Readings in Autumn Kicks Off at CPTC

Dennis A. Allen II

Dennis A. Allen II

Counter-Productions Theatre Company kicks off its Readings in Autumn series this week with Manhood by Dennis A. Allen II. Titled An Exploration of New Works, the series features local playwright (and artistic director of Epic Theatre) Kevin Broccoli as well as the New York-based Allen. A chance to hear new works presented in a semi-formal theatrical setting has been one of CPTC’s cornerstones, and this season’s offerings explore the topics of male identity in 2018 as well as larger questions concerning gender roles.

Manhood, presented on September 13, concerns the story of YouTube fitness sensation “Silence Manning” who navigates impending fame, the complexities of marriage to his remarkable wife, Ebony, and a co-dependent friendship with the opportunistic Virgil. When mysterious masked woman Angel enters their world, a tragic event forces them to confront the truth of what defines him as a man. Manhood playwright Allen received his MFA from the Brooklyn College playwriting program. His play The Mud is Thicker in Mississippi won the 35th annual Off Off Broadway Samuel French Festival in 2010. Allen is also a recipient of Atlantic Theater Company’s inaugural 2014-15 Launch Commission, National Black Theatre’s 2016-17 I Am Soul Playwright Residency, and a member Clubbed Thumb’s 2016-17 Early Career Writer’s Group. He has developed and produced plays with The Lark Play Development Center, the Classical Theatre of Harlem, The Fire This Time Festival, The Naked Expedition Project, 48 Hours in Harlem, and The New Black Fest.

CPTC Artistic Director Ted Clement says, “Dennis is a remarkable artist with a brutally honest vision of the human condition. His characters are incredibly detailed and nuanced. His play America’s Favorite Pastime was our first Reading in Autumn (four years ago) and we are overjoyed to have him return (to CPTC).”

Directing Manhood is Ronald K. Lewis, a theater artist, teacher, writer and arts administrator, originally from Jacksonville, Fla. As an actor, dancer, and director, Ronald has worked with Counter Productions Theatre, AS220, Strange Attractor, The Wilbury Group, Rites and Reason and Brown University, among others. Ronald is co-creator of the film festival, The Wandering Mercuries, which toured from Providence, RI. to Chicago, Ilinois in 2012 — via bikes — making stops at libraries and community centers in 11 cities. Lewis’first devised-theater piece, God Made Me Queer, debuted in 2015 (AS220). Heurisko: a play about found things, was featured in AS220’s Modern Movements Festival in April 2016 and toured to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Lewis also collaborated on We Made This, the prize-winning entry in the 2017 RI Devised Theatre Festival. He works as the dance program manager at AS220 and is a 2015 graduate of Rhode Island College.

Kevin Broccoli

Kevin Broccoli

Readings in Autumn: An Exploration of New Works Part II will feature The Married Name by Kevin Broccoli, on September 20. Broccoli’s piece centers around an engaged couple who invites two of their single friends over for dinner. When one of the friends asks who will be taking whose name, the evening descends into chaos. Broccoli’s play Kill the Virgin was also a previous CPTC offering. He is also known as the author of American Strippers, Rose’s Money, and James Franco and Me: An Unauthorized Satire, which features in this year’s New York Fringe festival.

“Kevin Broccoli is the definitive renaissance theater man,” says Clement. “There is literally nothing that he doesn’t do. He’s a theater beast of the highest order. His playwright’s voice is biting, hilarious, insightful and intimate. We are ecstatic to host his work again.”

 

Directing Married Name is Trey Hendley who holds an A.F.A. in technical theatre from the Community College of Rhode Island and is a former president of the CCRI Players. He has also served as costume designer with CPTC on Waiting for Godot and The Final Voyage of X Minus One, as well as Dramaturg for La Dernier Repas: A Love Story and was also Assistant Director for the world premiere of Isabella.

Readings in Autumn: An Exploration of New Works is a free event, open to the public, at AS220’s 95 Empire Street black box theater. Showtimes are 7pm.

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