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O’Neill Conference to Develop New Plays by Auburn, Hunter (EXCLUSIVE)

O'Neill National Playwrights Conference sets a 2013 slate of eight new works

A new play by a Pulitzer winner and another by a fast-rising up-and-comer are among the brewing works tapped for development as part of the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

The latest from David Auburn (“Lost Lake”), who picked up the 2001 Pulitzer for his play “Proof,” and from Samuel D. Hunter (“A Great Wilderness”), whose “The Whale” earned raves in its Off Broadway run earlier this season, join the eight shows tapped for the O’Neill summer session from a roster of scribes that also includes Bekah Brunstetter and Jeff Augustin, among others.

The 49-year-old playwrightsconference, held every summer on the O’Neill campus in Waterford, Conn.,  is one of the nation’s highest-profile programs for developing new legit work.

It was an important early showcase for the plays of August Wilson, and more recent years have yielded a string of titles that have gone on to full productions including Jennifer Haley’s much-lauded Center Theater Group outing “The Nether,” Deborah Zoe Laufer’s  “Leveling Up” and Dan Lefranc’s “Troublemaker,” all produced during the current season.

The 2013 selections, most of which were drawn from the 1,100 plays received during the conference’s open submissions window, each will be given a week of development with a director, designers and cast, culminating in public readings often held outdoors in one of the O’Neill Theater Center’s open-air venues.

The 2013 selections are:

  • Auburn’s “Lost Lake,” which centers on a single mother who escapes city life by spending a week in a run-down cabin by a lake. Auburn was the session’s invited artist, with his play to be helmed by O’Neill a.d. Wendy C. Goldberg.
  • Hunter’s “A Great Wilderness,” a Seattle Repertory Theater commission about the mental deterioration of a man who has spent his life counseling gay teens away from homosexuality. Braden Abraham directs.
  • “Little Children Dream of God” penned by Augustin, whose play “Cry Old Kingdom” recently bowed as part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Storyline follows a Haitian immigrant struggling to find a life for herself and her son in Miami.
  • “The Oregon Trail” by Off Broadway alum Brunstetter (“Be a Good Little Widow,” “Oohrah!”), about a middle schooler who becomes lost in the titular old-school computer game.
  • “The Solid Sand Below,” Martin Zimmerman’s play, commissioned by the Goodman Theater, about a man who becomes a battle addict during a stint in Iraq.
  • Lauren Yee’s “Samsara,” centering on an American couple having a surrogate child through a woman in India and the fanciful anxieties that afflict all three parents.
  • Jen Silverman’s “All the Roads Home,” tracing a cross-generational tale of three women and their dreams, set in the 1950s, the 1970s and today.
  • “Evanston: A Rare Comedy,” a comic take on modern-day suburbia by Michael Yates Crowley.

The National Playwrights Conference runs July 3-27. During that time two additional writers, Sarah Gubbins and Joshua Harmon, also will be in residence working on unspecified titles.

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