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Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2007

Contact: Contact: Mike Emery
713.743.8186 (office)
713.415.6551 (pager)
pemery@uh.edu

BUDDING PLAYWRIGHTS TAKE NEW WORKS
FROM PAGE TO STAGE IN UH ALBEE WORKSHOP
Student Works Performed April 24 – 29 in UH Jose Quintero Lab Theatre

HOUSTON, April 5, 2007 – America loves to discover new talent. The success of TV’s “American Idol” is proof of that, but the University of Houston has a long tradition of finding different types of stage stars.

Through its annual Edward Albee New Playwrights Workshop, UH’s School of Theatre & Dance locates talented student scribes and allows them to develop their scripts into full-blooded productions. Aided by Pultizer Prize-winning playwright and UH Distinguished Lecturer Lanford Wilson, each writer goes through the challenging process of working and reworking scripts, so their vision remains clear for both actors and audiences.

Now, five new playwrights are ready to share their finished works with Houston audiences as their productions hit the stage of UH’s Jose Quintero Lab Theatre in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts building.

Performances are at 8 p.m., April 24 – 28 and 2 p.m., April 29. Below is information on this year’s plays and playwrights, who are available for interviews and photos.

  • Aaron Racicot: Home is where the heart is, but in “Tough Love,” it’s also a political hotbed. Racicot’s play is about a married couple evaluating their principles, but it began as something less topical. “I started with a cliched situation and was aiming to interject political ideas into the story without being preachy,” he said. “It's easier said than done, but I feel like I did a good job of it. I think some audience members will not even realize that the play has anything to do with politics and will enjoy it just the same. At least, I'm hoping so.”
    “Tough Love” will be performed April 24, 26 and 28

  • Brady Alland: The highs and lows of love are at the heart of Alland’s “Sticks and Stones.” In getting his story onto the stage, Alland’s biggest challenge was convincing Wilson that the final draft was indeed ready for showtime. “He has the ability to see things from an audience’s point of view. He’ll suggest word choices or length changes and, sure enough, his recommendations help the play get better.”
    “Sticks and Stones” will be performed April 24, 26 and 28

  • Dustin Sturgill: He’s only 25 years old, but Sturgill’s artistic inspirations are definitely old school. The inspiration for “Somebody Else’s Balls” -- about four friends lost in a cave where an ancient civilization once dwelled -- is Plato’s “Allegory of a Cave,” and his favorite playwright is William Shakespeare. “Shakespeare covers the full spectrum of emotions in his works,” he said. “His work gives me a good perspective of what I need for my writing. Plus, ‘Hamlet’ is my favorite play.”
    “Somebody Else’s Balls” will be performed April 24, 26 and 28

  • Rachel McKeehan: Her play “Flesh and Blood” is short, but McKeehan believes a mere moment can be more entertaining than a sweeping saga. Her tale of a fantasizing sci-fi fan and a jilted lover began as a project for last year’s Albee Workshop, and was ultimately inspired by the sheer rush of experiencing reality. “This play became a way to help others realize that in spite of all of these imagination pits that we try to escape to, sometimes it’s a trip to just exist. Just soak it up,” she said.
    “Flesh and Blood” will be performed April 25, 27 and 29

  • Elizabeth Keel: The biggest challenge for a first-time playwright? For Keel, it was casting “Shanghai,” her play about kidnappers who prey on celebrities. “Sometimes you can't have the people you originally imagined, but then again, you can also be very pleasantly surprised,” she said. A long time theater fan and writing enthusiast, she put two-and-two together and decided to pen her own play.
    “Shanghai” will be performed April 25, 27 and 29

In 1989, Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist Edward Albee founded the New Playwrights Workshop, in which student playwrights submit scripts to be selected for development and production. In 2004, Albee recruited friend and acclaimed playwright Wilson to oversee the workshop.

Wilson began writing as a student at the University of Chicago in the late 1950s. After graduation, he moved to New York City and became involved with the Off-Off-Broadway scene as a playwright, actor and director. His first play, “So Long at the Fair,” was produced by Caffé Chino in 1963. His massive Bohemian study “Balm in Gilead,” with some 35 characters, was staged at Café La Mama in 1965. In 1969, he co-founded the critically acclaimed Circle Repertory Company and served as resident playwright for three decades. The first major success was “Hot L Baltimore,” Wilson’s 1975 effort about a shabby hotel whose clientele included old-age pensioners, derelicts and prostitutes. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1979 for “Talley’s Folly,” a two-character romance set in the 1940s in which a Jewish accountant from St. Louis woos Sally Talley, the daughter of a well-to-do, WASP-ish family.

For more information on the Edward Albee New Playwrights Workshop, visit http://www.hfac.uh.edu/theatre/performances/albee.html.

For details on UH’s School of Theatre & Dance, visit http://www.hfac.uh.edu/theatre/default.html.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

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