PBD’s Perlberg Festival of New Plays slated for early January

PBD’s Perlberg Festival of New Plays slated for early January



Diane & Mark Perlberg


While the professional, non-profit theater company, Palm Beach Dramaworks (PBD) remains committed to developing and producing new plays, the name for the company’s annual readings of new scripts in January has changed.

The event, formerly the New Year/New Plays Festival, is now called the Perlberg Festival of New Plays. The festival recently received an unprecedented gift of $500,000 from its executive producers, Diane and Mark Perlberg.

“It’s a gamechanger, assuring the festival’s future for years to come and enabling continued growth,” said PBD Producing Artistic Director William Hayes said.

“The development and production of new works is the lifeblood of theater,” Mark Perlberg said. “There’s been a lot written lately about the many theaters throughout the country that are struggling. These unsettling times make it more difficult for playwrights to get their work out into the world. But PBD is zealous about nurturing and producing new plays, and the festival has proved to be an invaluable experience for artists and audiences alike. Diane and I recognize its potential to have a great impact on theater throughout the country, and are delighted to assist in whatever way we can.”

The sixth annual event next month will run from Jan. 3-7. Highlights include Hayes interviewing Academy Award-winning actress Estelle Parsons at 7 p.m. Jan. 3 and acclaimed playwright Mark St. Germain at 4 p.m. on Jan. 4.

Parsons appeared in PBD’s production of My Old Lady in 2014. In addition, she has originated numerous roles in new plays over her decades-long career.

Meanwhile, PBD helped develop St. Germain’s script for Freud’s Last Session and produced its Southeastern premiere in 2011.

This year’s plays are Proximity by Harrison David Rivers (3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5), Stockade by Andrew Rosendorf (7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5), Color Blind by Oren Safdie (3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6) and Little Row Boat by Kirsten Greenridge (3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7).

The scripts continue to develop under the auspices of PBD’s Dramaworkshop leading up to the festival. Actors read them onstage in front of an audience.

The festival’s associate producers are Penny Bank and Sandra and Bernie Meyer. The festival is sponsored in part by the Maurer Family Foundation. Bruce Linser is the director of The Dramaworkshop.

Below are more details concerning this year’s festival.


By Harrison David Rivers

3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5

Newly divorced and sheltering at home with her two children at the height of the pandemic, Ezra hasn’t been touched by another human adult in eight months.  At a virtual PTA meeting, she is introduced to the charismatic Irie, another single parent. Their immediate attraction causes Ezra to reconsider the limits of her COVID bubble.


By Andrew Rosendorf

7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5

Five years after World War II, a group of gay soldiers gathers for a reunion on Fire Island. They are met by an outsider with a surprised that will cause them to question whether history is best left in the past. During a time when “Security risk” is government code for “homosexual,” it will take courage for them to step out of the shadows and confront their present and future.

Color Blind

By Oren Safdie

3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6

In 2009, a jury was tasked with selecting an architect to design the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. This play is a fictionalized account of how that panel of diverse people and ideas may have come together—or been pulled apart – in making its decision, and in so doing. The play challenges the audience to consider the state of our current civic discord.

Everything Beautiful Happens at Night

By Ted Malawer

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6

Ezra is a successful children’s book author. And Nancy is his longtime editor. They are always on the same parge. That is, until someone threatens to disrupt their friendship and influence Ezra’s next book. Set in 1980s Manhattan, this play explores the legacy of an artist, the meaning of intimacy, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive.

Little Row Boat

By Kirsten Greenidge

3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7

When 14-year-old Sally Hemings travels to Paris as nursemaid to her half-sister’s young daughter, the world appears to have opened much wider than Thomas Jefferson’s post-revolutionary Virginia plantation on which she was born. It is not until Sally’s brother, James, also in France as he trains to be a chef de cuisine, points out the peculiarities of their circumstances that Sally beings to question the kindness their “master” has extended to them.


The Playwrights: 


HARRISON DAVID RIVERS is an award-winning playwright, librettist, and television writer based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

His plays include we are continuous (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Geva Theatre Center, New Conservatory Theatre Center), the bandaged place (Roundabout Theatre, NYSF), and This Bitter Earth (NCTC, Penumbra, About Face, Theater Alliance, Richmond Triangle Players, The Road, InterAct, TheatreWorks Hartford, Seattle Public, Blank Page), among others, and the musicals Five Points with Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar, We Shall Someday with Ted Shen, and I Put a Spell on You with Nubya Garcia.

