‘New Voices Heard’ will showcase plays from La MaMa playwrights’ retreat

view from a window at playwrights’ retreat
a nearby aquaduct
writers at dinner
in the town

Each excerpt will run about 30 minutes and the evenings are programmed to run slightly more than two hours, with intermissions.

For more information on the La MaMa Umbria International Playwrights Retreat, please visit www.lamama.org.


THE CITY BENEATH (La Citta Sotto) by Marco Calvani

Directed by Marco Calvani, translated by Bing Taylor (staged reading)

On the outskirts of a city, at the foot of a large building, a young woman journalist is determined to file a report exposing the gangs. But her integration into the “community” will prove harder than she envisaged. Keeping her company are a Man and a Boy of Muslim origin who keep a grocery store, and a Woman, who keeps herself locked up in her house, a victim of her past and her fears. A Soldier arrives to upset the stability of the area even more, bringing about the tragic and inevitable ending. Everything is symbolic of the ‘landscape’ of our time and each of the characters represent an aspect of the world in which we live, where youthful idealism is rapidly transformed into extremism and where the drudgery of living together still prevails. The play is intended to debut in the 2009 season of the Grec Festival of Barcelona.

Marco Calvani is an Italian playwright, director and actor. His first play, “Quasi” (2002), was commissioned by the European Social Forum. Other works include “TeLoLeggoNegliOcchi!” (2003), “Prima che tu dorma” (Before you fall asleep) commissioned by the Todi Festival of 2004, “La Vita Bassa” (Low Life) commissioned by the Phoenix Theatre, London in 2005, and the acclaimed “Le Mani Forti” (Strong Hands), 2006. “Olio” (Oil), which he also directed, had its debut last October in Milan. All his plays have been translated into English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch and Polish and performed throughout Europe and in Argentina.

LA PILOMA PRISONER by Raquel Almazan

Directed by Carmen Rivera

With Shirley Rumerick, Marilynn Torres, Raquel Almazan, Namakula and Gloria Zelaya (staged reading)

Based on the real life story of a Colombian serial killer, Rosario Tijeras, this new play centers on a killer nicknamed La Paloma who targets men who rape girls. During her incarceration, male rapists throughout Colombia continue to turn up dead, leading the public to believe that La Paloma may have magical avenger abilities. A group of female prisoners organize “the parade of prisoners,” calling on ancient rituals of adorning the warrior. With this newfound power, the women redefine beauty, their own humanity and their identity as criminals.

Raquel Almazan is a playwright was born in Madrid of Costa Rican descent. She has lived much of her life in the States and is now an emerging interdisciplinary artist. She holds a B.F.A. in Theater from University of Florida and is a graduate of the New World School of the Arts Conservatory, where she developed work as a writer, director, actor and dramaturg. Her major work to-date is a one person-multi-media production, “She Wolves: Women in Sex, Death and Rebirth,” which has been presented at venues including P.S. 122, NYC Fringe Fest, and the 2005 National Women’s Studies Conference in Milwaukee. She has received grants from The Ford Foundation, Manhattan Community Fund, Tropiculture Miami, Miami Dade Cultural Affairs, Florida Arts. Almazan is a dramaturg for solo artists in FL and NY and works as a facilitator with Art Spring, an organization serving incarcerated women in South Florida. With an educational program of Manhattan Theatre Club, she performs throughout NYC Schools and in Rikers prison. She is a member of The Dramatist Guild, The Playwrights’ Center, NALIP, Alternate Roots and the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors. (www.raquelalmazan.com)

INFERNAL by MT Cozzola

Directed by Dann Fink

With Shira Kobren, Matthew Park, Amy Quint, and Austin Tidwell (staged reading)

Determined entrepreneur Lisa opens a dance studio in a strip mall. She hires a drifter who calls himself Dante as her first instructor. When world-weary Pauline signs up for class, the stage is set for a lover’s triangle – until Dollar stomps into town and stops the music with a call for justice. Infernal explores the disconnections between actions and intentions, and cuts a rug when words get in the way.

