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Posted on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 7 a.m.

Fireside New Play Festival at Performance Network, and 'The Meaning of Almost Everything' closes at The Purple Rose

By Carla Milarch

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Michael Brian Ogden and Matt Gwynn in "The Meaning of Almost Everything" at the Purple Rose Theatre.

Photo by Sean Carter Photography

This week’s column is a paean to new plays, with the Fireside New Play Festival, a brand new adaptation of "Edward II," and a world premiere by Jeff Daniels. Even the oldest of the plays included, “Good People” came to life at Manhattan Theatre Club less than two years ago. What’s more, this week’s Fireside Festival offers a chance to see four completely new plays in just four days - at pay-what-you-can prices.

We’re lucky in Ann Arbor that theaters and audiences understand the value of new plays, both as a vital way to engage communities in current topics, and as important contributions to the American Theater canon. The constant supply of new and vanguard work stimulates our imaginations, inspires creativity, and engenders meaningful conversations.

It certainly keeps life in Washtenaw theater from getting boring!

Show: “The Body” by Steve Moulds, one-time event, March 10 at 7 p.m. Company: Performance Network Theatre. Type of Company: Professional Equity staged reading. Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor. Recommended ages: 16+. Description: A father and his 9-year-old stepdaughter receive a mysterious package while her mother is away on a business trip. When the contents seemingly take on a life of their own, father and child find their trust tested in a matter of life and death. https://tickets.performancenetwork.org/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent493.html Fun Fact: Presented in a staged-reading format as a part of the Fireside New Play Festival. For tickets and information: www.performancenetwork.org/, or call 734-663-0681.

Show: “Sugarhill” by Linda Ramsay, one-time event, March 11 at 7 p.m. Company: Performance Network Theatre. Type of Company: Professional Equity staged reading. Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor. Recommended ages: 16+. Description: In 1941 in Louisiana, a grief-stricken family mourns the loss of a teen child, when a mysterious man arrives with a wounded leg and bloodhounds on his trail. As the family harbors the fugitive, secrets about his past, and theirs, are brought to light. https://tickets.performancenetwork.org/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent494.html Fun Fact: Presented in a staged-reading format as a part of the Fireside New Play Festival. For tickets and information: www.performancenetwork.org/, or call 734-663-0681.

Show: “Belief” by CJ Hettinger, one-time event, March 12 at 7 p.m. Company: Performance Network Theatre. Type of Company: Professional Equity staged reading. Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor. Recommended ages: 16+. Description: A suicidal patient believes she can communicate with angels, who promise her the ability to perform miracles, and threaten dire consequences if she resists. When patients are miraculously “cured” her psychotherapist tries to sort delusion from reality, his wavering faith questioned, and reaffirmed. https://tickets.performancenetwork.org/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent495.html Fun Fact: Presented in a staged-reading format as a part of the Fireside New Play Festival. For tickets and information: www.performancenetwork.org/, or call 734-663-0681.

Show: “Pulp” by Joe Zettelmaier, one-time event, March 13 at 7 p.m. Company: Performance Network Theatre. Type of Company: Professional Equity staged reading. Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor. Recommended ages: 16+. Description: Los Angeles, 1933. PI Frank Ellery doesn't know it, but he's taken on the strangest case of his life. A literary agent has been gruesomely murdered. The 4 suspects: his remaining clients, all writers for different pulp magazines. Frank dives into the mystery, and his world turns upside down as life begins to imitate literature. https://tickets.performancenetwork.org/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent496.html Fun Fact: Presented in a staged-reading format as a part of the Fireside New Play Festival. For tickets and information: www.performancenetwork.org/, or call 734-663-0681.

Show: “The Meaning of Almost Everything” by Jeff Daniels, through March 9. Company: The Purple Rose Theatre Company. Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT. Venue/location: The Purple Rose Theatre, 137 Park Street, Chelsea. Recommended ages: 17+. Description: Step right up and grab a seat for the hilarious and sometimes painful circus that is life! Two men will astound you with their feats of daring and sometimes cowardice as they pratfall their way to the big answers in “The Meaning of Almost of Everything.” This world premiere comedy questions the nature of our world and the absurdity of it all. http://www.roguecritic.com/home/the-meaning-of-almost-everything.html Fun fact: The audience members who are selected by the actors to "participate" in the show are rewarded with a coupon for $10 off their next ticket to the PRTC. For tickets and information: 734-433-7673 or www.purplerosetheatre.org.

Show: “Edward the Second” by Jason Sebacher, based on the play by Christopher Marlowe. Company: The New Theatre Project. Type of Company: Professional Non-Equity. Venue/location: Mix Performance Space, 130 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti. Recommended ages: 18+, Contains violence, strong language, sexual simulations, and nudity. Description: A party boy, a loser, a pothead, a wastoid, now a king. Edward, not ready for the call of adulthood, crashes in his dad’s basement with his disreputable boyfriend, Pierce. His brother Kent lives under the burden of his beloved father, and his wife Isabel will only put up with it for so long before her ambitions get the best of her. The New Theatre Project’s first history play adaptation exists in the tensions between power and desire, pain and pleasure, and past and present. The classic love story - with its unforgettable, explosive ending - is about the impossibility of young love and the casualties of adulthood. http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/the-new-theatre-project-plays-with-edward-the-second/ Fun fact: The first quarto of 1594 states that the play "Edward II" was originally performed by the Earl of Pembroke's Men. The title page of the 1622 edition states that the play was performed by Queen Anne's Men at the Red Bull Theatre, showing that Edward II was still in the active repertory well into the seventeenth century. For tickets and information: www.thenewtheatreproject.org.

Show: “Good People” by David Lindsay-Abaire, through March 31. Company: Performance Network Theatre. Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT. Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor. Recommended ages: 16+. Description: When you got nothin', you got nothin' to lose - or so it would seem for Margie Walsh, a Dollar Store worker from Boston's Southie district, where this week's paycheck pays last week's bills, and a round of Bingo is a night on the town. Fired from her job and facing eviction, she reaches out in desperation to a high school boyfriend who has made it out, inviting herself to a chic cocktail party in his home. Once there, a series of awkward moments reveals a secret about their past, putting Margie in the driver's seat for the first time. This 2011 Tony nominee is a touching and funny look at America's great economic divide. http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/review-good-people-at-performance-network/ Fun Fact: One of America's oldest and most historic neighborhoods, South Boston was formerly known as Dorchester Neck and is today often called "Southie" by its residents and other locals. Long known as a working class Irish-American neighborhood, it is also home to the Boston area's small but vibrant Polish and Lithuanian communities. For tickets and information: www.performancenetwork.org/, or call 734-663-0681.

Comments

John of Saline

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

The guy on the right looks a bit like the British prime minister.