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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
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.
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.'"
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 ". 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.
The Padua Hills Workshop/Theater Company ceased operations in 1995, citing financial difficulties.
Padua Hills Press
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.
Padua Playwrights Productions
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, ” 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.
Selected Productions, 2001–Present
|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|
|2017||Bootleg Theater||Mr Job||Juli Crockett||Juli Crockett||Shaughn Buchholz, Gray Palmer, Jenny Greer, Brian Tichnell, Kenneth Breese|
|2018||Resident Bar, Moryork||Jack Benny||Juli Crockett, Gray Palmer, Guy Zimmerman||Juli Crockett||Shaughn Buchholz, Jenny Greer, Gray Palmer, Juli Crockett, Brian Tichnell|
- Morris, Steven Leigh (2002-12-02). "THEATER; Surviving Brooklyn, and Finding a Voice Far Away". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
- Steppling, John (2001-04-26). "Ghosts and Shadows". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- 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.
- Sullivan, Dan (1985-08-06). "Stage Review: 'Coyote': A Long All-nighter". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- Shirley, Don (1995-12-10). "THEATER NOTES: Padua Hills Fest Bites the Dust". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "Theatre Communications Group official website". tcg.org. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- Ross, Sandra (2001-04-18). "The Playwright's Playwright". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
- "History of the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award". americantheatrecritics.net. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
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