NJPAC Stage Exchange 2018 | New Jersey Theatre Alliance

NJPAC Stage Exchange 2018

  • The 2018 Stage Exchange Playwrights (left to right): Darrah Cloud, Stephen Fredericks, and Tanya Saracho
    The 2018 Stage Exchange Playwrights (left to right): Darrah Cloud, Stephen Fredericks, and Tanya Saracho

RESCHEDULED: The reading of Darrah Cloud's Turning, originally scheduled for Friday, March 2, has been rescheduled for Friday, March 16, 7pm at NJPAC in Newark.

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (January 24, 2018) – New Jersey Theatre Alliance, in partnership with New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, announces the return of NJPAC Stage Exchange for a fourth year. Cutting-edge play development meets insightful community dialogue at NJPAC Stage Exchange, a program that supports three new plays by established playwrights focusing on issues relevant to New Jersey residents.

The creative process involves three script readings with public conversations at NJPAC, and concludes with three full productions at New Jersey professional theaters. The playwrights selected for 2018 are Darrah Cloud, Stephen Fredericks and Tanya Saracho.

A kick-off event, free to the public, will be held on Friday, February 9, at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in the Hahne & Co. building, 42 Halsey Street, Newark, N.J. Guests will learn about the program and this year’s lineup, and will take a sneak peek at Turning, Cloud’s commissioned work. The play is based on the story of the first U.S. women’s gymnastics team, which trained in Newark, N.J. and went to compete in the controversial 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

A full-script reading of Turning will take place at NJPAC on Friday, March 16, at 7:00 p.m. The play will be produced by Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown in 2019.

Fredericks’ play, Waves Upon the Shore, juxtaposes the story of a 14-year-old Norwegian girl who immigrates to the U.S. in the early 20th century with the modern-day tale of a teenaged refugee from Syria living in Paterson. The reading of Waves Upon the Shore will be held at NJPAC on Friday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m. and the play will be produced by The Growing Stage: The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey in Netcong in 2019.

Saracho’s play (title TBD) is based on her 15-month residency in Red Bank with director Jerry Ruiz in 2014/15. Her play, based on interviews with community members, students, and civic leaders, will speak directly to concerns and challenges specific to Red Bank’s Latino community. The reading will be held at NJPAC on Friday, May 25, at 7:00 p.m. and the play is scheduled to be produced by Two River Theater in Red Bank in 2020.

Advance registration is required for the free NJPAC Stage Exchange Kick-off on February 9 at Barnes & Noble in the Hahne & Co. building in Newark. Tickets can be reserved at njpac.org or by calling 1-888-GONJPAC (1-888-466-5722).

The 2018 NJPAC Stage Exchange readings on March 2, April 20, and May 25 will take place in the Chase Room at NJPAC. Tickets are only $5.00 and can be reserved at njpac.org or by calling 1-888-GONJPAC (1-888-466-5722). NJPAC is at 1 Center Street in Newark.

“This is an exciting year for Stage Exchange,” said John McEwen, Executive Director of New Jersey Theatre Alliance. “Helping a new play get from paper to stage is an intricate process with many moving parts. This year’s participating theaters – Centenary Stage, The Growing Stage and Two River Theater – have helped dozens of playwrights through this complex process over the years. We hope that our partnership with NJPAC will introduce new audiences to these theaters and the world of new play development.”

“NJPAC Stage Exchange has been growing in popularity among Newark residents and beyond,” said Julia Kraus, NJPAC’s Producer of Artistic Development. “We are excited that the themes of this year’s plays – crossing borders, pioneering new territory, and assimilating to new cultures – will resonate with many residents of Newark. We encourage them to come, hear the plays, share their experiences, and be part of the process.”

In 2014, NJPAC established the NJPAC Stage Exchange program, which presented staged readings of plays-in-progress by notable New Jersey playwrights. An educational component was added during the following year to deepen the impact of the new plays and support the producing theaters.

NJPAC Stage Exchange is presented by NJPAC in partnership with New Jersey Theatre Alliance, with support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.  Additional generous support is provided by ADP, official Community Engagement Partner of NJPAC.

NJPAC Stage Exchange: The 2018 Commissions

Kick-Off Event
Friday, February 9, at 7:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble in the Hahne & Co. building, 42 Halsey Street, Newark

The public is invited to hear the artistic staff of the participating theaters discuss the process of writing and developing a new play, and the unique aspects of the NJPAC Stage Exchange program. There will also be a sneak peek of Darrah Cloud’s commissioned play, Turning.

Darrah Cloud: Turning
Reading: Friday, March 2 at 7 p.m. at NJPAC
Co-commissioned with Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown

Turning is a play about the young athletes from New Jersey who competed in the women’s gymnastics (“turning”) Olympic event in 1936 Berlin. This was the first year that women’s gymnastics was included in the Olympics, and the first time that world-class gymnastics coaches had to coach women. Women’s turning was a taboo sport, and some of the team members had to rise above resistance from their fathers and husbands. It was the women’s first voyage to Europe, and they had to learn etiquette because they were invited to balls where the 4-foot-nothings danced with Jesse Owens, and social functions where they were greeted by Adolf Hitler.

