‘Words, words, words’; Utah Shakespeare Festival announces new play program, ‘Words3’

L-R: David Ivers, Charles Metten and Brian Vaughn announce the new play initiative "Words3" at the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival 2016, St. George News, Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — The Utah Shakespeare Festival has announced a new name, an increased commitment and an enhanced mission for its new plays program. Formerly known as the “New American Playwrights Project” – or NAPP – the festival’s primary vehicle for exploring new works will now be a new program, “Words3.”

The new name comes from the line “Word, words, words” in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” and focuses the new program firmly on the text and the work of playwrights.

“The program aims to not only replace but improve upon the foundation of NAPP by providing a platform to move plays from the developmental/reading stage to fully funded productions,” says David Ivers, Utah Shakespeare Festival artistic director.

“As part of our efforts to expand and diversify our audience, we must also expand and diversify the voices who make our work. Ushering in new plays, new playwrights and new context for engagement is paramount to the success of our new studio theatre. Expect to see commissioned playwrights, workshops and reading series throughout the coming seasons.”

According to the festival, the mission of Words3 is to nurture and develop “openly-submitted and commissioned-based new plays by providing a professionally supported platform for readings, workshops, and fully realized productions as part of an ongoing commitment to create a diverse body of work.”

Charles Metten, director of the New American Playwrights Project, said he is thrilled the Utah Shakespeare Festival is continuing its commitment to new plays and playwrights.

We have worked many years to nurture playwrights,” Metten said, “and I am excited to continue to mentor, advocate for and develop these new works.”

The new name also reflects a commitment to staging new works as part of the festival’s mainstage repertory season. For instance, “How to Fight Loneliness” by Neil LaBute is receiving a staged reading in 2016 and will have a fully realized production as part of the festival’s regular 2017 season.

“The Utah Shakespeare Festival has committed its resources and vision to support new work,” Ivers said. “The ideas of these works should inspire audiences to engage about the importance of fostering the ‘Shakespeares of tomorrow.’

Brian Vaughn, Utah Shakespeare Festival artistic director, echoed Ivers’ sentiments.

“Just as Shakespeare was writing for contemporary audiences, our vision is to unfold stories that relate to our current collective humanity,” Vaughn said. “Words3 will help usher in new voices with a platform of development and performance that will fulfill our mission of presenting classical and contemporary theatre.”

The new name, as well as a new logo, was unveiled Friday to the audience attending the New American Playwrights Project reading of Debora Threedy’s script “One Big Union.”

Submission dates and guidelines for Wordswill be similar to New American Playwrights Project. Scripts for consideration for 2018 can be submitted via email starting Jan. 5. The deadline for unrepresented playwrights is Feb. 15, and the deadline for playwrights with representation is April 5.

Submissions can be sent to words3@bard.org. Submission criteria and details can be found at the New American Playwrights Project website, which will eventually transition to the new website.

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