Media Contact: Dawn Kellogg

                                                            Communications Manager

(585) 232-1366 ext. 3059





Your Invitation to the Writers' Studio

Geva's Festival of New Theatre 2014

Today's Writers + You = New Stories Onstage


Rochester, N.Y., October 7, 2014 - Geva Theatre Center unveils its line-up for the Festival of New Theatre 2014 to be held in the Fielding Nextstage from October 20 - November 2. FONT 2014 is a vibrant and innovative mix of new works by some of the most exciting playwrights from across the country and around the corner and is part of Geva's ongoing commitment to developing and producing new work for the American theatre. 


FONT 2014 is a celebration of the theatrical imagination, an exciting glimpse into the creative process, and YOUR opportunity to contribute to the future of theatre in Rochester and around the world. During the Festival, you're invited to take a glimpse into the writers' studios as they work on new ideas, tell new stories and explore new forms. Your part in it all is crucial - writers need to hear an audience's response in order to fully understand the impact of their work. And because the readings of new plays are presented concert-style - with actors at music stands, facing the audience - the budget for the set, costumes and other effects is limited only by your imagination!  Audiences will also have the unique opportunity for a post-reading discussion with the playwright.


Geva's Literary Director/Resident Dramaturg Jenni Werner commented, "Normally when audiences come to Geva, they see a fully-produced play, complete with sets, costumes and lighting. But that's not the first step? The stories you see onstage come from the inspiration of playwrights - but they don't start out ready for audiences. The stories need to be developed, heard by people who want to participate in the shaping of these stories. That's where Rochester comes in."


Admission to the Festival of New Theatre 2013 readings is free, but reservations are required. Call the Geva Theatre Center Box Office at (585) 232- 4382 or visit for tickets.  Play readings sell out quickly, but tickets often become available the night of the performance.


Here is the line-up for the 2014 Festival of New Theatre:


Katherine's Colored Lieutenant by Nora Cole

Directed by David Schweizer

Monday, October 20 @ 7pm

Nora Cole (Fences, Voices of the Spirits in My Soul) digs deep into her family's history to tell the story of her uncle, a Tuskegee airman, and her aunt, a Louisville schoolteacher. A moving and captivating love story set amidst the racial divisions of the American South during and after WWII. This is a work-in-progress reading of the play which Geva will premiere in February 2015. The reading will be followed by a conversation with the playwright and a light reception. Nora Cole and Geva Theatre Center are participants in the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships, funded by the William & Eva Fox Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group.


The Author's Voice: Wendy McLeod

Friday, October 24 @ 7pm

Join playwright Wendy MacLeod (Women in Jeopardy!) in a conversation about her work.  In conversation with Geva's Literary Director Jenni Werner, Wendy will share stories about her work and inspirations, as well as read excerpts from three of her plays, including a scene from the play which Geva will premiere in February 2015. Join us for an evening of art and laughter! The conversation will be followed by an informal reception.


Young Writers Showcase: New Plays in Performance

Saturday, October 25 @ 3pm

Sunday, October 26 @ 3pm

In the spring, Geva presented staged readings of several short plays written by Rochester area writers, ages 13-18. Those plays were then given to local theatre artists, who have rehearsed over the summer for presentation in the festival.  The young writers who participate gain a greater understanding of the process of moving a play from page to stage in a collaborative process. Join us as we celebrate these young artists and see how their plays have changed since their first reading. The six plays which will be presented in this festival are: Omigawd, by Olivia Spenard; Dear Diary, by Betsy Hahm; Blue Skies, by Francesco Bruno; Just Like That, by Clara O'Connor; Sunny Side Up, by Austin Hammond; Origins and Stumbles, by Cameron Bennett.


