Diverse Voices, Amplified

UC Santa Barbara’s LAUNCH PAD, AMPLIFY and New and Reimagined Work collaborates with National New Play Network to produce reading series of six new plays

To amplify the voices of underrepresented writers: That’s the aim of a new reading series organized by UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Theater and Dance. And it will deliver on that promise by way of six new plays.

The BIPOC Reading Series Festival boosts the stories of writers from diverse backgrounds, featuring new works by professional playwrights chosen from National New Play Network (NNPN)’s Affiliated Artists.

Coordinated by Risa Brainin, artistic director of LAUNCH PAD, UCSB’s acclaimed program for the innovative development of new plays, the festival premieres the first weekend in April 2021.

“The UCSB Department of Theater and Dance is dedicated to centering equity, diversity, inclusion and access in all of our work. This project kicks off what we plan to be a series of ongoing events uplifting voices of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists,” said Brainin. “We are so proud to be in collaboration with the National New Play Network to present these dynamic, bold and entertaining plays.”

The six plays that have been selected are:

·      A Medusa Thread by Candrice Jones

·      A People’s Guide to History in the Time of Here and Now by Rehana Lew Mirza

·      American Fast by Kareem Fahmy

·      Exotic Deadly: or the MSG Play by Keiko Green

·      Lorena, A Tabloid Epic by Eliana Pipes

·      Pilar and Paloma by Milta Ortiz

All six plays will be developed through workshops and presented to the public virtually, as part of a collaboration between UCSB and NNPN. “We are delighted to have been able to bring this opportunity to our Affiliated Artists of color and are excited to see and share the results of this amazing partnership with UC Santa Barbara with our Member Theaters and new play theater-makers," said NNPN Executive Director Nan Barnett.

Along with LAUNCH PAD, the festival is co-sponsored by two other initiatives in the Department of Theater and Dance: New and Reimagined Work, run by Professor Vickie J. Scott, which aims to encourage and support new plays while nurturing the next generation of playwrights, directors, choreographers, designers, administrators and performers, and AMPLIFY, a student-led organization mentored by Professor Anne Torsiglieri, committed to sharing and promoting the voices and stories of underrepresented people in order to encourage justice, equity, diversity and inclusion on campus and beyond.

In keeping with LAUNCH PAD’s tradition of collaboration between new and experienced artists, the plays will feature a mix of students and professionals, both onstage and behind the scenes.

“Actors include current students, alumni, faculty and guest artists,” Brainin explained, “Each play has an experienced director and dramaturg, as well as UCSB design, playwriting, stage management and directing students participating in the process. We love how this mix of professionals and students allows for a fantastic exchange of ideas between emerging and veteran artists.”

The BIPOC Reading Series Festival will be presented virtually on Friday, April 2, and Saturday April 3. Audiences will be invited to attend three readings each day, followed by a Q&A with the playwright, director, dramaturg and actors. More details can be found on the LAUNCH PAD website here.

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