Weekend program rounded out by four readings, panel

DENVER — The world premiere of Jason Grote’s “1001” will highlight the Denver Center Theater Company’s second annual Colorado New Play Summit slated for Feb. 9-10.

According to DCTC a.d. Kent Thompson, the play examines who gets to tell the stories of a culture or people, dramatizing the comedy and tragedy of a personal relationship — a Jewish-American man and an Arab-American woman — in post-9/11 New York City by asking, “Can we really connect and understand a loved one who comes from a completely different and currently antagonistic culture?”

The weekend program is rounded out by four readings, titles to be announced within the next few weeks, as well as a panel addressing the changing role of playwrights in exploring and breaking down racial, gender, sexual and political boundaries.

Thompson plans to quickly expand the summit’s annual offering by commissioning six to eight playwrights a year for the next five years to jumpstart the new-play program expansion. Next season, he hopes the summit will include two world-premiere productions and six readings.

Playwrights under commission include Lee Blessing (“A Walk in the Woods”); Constance Congdon (“Tales of the Lost Formicans,” commissioned to write a new play about “water rights in the West”); Colorado native Steven Dietz (“Last of the Boys”); José Cruz González (author of “September Shoes,” commissioned to write the company’s first Spanish-language play, about the Latino experience in Colorado); Michele Lowe (“String of Pearls”); Theresa Rebeck (“The Scene”); Eric Schmiedl (commissioned to adapt Kent Haruf’s award-winning Colorado-based novelPlainsong”); and Octavio Solis (winner of the Kennedy Center’s Roger L. Stevens Award and author of “Santos & Santos,” “Man of the Flesh” and “El Paso Blue”).

As Thompson sees it, future commissions will continue to include a mix of regional and universal themes.

“I think that mixture of deep roots into Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region and commitment to a larger worldview creates a fertile environment to create and produce new plays and musicals,” he says. “Those that succeed have a good chance at giving us a new perspective on our lives and perhaps changing the way the world views Coloradans and Americans.”

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