TheatreSquared recently announced the 2020 Arkansas New Play Festival will continue with The Interrogator on Aug. 7. The workshop of The Interrogator, by Russell Leigh Sharman, directed by Amy Herzberg with dramaturgical support from Naysan Mojgani, is already underway.
The Interrogator is a WWII thriller based on transcripts of the actual interrogations carried out at Fort Hunt, a top-secret prisoner of war camp code-named P.O. BOX 1142. This reading will be offered nationwide, for a suggested donation to support the work. The reading will be followed by a conversation with the creative team. Encore streaming is available through Aug. 10. Full details are available at playarkansas.com.
“The Interrogator is not only gripping storytelling—but also deeply resonant with our society today,” said T2 Artistic Director Robert Ford. “Opening space to share these works in progress—and supporting playwrights as they prepare these brilliant new works for their world premieres—sets the stage for an exciting return to live performances.”
The cast of The Interrogator includes Matthew Boston, Joe Chisholm, Riley Newsome, and the return of two T2 alums Bryce Kemph (A Christmas Carol, Shakespeare in Love) and Steven Marzolf (The Spiritualist, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Shakespeare in Love).
“In June, we kicked off the festival with an intensive workshop of Clinnesha D. Sibley’s Love be Like… and the capstone reading reached more than 600 audience members from NWA and across the country,” said T2 Executive Director Martin Miller. “Given the limited capacity of a typical new play reading, this was a wonderful turnout—and it’s just the beginning.”
The festival also announced an additional title for development. The brand new play Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy by Sarah Gancher gives audiences a comic glimpse into a world where professional internet trolls work for days at a time to influence American popular opinion, creating the illusion of consensus—or conflict. This exciting new play will create opportunities for innovation in live digital performance and interactivity and will stream in late August. Full dates and details will be announced in a subsequent release.
Later titles slated for development at the 2020 Arkansas New Play Festival include Weightless, a genre-bending musical event by The Kilbanes (the theatrical songwriting duo Kate Kilbane and Dan Moses), directed by Working Theater co-artistic director Tamilla Woodard, and developed in collaboration with the acclaimed off-Broadway company WP Theater. Commissioned by Z Space and Encore Theater Company, Weightless had its world premiere in 2018 at Z Space and was remounted and presented by A.C.T. at the Strand Theater in May 2019, where it received the highest recommendation from the San Francisco Chronicle, whose critic, Lily Janiak, called it “the future of theater.”
Additionally, the festival will present Heroes and Monsters, by the LatinX Theatre Project, a continuation of LXTP’s unique style of work featuring original dialogue, movement, music, poetry, and rap.
The Interrogator is available to stream free with a suggested donation. Arkansas New Play Festival passholders will receive free encore access to the full festival lineup and to exclusive online experiences throughout. Play Fest Passes are $45 and available at playarkansas.org.
Since 2009, the Arkansas New Play Festival has been a leading laboratory in mid-America for new plays, allowing audiences a chance to experience the very first performances of trail-blazing works before their world premieres. Each play is intensively developed by teams including the playwright, director, dramaturg, and a professional cast. More than 60 new plays have been developed at TheatreSquared since the festival’s inception.
About the Playwright
Russell Leigh Sharman, whose play Among the Western Dinka was developed in the 2018 ANPF, is a writer, filmmaker and anthropologist. His play The Small of Her Back was produced by Jaradoa Theater Company Off-Off Broadway and later adapted for screen. He has worked as a writer for various studios and production companies, including Warner Bros., Fox, and Disney, among many others. He has written and directed a number of short films and documentaries that have screened across the United States and around the world. He has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Oxford University. He lives, writes and teaches in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
TheatreSquared’s signature offering of bold new plays in an intimate setting has driven its growth to become the state’s largest theatre, offering more than 300 performances annually in two intimate spaces. The playwright-led company is one of mid-America’s leading laboratories for new work, having launched more than 60 new plays. Notable collaborators have included Bryna Turner, Anne García-Romero, Pulitzer Prize finalist Lisa D’Amour, Qui Nguyen, Mona Mansour, Tony Award nominee Lee Blessing, Amy Evans, and many others. TheatreSquared’s remarkable expansion—with a twentyfold increase in audience in just the past decade—parallels the emergence of its home region in the northwest corner of Arkansas as a booming population center and destination for American art. Offering far-reaching access and education programs and an open-all-day gathering space, the Commons Bar/Café, TheatreSquared remains rooted in its founding vision, that “theatre—done well and with passion—can transform lives and communities.”