MT Cozzola writes for the stage, screen, and listening ear. Favorite projects include Eye of the Sandman, a feature film coming in September 2009 from Split Pillow Films, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, an adaptation commissioned for Flying Leap Radio Theater, and Unrequited Lasagna, a new solo play. Her prose and poetry have been published in After Hours, Strong Coffee, and Swivel. Her films have screened at the Chicago Short Comedy Video & Film Festival, Around the Coyote, and the Midwest Independent Film Festival. She has performed her solo work at the Stockyards Theatre, Women’s Performance Art Festival, SpeakEasy/SpeakHard and the Malinowski Salon. MT grew up in Oak Park, Illinois and currently lives in Chicago.


With Kate Bender, Cotton Wright, Johnny Bender, Michael Mattie, Ma Bender. Stage Directions by Elizabeth Munn (staged reading)

“The Benders” is based on a true story about the first U.S. serial killers, the Benders, who operated in the decade after the Civil War. The Benders staked a claim in Osage Township (now Cherryvale), Kansas in 1870, after the U.S. government moved the Osage Nation off their land to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). The family opened a rustic inn, near the Osage Trail, which was relatively well traveled by settlers coming west. If you were looking for food or a roof over your head in that part of Kansas, there was no place else to stay. The inn was the human equivalent of a roach motel: you could check in, but never check out. The Benders murdered at least a dozen of their guests, burying them in the orchard next to the inn, before they were found out. Once the authorities started investigating, it turned out the Benders weren’t really a family at all; there were only pretending to be because it suited their purposes. The Bender men escaped. The Bender women were brought to trial, amid a lot of media hoopla, and were acquitted.

Anne Phelan is a two-time Edward F. Albee Foundation Fellow and member of The Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Workshop. She has been a Guest Artist at The Juilliard School, in the Play Lab at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, and Playwright-in-Residence at the William Inge Theatre Festival. She was the first Playwright-in-Residence at The Perishable Theatre and an Artistic Associate at the Milk Can Theatre Company, which premiered “Mushroom in her Hands,” her adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Her other plays have been produced in New York, Massachusetts, Florida and Rhode Island. Two of her ten-minute plays are published by Smith & Kraus and a monologue is published in the inaugural issue of “Conclave: A Journal of Character.” She lives in Brooklyn and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. (www.annephelan.com, http://dramahound.blogspot.com/)



Directed by Carlo Matos

With Franchesca Valdez, Alexis Nieves (staged reading)

As Jot (Amalia’s daughter) and Segundo’s (Jot’s best friend) graduation day draws closer, Amalia realizes she can no longer ignore her fears of the future. As fall turns to spring, Amalia becomes ever more drawn to Segundo’s awkward but single-minded attentions toward her, which has transformed over the years from innocent, childish love to one tinged with complex desire. Amalia and Segundo are tragically lured to each other. Caught between her mother’s fear of solitude and Segundo’s desperate need to escape the dreadful situation of his home life, Jot attempts to escape her own fears of abandonment by transforming her platonic relationship with Segundo into a romantic one. A whimsical, bittersweet tribute to the limits of love.

Carlo Matos has had readings and productions in many cities including Chicago, IL; Valdez, AK; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Seattle, WA; Minneapolis, MN; Lawrence, KS, and Amherst, MA. He has also published poems, plays, book reviews, and essays in Modern Drama, Diagram, Radiant Turnstile, 63 Channels, Underground Window, Zaum, Crawdad, The Mad Hatters’ Review, A-pos-tro-phe, Kritikon Literarum, Puppetry Journal and the Explicator. He has also been an artist in residence at the Ragdale Foundation. He currently lives in Chicago where he teaches English at the City Colleges of Chicago.

