Past Br!nk Playwrights

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Kristin Idaszak
The Surest Poison, 2018

Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Sloan Foundation commissioned me to write this play. I started off knowing two things: there was going to be a murder mystery, and it was going to be solved by two characters inspired by history, toxicologist Alexander Gettler and journalist/flapper Lois Long. As I dug into the research, I learned that during the 1920s, the federal government hired chemists to make denatured alcohol as deadly as possible, with the intention to kill individuals who drank this bootlegged liquor. The rational was that only the wrong kind of Americans consumed alcohol. However, wealthy Americans (white, often Protestant) were able to afford imported and therefore potable alcohol. This government policy of adding additional poisons to industrial alcohol was barely disguised xenophobia, racism, and classism.

 That discovery shaped the play. For me, the theatrical vocabulary of murder mystery comedies such as Dashiell Hammett's THE THIN MAN was a way of tackling these darker social and political issues that feel exceedingly timely and relevant to our world today.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Laura Grey
Featuring Sara Zientek, Jonathan Wainwright, Marti Gobel, Danielle Levings, John Kishline, and Gabriella Ashlin

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Nabra Nelson
Nubian Stories, 2018

My mother began writing down the folk tales that she grew up with several years ago. After her village was flooded when she was a child by the construction of the Aswan High Dam and her family and many other Nubian families were displaced to Cairo, she realized that these stories that had been passed down solely through oral tradition may actually disappear now that her village has disappeared. She would write them and I would edit them (for better English-language adaptation). I had these stories stored on my computer for a long time, glad that they were finally written down but unsure what to do with them.

A couple years ago, I went through a period of artistic reflection in which I was searching for a topic of passion which would fuel me. I found that my own Nubian culture’s unique and tragic history was a subject of perhaps disproportionate anger and sadness for me – it felt almost as though I was born having already lost a piece of myself under Lake Nasser, the lake that drown my mother’s village. I resolved to write about Nubia.

That’s when the idea to revive the folkloric stories came to me. I realized that they needed to be heard again, told to an audience in the way that they had been in the past. I have also always thought that the stories that my mom told me about her own life were almost unbelievably fantastical – at least as much as the traditional folktales she told me as a child. The result is this play.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Mallory Metoxen
Featuring Krystal Drake

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Reina Hardy
Annie Jump and the library of Heaven, 2017

I wrote “Annie Jump” in about three days in August, while the Perseids were falling (yes, really).   I was on deadline for a staged reading that I scheduled before I’d written a single page of the script.  This… is not how it usually happens, but man was it fun!As for the idea- years ago, I heard an NPR story about a man who maintained a website inviting aliens to contact him, and it stuck with me. That summer, while researching a different play, I read a science history book called “Coming of Age in the Milky Way” that described a theoretical concept much like the Library of Heaven.  The two ideas sort of collided, then Annie and Althea showed up from who knows where, already sniping at each other, already the best of friends. I sat on the idea for a couple of months until I had the time in my schedule to write it.  It brought together so many things that I've been thinking about for so long, and honestly it felt like a gift.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Mallory Metoxen
Featuring Madeleine Farley, Bryce Lord, Ericka Wade, Jake Konrath, & Rachael Zientek

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Amanda Petefish-Schrag
The Endurance of the Light, 2017

Ten years ago, I experienced a loss that countless women before me had already been through, (and countless more women will someday face), – a miscarried pregnancy. I realized in a new way why miscarriage proves such profoundly difficult subject matter.  It sits squarely at the intersection of numerous existentially-anxious issues - sex, death, religion, science, when life begins, and the very definition of life itself.  Yet in the years following my miscarriage, that needling question in the back of my brain, “Can we somehow talk about this?”, became the impetus for writing The Endurance of Light.

