk smack and agree a good woman needs a good man. Later, a group of 20-somethings gather in Brooklyn to plan a fundraiser . . . or is it a march? Or is it a ritual to absolve their own guilt? A play about the complicity and violence of the status quo that asks: What happens when we stop equating white womanhood with goodness, and ignorance with innocence?

New Play Workshop #5
The Garden 
Written by Charlayne Woodard
Directed by Valerie Curtis Newton
7:30 pm – Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

In her beloved garden, an elderly African-American mother, Claire Rose, meets her middle-aged daughter, Cassandra. Through tough love and self-sacrifice, mom has raised an achiever, an overcomer, a bulldog in her own image. But she resents her daughter’s lifestyle, her life choices, and even her success – all opportunities she never had growing up in the Jim Crow south. These alpha women take us on rollercoaster ride full of humor and pain built on secret betrayals.

Sunday, August 12
New Play Workshop #6
How To Defend Yourself 
Written by Lily Padilla
Directed by Danya Taymor
12:00 pm – Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

In the aftermath of a campus rape, seven college students gather for a DIY self-defense workshop. They learn to use their bodies as weapons. They learn to fend off attackers. They learn “not to be a victim.” It’s self-defense as a channel for rage, anxiety, confusion, trauma, and desire – lots of desire. A play about what you want, how to ask for it, and the insidious ways rape culture steals one’s body and sense of belonging.

New Play Workshop #7
The New Englanders
Written by Jeff Augustin
Directed by Hal Brooks
3:00 pm – Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

The newly radicalized mixed-race daughter of an interracial gay couple yearns to break free from her small town. She longs to be a legend, like her hero, Lauryn Hill. Meanwhile, one of her dads reconnects with his high school love, as her other dad fights to preserve an idealized suburban family life that never really existed. Sometimes great clarity comes when there’s nothing to see but the trees and nothing to contemplate but the stark silence.

New Play Workshop #8
The Coast Starlight 
Written by Keith Bunin
Directed by Robert Egan
6:00 pm – Zalk Theater at Besant Hill, 8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd., Ojai

A young man boards the Coast Starlight in Los Angeles. He’s got a secret, he’s on the run, and he desperately needs the help of his fellow travelers to figure out a way forward. He hopes that by the time the train makes its final stop in Seattle he will know if he has made the right decision. For a thousand miles he and his fellow passengers travel the edge of America reckoning with what they have done and not done – and might do now. A smart and compassionate play about our capacity for invention and reinvention when life goes off the rails.

OPC Artistic Intern Workshop
Young aspiring artists, selected for the OPC Intern Program from colleges around the country, spend a week immersed in the writing process with our OPC senior artists and mentoring director Kim Maxwell. They each create a solo work based on the deep truth of their lives and deliver it to the OPC audience. An evening that is astounding, revelatory, and worth the trip to experience the beauty of the youthful, wise human soul!

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