Summit Time

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 that’s the scenario Jason Grote has dreamed up for Civilization (All You Can Eat), which will receive a reading at the Colorado New Play Summit. Grote’s 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 Thompson’s 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

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Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman