Courtesy of Dinny Aletheiani
Now in its 12th year, the annual Carlotta Festival of New Plays will kick off on May 5, celebrating three new plays by graduating playwrights from the Yale School of Drama.
Each year, three works written by graduating students at the School of Drama are chosen to be featured in the festival, the proceeds from which go toward supporting playwriting at Yale.
“We are delighted to be producing three plays by remarkably gifted writers who have much to offer the nation,” Yale School of Drama Dean James Bundy DRA ’95 said. “Audience members who are interested in the development of new plays and in the voices of writers who will influence our theater in years to come, will be delighted by the opportunity to see these works brought to life by some of the most exciting young artists working in the field today.”
This year, the festival’s recipients are “If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka: an understanding of a West African folktale” by Tori Sampson DRA ’17; “Everything That Never Happened” by Sarah Mantell DRA ’17; and “The Hour of Great Mercy” by Miranda Rose Hall DRA ’17.
While the festival is still several months away, tickets for each of the shows are already on sale and rehearsals will begin next week. The works will be showcased at the Iseman Theater on Chapel Street until May 13.
Each of the shows will be performed four times over the course of the eight-day festival. The first show, “If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka: an understanding of a West African folktale,” will run on May 5, and is directed by Elizabeth Dinkova DRA ’17.
According to the play’s summary on the School of Drama’s website, the play weaves contemporary African and American cultures into an overarching journey that explores what — and whom — people suppress in their pursuit of an ideal that is “always just beyond reach.”
To this end, the play centers around four characters who are supposed to represent the physical manifestation of beauty in Affreakah-Amirrorkah, the imaginary setting in which the play takes place. Out of the four characters, a main character arises by the name of Akim, whose beauty leads her to become targeted by the others.
In addition to this play, Sampson has also written “Some Bodies Travel” and “This Land Was Made.” Sampson also directed School of Drama Playwriting Chair Tarell Alvin McCraney’s DRA ’07 “In the Red and Brown Water” at the Yale Cabaret.
The second play to be featured is “The Hour of Great Mercy.” Directed by Kevin Hourigan DRA ’17, the plot follows a Jesuit priest named Ed trying to reconcile with his family in Alaska. As he returns to the community of Bethlehem, Alaska, he is unaware of the recent tragedy that has struck the town. Besides an unexpected love interest, the play revolves around themes of forgiveness as both the community and Ed come to terms with the past.
Last semester, Hall also collaborated with Dinkova on an original musical the pair wrote called “Bulgaria! Revolt!” which was the largest production at the time under the School of Drama, boasting a budget comparable to that of a regional theater show. Besides her academic pursuits, Hall is currently the resident playwright and ensemble member with the LubDub Theatre Company.
Directed by Jesse Rasmussen DRA ’17, “Everything that Never Happened” will close out the festival. The play is based around the idea of questioning what Shakespeare left out in his play “The Merchant of Venice.” A tale of two lovers, the piece follows Jessica and Lorenzo as they not only have to escape from the former’s father’s house, but also her culture and the Venetian ghetto.
Similar to the festival’s other playwrights, Mantell has authored several other plays. Her other works include “Rochambeau,” “Mrs. Galveston” and “Tiny,” the last of which was a finalist for the New Harmony Project, an annual writers conference where five writers and their works are selected from submissions for a two-week period to further develop their work.
Last year, the works chosen for the Carlotta Festival were “Amy and Orphans” by Lindsey Ferrentino DRA ’16, “Some Bodies Travel” by Sampson and Jiréh Breon Holder DRA ’16 and “New Domestic Architecture” by Brendan Pelsue DRA ’16.