Padua Playwrights

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Padua Playwrights Productions, or Padua, is a Los Angeles-based theater company founded in 1978 by playwright and poet Murray Mednick. The site-specific Workshop/Festival ceased operation in 1995 and reemerged in 2001 under the artistic direction of Guy Zimmerman.

Padua Hills Playwrights' Workshop/Festival[edit]

In 1978, Mednick received funding from La Verne University to found the Padua Hills Playwrights' Workshop at the crumbling Padua Hills estate in the San Gabriel foothills. He and five other playwrights, among them Theatre Genesis colleagues Sam Shepard and Maria Irene Fornes, met with nine writing students and established a pattern of exercises, rehearsals, and informal presentations, most of them site-specific, since the estate had plenty of outdoor spaces but no theatre to work in. Between 1984 and 1995 Padua moved around Southern California, hosting festivals at Cal Arts, Pacific Design Center, Cal State Northridge, Woodbury College and USC. Many prominent playwrights and actors participated in the Workshop/Festival, some very early in their careers, including John Steppling, John O'Keefe, Jon Robin Baitz and Kelly Stuart.[1]

Padua took an intellectual, non-careerist approach to playwriting. In his essay "Ghosts and Shadows," published in the LA Weekly, founding member John Steppling cites this as one of the reasons Padua didn't garner as much press as he felt that it should have. Padua's focus on the artistic process as opposed to the final product made it difficult to market. “It’s easy to see how Padua never acquired a 'franchise,'” he says, “Padua had nothing to 'sell.'"[2]

One overarching practice in many Padua Hills Festival plays was their site-specificity. Mednick stressed a reliance on “language in relation to space” in his teaching ".[3] The plays were all very much connected to the physical environment they were performed in. A 1985 production of Mednick's Coyote Cycle, for example, took place from sundown to sunrise outdoors at the Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. Audience members huddled in sleeping bags were led from one part of the ranch to another by flashlight between scenes.[4]

The Padua Hills Workshop/Theater Company ceased operations in 1995, citing financial difficulties.[5]

Padua Hills Press[edit]

In 1994, Padua Hills Press published Best of the West, an anthology of eight works staged in 1989-1991, and went on to publish Plays from the Padua Hills Playwrights Festivals (2003), 3 Plays by Murray Mednick (2003), The Coyote Cycle by Murray Mednick (2003), Hipsters in Distress (2005), Plays for a New Millennium (2004), and the forthcoming Beneath the Dusty Trees: The Gary Plays, and Fever Dreams. Padua Hills Press is distributed nationally by Theatre Communications Group.[6]

Padua Playwrights Productions[edit]

In 2001, Padua returned as Padua Playwrights Productions. Mednick appointed playwright and director Guy Zimmerman as the artistic director. The new Padua was a more traditional theater company in that it took place indoors, otherwise the work it produced was very much in line with the anti-institutional, pro-playwright stance of its predecessor. “[Padua means] being an outlaw and misfit within the theater community. We need Padua for artistic nourishment,[7] ” said Roxanne Rogers, a director and original Padua participant, upon the founding of the new Padua. In its first three seasons the company staged 12 productions, including three in New York City, and garnered a host of LA Weekly, Garland, and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards and an American Theatre Critics Association Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award.[8]

Productions, 1978–1995[edit]

