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Posted on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 : 6:55 a.m.

Fireside Festival of New Works returning to Performance Network

By Staff

Performance Network's annual Fireside Festival of New Works, a twice-yearly staged reading of new plays, returns with a lineup of four events starting Sunday.

Each reading will be followed by a post-show discussion with the playwright and director, as well as a small reception with refreshments.

In a new event, PNT also plans a panel discussion with all of the playwrights to conclude the festival at 9 p.m. Aug. 31. The panel will discuss the state of new plays in the area, as well as across the country.

Following is information on each play, provided by the Network:

“Rust” by Austin Bunn with Working Group Theatre (Sean Lewis, Martin Andrews, Jennifer Fawcett)
Sunday, Aug. 28, 7 p.m.
Following the closing of the Wyoming, MI General Motors plant in 2008, this documentary-style piece features interviews with the laid-off workers and the “ax men” hired to close GM plants. These real conversations are poignantly distilled through the eyes of the characters into an informative and intense look at the personal stories behind the headlines. Directed by Sean Lewis.

“Lines” by Jeffrey Allen Steiger
Monday, Aug. 29, 7 p.m.
Claire, a new grievance investigator at the University of Alabama, is assigned a case that proves to be far more complicated than it appears. When a professor with a very unique expertise is accused of sexual harassment, tables are turned. Starting as a case of fact, the investigation becomes less about “he said/she said,” and more about Claire. “Lines” explores the division between thoughts, feelings, and action, and whether those borders are definitive or frighteningly blurry. Directed by Jeffrey Allen Steiger. Featuring Loren Bass (“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”), Chelsea Sadler (“Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh”) and Kevin Young (“Next Fall”).

“Call Me Cass” by Margaret Edwartowski
Tuesday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.
This play with music follows Mama Cass Elliot from her time as a teenage Broadway hopeful, through her untimely death at the peak of her career. Featuring music from The Mamas and the Papas, The Big Three, The Mugwumps and her solo career, the play explores Cass’ struggle with being a big woman with a bigger voice in the image oriented music industry, as well as the complicated relationships between the members of The Mamas and Papas as they sat at the forefront of the hippie music movement. Featuring Margaret Edwartowski, Jamen Spitzer, Chad Krueger and Dawn Bartley.

“Bronzeville Gold” by Anitria Cole
Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.
Set in 1933 Chicago, this powerful African American family saga revolves around a “gambling numbers wheel,” and a young Mississippi newcomer as he and the entire African American community chase the ever elusive American dream. Willie Jenkins a 22-year-old, African-American sharecropper wants to live the American dream but he knows that living in Tupelo, Mississippi will not afford him that opportunity. But when he meets a street numbers runner from south side Chicago named Cleveland, who promises him the “good-life”, Willie jumps on what he feels is his only escape from the south. Will he walk on “streets of gold” as Cleveland has promised him? Is Bronzeville really the land flowing with milk and honey? Or is it all just a dream?

Tickets are pay-what-you-can (suggested donation $10) and can be ordered at the Performance Network Box Office at 734-663-0681, online at or by coming to the Performance Network Theatre (120 East Huron St., Ann Arbor, 48104) Monday-Saturday 11-6 or one hour before a performance.

The Fireside Festival is underwritten by Joseph Walters.