Darrah Cloud’s plays and musicals have been published and produced throughout the country. She has won numerous awards, including the Macy’s Prize for Theatre for Young Audiences, an NEA grant, and a Rockefeller grant. She is an alumna of the Iowa Writers Workshop and teaches at Goddard College.

For over 20 years Centenary Stage Company of Hackettstown, N.J. has served as a cultural resource for its community and the beautiful Skylands region. Its mission as a theatre has always been to entertain, to enlighten, and to inspire, and each year the staff and artists venture forth on a journey they hope will have an impact on the lives of their diverse audience. They celebrate their commitment with not only their professional Equity Theatre, but also their beloved Women Playwrights Series, the state-acclaimed Young Performers Workshop, the Young Audience Series on Tour program, and their Special Events Jazz and Concert Series. They hold steadfast to the belief in the transformative power of art, but, most importantly, the transformative power of live performance. For more information, visit centenarystageco.org or call 908-979-0900.

Stephen Fredericks: Waves Upon the Shore
Reading: Friday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m. at NJPAC
Co-commissioned with The Growing Stage: The Children’s Theatre of
New Jersey in Netcong

The idea for Waves Upon the Shore emerged when the playwright redeemed his wife’s holiday gift: a genealogy research service. Fredericks discovered that his grandmother had immigrated to the U.S. from Norway in the early 1900s when she was 14 years old, and went right to work as a domestic servant. He decided to meld the story of his grandmother’s immigration with the story of a Syrian girl, also 14, who flees to the U.S. as a refugee in the 21st century. He has been meeting with Syrian refugee families in Paterson to gather first-hand stories of their experience.

Stephen Fredericks has directed and designed the majority of productions at The Growing Stage, and runs its New Play Reading Festival. As a playwright, he has adapted or written more than a dozen plays for young people. He received the Sara Spencer Award from American Alliance for Theatre & Education and is a graduate of Arizona State University.

The Growing Stage: The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey is a non-profit professional performing arts center dedicated to theater for young audiences. The Growing Stage was founded by Fredericks, its Executive Director, in 1982 with a small professional staff, a dedicated corps of volunteers, and a dream to bring quality professional theater to children and their families. Initially, performances took place at the Black River Playhouse and the Williamson School in Chester, N.J. As its reputation for outstanding children’s theater grew, the company embarked on a journey to create the only performing arts center in the state dedicated solely to young people and their families. The Growing Stage purchased the Palace Theatre in Netcong in 1995, and this historic venue has become its home. Today, The Growing Stage enjoys a statewide reputation for creating professional, quality theater for young audiences. Since its inception, over 500,000 patrons have shared in the wonder of the performing arts both at the Palace Theatre and through its workshops, residencies, and programs throughout the state. For more information, visit growingstage.com or call 973-347-4946.

Tanya Saracho’s commissioned play (Title TBD)
Reading: Friday, May 25, at 7:00 p.m. at NJPAC
Co-commissioned with Two River Theater in Red Bank

Renowned Mexican-American playwright Tanya Saracho is writing a play about immigrants living on the Jersey Shore and their struggles to assimilate. A few years ago, John Dias, artistic director at Two River Theater, invited Saracho to come to Red Bank for a 15-month residency. She interviewed immigrants from the community and decided to dramatize their stories.

Named “Best New Playwright” by Chicago Magazine, Tanya Saracho has had plays produced at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Goodman Theater, Steppenwolf Theater, and more. She was given the first Revolucionario Award in Theater by the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, develops and produces great American theatre. Through 10 theatrical productions each year (including world premieres, musicals, classics, and theater for young audiences) and 50+ annual events happening around Monmouth County, it produces exceptional theatre and cultivates engaged audiences. Founded by Joan and Robert Rechnitz in 1994, Two River is recognized in the national theatre community for its new-play commissioning program, which creates a pipeline for developing work that contributes to the vitality and future of the American theatre. Each season, the theater hosts numerous artist residencies, workshops, and readings, and presents an annual Cabaret of New Songs for the Musical Theater in association with NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program. The Crossing Borders (Cruzando Fronteras) festival and Nosotros program foster a closer relationship between the theatre and Latino artists and audiences. Two River cultivates a new generation of theatregoers through innovative arts-education programs that introduce young people to the theatre and create opportunities for them to engage with renowned theatre artists. For more information, visit tworivertheater.org or call 732-345-1400.

About New Jersey Theatre Alliance

New Jersey Theatre Alliance
7 King Place
Morristown, NJ 07960
njtheatrealliance.org or 973-731-6582
New Jersey Theatre Alliance unites, promotes, strengthens, and cultivates New Jersey’s professional theatres. It advances the theatre community by developing innovative, collaborative, and engaging programs and services for member theatres and their diverse audiences. It also produces public programs such as the annual Stages Festival, offering free and low-cost theatre events throughout March, and NJArtsTix, an online discount ticket service. Its member theatres are both large and small with a wide variety of repertoires, each a fully functioning business that pays its staff and artists (designers, technicians, directors, and actors). Through their programming, these theatres inspire, challenge, and entertain about one million theatre-goers annually, and enrich communities through outreach programs and arts education.


One Center Street
Newark, New Jersey 07102
njpac.org or 888-GO-NJPAC (888-466-5722)
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, N.J., has the most diverse programming and audience of any performing arts center in the country, 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 8 million visitors (including over 1.6 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.

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