Year Location Title Writer Director Cast
1978 Claremont Coyote I: Pointing Murray Mednick Murray Mednick
Red Woman Sam Shepard Sam Shepard
In Service María Irene Fornés María Irene Fornés
1979 Claremont Coyote II: The Shadow Ripens Murray Mednick Murray Mednick
Curse of the Starving Class Sam Shepard Sam Shepard
The Visit María Irene Fornés María Irene Fornés
1980 Claremont Iron Lace on the Widow’s Walk Constance Russell Monaghan Constance Russell Monaghan Norbert Weisser, Laura Owens, Lola Glaudini
Barbeque John Steppling John Steppling
Alive Walter Hadler Walter Hadler Lola Glaudini
Have You Ever Listened Very Long to the Hush Susan Forscey Susan Forscey
Coyote III: Planet of the Spider People Murray Mednick Murray Mednick Darrell Larson, Norbert Weisser, Ellen Blake
The Man Who Killed the Buddha Martin Epstein Martin Epstein John Finch
1981 Claremont Service Michael Monroe Michael Monroe Joe Spano, Lorinne Vozoff
Gentle Arts Susan La Tempa Susan La Tempa
The Insistence Upon the Listener John Steppling John Steppling Laura Fanning, John Horn, Natasha Mitchnick
Coyote IV: Other Side Camp Murray Mednick Murray Mednick Darrell Larson, Norbert Weisser, Christine Avila
The Visit María Irene Fornés María Irene Fornés Norbert Weisser, James Dean, Toni Beshara, Patricia Mattick
Possum Song Martin Epstein Martin Epstein John Finch, Grace Woodward, Dallas Alinder, James Dean
1982 Claremont Mysteries of the Bridal Night Martin Epstein Martin Epstein Don Opper, Laura Fanning, Kelly Stuart
Bercilak’s Dream John O’Keefe John O’Keefe Elizabeth Ruscio, Tina Preston, Denise Dillard, Susan Kampe, Patricia Mattick
Hoss Drawin Leon Martell Leon Martell Elizabeth Ruscio, Leon Martell
Coyote V: Listening to Old Nana Murray Mednick Murray Mednick Priscilla Cohen, Ellen Blake, Darrell Larson, Norbert Weisser
Sunset Beach Susan La Tempa Susan La Tempa Kathleen Cramer, Roxanne Rogers, Lee Kissman, James F. Dean, Ricky Manoff
You Can Swim in the Danube, but the Water is too Cold María Irene Fornés María Irene Fornés Leon Martell, Dudley Knight, Patricia Mattick, Lee Kissman, Morgan Weisser, Lola Glaudini, Jessica Wood
Neck John Steppling John Steppling Leon Martell, Dudley Knight, Patricia Mattick, Lee Kissman, Morgan Weisser, Lola Glaudini, Jessica Wood
Untitled Toni Berchara, Susan Champagne, Cathy Comenas, Sarah Lovett, Connie Monaghan Tove Johnson Leon Martell, Dudley Knight, Patricia Mattick, Lee Kissman, Morgan Weisser, Lola Glaudini, Jessica Wood
Politesse—A Piece for Tape and Landscape Michael Monroe Patricia Mattick
Guys in black Leather Jackets Ducking Into Phone Booths Connie Monaghan
Correspondence Cindy Myers
1983 Claremont Mud María Irene Fornés María Irene Fornés Mary Jo Pearson, Gregory Pace, John O'Keefe
1961 El Dorado Leon Martell, Elizabeth Ruscio Leon Martell, Elizabeth Ruscio Leon Martell, Elizabeth Ruscio
Polar Bear John Steppling John Steppling
Primitives Elizabeth Wray Elizabeth Wray Priscilla Cohen, Ellen Blake, John Diehl
Interbellum' Michael Monroe Michael Monroe
Skin Sarah Lovett Sarah Lovett Bob Behling, Rhona Gold
Don’t Ever Call Me Anything but Mother John O’Keefe John O’Keefe Tina Preston
Untitled, 1957 Susan La Tempa Susan La Tempa Mary Jo Pearson, Gregory Pace, Elizabeth Ruscio, Lorinne Vozoff
Variations Martin Epstein Martin Epstein Patricia Mattick, Roxanne Rogers, Leon Martell
1984 Cal Arts No Time María Irene Fornés María Irene Fornés Tina Preston
Guys at the Spunk Hole Leon Martell Leon Martell Morgan Weisser, Jesse Shepard, Lola Glaudini, Mark Petrakis
Mimzabim Leon Martell Leon Martell Roxanne Rogers, Gregory Pace, Robert Ernst,
Transcendental Etudes Michael Monroe Michael Monroe Elizabeth Ruscio, Rene Assa, Kurt Garfield
Everything in Its Place John Steppling John Steppling Lee Kissman, Lee Kerwin, Kathleen Cramer, Robert Glaudini
Scenes from University Life, Part II Susan La Tempa Susan La Tempa Mary Jo Pearson
Air-Conditioned Beach #2 Walter Hadler Walter Hadler Robert Glaudini, Marilyn Dodds-Frank, Natasha Mitchnick, Frat Fuller, Frederick Lopez
Coyote VII: He Brings the Waterfall Murray Mednick Murray Mednick Darrell Larson, Norbert Wiesser
1985 Paramount Ranch The Coyote Cycle Murray Mednick Murray Mednick Darrell Larson, Norbert Weisser, Christine Avila, Priscilla Cohen, Tavish Graham, Morgan Weisser
1986 Loyola Marymount How Gertrude Stormed the Philosopher's Club Martin Epstein Martin Epstein
Zohar Murray Mednick Murray Mednick
Untitled María Irene Fornés María Irene Fornés
True Beauties Julie Hebert Julie Hebert
Untitled John Steppling John Steppling
The Magician John O'Keefe John O'Keefe
The Magician John O'Keefe John O'Keefe
Kingfish Marlane G. Meyer Marlane G. Meyer