As I quickly discovered, grappling with miscarriage in the public sphere requires plunging into uncomfortable collisions headlong.  Exploring these intersections and attempting to reveal their inherent tensions; making them tangible, potent, and accessible, became the heartbeat of the play itself.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Suzan Fete
Featuring James Carrington, Flora Coker, Christopher Elst, Reva Fox, Laura Gray & David Sapiro

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Christine Kallman
Duck, 2016

Is love of a duck enough to get someone committed? As we hear the clock strike eleven, we learn that 78-year-old Eleanor has until noon to come up with evidence that will keep her daughters from moving her to a memory care unit. In flights of memory, Eleanor builds her case, reliving her attempts to prove her husband wrong when he claimed she “has never loved anyone or anything and never will.” But when she chooses to love a duck, it’s not as easy as she had thought. She is left to defend herself in a world where love seems impossible and her actions make us ask what sanity really means.

A one-woman play, DUCK stars Milwaukee legend Flora Coker, directed by RTW Co-Founder Marie Kohler.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Marie Kohler
Featuring Flora Coker

 

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Kathleen Allison Johnson & Gail Sterkel
Ten Thousand Moons from Here, 2016

In the summer of 2011, Jan Levine Thal, Artistic Director of the Kathie Rasmussen Women's Theatre, approached each of us with a commission to write a 30- to 40-minute one-act play for an evening of theater. After batting around ideas, we decided instead to collaborate on one full-length play. The play's story took several wrong turns before we realized we were writing about our desire to create a better world. Our mysterious aliens were already the better society we aspired to be. Our shared sense of humor promised to make the journey entertaining as well as enlightening.

After two public readings months apart and countless drafts, we presented our script to Jan. On June 13, 2013, our play opened at the Bartell Theater in Madison for eight performances, including one talk-back.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Mallory Metoxen
Stage Manager | Paula Gallarino
Dramaturg | Abby Stein
Featuring Libby Amato, Laura Gray, Tim Higgins, Sean Anthony Jackson, Josh Krause, Mary McLellan, Trevor Rees

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Philana Omorotionmwan
Before Evening Comes, 2016

This play began five years ago with the prompt “vaudeville.” For me, that conjured up images of blackface minstrelsy, which I did not want to write about. After a lot of Internet searches, I discovered videos of the acrobatic tap dances of the Nicholas Brothers. Watching them, I started to think about the ways in which being so comfortable and so free in one’s body can be viewed as threatening. Then I began to write.

Though this play started from things completely outside of myself, it also became a very personal work. In the last decade of my grandmother’s life, she saw her eldest son have his leg amputated. I never talked to her about it, but I always wondered how that affected her emotionally. In a lot of ways, this play is an exploration of that.

Some of the questions I’m interested as I develop this play are: What does it mean to choose motherhood as a black woman in 21st century America? How does the government/a militarized police force limit black boys, men, women, and girls from fully being in our bodies? Can artistic expression offer the possibility of freedom from a life of bondage?

Cast & Crew
Directed by Marti Gobel
Stage Manager | Paula Gallarino
Dramaturg | Nabra Nelson
Featuring James Carrington, Marques Causey, Samantha Montgomery, & Ericka Wade

Katherine Glover, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Katherine Glover
The Sweeter the Crime, 2015

Sometimes I get an idea for a play and then I write that play. Other times, I get an idea, I start writing, I make changes, I get new ideas, I add things, I cut things, and by the time I finish my first draft, it bears almost no resemblance to the seed it came from.

This play is in that second category. The inspiration was the back cover synopsis from an old crime novel that I own but have never actually read: a sickly old man kills someone he's always hated, figuring he'll be dead before the police can catch him -- but then an innocent man is arrested for the crime. I threw in the murder method I'd used in a terrible, never-finished novel I started writing when I was 14, incorporated a false confession, which are more common than I think most people realize, and I had my plot. Then the characters took over. Now I would say the play is more about this family's interpersonal relationships than it is about murder -- and certainly any criminal justice implications are firmly in the background.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Suzan Fete
Stage Manager | Nicole Weigert
Dramaturg | Jake Voss
Featuring Linnéa Koeppel, Joe Picchetti, Phillip Sletteland, Linda Stephens, & Tami Workentin

