Four new playwrights featured in Denver Center Theater Company's next season

With its just-announced 2013-'14 season, the Denver Center Theatre Company remains true to its mission of promoting interesting and exciting new playwrights. Four of the playwrights whose work received readings at the New Play Summit last month are included in the next lineup. See also: - Marcus Gardley debuts Black Odyssey at New Play Summit - Just Like Us is a story of America -- and Denver - New Play Summit should be a whale of a creative weekend

There's Matthew Lopez's The Legend of Georgia McBride, a comedy involving a fired Elvis impersonator who worked at a funky Florida bar, and Just Like Us, which plunges into the stormy waters of the immigration debate with its thoughtful story of four Latinas growing up in Denver, two documented and two not, and the ways in which their lives are affected by immigration laws. This play is an adaptation by Karen Zacarias of a book by Helen Thorpe.

If you saw the Boulder Theatre Ensemble's recent production of Catherine Trieschmann's trenchant How the World Began -- which touches on the equally controversial issue of creationism -- you'll be looking forward to The Most Deserving. Here, the staff of a small-town arts council argues about who should get a $20,000 grant earmarked for a local artist "who demonstrates an underrepresented American voice" -- and anyone who's ever been on either end of a grants process can imagine the crazed and heated arguments that ensue.

When he wrote Black Odyssey, inspired by Homer's epic and featuring an African-American soldier returning from the Iraq War, the overriding metaphor was "that to get home, one should know their history, know where they are," Marcus Gardley says.

Gardley did a great deal of re-writing of the script at the New Play Summit, and expresses a lot of gratitude for the process, which provided new understanding. "One main discovery that I made was about the main character," he explains. "We knew why he was lost, but not, step by step, his journey, how he got from one place to the next. The play is sort of like a dreamworld." And it's also on next season's roster.

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Though it's wonderful to see a title by Denver playwright Steven Dietz, whose clever, heady and intricate puzzles plays aren't produced around here nearly often enough, it's a bit disheartening to learn that Jackie & Me, based on a book by Dan Gutman, is supposed to "warm hearts of all ages" and emphasize "the importance of role models for adolescents."

The next season also includes Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman; the Center's sentimental version of A Christmas Carol; a Shakespeare play, in this case Hamlet; and a musical: George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind's 1920s chestnut Animal Crackers, adapted by Henry Wishcamper. And finally, there's William Nicholson's touching Shadowlands, which tells the love story of C.S Lewis, creator of Narnia, and the American poet Joy Gresham.

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