MORAL GARBAGE by Siobhan Antonioli

Directed by Melissa Fendell

With Victor Clotter, Cary Hite, Caroline Peralta, Ebrahim Al Rasheed, Sandy Luna (staged reading)

Victor Fellwell, Bailey Park’s keeper, seeks revenge after his beloved is defiled by a group of skaters. Fellwell requests that his godfather, Leonard Goodman, slay the perpetrators. The sweet taste of redemption sours. Victor learns that he is in debt to his godfather and must give himself over to the dark forces that stir Leonard. Fellwell’s resistance to an alliance causes Leonard to orchestrate moral chaos in Bailey Park. Victor must offer a test of his faith and integrity in order to save the innocence of the playground.

Siobhan Antonioli is a playwright, screenwriter and theatrical designer. Her play, “Fight of the Wills,” was read and developed with the help of actors Antonioli met as a participant in the 2006 La MaMa International Director’s Symposium in Spoleto, Italy. She was a finalist in the Australian Screenplay Synopsis Contest in 2002. Her play, “The Landing,” received a workshop at EST’s Lexington Center for the Arts. Her screenplays, “WomKey” and “The Landing,” have earned Second Round Qualifications in the British Short Screenplay Contest. Her “Lola Got Bite” was produced at the Gene Frankel Theatre under the direction of Melissa Fendell. She is developing “Devadasi’s Pen,” a Bengali-English production, with the Aashri Theatre of Kolkata, India. She instructs costume design at Roundabout Theatre’s Bronx Theatre.

FROM HERE TO THERE by Barbara Jwanouskos

Directed by Lucas Near-Verbrugghe

With Mark Southers, Sarah Novotny, Susan Dinos and Dmitry Chepovetsky (staged reading)

Souls, demons, and ghosts wander through the rail system of the local commuter train, BART. When two opposing forces collide with the lives of passengers, time and reality become warped. The everyday grotesque and beauty lurks beneath the surface of the city, as the ride from one end of the Bay to the other becomes a battleground to save one’s self from destruction.

Barbara Jwanouskos is an emerging playwright residing in the Bay Area, where she is also active as a stage manager, sound designer, and sound operator for Campo Santo, the Shea Company, the Asian American Theatre Company and the Lovelife Foundation. She studied playwriting under Naomi Iizuka at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her plays to-date have been collaborative works, including “X+Y=Z,” written for the New Plays Festival in 2004, and “Rip Tide,” which was performed at the Isla Vista Theater and won an Honorable Mention from the Corwin Award for Best One-Act Play in 2004. She has participated in workshops including the UCSB Summer Theatre Lab, the New York Film Academy Screenwriting course and the La MaMa Playwriting Retreat.

“I NIPOTI” (The Nephews) by Mark Clayton Southers

Directed by Wali Jamal

With Tony Bingham, Mark Calla, Kevin Brown and Bob Roberts (FULLY ACTED)

Two cousins conceal their elder Sicilian uncle in an African-American nursing home while seeking to pry loose a valuable family secret. Researched in Italy and the U.S., “I Nipoti” (The Nephews) is the third of seven planned plays in Southers’ well regarded “culture clash” series.

Mark Clayton Southers is founder and producing Artistic Director for The Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company. Southers made the move from acting to playwriting during a performance tour in South Africa in 1998 when, by chance, he attended a master class in playwriting being conducted by August Wilson at the Grahamstown Arts Festival. His plays include “When the Water Turns Clear” (Chicago’s ETA Theatre), “Ma Noah” (winner of the 2004 Theodore Ward prize at Columbia College in Chicago, also presented by Pittsburgh’s New Horizon Theatre, published by Northwestern press in an anthology “Best Black Plays”), “Nine Days in the Sun,” “Ashes to Africa,” “The Exile of King Harold ,” “Hoodwinked,” “James McBride” and “I Nipoti.” He is also a prolific stage director and was the chief photographer for the New Pittsburgh Courier. His photography has appeared in numerous publications and is in the permanent collections of the African American Museum of Cleveland and the Donsteke Museum in the former U.S.S.R. (www.pghplaywrights.com)

The open house will be February 18 and 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm at La MaMa La Galleria, 6 East First Street, Manhattan (between Second Avenue and Bowery). Admission is free. For more information on the playwrights’ retreat, visit www.lamama.org. La MaMa is also reachable through its box office, (212) 475-7710.