photo by Becca Dilley
The Ruth Easton New Play Series
The Ruth Easton New Play Series gives playwrights 35 hours of development time to explore, evolve, and experiment with their new plays.
Five featured writers hand-select their own team of artistic collaborators to workshop their plays-in-progress and share them through public readings. More than half of the plays developed through this series have gone on to full productions at theaters around the world.
This series is one of the most resource- and time-generous development opportunities in the field. It is in its 18th year and is made possible by the Ruth Easton Fund of the Edelstein Family Foundation. This season, we once again invite remote audiences to be part of bringing these bold new plays to life, as we offer both in-person and filmed performances.
The 2023-24 Ruth Easton New Play Series will support the following plays:
by Steph Del Rosso
Violet is newly retired and eager to spend more quality time with her daughter Tillie. But her visit goes sideways as New York is gripped by yet another oppressive heatwave. Inside Tillie's cramped apartment, cabin fever sets in, revealing hidden truths and deep divides. Incisive and darkly humorous, Precarious explores mothers and daughters, and what we choose to leave behind in a world transformed by climate change.
In-person readings: Monday, October 9 & Tuesday, October 10 at 7 p.m.
Filmed presentation available online: October 23–29
A Black-billed Cuckoo
by Mat Smart
Over the span of 24 hours in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, a close-knit birding group is turned upside down when some of its members see a rare bird and some don’t. A comedy that explores the complexities of loss, the power of wonder, and how to move on after missing out.
Developed at the South Carolina New Play Festival.
In-person readings: Monday, November 6 & Tuesday, November 7 at 7 p.m.
Filmed presentation available online: November 20–26
Your Local Theater Presents: A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, Again
by Anna Ouyang Moench
Eddie is fresh out of Juilliard, and he’s ready to make his mark on the American Theater. But first, a quick stint at your local theater for a production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” to keep his health insurance. As the years pass, Eddie finds himself back at your local theater, over and over and over again. Much remains the same: the play, the stage manager, the green room—though Eddie's in different costumes as he ages through the play's male roles over the course of his career. A love letter to actors, artists, and dreamers of all professions who make sacrifices large and small in service of their work…and ultimately wonder whether it was worth it.
In-person readings: Monday, December 11 & Tuesday, December 12 at 7 p.m.
Filmed presentation available online: December 25–31
Lore Segal's Other People's Houses
adapted by Daniel Aukin and Emily Feldman
In December of 1938, Lore, age ten, fled her home in Vienna aboard the Kindertransport and arrived in England alone, tasked with securing visas for the family members she left behind. Almost thirty years later, she published her acclaimed first novel, fictionalizing her experiences with a piercing perspective on the paradoxes of her forced migration. Now, Emily Feldman and Daniel Aukin aim to capture Lore's blazingly singular worldview in a theatrical epic that spans eighty-five years and examines the puzzle of human survival in a world that distinguishes us and others.
In-person readings: Monday, February 5 & Tuesday, February 6 at 7 p.m.
Filmed presentation available online: February 19–25
(The Apothecary’s Story)
by Steven Dietz
Four hundred years ago, a desperate Apothecary sold poison to a heartsick boy named Romeo. This Apothecary – still alive in the present – is determined to atone for his part in the death of this boy and his beloved Juliet. Encountering a troubled young woman and a guileless young man, the Apothecary contrives to build a romantic love that cannot be destroyed … with dangerously emotional results. Vial Man is a lively theatrical concoction of magic, loss and the consequences of true passion denied. What becomes of love that cannot say its name?
In-person readings: Monday, March 4 & Tuesday, March 5 at 7 p.m.
Filmed presentation available online: March 18–24
The Funders of the Ruth Easton New Play Series
Actress Ruth Easton (nee Edelstein) was born in North Branch, Minnesota and graduated from North Branch High School. She attended the University of Minnesota for one year and the following year attended Macalester College before finishing her collegiate career at Cumnock School in Los Angeles. She went on to New York where she studied acting with Oliver Morosco. Mr. Morosco opened a stock theater company in upstate New York where Ms. Easton starred in several plays. After performing with other stock theater companies she returned to New York City where she appeared in five Broadway plays over a period of seven years. They included Exceedingly Small, Privilege Car, Town Bay, Buckaroo and Charlie Chan. Exceedingly Small was directed by Ethel Barrymore and Easton played opposite Eric Dressler. New York critics praised her performance as “thoroughly touching” and “highly spirited and excellent.” She starred in radio dramas on the Rudy Vallee Hour and the Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour opposite such actors as Walter Huston, Judith Anderson and Lionel Barrymore. She also appeared with Clark Gable, Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson during the course of her career. Ms. Easton’s legacy, her commitment to theater and the development of new works continues through the charitable gifts made by the Ruth Easton Fund of the Edelstein Family Foundation.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.