Rochester "Bake-Off": New Play Excerpts

Sunday, October 26 @ 7pm

This is a creative experiment, the outcome of which cannot be predicted!  Inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, Geva will present a challenge to five writers: Wendy MacLeod (Women in Jeopardy!), Victor Lesniewski (Amid Purpleheart), Christina Gorman (Far From the Trees), David Henderson (Method Machine) and Maria Brandt (The Cell). When they arrive in Rochester on October 23, they'll be given three days to write something, anything, inspired by Rochester, and including three common elements (last year's requirements were flour or flowers, a reference to a song, and an invention). The pieces, which could be scenes, songs, monologues, etc., will be read after a light reception.  Audience members may be asked to participate in scenes, or the writers may read the scenes themselves. Will it be exciting and entertaining to see what these writers cook up in just three days? All signs point to yes. Light Reception at 7pm, Reading begins at 7:30pm


Project ROC
Curated by Sean Daniels and Jenni Werner

Monday, October 27 @ 7pm

When was the last time you heard the phrase, "Not everything in life can be all about you..."? Well, this fall, Geva is creating a new kind of play - and it is, in fact, all about you! We're looking for your stories, your tales about Rochester, about what makes life here unique. Share your thoughts with us at, and Sean Daniels and Jenni Werner will curate the responses we receive into a new event we're calling Project ROC. If we use your stories, we'll invite you to a special event celebrating the project. All stories may be shared (in part or in whole) on our blog, at


Amid Purpleheart by Victor Lesniewski
Directed by Sean Daniels

Tuesday, October 28 @ 7pm

Derrick reluctantly returns to his Minnesota hometown to check on his father, whose illustrious NFL career may have left him with progressive brain degeneration. But in order to evaluate his father's memory, Derrick has to confront the past he's been trying to forget. The reading will be followed by a conversation with the playwright and a light reception.


Far From the Trees by Christina Gorman
Directed by Shelley Butler @ 7pm

An Oregon widower spends his days unearthing the forest of petrified trees he's discovered on his land.  When his nephew is expelled from graduate school for "academic sabotage," the university demands its scholarship money back, driving the family into a debt so deep they may never recover.  But a botany student arrives with unimaginable news:  the beloved trees are priceless.  All the family has to do is sell.  Why then can't they let go? The reading will be followed by a conversation with the playwright and a light reception.


Regional Writer:  The Cell by Maria Brandt
Directed by Jean Gordon Ryon

Saturday, November 1 @ 7pm

Lisa and Harry launch an affair while following the trail of a twenty-year-old environmental crime. In the process, they both must decide whether or not it's possible to let go of the past and-even more important-to change the future. Part of Geva's Regional Writers' Showcase, this play was given a staged reading this past spring, and chosen for further development during the Festival. The reading will be followed by a conversation with the playwright and a light reception.


Son House Stories

Sunday, November 2 @ 7pm

Often referred to as the Father of the Delta Blues, Son House led a life that veered between his passion for preaching and his passion for the blues.  After making a name for himself as a bluesman, House renounced music and moved to Rochester in the 1940s, where he lived in relative obscurity for nearly 25 years. In 1964, a trio of young musicians began scouring the country for him and other bluesmen, and eventually found House living in Corn Hill. With their encouragement, the 62-year-old man picked up the guitar again and re-launched his career as an internationally-recognized "folk blues" artist, performing around the world and recording several albums for Columbia Records before his death in Detroit in 1988.


Geva has commissioned playwright Keith Glover to write a play based on Son House's life, which will be read during a four-day celebration of House's music and impact, to be held at Geva in the summer of 2015. As part of the process of writing the play, Keith Glover, director Skip Greer and dramaturg Jenni Werner are looking for stories from people who knew the musician. At this event, the trio will share stories they've heard in Mississippi, New Orleans and Rochester, and invite the audience to share stories of their own. Join us as we launch this thrilling new project, and celebrate the life and impact of this tremendous musician. A light reception will begin at 7:00.The sharing of stories begins at 7:30.




Geva audiences will remember NORA COLE from 2012's You Can't Take It With You, 2009's Fences and 2011's Voices of the Spirits in My Soul, a solo show based in part on her Kentucky family's slave history. Broadway credits include Jelly's Last Jam, On the Town, and Your Arms Too Short to Box with God. Other recent credits include the Off-Broadway production of And God Created Great Whales, which was also performed at Culture Project, L.A.'s Red Cat and Avenue X, New Harmony Theatre. Other stage credits include Doubt at Milwaukee Rep; Caroline, or Change at London's National Theatre; Joe Turner's Come and Gone at Studio Arena; Highway Ulysses at American Repertory Theatre; The Colored Museum at Hartford Stage; The Good Times are Killing Me at Second Stage; the title role in Medea for Vinnette Carroll Repertory; Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well... at Santa Fe Stage; and her solos show, Olivia's Opus, an ode to adolescence. Ms. Cole is a graduate of the Goodman School of Drama at the Art Institute at Chicago (B.F.A.), a recipient of the Women in Music Award from Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Fox Foundation Actor Fellowship, and a Hedgebrook Women Writers alumnus.


