The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Oct 03, 2012

Actors' Summit lands new work through National New Play Network

Posted by rdurbin

Actors' Summit, a Knight Arts grantee, got good news. It will be part of the National New Play Network's 33rd Rolling World Premiere — an event that champions the development, production and continued life of new plays.

What's even cooler is that the work, "Manning Up" by Sean Christopher Lewis, will be developed by the playwright himself, first in Riverside Theatre (in Iowa City, Iowa) before moving next to Salt Lake City, Utah (the Salt Lake Acting Company) and then to our own Actors' Summit next May.

Playwright Sean Christopher Lewis.

As Actors' Summit puts it, the Continued Life of New Plays program supports three or more theaters that choose to mount the same play within a twelve-month period," with the playwright developing "a new work with multiple creative teams, for multiple communities of patrons, ensuring the resulting play is of the highest possible quality." Additionally "the play attains the momentum it needs to join the repertoire of frequently produced new American plays."

None too shabby.

"Manning Up" is about two soon-to-be dads as they wrestle with hopes, fears and each other as fatherhood creeps ever closer. Actors' Summit says, "Lewis' warm-hearted comedy introduces us to long-time friends Donnie and Raymond, trying to balance competing needs as 21st century husbands, dads, friends and men."

Lewis described "Manning Up" in a blog this way: "And I've been really apologetic about this play." He added that that is because "it isn't political, or edgy, or structurally complicated"; rather it is "a two actor single set comedy about becoming fathers," making it "way more Neil Simon than Danny Hoch." In summing up he noted that he is both writing "about people I know and am friends with and talk" to every day and that he is "writing from joy."

That sounds like deft humor underling this work.

Sean Christopher Lewis performing in his "Killdelphia." Photo by Working Group

Lewis' plays are no strangers to the Akron area and its theaters. The Bang and Clatter theater company, which began as a small black-box theater in the Summit Artspace building, put on Lewis' "Militant Language." This theater company is reforming itself as None Too Fragile and will put on cutting edge works at Pub Bricco in the Merriman Valley area.

This is a thrilling adventure for Actors' Summit, I would wager. "Manning Up" is one of seven regional premieres the company will put on this season.

"Manning Up" will be presented at 8 p.m. from May 16-June 2, 2013 by Actors' Summit in Graystone Hall, 103 S. High St., Akron; 330-374-7568; Tickets are $30.

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