Kelly McBurnette-Andronicos, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Kelly McBurnette-Andronicos
The Hall of Final Ruin, 2015

The Hall of Final Ruin is an allegorical representation of my own experiences as an "Anglo" American integrating into a heavily Hispanic and Native American culture. I use the historical lens of 19th century Santa Fe - and the real life of Doña Gertrudis 'La Tules' Barcelo - to interrupt contemporary immigration rhetoric and explore the ways in which this upended view of immigration, in which the white Protestant is "the Other," impacts the Barcelo family.

I designed the play to serve as a reminder of the basic history of the American Southwest, the sequence of events that lead to its inclusion into the Union, and the virtually unknown but critical contributions of Anglo, Hispanic, and Indian women. The play is meant to provoke conversations about the notion of "immigrant/undocumented/illegal," conflicting ideas of femininity and morality, the cost of conquest and colonialism, the value of alternative history, and the peculiar ways religion determines motivations.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Mallory Metoxen
Stage Manager | Nicole Weigert
Dramaturg | Jake Voss
Featuring Deborah Clifton, Alejandra Gonzalez, Joanna Kerner, Kathiamarice Lopez, Michelle Lopez-Rios, & Rána Roman

Janet Burroway, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Janet Burroway
Parts of Speech, 2014

Though most of Parts of Speech is fiction or fictionalized, it grew out of a powerful memory of my family – my home-designer father, elocution teacher mother, budding journalist brother – in a time when moral values seemed simpler and more rigid. There were Japanese internment camps ten miles from the ranch house where I grew up, but I didn’t learn about them until I was living in England in my thirties.

Governments then as now guard their secrets with ferocious righteousness, and then as now we live with prejudices we don’t even know we have.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Mallory Metoxen
Stage Manager | Nicole Weigert
Featuring Niffer Clarke, Jim Farrell, Reva Fox, Trevor Rees, Ryan Schabach, Sasha Sigel, Phillip Sletteland, & Emily Vitrano

Gwen Rice, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Gwendolyn Rice
The Griots, 2014

To prepare to tell this story, I did a lot of research about the politics of Georgia in the 1930s, the general plight of the rural poor at that time, the Rural Electrification program, FDR’s involvement in Georgia, and the legacy of lynching. I have also read hundreds of actual interviews with former slaves that are now catalogued at the Library of Congress, and some of the subsequent scholarship about the veracity of those documents.

The most intriguing thing about the Writers Project transcripts, I find, is that they have been almost universally discounted by historians as unreliable. In my play The Griots, I began to explore the reasons behind that, along with the power inherent in keeping secrets and writing your own history.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Suzan Fete
Stage Manager | Nicole Weigert
Featuring Libby Amato, Marti Gobel, & Rick Pendzich

Past Br!NK Br!Efs Playwrights

Lineve Redlin, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Lineve Redlin
Savior's Grace, 2018

Lineve Redlin is a Wisconsin native who began to find her love of theatre at a very young age. Lineve graduated from UW-Milwaukee with her BFA in Acting in 2010. She currently lives in Whitefish Bay with her husband Jon and two children, Benvolio and Adayla. She would like to thank her family and friends for their support.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Reva Fox
Featuring Trevor Rees, Samantha Martinson, & Madeline Wakley
Prompt: "Slow Down, Happiness is Trying to Catch You"

Parker Sterling, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Parker Sterling
That Beautiful Nothing, 2018

Parker Sterling is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins writing program, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Kenyon Playwrights Conference and the Meisner program at Artistic Home Chicago. Her photography and writing have appeared in The Nebraska Review, The Formalist and Anti Poetry. Recent stage and film credits include “Viv” in Jumpers for Goalposts for Pride Films and Plays and “Hard Gal” for The Shade Shepherd (2019). She is thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to be part of Br!NK Br!efs 2018.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Erin Nicole Eggers
Featuring Madeline Wakley, Chris Goode, & Ben Parman
Prompt: "Slow Down, Happiness is Trying to Catch You"

