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The Dionysos Cup for New Plays 2008

Polarity Ensemble Theatre presented four new full-length plays by Chicago area playwrights at our new home in residence at the Josephinum Academy, 1500 N. Bell, Chicago from November 6 through 23, 2008.

The festival is a new plays development process that culminates in staged readings of the four new works. In addition we had a public table reading to continue the development of Darren Callahan's The White Airplane, a script from the Dionysos Cup 2006 that had its world premiere with us February 13 - March 22, 2009.

Plays and Playwrights

Lisa Rosenthal The Good Harvest by Lisa Rosenthal Festival Winner
After their mother's death, triplets Henry, Molly and Jonathan are shocked by the appearance of their long-estranged father at her funeral. They struggle with the truth—or a new version of the truth—surrounding their birth. The play moves back and forth in time to tell the story of one family's origins and the desperation that surrounds their choice to use in vitro fertilization.

Lisa is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and an affiliated artist at American Theater Company. Her plays have been produced across the country and is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Special Assistance Grant, a Puffin Foundation grant and a Tremaine Fellowship. She's a writing coach, teacher, band manager, and book author. It's not true that she has a big head; she just likes to wear many hats. She launched the Vet Art Project, connecting veterans to artists to create new art about war and foster dialogue about war's impact.

Bryce Wissel Ephemera by Bryce Wissel
Ephemera is set aboard a space station of the same name, and is loosely based on the story of the Alamo . Four crewmembers and a mysterious stranger face a threat beyond their understanding. It's a hilarious comedy in which everybody dies.

Bryce is a performer and writer originally hailing from Indianapolis. He has performed stand-up and improvisational comedy at venues nationwide. He also writes a regular column for Polite magazine.

Darren Callahan
The Double Negative by Darren Callahan
Two brothers take very different approaches to post-war life in Europe. Pen Hartzog, a decorated fighter, works hard in his tailor shop and tries to forget the violence; Martin Hartzog rails publicly against oppressive thugs haunting their small town. Their affections for the same woman and one's consuming secret make for an epic drama of flawed human choices.

Darren has written drama for the BBC, The Sci Fi Channel, National Public Radio, and Radio Pacifica. His hit play "Horror Academy" debuted in Chicago in autumn 2007. Other works for stage include "Water Pressure," "The Double Negative," "The White Airplane," and "Sub-Genre." His website features hundreds of articles about his endeavors, and is the central place to purchase his plays, novels, audio dramas, and other recordings.

David Alex Adrift by David Alex
Can one honor his parents and not their wishes or violate his nature and remain himself? Relationships between father and son are intertwined with each one's definition of loyalty and honor. Isaac, like the suffering seaman in Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" learns that not everything can be known.

Alex received two grants from the Illinois Arts Council and one from the Pilgrim Foundation. He has written ten full-length and fifteen one-act plays, including Onto Infinity, recently produced at Chicago's Greenhouse Theater, and Ends, an African-American Theatre Festival Award Winner. Sandhill Theatre will stage The Visitors in October/November. Selected works are published by Dramatic Publishing.
The Dionysos Cup. The Schedule

The Good Harvest by Lisa Rosenthal
Ephemera by Bryce Wissel
The Double Negative by Darren Callahan
Adrift by David Alex
The Double Negative by Darren Callahan
Adrift by David Alex
The Good Harvest by Lisa Rosenthal
Ephemera by Bryce Wissel
And a special bonus:
The White Airplane by Darren Callahan (a table reading in advance of the February world premiere)
The Award

We model the festival after the City Dionysia, the ancient Greek festival that honored the god Dionysos with new drama. Like the original, this festival will be a competition, with the audience deciding who will receive the Dionysos Cup. If you see two or more of the shows you will be eligible to vote. For each additional show you receive another vote. See all four and you are entitled to three votes. You can shower them all on your favorite or disperse them as you see fit. We will announce the winner to the press and publish the winning play in ebook format on our web site (at the playwright's discretion).
Come, drink to new theatre!
Most important in the Festival, however, is the development process for all four scripts, moving them toward a possible eventual full production with us or with some other company. The staged readings were followed by open discussions that provided the playwrights with feedback from the cast, crew and a live audience.

The Dionysos Cup is in keeping with our mission to develop new work. The 'Polarity' in our name refers to the twin poles of the classic and the brand new. We will always be in the business of developing new homegrown scripts and bringing them to the stage. Another polarity is in bringing works to both the stage and the page. As a literary organization, we intend to develop and publish works of fiction and poetry as well as new plays and adaptations. In all cases, we will present public performances in conjunction with our publishing efforts.

--Richard Engling, Artistic Director

The Polarity Ensemble Theatre is a member of the League of Chicago Theatres.

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