1988 Pacific Design Center Drowning María Irene Fornés Roxanne Rogers Don Keith Opper, Jon C. Slade
Vera Martin Epstein Martin Epstein Kathleen Kramer
Babbler John O’Keefe Jan Munroe Tina Preston, Scott Pauin, Joe Kane
A Good Touch Susan Champagne Pattricia Mattick Ellen Blake, Molly Cleator
The Ballad of the Sleepy Heart David Schweizer David Schweizer Phillip Littell
Mendoza Rex Weiner Rex Weiner
Like a Shadow Singing Lynn Montgomery Lynn Montgomery Ingrid Oliu
1989 Pacific Design Center Shimmer John O'Keefe John O'Keefe
Amado Amor (Beloved Love) Alan Bolt Amy Glazer-Connolly Darrell Larson, Page Leong, Craig Ryan Ng, Ingrid Oliu, Susan Rome, Norm Skaggs, John Lacques
Cities Out of Print Susan Mosakowski Susan Mosakowski John Diehl, Shawna Casey
The Ordeal of Nancy Fergusson Martin Epstein Martin Epstein Kathleen Cramer, Don Keith Opper, John Achorn, Jack Slater
Increments of Three John Pappas John Pappas Robert Hummer, John Pappas, Deirdre Hade
Kindling Leon Martel Leon Martel Molly Cleator, Rick Dean, Jim Hynie, Leonard Donato
Almost Asleep Julie Hebert Julie Hebert Mary Forcade, Patricia Mattick, Tina Preston
The Theory of Miracles John Steppling John Steppling Mick Colins, Kathleen Cramer, Taylor Donlan, Nick Flynn, Gill Gayle, Rachel Powell, Jack Slater, Murray Mednick
1990 Art and Design Center at Cal State Northridge Ball and Chain Kelly Stuart Kelly Stuart James Oseland, Roberta Wallach, James Storm, Diane Defoe, Demosthenes Stathiginnopoulos
Our Witness Martin Epstien Martin Epstien Ann Marie Baldwin, Dave Higgins, Dendrie Taylor
Storyland John Steppling John Steppling Rick DeanMick Collins, Laura Fanning, Kathleen Cramer, Alexis Steppling, Demosthenes Stathigiannopoulos, Nick Flynn, Robert Glaudini, Thomas George Carter
Bondage Susan Champagne Susan Champagne Molly Cleator, Roxanne Rogers, John Pappas, Dan Sullivan, Jeff Levy, Douglas Heller
Book of Numbers Roxanne Rogers Roxanne Rogers Pamela Gordon, Joe Bellan, Robin Frates, Robert Hummer
Shatter'n Wade Murray Mednick Murray Mednick David Officer, William Dennis Hunt, Scott Paulin, Susannah Blinkoff, Matthew Goulish, Mark Fite, Allison Studdiford, Nick Love, Laura Owens, Elizabeth Iannaci, Bob Craft, Peter Schaff, Joseph Goodrich
Salsa Opera Alan Bolt Miguel Delgado (director/choreographer)
Brick Time Stories: Tales of Death And Recipes Of Mayhem Leon Martell Darrell Larson Leon Martell
1991 Art and Design Center at Cal State Northridge Fetters Robert Hummer Robert Hummer Robert Fieldsteel, Gill Gayle, Greg Suddeth
Song of Songs Susan Champagne Susan Champagne Steve Starosta, Deborach Offner, Paul Grecol
The Tight Fit Susan Mosakowski Susan Mosakowski Tina Preston, Lee Kissman, Bert Hinchman, Molly Cleator
The Knee Desires the Dirt Julie Herbert Julie Herbert Jan-Marie Baldwin, Pamela Gordon, Kenn Norman
The Interpreter of Horror Kelly Stuart James Oseland Pamela Gordon, Megan Butler, James Oseland
Heads Murray Mednick Steve Albrezzi William Dennis Hunt, Norbert Weisser, Nancy Mette, Karole Foreman, Gina L. Monday
The Promotion John O'Keefe John O'Keefe Scott Paulin
1994 Art and Design Center at Cal State Northridge Failure to Thrive Neena Beber Neena Beber Michael Shamus Wiles, Jessica Hecht, Kara Westerman
Disgrace John O'Keefe John O'Keefe Denise Porier, Dahlia Wilde, Susan Van Allen
Terra Incognita María Irene Fornés María Irene Fornés Kimberly Flynn, Jennifer Griffin, Leo Garcia, Leon Martell, Joel Goodman
Understanding the Dead John Steppling John Steppling Mick Collins, John O’Keefe, Shelly Desai, Priscilla Harris, Kathleen Cramer, C.J. Saunders
Locofoco Susan Mosakowski Susan Mosakowski Shawna Casey, Tina Preston, Molly Cleator, Pamela Gordon
Switchback Murray Mednick Murray Mednick Sharron Shayne-Simeone, Robin Karfo, Mark Fite
Justice Shem Bitterman Shem Bitterman Jerome Butler, Preston Maybank, Brent Jennings, Peter Berg, Penny Johnson, Caitlin Stansbury
Away From Me Susan Champagne Susan Champagne Gina LaMond, Carl J. Johnson, Steven Keyes, Ed Dloughy, Cherly Slean, Durrell Nelson
1995 USC Summer in Gossensass María Irene Fornés María Irene Fornés Michael Shamus Wiles, Jessica Hecht, Kara Westerman
Demonology Kelly Stuart Kelly Stuart Bob Gould, Lola Glaudini, Kathleen Glaudini, Jan Johnson
Entrevista 187 Gil Kofman Gil Kofman Kadina Delejalde, Frank Wood, Jeff Phillips
The Chemistry of Change Marlane Meyer Marlane Meyer Kathleen Cramer, Van Quattro, Dendrie Taylor, Steve Keyes, Mark Fite, Ryan Cutrona
Freeze Murray Mednick Guy Zimmerman Amy Raasch, Denise Poirier, David Weininger, Antoinette Valente, Michael Matthys
Steak Knife Bacchae Joe Goodrich Michael Hacker Joe Goodrich

