Three worlds, three writers showcased in drama festival

The bond formed between a man and woman in a neighborhood recently rocked by violence, an encounter between an indigenous island girl and a couple who has experienced the traumatic loss of a baby, and the birth of a new girls’ basketball team in a dusty prairie town are the themes of three plays being featured during the School of Drama’s sixth annual Carlotta Festival of New Plays.

The festival showcases the work of three graduating playwrights at the school and will take place Friday-Saturday, May 6-14 at the Iseman Theater, 1156 Chapel St. The festival is named for Carlotta Monterey, the widow of Eugene O’Neill, who chose Yale University Press as the publisher of her late husband’s masterpiece “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.”

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The playwrights and directors talk about the Carlotta Festival plays in videos created by the School of Drama.

“Blacktop Sky”


“The Tall Girls”

The fully produced plays will be performed in repertory over the 10-day festival, with 12 shows in all. The festival includes a Professionals Weekend May 13 and 14 specifically tailored to theater industry professionals. A weekend package for this event includes tickets to all three shows, a Friday afternoon happy hour, a post-show cocktail party on Friday, and a Saturday breakfast and panel discussion. The panel discussion, at 11 a.m., is also open to the public. It will feature the student playwrights as well as Paula Vogel, chair of playwriting at the School of Drama, and playwrights David Adjmi and Lynn Nottage.

A synopsis of each of the plays being featured follow:

“Blacktop Sky,” by Christina Anderson and directed by Devin Brain. Klass, a homeless young black man, sets up residence in the courtyard of a housing project. A precarious bond develops between him and a resident, Ida Peters, that is triggered by a fatal confrontation between a local street vendor and the police. Inspired by the Greek myth “Leda and the Swan,” this new play examines the intersection of love, violence and seduction.

“Passing,” by Dipika Guha and directed by Charlotte Brathwaite. On an unnamed island, an ill-matched English couple tries to make a home. Just when their existence is rocked by the loss of a baby, a girl indigenous to the island alters the course of their lives. “Passing” is an examination of how people encounter the most traumatic events of their histories through museums, art and theater.

“The Tall Girls,” by Meg Miroshnik and directed by Mike Donahue. Fifteen-year-old Jean has been exiled to the desolate town of Poor Prairie to be a caretaker for her “wild-child” cousin Almeda. After a handsome young man with a past arrives with a basketball,  the town’s girls come together to form a team set on making it out of Poor Prairie, but a committee of townspeople threatens to stamp out girls’ sports altogether. Inspired by the flourishing and decline of high school girls’ basketball teams in the 1930s rural Midwest, “The Tall Girls” ask the questions: Who can afford the luxury of play? What is the cost of childhood? Who is responsible for keeping the promise of social mobility that sports make in this country?

Performances are Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee Wednesday-Saturday, May 11-14. Tickets to individual plays start at $13; $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased online at, by calling 203-432-1234 or in person at the box office, 1120 Chapel St. The Professionals Weekend Package is $50. For reservations, contact Kay Perdue Meadows at or 203-432-1541.

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