Playwright Carlyle Brown, left, director Marion McClinton, and others discuss Brown's play before PlayLabs. Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp.
Lovers of new plays get to have a raw feast this week as the Playwrights Center kicks off its 29th annual PlayLabs festival. Things get started Monday night with a staged reading of George Brant’s “Three Voyages of the Lobotomobile,” a work play is about Dr. Walter J. Freeman. He invented the then-new medical technique known as the lobotomy, and happily promoted it across the nation. The reading of “Lobotomobile” is directed by Michael Perlman, with fierce actors Pearce Bunting, Joshua Fazeli, Jodi Kellogg, Edwin Strout. 7 p.m. Mon. and 8 p.m. Fri.
Playwright Christine Evans’ “Can't Complain,” about a wily mother plotting to flee the hospital confinement done at the behest of her daughter, is up next. It is directed by Jessi D. Hill with acting heavyweights ShaVunda Horsley, Larissa Kiel, Phil Kilbourne, Wendy Lehr, Claudia Wilkens. Sound designer Katharine Horowitz also had input. 7 p.m. Tue., 4 p.m. Sat.
The third and final PlayLabs reading is of Carlyle Brown’s “Nobody, No Time,” about vaudeville entertainer Bert Williams who was one of the most celebrated black stars of his era. The play is set in Williams’ dressing room in 1922 as the star reflects on a career built on toxic stereotypes. Marion McClinton directs noted actors Patrick Bailey, Brian Grandison, Timotha Lanae, Forrest McClendon, Thomasina Petrus and Brian Anthony Wilson. Composer Victor Zupanc also contributes. 7 p.m. Wed., 8 p.m. Sat.
Admission is free to the readings but reservations are strongly encouraged. PlayLabs has additional events.
There is a showcase of the center’s current Jerome and McKnight foundation playwriting fellows. It will feature selections of new work by Christina Ham, Cory Hinkle, Alex Lewin, Anna Moench, Janaki Ranpura, Betty Shamieh, Ricardo Vazquez, Joe Waechter and Martín Zimmerman, followed by a reception with the writers.
Director Dominic Taylor helms the showcase, which features actors Sasha Andreev, Aimee K. Bryant, Pearce Bunting, Peter Christian Hansen, Catherine Johnson Justice, Jodi Kellogg, Ashley Montondo and Edwin Strout. 1 p.m. Sat.
There also is a panel entitled “A Culture for New Work.” The discussion, which will be live-streamed, will feature playwrights, directors and the dramaturgs who have helped midwife many a play. The panelists are Christine Evans, Marcus Gardley, Michael Lupu, Marion McClinton and Jim Nicola. 1 p.m. Sun.