Selected Productions, 2001–Present[edit]

Season Location Title Writer Director Cast Awards
2001–2002 2100 Square Ft Theatre, Los Angeles 16 Routines Murray Mednick Murray Mednick Grace Zabriskie, Rene Assa, Maria O’Brien, Bill Mesnick, Ryan Cutrona, Peggy Blow, Tina Preston, John Pappas
Joe and Betty Murray Mednick Murray Mednick Annabelle Gurwitch, John Diehl, Dana Wieluns, Jack Kehler, Shawna Casey, Sharron Shayne, Drago Sumonja Winner Critics Choice, LA Times; Los Angeles Times “Top 10 for 2001”; American Theatre Critics’Association Steinberg New Play Citation
Mrs. Feuerstein Murray Mednick Roxanne Rogers Maria O’Brien, Christopher Allport, Lynnda Ferguson, Louis Plante, Matt Blair, Gwendolyn Yeo Winner Critics Choice, LA Times; LA Weekly Award for Playwriting and Best Actress. LA Weekly “Top 10 for 2001” (Steven Leigh Morris) 2001 Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Award Best Lead Actress Maria O’Brien
2002–2003 Evidence Room, Los Angeles Dog Mouth John Steppling John Steppling Steven Davies, James Storm, Hugh Dane, Nia Gwyne Winner Critic’s Choice LA Times, Top Ten Shows of 2003 Daily News and Entertainment Weekly; LA Weekly Award for Set Design.
2100 Square Ft Theater, Los Angeles. Production subsequently moved to The Odyssey Theatre, Los Angeles and then the Traveling Jewish Theatre, San Francisco. Times Like These John O'Keefe John O'Keefe Laurie O’Brian, Norbert Weisser Winner Critic’s Choice LA Times, Ovation Awards for best Actor and Actress; LA Weekly Best Playwright and Best Playwright LA Drama Critics Circle
2100 Square Ft Theater, Los Angeles Wilfredo Wesley Walker Wesley Walker John Horn, Christine Burke, George Gerdes, O-Lan Jones, Jack Kehler, Barry Del Sherman Curtainup.com “2002 Retrospective Top 10 List”
Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles Wilfredo Wesley Walker Wesley Walker John Horn, Christine Burke, George Gerdes, O-Lan Jones, Jack Kehler, Barry Del Sherman Curtainup.com “2002 Retrospective Top 10 List”
2003–2004 The Powerhouse Theatre, Santa Monica G-Nome Murray Mednick Guy Zimmerman Murray Mednick, Christopher Allport, Lynnda Ferguson Winner of Garland Award for Playwriting and Direction
2100 Square Ft Theater, Los Angeles The Inside Job Guy Zimmerman Guy Zimmerman Barry Del Sherman, Jessica Dean, Holly Ramos
2005–2006 Electric Lodge, Venice, CA Tirade for Three, Gary's Walk, Girl on a Bed Murray Mednick Guy Zimmerman John Diehl, Christopher Allport, Hugh Dane, Niamh McCormally, Don Preston, Don Berman, Dana Wieluns, Shawna Casey, Jack Kehler, Andy Hopper, Mickey Swenson, Tom McCleister, David Carrera, Shannon Holt, Gray Palmer, Devon Carson 2 Ovation Award Nominations: World Premiere Play(s)

