New Works Provincetown has commissioned its second and third projects. The developmental theater lab will help support a new play by Kevin Powell (“The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood”), developed with and directed by Oliver Butler (“What the Constitution Means to Me”). It has also commissioned a new musical, “Maiden Voyage,” from composer Carmel Dean (“Renascence”) and lyricist/playwright Mindi Dickstein (“Little Women,” “Toy Story – The Musical”).
“Maiden Voyage” is inspired by the true story of the 1989-1990 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, in which the first ever all-female sailing team battled sexism to complete a grueling endurance test. This story was also chronicled in the recent, acclaimed documentary “Maiden.”
Kevin Powell’s untitled play will explore the question of what is a man?
New Works Provincetown was founded by producer Mark Cortale. The creative teams for both shows are scheduled to begin week-long writing retreats in Provincetown between late November and early December of 2020. The lab says the new commissions continues its focus on theatrical works created by voices of diversified race, ethnicity and gender.
Additionally, New Works’ creative team for its first commission, “The Last Diva,” is returning to Provincetown in late December 2020 to continue work on the new musical. The show boasts a book by Jonathan Tolins (“Buyer & Cellar”), and music and lyrics by the “Grey Gardens” and “War Paint” team of Scott Frankel and Michael Korie. “The Last Diva” creative team had its first writing retreat this past July in Provincetown.
“The Last Diva” centers on Victoria Merritt, a gorgeous, superstar soprano facing conflict at a major opera house. As professional and personal pressures mount, and “artistic temperament” becomes a less acceptable excuse for her bad behavior, Vicky struggles to find her true voice.
New Works Provincetown has teamed with Jonathan Murray and Harvey Reese’s Wild Oak Media on its first three commissions. Murray has experience in reality TV having created and executive produced such shows as “The Real World,” “Making the Band” and “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” Together with Reese, they have been longtime supporters and investors in theater, including “Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays” and “Motherhood Out Loud.”
The commissions come as the theater business has been ground to a standstill by the coronavirus pandemic. Theaters across the country are closed and earning no money, imperiling the careers of everyone from directors to actors to crew members and creators.
“During these unprecedented circumstances that have caused all live performances to be postponed or cancelled, I believe it is the right time to broaden my focus to the creation and development of new works for the American theatre,” Cortale said in a statement. “I’m excited to collaborate with producers Jon Murray and Harvey Reese to move forward with New Works Provincetown this season, and highlight the works of an incredible, diverse scope of artists. We’re greatly inspired by Provincetown’s rich history where incredible playwrights like Eugene O’Neill, Susan Glaspell, and Tennessee Williams came to work and we want to do everything possible to foster that tradition.”