Long Beach Playhouse’s 27th Annual New Works Festival Brings Dark Comedy to the Studio


Image courtesy of Long Beach Playhouse.

The Long Beach Playhouse (LBP) will kick off its 27th annual New Works Festival (NWF) in its Studio Theatre on Friday, March 31 with a reading of The Other Genius, a dark comedy script written by Steven Haworth and directed by David Anis.

A national competition for plays that have never been produced, playwrights submit their scripts to the Playhouse, and the New Works committee reads and chooses the two it thinks have the best chance of being made into a full production.

“We receive as many as 100 submissions each year,” Madison Mooney, executive director of the Long Beach Playhouse, said in a statement. “This year we will present the two top scripts as judged by the New Works Committee.”

The two staged readings will take place on Friday and Saturday, March 31 and April 1. A facilitated discussion is held with the audience following each presentation, and a written critique is prepared by local theater professionals and given to the two winners.

“Because these plays are performed as readings, the focus is on the words and inflection,” Anna Kate Mohler, chair of the New Works committee, said in a statement. “There’s nothing to distract from the script. The audience pays attention in a different way. And, the feedback and discussion between the actors, director and audience can be lively and thought-provoking. It’s a chance for the audience to see the artistic process from many perspectives.”

This year’s two top scripts both feature psychologists.

On March 31 The Other Genius delves into the angst behind a complicated love triangle. Jameson, a student, navigates his complicated relationships with his psychology professor and love interest, Fiona, and his genius father.

The darkly comedic story relays Jameson’s angst “as he tries to conquer an evil genius without becoming one himself,” according to the announcement.

On a Raw Moose Day, written by Alan Goodson and directed by Chris Mertan, will be presented the following night. The script centers on three members of the Leviathan family (Max, Margie and daughter Judy), Max’s assistant Andrew and Judy’s fiancé Jimmy and a mysterious script that might lead to their undoing, according to the release.

“One of the most important things we can do is encourage playwrights,” Sean Gray, artistic director for the Playhouse, said in a statement. “To me, New Works exemplifies what it means to be a community theater. I encourage the public to attend. It’s a chance to see something new and actually participate in the dialogue.”

Tickets are available for both performances at $10 each. The box office is open Wednesday through Saturday from 3:00PM to 8:00PM and Sundays from 1:00PM 2:00PM on scheduled matinees.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit the website here or call (562) 494-1014.

Long Beach Playhouse is located at 5021 East Anaheim Street.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist. She was recently awarded first place in writing by the California News Publisher Association for her profile on local artist Narsiso Martinez.