Alayna Jacqueline, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Alayna Barnes
All of the Everything, 2018

Alayna Jacqueline is a Minneapolis-based playwright, born and raised in Buckeye Nation. She’s a creative instigator with the Twin Cities Playwright Cabal. In her absurd experimental writing, she loves to turn figurative into the literal. Alayna’s plays include Empty Houses, Persephone’s Spring, Drapetomania, and It’s Too Cold for You Here. She received her MFA in creative writing from Goddard College.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Mallory Metoxen
Featuring Chantae Miller, Marcel Arlston, Hannah Shay, & Jarrod Langwinski
Prompt: "Pictures of Parity"

Kelly McBurnette-Andronicos, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Kelly McBurnette-Andronicos
End of an Era, 2018

Winner of the Southern Playwrights Competition, Kelly’s plays have been produced or developed by the Barter Theatre (VA), Something Marvelous (Chicago), Renaissance Theaterworks (Milwaukee), The Bechdel Group (NY), Raíces Theatre Company (Buffalo), Teatro Vivo (Austin), Something Something Theatre (Tucson), Outpost Repertory Theatre (Lubbock) and Jacksonville State University. She is a proud Member of the Dramatists Guild.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Suzan Fete
Featuring Deborah Clifton & Izetta Rees
Prompt: "Pictures of Parity"

Rachel Bykowski, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Rachel Bykowski
Bodies, 2018

Rachel Bykowski writes plays to explore the many facets of womanhood. Her plays have been featured at the Kennedy Center with The National New Play Network (NNPN), was a top 20 finalist for CulturalDC’s Source Theatre Festival, and received Honorable Mention for the Jane Chambers 2017 Student Playwriting Award.  She received her BFA from DePaul University’s Theatre School and MFA from Ohio University. www.rachelbykowskiplays.com

Cast & Crew
Directed by Grace DeWolff
Featuring Kara Penrose & Cara Johnston
Prompt: "Perseverance is Stubbornness with a Purpose"

Maria Pretzl, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Maria Pretzl
Juniper Flies, 2018

Maria Pretzl, earned her BFA in Film Production and BA in Theatre Studies from UW-Milwaukee and studied playwriting under Will Dunne at Chicago Dramatists. She co-founded Traveling Lemur Productions, LLC in 2015. Writer/director of the award-winning short film Super Dad!. Writing Credits include Roommates (Cooperative Performance), Super Dad! (Chicago Dramatists). Directing Credits include Nightmare Boy (UWM), She Kills Monsters (Village Playhouse).

Kelly Bancroft, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Kelly Bancroft
Did you think I would forget you? 2017

Kelly Bancroft lives in Youngstown, Ohio, where she earned her MFA in Creative Writing. Her poetry and prose have appeared in a variety of journals. Two of her one-act plays have been produced in Youngstown and Pittsburgh - ARRIVING AT BESSIE and LOVIE’S SPRING. A short documentary based on ARRIVING AT BESSIE recently won a spot at the Cleveland International Film Festival and was featured on jezebel.com. She is currently working on a full-length play.

A woman goes about her day after learning of the planet's impending doom.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Jake Brockmann, Featuring Shannon Nettesheim
Prompt: "Fools Rush In"

Claudia Haas, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Claudia Haas
The End of the Road, 2017

Claudia has had over 1100 productions in all fifty states and on five continents. Honored with 18 playwriting awards, her works have been developed through the Bonderman Symposium and the William Inge Festival among others. She’s been fortunate to have many of her plays published. She lives in White Bear Lake, MN with ducks in her garden.

