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Another playwright-centered festival at the Guthrie?

Posted by: Rohan Preston under Theater, People Updated: February 20, 2014 - 12:07 PM

The Guthrie Theater is in the planning stages of a possible multi-play festival around the work of Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, sources have told the Star Tribune. Nottage would be the third playwright to be so honored and the first playwright who is female or a person of color.

“We can’t confirm anything now; things are still moving around,” said Trish Santini, director of external relations at the Guthrie.

However, in a statement Thursday, Guthrie director Joe Dowling did say the theater has commissioned a play from Nottage with the support of the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, and "we are in conversations with Ms. Nottage and her representatives regarding the timing of a future production and the scope of our commitment."

The Guthrie will announce its 2014-15 season April 10.

Nottage is a highly respected Yale-educated playwright who won the 2009 Pulitzer for “Ruined.” That drama is set in an African warzone and centers on the lives of women who find sanctuary in a brothel. It was memorably produced in fall 2009 at Mixed Blood Theatre.

Nottage’s latest play is “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” a comedy about the challenges of a fictional black actress in the 1930s. Sanaa Lathan was one of the stars of the New York premiere.

Nottage is completing a new drama, “Reading Play,” whose premiere at the Guthrie in fall 2015 was previously announced. That play is drawn from research into the lives of people in Reading, Penn., one of the nation’s poorest cities. The project won a coveted $50,000 Joyce Award.

The Guthrie produced Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel” in fall 2005. None of her other works have been seen in the Twin Cities. She also wrote “Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine,” a 2004 work about the social fall of a professional woman whose husband has taken her money.

In 2009, the Guthrie launched its festival idea with a celebration of Tony Kushner’s work, including the premiere of “The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.” A festival of work by British playwright Christopher Hampton followed in 2012.

A Nottage festival would celebrate one of the nation’s leading playwrights even as it helps the Guthrie to address issues of gender and ethnic diversity that have been raised in past seasons.

 

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