His television credits include One of Us Is Lying (Peacock), The Nevers (HBO), and Wytches (Amazon). Harrison is a recipient of McKnight, Jerome, and Van Lier Fellowships; residencies with the Siena Art Institute, NYTW, Williamstown, Geva, and Duke University; and commissions from Roundabout, Transport Group, Penumbra, Geva, La Jolla Playhouse, and Minnesota Opera. He sits on the board of directors of The Movement Theatre Company and the Playwrights’ Center. MFA: Columbia University harrisondavidrivers.com


ANDREW ROSENDORF Plays have been produced or developed at La Jolla Playhouse, MCC Theater, KC Rep, Signature Theatre, Florida Stage, the National New Play Network (NNPN), Unicorn Theatre, American Theater Company, Nashville Rep, City Theatre, Geva Theatre, Actor’s Express, Curious Theatre Company, and Local Theater Company. He is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award; a Venturous Theater Fund grant; a MAP Fund grant; and a NNPN Rolling World Premiere for Refuge, which he co-created with Satya Jnani Chávez. He is an alum of the Goodman Theatre’s Playwrights Unit and NNPN’s playwright-in-residence program, and has been a fellow of SPACE on Ryder Farm, Tofte Lake Center, VCCA, and MacDowell. At the Playwrights’ Center, he was both a McKnight and Jerome Fellow, as well as a Core Writer. He is an associate artist with Local Theater Company and currently in development on a television pilot with Amblin.


OREN SAFDIE attended the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University before turning his attention to writing. He had a hit Off-Broadway (2003) and in London (2006) with Private Jokes, Public Places, which sent shock waves through the architecture community and was named one of the top ten new plays of the decade by The Wall Street Journal.

His next play, The Last Word, was produced Off-Broadway and starred two-time Emmy winner Daniel J. Travanti. Other New York productions include GratitudeUnseamlyWest Bank, UKJews & JesusFalse SolutionThe Bilbao Effect, and La Compagnie. Five of these shows were New York Times Critics’ Picks, and La Compagnie was developed into a half-hour pilot for CBS. Oren scripted the film You Can Thank Me Later, starring Ellen Burstyn; the Israeli film Bittersweet; and most recently The Man Who Saved the Internet with a Sunflower, directed by Emil Ben-Shimon. He teaches playwriting at St. Olaf College.


TED MALAWER Work includes the musical Only Gold, which had its world premiere at MCC Theater (Outer Critics Circle and Off-Broadway Alliance nominations, Outstanding Musical), and plays commissioned and developed by T Magazine, Atlantic Theater Company, NYTW, Magic Theatre, Pioneer Theater Company, and others. Ted co-wrote the adaptation of the novel Red, White & Royal Blue, which debuted as the No. 1 film worldwide on Amazon Prime, and received a WGA nomination for Halston. A former Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow, Ted has written five YA novels published by Penguin Random House. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Juilliard, where he studied in both the playwriting and vocal arts divisions.


KIRSTEN GREENIDGE Plays include Feeding Beatrice: A Gothic Tale, Common Ground Revisited, and Our Daughters, Like Pillars.

Kirsten’s work often examines the relationship between race, class, gender, and history. Her notable awards and recognitions include a Mellon Foundation/HowlRound Fellowship, a PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award (honoring an American playwright in mid-career), a Sundance Institute/Time Warner Storytelling Fellowship, several Edgerton Foundation New American Play Awards, a Lucille Lortel nomination, a commission from the Big Ten Theatre’s Consortium New Play Initiative, a Cleveland Play House Roe Green Award and residency, an Improper Bostonian Award as Best Playwright, and an Obie Award for Milk Like Sugar.

A native of Boston, Kirsten attended Wesleyan University and the Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa. She is chair of Theatre Arts and co-chair of Performance at the School of Theatre at Boston University. Kirsten lives in central Massachusetts with her children, husband, mother, historian sister Kerri Greenidge, and occasionally her novelist sister Kaitlyn Greenidge in a house the family has named Gwendolyn.

Tickets to the festival are on sale. To purchase them, send an email tp boxoffice@palmbeachdramaworks.org, or call (561) 514-4042, ext. 2. Tickets are $20 per play, or $75 for all five plays using the code FESTIVAL. Tickets to the interviews with Parsons and St. Germain are $10 each for those with tickets to any play reading, and $20 for the interviews only.

Palm Beach Dramaworks is a professional, nonprofit theatre company founded in 2000 and located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach. Each season, the award-winning company produces five mainstage shows and offers a wide variety of programs for students at the theatre and in schools. Committed to fostering the future of theatre, PBD has become a hub for playwrights in Florida and around the country to nurture their work through initiatives including The Dramaworkshop and the Perlberg Festival of New Plays. PBD is a member of Theatre Communications Group, Florida Professional Theatres Association, the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, and NNPN. www.palmbeachdramaworks.org


The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information contact the box office at (561) 514-4042, or visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.


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