“Jennifer’s Birth” to open Berkshire Playwright’s Lab ninth season

Rich Orloff

Rich Orloff

Berkshire Playwrights Lab has announced its first reading of the 2016 season, “Jennifer’s Birth” by award-winning playwright Rich Orloff, at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on July 13, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. Berkshire Playwrights Lab, now in its ninth season, is the region’s only theater exclusively dedicated to the development of new plays.

“Jennifer’s Birth” poses the question, “If you could go back in time and observe your parents at the time of your birth, what would you discover?“ The play is about a 57-year-old woman from 2010 who goes back to the time of her birth, and who witnesses events – some comedic, some deeply disturbing – that shake up her views about her parents and about herself. She observes her parents as young marrieds struggling with how to be an adult – as defined by 1953 values. The conflict between ideals and reality pushes all of the characters out of their comfort zones and into problems they’re not the least prepared to face. “Jennifer’s Birth” is “a heart-wrenching comedy” about the challenge of clearly seeing one’s parents… and one’s self.

About the Playwright: Rich Orloff is the author of fifteen award-winning full-length plays (mostly comedies). The New York Times called his comedy “Big Boys” “rip-roaringly funny” and named “Funny as a Crutch” a Critic’s Pick.

His documentary-style play “Chatting with the Tea Party,” based on interviews with leaders of Tea Party groups around the country, has had readings at 15 theaters around the country and premiered in New York City in early 2016. His two-person comic revue “Romantic Fools” has had over 90 productions on four continents and is currently touring in Greece. Rich’s 80 short plays have received over 1200 productions on six continents (and a staged reading in Antarctica). His short comedies have been published seven times in the annual Best American Short Plays anthology series and three times in the annual Best Ten-Minute Plays anthology. www.richorloff.com.

Berkshire Playwrights Lab is the region’s only theater exclusively dedicated to the development of new plays. BPL’s mission is to provide new and established playwrights with a secure space in which they may develop new work and explore new avenues of creativity. More than 30 short and 35 full-length plays have been presented since 2007. Two plays presented under the BPL banner in recent years were given full productions last summer.

BPL plays go from the table to the stage in four days. Playwrights see their nascent works, still in development, acted by talented professional actors, allowing the writer to see where actors and directors stumble and what comes to life effortlessly. The talkback, held after every show, is an opportunity for the audience to have a role in shaping these new works. BPL playwrights state that the process is invaluable and saves them months of solitary labor. Past writers and performers have included Tony Shalhoub, Treat Williams, Dan Lauria, Wendie Malick, Eric Bogosian, Elaine May and David Mamet. Berkshire Playwrights Lab Co-Artistic Directors are Joseph Cacaci, Jim Frangione and Matthew Penn, all with long professional careers as actors, directors and writers for both stage and screen. Their complete bios may be found here: www.berkshireplaywrightslab.org.

Berkshire Playwrights Lab’s summertime Free Staged Reading series brings artists and audiences into conversation around new plays in development. There is no admission cost for BPL’s readings (although reservations are recommended), providing area audiences a free opportunity to be part of the creative process through talkbacks and access to artists. This year’s readings take place on the following Wednesdays at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center (Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, Mass.): July 13, July 27, August 10 and August 24. To reserve tickets, call the Mahaiwe Box Office at 413-528-0100 or visit mahaiwe.org.

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