It takes wit and creativity to write a play in which one of the main characters is a pig who wants to escape from a hog farm and become feral, but thats the scenario Jason Grote has dreamed up for Civilization (All You Can Eat), which will receive a reading at the Colorado New Play Summit. Grotes 1001, a dreamlike, sometimes satiric take on the Arabian Nights, was produced by the Denver Center Theatre Company in 2007.
His latest play began in New York with ensemble exercises. We cooked, says Grote. Everyone brought in anecdotes and research materials; we interviewed each other. Although Grote has investigated industrial agriculture, the play comes at its topic sideways, and is not, he says, about gourmet culture or a polemic on how we eat. Like 1001, the play is nonlinear and theatrically inventive. As for the porcine hero, farm hogs are indeed running away and mating with wild boars in some states, Grote observes. Their offspring are highly intelligent and invasive, and wreak havoc on other species.
This is a particularly difficult time for new plays, and Grote is grateful for artistic director Kent Thompsons dedication to original and risk-taking work: 1001 has had several productions after its start in Denver.
The New Play Summit, which starts today and runs through Saturday at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, features panels, discussions and four readings. The Civilization reading takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. For details, call 303-893-6030 or go to www.denvercenter.org/summit.
Feb. 11-13, 2010