Announcing the 19th Annual Stages Festival, February 27 to March 31, 2016!
(West Orange) New Jersey Theatre Alliance and its partners and funders are pleased to present the 19th annual Stages Festival (Stages), a statewide, month-long festival of theatre offering over 85 theatre performances and programs for children and adults free of charge or at significantly discounted rates. Events will take place at theatres, arts centers, libraries, schools, hospitals, and other community venues throughout the state. Most events require registration. For a full listing of events, program details, and registration information visit stagesfestival.org.
“Theater is alive and well in the Garden State! And nowhere is that more evident than at The Stages Festival,” said Nick Paleologos, Executive Director of New Jersey State Council on the Arts. “We have been a proud sponsor of this fabulous event since it began nearly twenty years ago. And it has since become one of best annual family theatrical experiences in America.”
The Stages Festival began 18 years ago as a one-week children’s program called Family Week at the Theatre, and, due to popular demand, eventually grew to a month-long program of events for all ages in 15 of the state’s 21 counties, making it the state’s largest celebration of live theatre. The goal of Stages is to break down barriers to high-quality theatre, so all events are free or low-cost, and take place throughout the state.
The following are a few of the 2016 highlights:
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey: This internationally acclaimed classic theatre invites children and their parents to two free workshops on Saturday, March 12th at its administrative offices in Florham Park: “Build Your Own Fairy Kingdom” and “Swashbuckling 101.” Family-friendly versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be offered on March 10th at the Morris Plains Borough School and March 19th at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison. Romeo and Juliet will be presented March 18th and 19th at The Shakespeare Theatre in Madison.
Healing Voices OnStage: Caregiver Stories: On March 31st at Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum in Morristown, Premiere Stages and Writers Theatre of New Jersey will partner with Atlantic Health to bring together professional actors to perform an original creative work by professional and family caregivers.
Birth of a Play: On March 24th at the Madison Public Library, Professor Bob Sandberg of Princeton University’s Theatre Department will moderate a panel discussion on how new plays come to life. Panelists include the three playwrights who have been commissioned as part of the 2016 NJPAC Stage Exchange program—Nikkole Salter, David Lee White, and Chisa Hutchinson—and their sponsoring artistic directors, Cheryl Katz, June Ballinger, and John Pietrowski.
A Bronx Tale: Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn will offer $20 student rush tickets to several performances of the musical A Bronx Tale. Also at Paper Mill, the public is invited to the breakfast conversation club on March 14th to learn about the theatre’s upcoming production of Pump Boys & Dinettes.
Theatre Workshops for All Ages: Adults, teens, and young children can learn stage skills at several workshops offered throughout the state: “Creative Dramatics for Grown-Ups” at Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre in Summit on March 5th, and three classes in tandem at Eagle Theatre in Hammonton on March 19th, for ages 5 to 12, 13 to 17, and 18 and over.
Staged Readings of New Plays: There will be many opportunities for the theatre lovers to hear new dramatic works read on stage by professional actors, and to give their feedback to the playwrights. On March 10th at Kean University in Union, Premiere Stages’ 12th Annual Spring Reading Series will present four plays that have been selected from hundreds of contest submissions. Writers Theatre of New Jersey will present two new-play series: The NJ Women Playwrights Festival, which features readings on March 5th, 11th, 18th, and 25th at Jersey City Theater Center; and New Plays New Jersey, a series of readings that runs from March 1st to March 6th at Bickford Theatre at Morris Museum in Morristown.
Dialogue on Drama: A Conversation with Director Adam Immerwahr: On March 13th, McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton will feature a post-performance talk-back with the director of The Mousetrap, McCarter’s main-stage production of the Agatha Christie classic.
Gabi Goes Green: Follow middle-schooler Gabi as she transforms into the Green Hero and battles Captain Carbon! George Street Playhouse’s educational play will take place on February 27th at the Shea Center for Performing Arts in Wayne. George Street Playhouse will also bring their play Austin the Unstoppable, which is about an 11-year-old X-Box and junk-food junkie, to Atlantic City on March 11th and Vineland on March 19th. George Street Playhouse will also present New Kid, a play about racism and peer pressure, in New Egypt on March 12th.
Miss Nelson Is Missing!: The fearsome substitute Viola Swamp takes over when the beloved teacher Miss Nelson disappears in this children’s play performed by Centenary Stage Company in several locations: March 1st in Cape May, March 4th in Burlington, March 5th in Jackson, March 8th in Brick Township, March 10th at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson, March 11th in Pennington, March 15th in Little Egg Harbor, and March 29th in Barnegat.
Plays by People: Matheny Medical and Educational Center is home to 101 children and adults with developmental disabilities. On March 19th, the professional actors and directors from Premiere Stages, the resident theatre company of Kean University, will bring to life the writings of Matheny’s residents on their campus in Peapack.
East Lynne Theater in Cape May: East Lynne Theater in Cape May will present three performances: a modern adaptation of Aesop’s Fables on March 16th, the radio play Detectives Holmes & Carter on March 19th, and “Celebrating Provincetown Players,” a staged reading of plays first produced by “the first modern American theatre company” (such as Before Breakfast by Eugene O’Neill), on March 20th.
Spanish Performance of ROPES: On March 5th, Two River Theater of Red Bank will present a Spanish-language performance of its main-stage play ROPES, about a tightrope walker and his children. While adults watch the play, free childcare will be provided, with Spanish-language theatre games and stories.
The highlights listed here are only a sampling of this year’s schedule of events. For a complete schedule of The Stages Festival, and to register for events, please visit stagesfestival.org. In keeping with its commitment to making theatre accessible, the Alliance strives to make most Stages events accessible to people with disabilities.
Founded in 1981, New Jersey Theatre Alliance was the first statewide service organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre companies in the United States, and is now a leader in developing model programs that foster collaboration, cooperation, and audience development. The Stages Festival is made possible in part by funding from Bank of America; The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; The Smart Family Foundation; The F.M. Kirby Foundation; the George A. Ohl, Jr. Trust Foundation, and New Jersey Council for the Humanities. Additional support for New Jersey Theatre Alliance is provided by individuals, corporations, and foundations, including the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Prudential Foundation.
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