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High on Ojai

Terrencemcnally The annual Ojai Playwrights Conference begins this week and continues through Aug. 10. This prestigious 11-year-old event, held in the picturesque town of  Ojai, in Ventura County, California, focuses on developing previously unproduced works from established and emerging playwrights. New plays are nurtured and publicly read each summer during two weeks of meetings and presentations. Artistic director–producer Robert Egan, previously producing director for the Mark Taper Forum, welcomes noted actors and other creative artists to participate in the program. Most plays developed at Ojai go on to full productions in  New York. Los Angeles, and regional theatres.

This year’s presentations:

       Unusual Acts of Devotion, by multiple-Tony winner Terrence NcNally (Master Class, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Full Monty), directed by Leonard Foglia, described by the playwright as “a love letter to New York: its energy and its people” in which five residents of a Greenwich Village apartment have an intense rooftop gathering

       Nine Circles, by Bill Cain (Stand-up Tragedy), directed by Hal Brooks, a speculative drama inspired by a real case in which a 19-year-old American serviceman is on trial on American soil for alleged war crimes

       The Sandreckoner, by Dan Dietz (Dirigible), directed by Abigail Deser, a darkly comic mystery about violence, suburbs, and the search for answers, as two high school boys face a showdown

      Language Rooms, by Yussef El Guindi (Back of the Throat), directed by Egan, a dark comedy exploring issues of immigration, American identity, and fitting in, as two Arab Americans work with the CIA.

      Eclipsed, by Danai Gurira (In the Continuum), directed by Robert O’Hara, about five women’s attempts to navigate and survive the most hostile terrain imaginable

      I Am Montana, by Sam Hunter (Norman Rockwell Killed My Father), directed by Mark Rucker, a dark glimpse at the destruction of the small-town American landscape, about a young man in Montana who has returned home from a traumatic stint in the Israeli army and now works for a large retail corporation.

     Vienna’s Amazing, by this summer’s playwright-in-residence, Sarah Treem (A Feminine Ending), about two evolutionary biologists who meet at a conference in Boston and discover they share more than their professional callingFor tickets and more information on this year’s activities and the OPC history, visit www.ojaiplays.org.

Pictured: Terrence McNally

--Les Spindle


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