NJPAC Stage Exchange: The Commissions 2016 | New Jersey Theatre Alliance

NJPAC Stage Exchange: The Commissions 2016

NJPAC Stage Exchange, a collaboration with New Jersey Theatre AllianceNJPAC STAGE EXCHANGE: THE COMMISSIONS 2016
Cutting-Edge New Play Development Meets Insightful Community Dialogue

Groundbreaking Commissioning Program to present the first staged reading of the season, of SANISM, a play by David Lee White, on April 29, 2016, 7:00 p.m. at NJPAC in Newark.


The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), in partnership with New Jersey Theatre Alliance (NJTA) and Newark Celebration 350, is embarking on a groundbreaking new play commission program, NJPAC Stage Exchange: The Commissions, working with three professional New Jersey theatres to produce original works by a talented trio of Garden State playwrights. The selected playwrights and theatres include David Lee White and Passage Theatre Company (Trenton); Nikkole Salter and Luna Stage Company (West Orange); and Chisa Hutchinson and Writers Theatre of New Jersey (Madison).  Each play will have a staged reading at NJPAC and then receive a world premiere at its co-commissioning theatre during the 2016-17 season.

To kick off this innovative program, New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a consortium of the state’s professional theatres, will present Birth of a Play on March 24 at 7p.m. at the Madison Public Library, 39 Keep St., Madison, and will feature the three commissioned playwrights and artistic directors of the 2016 Stage Exchange partner theatres. The panel will explore the process of playwriting, play development, and production. Professor R.N. Sandberg, playwright and Acting Director of Princeton University’s Program in Theater, will moderate. This event is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.

In 2014, NJPAC began Stage Exchange, which featured staged readings of plays-in-progress by notable New Jersey playwrights, followed by audience talk-backs. Responding to the overwhelming success of the series, in 2015 NJPAC embellished the program to include commissions and teaching appointments for the playwrights.

“The inaugural year of Stage Exchange was the perfect re-entry for NJPAC into the New Jersey theatre community,” said Andy Donald, NJPAC’s Producer of Artistic Development and Community Programming. “Each of our staged readings focuses on the state’s best playwrights, their newest work, and the issues they care about today. We’re thrilled to grow the program in partnership with some of the state’s finest theatres, by not only funding and supporting the creation of new plays from the very beginning, but guaranteeing them the most crucial step of all: a world premiere.”

“New Jersey theatres have a strong track record for incubating new works and contributing to the American theatrical canon. We believe this program is unique in its design and diverse collaborating partners, and can serve as an inspiration for other presenting houses and producing theatres,” said John McEwen, NJTA’s Executive Director.

There is a strong community component to Stage Exchange with proceeds from the staged readings going to New Jersey-based non-profit organizations and institutions whose missions complement themes and issues addressed in the plays. Each reading will be followed by a symposium where the playwright will be joined on stage by a panel of academics, activists and professionals to discuss the issues in the play. The symposiums are free and open to the public.

Birth of a Play is free and open to the public; no reservations are required. Tickets for NJPAC Stage Exchange: The Commissions staged readings to be presented in the intimate Chase Room at NJPAC are $5 and can be purchased on the NJPAC website or by calling 1-888-GO-NJPAC (1-888-466-5722). NJPAC is located at One Center Street in Newark. The symposiums that follow each reading are free and open to the public, thanks to a generous grant from New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

About the plays and playwrights:

David Lee White for NJPAC Stage Excahnge, NJStageX, a collaboration between New Jersey Performing Arts Center and New Jersey Theatre AllianceSANISM
by David Lee White
Staged Reading: Friday, April 29 at 7pm
Co-commissioning theater: Passage Theatre Company, Trenton, June Ballinger, Artistic Director

A docu-play based on interviews with people who have suffered, or are currently suffering from mental illness. Other interview subjects include family members, health care workers and social service organizations. David Lee White is the Associate Artistic Director and Resident Playwright at Passage Theatre Company in Trenton. Proceeds from White’s staged reading will benefit NAMI Mercer, which provides education and support for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

INDIAN HEADNikkole Salter for NJPAC Stage Excahnge, NJStageX, a collaboration between New Jersey Performing Arts Center and New Jersey Theatre Alliance
By Nikkole Salter
Staged Reading: Friday, May 20 at 7pm
Co-commissioning theater: Luna Stage Company, West Orange, Cheryl Katz, Artistic Director

The story of a New Jersey woman who takes up the charge of having an “Indian” mascot removed from a local high school and the surprising division it causes in the community.  An Obie Award-winning playwright Nikkole Salter plays include In the Continuum, Repairing a Nation, and Of Great Merit. Crossroad Theatre Company’s production of Repairing a Nation recently aired on WNET THIRTEEN’s Theater Close-up. Proceeds from Salter’s staged reading will benefit the Newark Museum’s Art of the Americas Collection.

Chisa Hutchinson for NJPAC Stage Excahnge, NJStageX, a collaboration between New Jersey Performing Arts Center and New Jersey Theatre AllianceSURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY
By Chisa Hutchinson
Staged Reading: Friday, June 24 at 7pm
Co-commissioning theater: Writers Theatre of New Jersey, Madison, John Pietrowski, Artistic Director

Prolific playwright Chisa Hutchinson’s play Surely Goodness and Mercy tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a Newark elementary school student and a cantankerous lunch lady, as both lean on each other to navigate life in a system stacked against them. Hutchinson’s plays have been produced by Atlantic Theater Company, New Dramatists, Rattlestick Theater and National Black Theater, and others. Proceeds from Hutchinson’s staged reading will benefit New Jersey SEEDS, an organization that gives motivated, high-achieving students from low-income families greater educational opportunities.

About New Jersey Theatre Alliance:

Founded in 1981, New Jersey Theatre Alliance is the first statewide organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre companies in the United States, and is a leader in developing model programs that unite, promote, strengthen, and cultivate professional theatre in New Jersey. Funding for New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, is provided in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations including the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Bank of America, Prudential Foundation, and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. Birth of a Play and the three symposiums that follow the staged readings, are made possible by a generous grant from New Jersey State Council for the Humanities. More information can be found at njtheatrealliance.org/NJStageX-2016.

About Newark Celebration 350:

Newark Celebration 350 (NC 350) is a year-long jubilee of unique events and festivities commemorating the 350th anniversary of the city of Newark’s founding. Over 150 marquee programs will highlight the city’s rich history, remarkable achievements, diverse communities and extraordinary culture presented by a unique coalition of citizens, educational institutions, cultural organizations and community groups. This spectacular “festival of festivals” aims to inspire and excite locals and visitors from around the world by showcasing the best of this great American city. For a schedule of events: nc350.org.

About NJPAC:

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey – where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state's and the world's best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted more than 10 million visitors (including over 1.5 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents. To learn more: njpac.org