Beth and Letia are on a road trip to scatter their late mother’s ashes. But a fork in the road changes their plans. They end up on a road to nowhere with no idea how to back to somewhere.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Catie O'Donnell
Featuring Brittany Curran & Danielle Levings
Prompt: "Fools Rush In"

Emma Kiel, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Emma Kiel
Twenty-Seven Years, 2017

Emma Kiel is a playwright and director from Neenah, Wisconsin. She is currently pursuing her bachelor of arts in drama at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. As a writer, she has had work produced at UWSP and has contributed original work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The night before her daughter’s wedding, Deborah discovers something that could tear her life and family apart. Twenty minutes before the ceremony, her daughter finds out too. As the big moment approaches, the only thing that’s certain is that nothing will ever be the same.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Erin Eggers
Featuring Shannon Nettesheim, Audwin Short, & Elaine Wyler
Prompt: "Fools Rush In"

Colleen O'Doherty, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Colleen O'Doherty
Bold Dorothy, Retired. 2017

Colleen O'Doherty is a writer based out of Omaha, NE. She is currently getting her MFA in play writing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She teaches creative writing in schools and prisons through the Nebraska Writers Collective. She has had work staged with UNO and Shelterbelt Theater in Omaha, NE. Her poetry has been published in Burnt District. She dedicates her play to all the hard-working teachers and other working-class heroes she knows.

Strong-arm and Indestructible are two superheroes trying to start a superhero non-profit. They initially doubt that Dorothy, a retired teacher, has what it takes to make their team the best. They're about to learn a lesson about true heroism. Can they learn it in time to defeat evil and save the day?

Cast & Crew
Directed by Christopher Elst
Featuring Cara Johnston, Nathanael Press, Elodie Senetra, & Michelle Waide
Prompt: "Fortune Favors the Bold"

Gwen Rice, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Gwendolyn Rice
I Hear Everything, 2017

Gwendolyn Rice is a professional writer and playwright based in Madison, Wisconsin. Among other freelance projects, she currently reviews theater and performing arts events for Isthmus and The Capital Times, and has also taught playwriting workshops for Children’s Theater of Madison, Renaissance Theaterworks, and the Milwaukee Rep. She is a member of Chicago Dramatists, the American Theater Critics Association, and the Dramatists Guild.

A man with a rare hearing condition is tormented by the sounds of daily life. His refuge is working in a special — very quiet — section of the Newberry Library. Much to his surprise, one day he meets his match, a woman who struggles to be heard.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Suzan Fete
Featuring Joe Picchetti
Prompt: "Fortune Favors the Bold"

Karen Saari, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Karen Saari
A Robot, a Clown and a Turban, 2017

Karen Saari’s full-length play IN A CLEARING received a staged reading in June at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, was a 2017 finalist for the ATHE Award for Excellence in Playwriting, and was a 2015 Wisconsin Wrights winner. She’s a frequent writer/raconteur for Madison’s That’s What She Said story-share, member of Playwrights Center and a mother of two.

Spend a day in the life of a robot, a clown and their co-workers in an otherwise mundane office environment. This stew of oddballs will make you laugh and maybe even cheer as they prove that when we have to, anyone can find love and anyone can get along.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Mark Boergers
Featuring Danielle Levings, Nathanael Press, Elodie Senetra, & J. Keegan Siebken
Prompt: "Fools Rush In"

Lillian Schley, playwright selected to participate in Renaissance Theaterworks Br!NK New Play Festival, a new play development program for midwestern women playwrights.

Lillian Schley
Dog Heroes, 2017

Lillian Schley’s play VOWS was included in Cooperative Performance Milwaukee’s 2017 One Act Festival and a short film adapted from her play DON’T LEAVE ME HANGING has been shown at film festivals throughout the country.

Two dogs struggle with the effects of sudden Internet fame on their friendship.

Cast & Crew
Directed by Mallory Metoxen
Featuring Brittany Curran, Cara Johnston, & Rachel Zembrowski
Prompt: "Fortune Favors the Bold"