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.
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.
Tickets to the festival are on sale. To purchase them, send an email tp firstname.lastname@example.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.