Piven Theatre Workshop Presents
The World Premiere
Dance For Beginners
By MT Cozzola
Directed by Heather Bodie
May 13th-June 11th, 2017
Previews May 11th and 12th
The centerpiece of our work 2016-2017 season is the professional premiere of a new work by female Chicago playwright MT Cozzola, Dance for Beginners. Dance for Beginners is an intimate look at the beginnings of a relationship in the third act of life, and celebrates a strong female voice. With oceans separating them, they turn to dance to bring them closer together. Dance for Beginners was developed at Chicago Dramatists and was read at Piven as part of the summer of 2016 Lab season, and exemplifies the way the Lab cultivates relationships with new artists and new works.
Chicago playwright Mia McCullough's new script "Wisdom From Everything" will be read during the Local Lab festival in Boulder. Listen to an interview with the playwright.
Jo Ann Allen Speaks With Chicago Playwright Mia McCullough
Can A Playwright Capture A Refugee’s Experience? ‘Wisdom’ Will Get A Local Lab Reading BY COREY H. JONES
When “Wisdom From Everything” was chosen for a staged reading at the Local Theater Company’s new play festival, playwright Mia McCullough told them that she’s a liability.
“I was really jumping off the deep end in just attempting this play because the context, the setting, everything is so foreign to me,” she says. “I do feel like it’s hindered the future of the play in that I do not match the characters that I’m writing.”
“Wisdom From Everything” is about a 19-year-old Syrian named Farsana living at a refugee camp in Jordan. Even though McCullough’s work often explores sociopolitical themes, a refugee’s experience is far from her everyday as a white artist based in Chicago.
She’s followed the war in Syria as well as the refugee crisis for years. She’s done research and interviewed people connected to the Middle East since she started writing this play in 2014. While teaching at Northwestern University, McCullough consulted professors and exchange students.
Those efforts weren’t enough to persuade potential producers who have walked away from the play in the past. McCullough will now workshop the piece during Local Lab at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder.
“Really that’s all I can do is listen and try to make the play as truthful as I possibly can,” McCullough says. “We’ll have a lot of people in the room who are able to speak to the culture of the place that we’re set in.”
After reading 152 anonymous submissions, Local Lab picked three plays to feature this year. After the event, Local Theater Company will pick one script to further develop and later premiere.
“I was incredibly drawn to (“Wisdom From Everything”) because of the story,” Local Lab artistic director Pesha Rudnick says. “It’s a beautiful story, particularly because of Mia’s examination of women in war and how women treat each other.”
We are thrilled to welcome Minita Gandhi to our client roster at the Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency!
Minita Gandhi is an actress/playwright/writer who was born in Mumbai, India. Raised in the Bay Area, she is proud to call Chicago her artistic home for over 8 years. MUTHALAND has been featured on NPR, NBC News, and the Atlantic. It has played at Oregon Shakespeare Festival as a participant of the CAATA Festival, and The Statera Foundation for Women in the Arts Conference at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (2016). It was workshopped at Silk Road Rising for their Solo Festival (2015), selected for the Ignition Festival of new plays at Victory Gardens Theater (2015), and for a special performance sponsored by the Indo-American Heritage Museum. Muthaland will celebrates it's World Premiere this September 2017 at 16th Street Theatre. Muthaland has toured the US with special performances at universities and Minita teaches an accompanying workshop, "Using Art as Activism." Some of her regional theatre credits include Lookingglass Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Minita can be seen in the recurring role of Dr. Prospere on NBC's Chicago Fire, as Musarrat in Brown Girls, and has appeared on Fox's hit show Empire, NBC's Crisis, ABC's Betrayal, Fox's The Chicago Code, and was The Onion News Network's anchor, Nina Shankar. She is a Master Instructor for Pinnacle Performance Company, where she spent 2016 developing a Women's Leadership Program, and the co-creator of the Professional Mentorship Program for Women in the Arts in Parternership with the Statera Foundation.
MUTHALAND is the brave adventure of a young woman whose life is forever changed on a trip to India where she unearths family secrets, encounters a prophet, and ultimately discovers her voice within a culture of silence. The familiar and the foreign swap roles in this dark comedy about culture, identity, spirituality, and sexuality. This play is inspired by true stories. In 2014, while foraging through her parents’ basement, she discovered her father’s worn suitcase from his very first journey to the United States, with a single statement scribbled in black Sharpie on the back of the bag: “When I die, discard this bag if you like, until then it stays.” This sparked a curiosity about her parents’ life journey and led to vulnerable interviews where they shared stories from their history they had never spoken of before. The telling of these stories began to bridge the cultural and generational distance between her and her family. Gandhi then realized by weaving their stories with her own life-changing journey to India in 2009 for her brother's arranged marriage, she had a powerful story she had to share with the world. Muthaland shares the magic of her journey to India, full of prophets, ritual, and the convergence of American and Indian cultures. After the first table read in 2015 a documentary entitled “India’s Daughter,” from BBC about the fatal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi was banned because the Indian government felt it would “defame” India. Minita realized she could no longer treat the topic of sexual violence as a “bad dream.” She felt empowered to share her own experience with the world. It is Minita’s hope that Muthaland will bring love, laughter, hope to the community and bridge cultural and generational gaps regarding the culture of silence surrounding sexual assault and cultural identity.
The Haven Webseries created by Mia McCullough, directed and produced by Elizabeth Laidlaw and Mia McCullough
The Haven is new Chicago web series created by Mia McCullough, directed and produced by Elizabeth Laidlaw and Mia McCullough.
A tragicomedy set in a domestic violence shelter, telling stories of women of all races, religions, socio-economic backgrounds, and sexual orientations.
The under-paid staff of a domestic violence shelter grapples with the messiness of their personal lives while trying to help their clients embark on abuse-free futures.
A television show has never been set in a domestic violence shelter before, and it's a beautiful vehicle for conflict -- both comic and tragic. We are employing mostly women and many people of color both in front of and behind the camera, and we want to represent the experiences of people the American public does not typically get to know.
Watch the First Episode...
Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency, Inc.
Representing writers since 1928.