WENDY MACLEOD'S play The House of Yes became an award-winning Miramax film starring Parker Posey, earning a Special Jury Award at Sundance. The play has been done at Soho Rep, The Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin and at The Gate Theatre in London, where it was published in Plays International, and most recently at The Washington Shakespeare Company. Juvenilia premiered at Playwrights Horizons, as did The Water Children, which was then done at L.A.'s Matrix Theater and cited as "the most challenging political play of 1998" by the L.A. Weekly and earned six L.A. Drama Critics Circle nominations. Things Being What They Are premiered at Seattle Rep and performed at Steppenwolf in Chicago in 2003 where its sold-out run was extended twice. Most recently it was done at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. Her plays Sin and Schoolgirl Figure both premiered at The Goodman in Chicago, and Anvil Entertainment has optioned Schoolgirl Figure for film. Her prose has appeared in The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, POETRY magazine, and the Kenyon Alumni Bulletin. A New Dramatist alumna and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, she is the James E. Michael playwright-in-residence at her alma mater, Kenyon College, and has been a guest professor at Northwestern University's film and theatre departments.


CAMERON BENNETT (Origins and Stumbles) is a 10th grade Creative Writing major at School of the Arts. He enjoys reading, writing, playing video games and traveling. He has enjoyed writing since his early days in elementary school, when writing projects were first introduced to him. Along with that he has also recently found an interst in theater in the last few years. With his first real role being The Ghost in Hamlet and his more recent role as Giles Corey in The Crucible. He hopes that he will continue to improve as a writer and further increase his skills so that he can pursue his dream of having a book published.


BETSY HAHM (Dear Diary) is a home school Junior who lives in Hilton, New York. She loves music and is the primary pianist at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fairport, New York. Last summer she was thrilled to travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to sing in the Honors Choir at The WELS National Worship Conference. Betsy enjoys reading, watching plays and musicals, crafting, baking gourmet desserts, and writing. She has three pen pals and has kept a diary for seven years. Dear Diary is her first play.


AUSTIN HAMMOND (Sunny Side Up) is a 17-year-old aspiring writer with the life goal of becoming an astrophysicist. He began writing as a hobby and later discovered his potential for writing at School of the Arts. Austin is a junior and is currently taking three AP courses, and is a member of the school trivia team MasterMinds, and a member of Mathletes.


OLIVIA SPENARD (Omigawd) is a tenth grade Creative Writing major at School of the Arts in Rochester NY. She is extremely excited to have the her first play be performed on stage and would like to thank her creative writing teachers, Geva Theatre Center for all it had done for her and her wonderful family and friends for their endless support. And she sends a special shout of to all of the kooky teenage girls out there who continuously provide endless amounts of crazy inspiration. Enjoy the show!


FRANCESCO BRUNO (Blue Skies) graduated from Bishop Kearney High School and currently attends SUNY Geneseo, where he studies English. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his friends. Other interests include baseball, collecting CD's, and being in nature. Frank not only writes plays, but also poetry, and short fiction. He would like to thank Geva Theatre Center for this incredible experience. Additional thanks go out to the supporting family and friends that have guided him along his journey. Frank would like to give shout outs to his high school creative writing teacher, Mrs. Hoffman, as well as to his friends Chris Buscaglia, Maura Sutherland, and Margaret Kennelly.


CLARA O'CONNOR (Just Like That) is a freshman journalism major at Ithaca College. When she isn't studying or eating late night pop tarts, she is running the trails around campus or writing for the college newspaper, The Ithacan.  Clara would like to thank Geva Theatre Center and her director, David Henderson for helping her script come to life. Many thanks also go to her family and friends, including Susan Cergol who hosts her visits to New York City where Clara is able to avidly people-watch, especially while riding the subway.


