Dancers Hamilton Nieh, Jacob Paulson (blowing powder into the air), Kelly Robotham, Jennifer Golonka and Britney Tokumoto rehearse Wednesday for a performance scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at the main studio at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. The performance is part of the New Works Festival.

Photo by John F. Russell

Dancers Hamilton Nieh, Jacob Paulson (blowing powder into the air), Kelly Robotham, Jennifer Golonka and Britney Tokumoto rehearse Wednesday for a performance scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at the main studio at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. The performance is part of the New Works Festival.

New Works Festival starts Friday in Steamboat

Annual Perry-Mansfield event reveals new plays, dances

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Dancers Kelly Bobotham, front right, and J'Michea Walker, back right, and Jennifer Golonka, front left, and Jacob Paulson, back left, rehearse for a performance during the New Works Festival, which is taking place at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp this weekend. The dancers will step into the spotlight at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Main Studio.

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Actor Maria Tucci, who has appeared in Broadway plays, talks with playwright Willy Holtzman (in foreground) at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp during the New Works Festival, which is taking place at the performing arts camp this weekend.

If you go

Tickets for each theater presentation are $15; individual tickets for the dance performance are $20. Festival weekend ticket packages are $60. Call 879-7125. Perry-Mansfield is at 40755 Routt County Road 36.

The weekend schedule:

8 p.m. Friday: “I Don't Want To Talk About It,” Main Studio, followed by a reception

1 p.m. Saturday: “The Morini Strad,” Main Studio, refreshments served in the Julie Harris Lobby between readings

4 p.m. Saturday: “Flooded,” Julie Harris Theatre

8 p.m. Saturday: New Works dance presentation, Main Studio

2 p.m. Sunday: “Maple and Vine,” Julie Harris

Past Event

13th annual Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival

  • Friday, June 18, 2010, 8 p.m.
  • Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Center, 40755 County Road 36, Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / $15 - $60

More

Past Event

13th annual Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival

  • Saturday, June 19, 2010, 1 p.m.
  • Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Center, 40755 County Road 36, Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / $15 - $60

More

Past Event

13th annual Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival

  • Saturday, June 19, 2010, 4 p.m.
  • Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Center, 40755 County Road 36, Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / $15 - $60

More

Past Event

13th annual Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival

  • Saturday, June 19, 2010, 8 p.m.
  • Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Center, 40755 County Road 36, Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / $15 - $60

More

Past Event

13th annual Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival

  • Sunday, June 20, 2010, 2 p.m.
  • Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Center, 40755 County Road 36, Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / $15 - $60

More

— The pastoral campus of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp was crackling Wednesday with the creative energy of dozens of actors, directors, playwrights, choreographers and dancers all intent on bringing new works to full bloom.

The public has an opportunity Friday, Saturday and Sunday to soak up some of the buzz when Perry-Mansfield hosts its 13th annual New Works Festival. The long weekend includes the first public readings of four new plays still in development and a performance of original dance.

“This goes to the roots of Perry-Mansfield and its mission of creating a safe place for institutions and artists to form the relationships and collaborations that allow them to take the work to the next step,” New Works Artistic Director Andrew Leynse said.

A preview of the world premier of the dance “Beyond Ashes” on Wednesday by choreographer Nicholas Villeneuve promised spirituality and controlled athleticism. The dance debuts Saturday evening with other works of dance.

Villeneuve said his motivation for creating the dance came from long conversations with a close friend who had lost her mother to brain cancer.

The result is an uplifting dance about death.

“I didn’t want my friend to think of it as death,” Villeneuve said. “I think of it as a refreshing new birth. I think of it as a hopeful dance about death.”

The weekend’s plays promise intense personal interaction and a healthy dose of humor.

In “Maple and Vine,” by Jordan Harrison, the main characters give up their smart phones and the hectic pace of modern life after encountering a group of 1950s re-enactors who advocate a return to Jell-O molds and Tupperware parties.

Leynse said one benefit of nurturing new plays is that they often take on contemporary subjects that strike a familiar chord with their audiences.

People who attend the weekend’s play readings should not expect full stage productions. The actors are not in costume, and there are no elaborate stage sets. Rather, it’s an opportunity to watch as talented actors give the first public reading of new works.

Theatrical institutions taking part in the festival include the Atlantic Theater Co., an award-winning off-Broadway company; Primary Stages of New York; Denver Center Theatre Co.; Berkeley Repertory Theatre; and Actors Theater of Louisville. A grant from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust supports the festival.

Playwright Julie Marie Myatt introduces her audience at 4 p.m. Friday to the role of the TV meteorologist as oracle when Kent Thompson and the Denver Center Theatre Co. present “Flooded.” It’s the story of a television weatherman who unknowingly channels an on-camera voice of doom that links natural disasters to the sins of mankind.

Playwright Kenny Finkle and director Christian Parker will take their audience to the verge of an “R” rating Friday night in the main studio in “I Don’t Want to Talk About it.” Count on actor Leslie Ayvazian to deliver provocative lines with lusty abandon.

Veteran Broadway actors Kelly AuCoin and Maria Tucci will make an unexpected pact regarding a priceless violin in Willy Holtzman’s “The Morini Strad,” directed by Casey Childs. And there will be a third actor on stage.

“The violin is becoming part of the cast,” Tucci said Wednesday.

The festival inspires collaboration.

“These directors and playwrights trust these performers,” Leynse said. “It’s a very intimate kind of trust. The playwrights relish the opportunity. This is a really intense time when people work from 8 a.m. into the weekend.”

It’s also a rare opportunity to break away from daily life and enjoy the luxury of putting a new play through a workshop with directors suggesting changes and actors speaking dialogue out loud for the first time. Some of the playwrights undertake rewrites while at Perry-Mansfield.

Actors, too, get the opportunity to influence the portrayal of a character they are just getting to know.

Finding new talent

The New Works Festival isn’t just about assembling veteran talent to polish new plays.

High school and college students in the New Noise program at the festival get the chance to meet with the directors at Perry-Mansfield this week and, in some cases, hear the actors read from their own plays.

Zach Schmidt, a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School, said he was having a positive — but humbling — experience.

Similarly, the dance company includes young artists who were selected during scholarship auditions in New York to come to Steamboat and work with established professionals, veteran Perry-Mansfield artistic consultant Linda Kent said.

– To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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