LA Weekly Award Nomination: Best Ensemble LA Weekly Award Nomination: Comedy Performance, Shawna Casey

Elephant Stageworks, Los Angeles, CA In the Cool Dark: An Evening of Short Plays Shawna Casey, Jack Kehler, Sharon Yablon, Wes Walker, Guy Zimmerman Shawna Casey, Jack Kehler, Sharon Yablon, Wes Walker, Guy Zimmerman Shawna Casey, John Horn, Dana Wieluns, Tamar Fortgang, Gill Gayle, Sarah Diehl, Kim Debus, Mary C. Greening, Mari Ueda, Andy Hopper, Gray Palmer, Annie Weirich, Niamh McCormally
Electric Lodge, Venice, CA Vagrant Guy Zimmerman Guy Zimmerman Christopher Allport, Patrick Burleigh, Niamh McCormally
Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2006, Zoo Southside, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK Vagrant, Tirade for Three Guy Zimmerman, Murray Mednick Guy Zimmerman Christopher Allport, Shawna Casey, Andy Hopper, Jack Kehler, Niamh McCormally.
Lost Studio, Los Angeles Out of the Blue Murray Mednick Guy Zimmerman Tina Preston, Hugh Dane, Lee Kissman, Andy Hopper, Niamh McCormally, Gray Palmer, Mary C. Greening, Mark Adair-Rios
Bedlum, Los Angeles Farm: 5 ten minute plays and a dance in a loft downtown Sheryl Slean, Coleman Hough, Hank Bunker, Sharon Yablon, Guy Zimmerman Sheryl Slean, Coleman Hough, Hank Bunker, Sharon Yablon, Guy Zimmerman Katie Bachler, Madeline Baugh, Kim Debus, Edward Felix, Lake Sharp, Devon Carson, Hugh Dane, Mark Adair-Rios, Mary C. Greening, Betsy Hume, George Gerdes, Gill Gayle, Andy Hopper, Mickey Swenson, David Weininger, Megan Yellott, Trace Turville-Konerko, Christine Romeo, Niamh McCormally
2007 Stephanie Feury Studio Theater, Los Angeles The Empty Bed Sharon Yablon Sharon Yablon Shawna Casey, Jack Kehler
Stephanie Feury Studio Theater, Los Angeles A New World War Rita Valencia Guy Zimmerman Andy Hopper, Jack Littman, Niamh McCormally, Gray Palmer, Devon Carson
Bootleg, Los Angeles and Divadlo na Pradle, Prague Fringe Festival 2007 The Fever Wallace Shawn Guy Zimmerman Paul Mackley
2008 Art Share A Thousand Words
2009 Art Share Neo-Sacred Revival
Clown Show for Bruno Murray Mednick Guy Zimmerman Daniel Stein, Dana Wieluns, Kali Quinn, Bill Celentano
Destruction of the Fourth World Murray Mednick Brian Frette and Kristi Schultz of Zoo District
2010 LADAD Space Hotel Bardo(t) Heidi Darchuk Guy Zimmerman

References[edit]

  1. ^ Morris, Steven Leigh (2002-12-02). "THEATER; Surviving Brooklyn, and Finding a Voice Far Away". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-29. 
  2. ^ Steppling, John (2001-04-26). "Ghosts and Shadows". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  3. ^ Breslauer, Jan (1994-07-17). "A Mecca Is Reborn : Padua Hills Festival isn't in Padua now, but even in Burbank it's still an idyllic spot for playwrights who want to do new work.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-29. 
  4. ^ Sullivan, Dan (1985-08-06). "Stage Review: 'Coyote': A Long All-nighter". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  5. ^ Shirley, Don (1995-12-10). "THEATER NOTES: Padua Hills Fest Bites the Dust". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  6. ^ "Theatre Communications Group official website". tcg.org. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  7. ^ Ross, Sandra (2001-04-18). "The Playwright's Playwright". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  8. ^ "History of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award". americantheatrecritics.net. Retrieved 2011-01-29. 

External links[edit]