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Antaeus Theatre launches festival for new plays

Taking a break from its typical stable of writers who are sometimes deceased, classics-focused Antaeus Theatre in Glendale is launching its first festival showcasing the works of contemporary playwrights.

“These could become new classics,” said Rob Nagle, co-artistic director of the theater, alongside Bill Brochtrup and Kitty Swink.

The Lab Results festival will feature six readings over the weekend of Sept. 29-30. The full-length plays were all at least partially incubated in the theater’s ongoing writing lab, where a group of mid-career writers and actors meets weekly for months to read and critique each other’s work.

“It’s a lot like a church or synagogue,” Nagle said of the community and rigor of the lab that was first developed in 2013 and modeled on other notable writers groups, such as the Lark in New York.

Plays scheduled for Sept. 29 include Paula Cizmar’s “Along The River, Almost Winter,” which is an update of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” set along the Sacramento River Delta during the Gold Rush; Stephanie Alison Walker’s “The Abuelas,” which explores the repercussions of Argentina’s military dictatorship; Alex Goldberg’s “Mayor of the 85th Floor,” a dystopian tale about a young woman squatting in the Empire State Building in the near future; and Jennifer Rowland’s “Regular Joes,” concerning the private, family drama behind a public sex scandal.

The following day will feature Steve Apostolina’s “Unbound,” about the meeting of a paroled woman and the surviving member of the family she murdered, and Jennifer Maisel’s “Eight Nights,” centered on the lives of a refugee woman and her family, who inhabit an apartment from 1949 to 2016.

The goal is to see the plays picked up and produced, either at Antaeus or elsewhere, Nagle said.

The theater’s donors and supporters will also get to see that “Antaeus might not just do old, dusty plays that are on the bookshelf,” Nagle said. “There might be vital new works coming out of the theater.”

The event will double as the premiere of Antaeus’ black-box theater as a performance space.

Previously located in a cramped, 46-seat space in North Hollywood, Antaeus opened in Glendale about a year ago after launching a capital campaign with support from several Glendale City Council members, Nagle said.

After securing roughly $1.6 million, the theater started building out an old Gateway computer store. It now houses an 80-seat theater, a convertible black-box theater, a library and office space.

An anonymous donation last year allowed the company to outfit the black-box theater, always intended to function as a classroom and performance space, with the necessary sound and lighting equipment.

“We’re sort of christening the black-box space,” with this festival and an upcoming classics reading, Nagle said.

Not imagined as a one-off, Lab Results is intended as the first of a recurring festival. Even though “dead writers are easier to work with,” Nagle said jokingly.

Antaeus is located in the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center at 110 E. Broadway, Glendale.

For more information, call (818) 506-1983 or visit antaeus.org.

lila.seidman@latimes.com

Twitter: @lila_seidman


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