VICTOR LEWSNIEWSKI plays include Where Bison Run (Ars Nova Out Loud) and Couriers and Contrabands (Workshop Presentation at New York Theatre Workshop).  He also wrote the book and lyrics for Conspiracy: A Love Story, a musical comedy that premiered in the Midtown International Theatre Festival and received five Best of the Festival nominations including Best Musical and Best Music & Lyrics.  His short play First Breath After Total Devastation was produced in The Samuel French OOB Festival as well as by NYTE as part of their Capture the Flag Festival and his short play A50 was produced by F*It Club as part of their Spring Fling.  He was a 2012-13 Dramatists Guild Fellow.


CHRISTINA GORMAN's play American Myth was developed at The Public Theater, where she is a member of The Public's inaugural Emerging Writers Group and where it was recently presented as part of The Public Theater's Spotlight Series. The play was also named finalist for the Princess Grace Award and presented as part of the 2010 HotINK Festival. Split Wide Open has been produced at the Summer Play Festival in New York City and was developed with a fellowship from Ensemble Studio Theatre through its New Voices Program. The play was also named runner-up for the Princess Grace Award. DNA has been produced at Prospect Theatre Company, Hangar Theatre, Samuel French Short Play Festival, and in New York International Fringe Festival, where it received the award for Overall Excellence in Playwriting. Keep the Change, co-written with Joy Tomasko, has been produced by the Women's Project for the World Financial Center's Word of Mouth Festival. Just Knots was a winner of the 34th Annual Samuel French Short Play Festival. Ms. Gorman's work has also been developed through The Drama League, Lark Play Development Center, and the Juilliard School.


MARIA BRANDT'S short plays have been finalists with Boston's Theatre Marathon, Los Angeles' Moving Arts Festival, England's Over Here Theatre Company, and Buffalo's Subversive Shorts Festival; produced by The Bridge Theatre Company in Boston and Boog City in NYC; read by Geva/Writers and Books in Rochester and the Last Frontier in Alaska; and published by Shark Reef and Chamber Four. Maria currently is finishing a novella, editing Pam Mills' forthcoming posthumous memoir Kamastone (Jaded Ibis Press), and working on a short-play cycle focusing on different regions across New York State. This play, The Cell, was recently read by Out of Pocket Productions as part of MuCCC's Festival of New Works. Maria teaches at MCC and is a founding member of Straw Mat, an active writers circle in Rochester. She lives just outside Highland Park with her husband, Jeffery Jones, and their son William.


KEITH GLOVER is from Bessemer, Ala. He is a member of The New Dramatist Playwrights Organization and a recipient of a Pew Charitable Fellowship grant in 1996. His first play, Dancing on Moonlight, was produced in 1995 at the New York Shakespeare Festival. His second play, Coming of the Hurricane, was produced by the Denver Center Theatre Company (1994) at Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, Minn. (1995) and at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. (1996). His third play, Thunder Knocking on the Door, a blusical tale of rhythm and blues, was produced by the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Baltimore's Center Stage, The Dallas Theatre Center and Yale Repertory Theatre during the 1996-97 season. As an actor, Glover has appeared regionally at Center Stage in Baltimore as Sterling in Two Trains Running, at Hartford Stage as Scott in Pill Hill, and as Lyons in Fences with John Amos at Capital Repertory Company. On television, Glover has appeared on the Fox series New York Undercover as Adrean Franks and on the daytime drama As the World Turns as Kenny Hathaway. On film, Glover appeared in Jackknife with Robert DeNiro.







Founded in 1972, Geva Theatre Center is a not-for-profit, professional theatre company dedicated to creating and producing professional theatre productions, programs and services of a national standard. As Rochester's leading professional theatre, Geva Theatre Center is the most attended regional theatre in New York State, and one of the 25 most attended in the country, serving up to 160,000 patrons annually, including more than 16,000 students.


The 526-seat Elaine P. Wilson Mainstage is home to a wide variety of performances, from musicals to American and world classics. The 180-seat Ron & Donna Fielding Nextstage is home to Geva's own series of contemporary drama, comedy and musical theatre; Geva Comedy Improv; Geva's New Play Reading Series and the Hornet's Nest - an innovative play-reading series facilitating community-wide discussion on controversial topics. In addition, the Nextstage hosts visiting companies of both local and international renown.


Geva Theatre Center offers a wide variety of educational, outreach and literary programs, nurturing audiences and artists alike. Since 1995, the organization has been under the artistic direction of Mark Cuddy.