Today we mourn the loss of a great playwright and mentor, Edward Albee. Albee was an incredible personal inspiration to many of our founders and helped us conceptualize the work of this theater. He was always an encouragement when he graciously attended our readings and though he will be dearly missed, his legacy continues.
Jorie is an elite teenage student and athlete with a perfect family and two loyal and brilliant friends. When a shocking event occurs at the girls’ slumber party, Jorie and her family are confronted with choices they never expected. What does Jorie have to do to keep her band of friends together?
Sept 26, 7 pm
Main Street Theater — Rice Village
Join us for Cultured Cocktails from 5-8 on Thursday, Sept 22 at Boheme, 307 Fairview, 77006 A portion of the proceeds will go to Wordsmyth Theater. While there, learn about our upcoming readings, including the next one on the Monday after.
Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company and Wordsmyth Theatre proudly present Museum of Dysfunction VIII: A SHOWCASE OF SHORTS. Now in its eighth year, this annual short play festival features new pieces by playwrights from across the nation and produced by the professional actors and designers in the Mildred’s Umbrella Company. With over 200 submissions this year, only the top nineteen will be produced over two consecutive weekends. The first group of nine plays will run June 23-25 and the second group of ten will run June 30-July 2.
“We love bringing new voices to Houston,” says MU Artistic Director Jennifer Decker, “and each year we get to pack in a bunch of them into two weekends. It’s a little chaotic and crazy, but it’s fun in the end.” The plays touch on several topics but all stay within the Mildred’s Umbrella aesthetic of quirky, dark, and edgy. Each play runs under fifteen minutes and features a minimal set, cast, and technical requirements to highlight the scripts’ strengths.
Featured amongst the playwrights are several local faces, including Emily Neves, Helen Stewart, B N Reichenberger, Warren Holleman, and Hannah Wolfe, a student the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Other playwrights whose work was selected are: Shannon Murdoch, Olivia Dawson, Connie Schindewolf, LH Grant, Jack Gilhooley, James McClindon, Alyson Mead, Jason Rainey, Arthur M. Jolly, Tom Coash, Philip Kaplan, Carl Williams, and Suzanne Bailie. The plays will be directed by MU company members Bree Bridger, Rod Todd, Ron Reeder, Jennifer Decker, and Lisa Villegas, with local artists Ananka Kohnitz, Adriana Dominguez, and Peter Ton rounding out the directors’ roster.
Three readings of plays on race by three Houston playwrights!
Hosted by Stages Repertory Theatre
Saturday, June 11
3:00 pm Complaint Box and/or Good Times, by Abby Koenig
When an unexpected guest visits their beach house, three estranged sisters – who have come together to clean it out – are forced to confront their sense of identity and their relationship to race.
7:30 pm All the Dying Voices, by Reginald Edmund
A black teenage boy is found hanging from a swing set and protesters are convinced that a white cop lynched him. A young black up-and-coming district attorney must resolve the case before a fast-approaching mayoral election.
Sunday, June 12
2:00 pm Rebel Yell, by Ted Swindley
Set against the backdrop of a Civil War Confederate veterans’ home in 1920, Rebel Yell tells a shocking story about racism in the Jim Crow South. Caught between his white supremacist grandfather and his liberal, anti-racist father, a young man is forced to choose between the two most important men in his life with devastating results.
Tickets may be purchased at Stage’s website:
Or by calling 713-527-0123
There is a discount for Dramatist’s Guild members.
Abby Koenig received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from the Dramatic Writing Conservatory at the State University of New York at Purchase, her MA in Mass Communications from the University of Houston, and is currently working towards her PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric from Texas Tech University. Productions of short work produced by: Mildred’s Umbrella Big Head Productions, Six of One Productions, Pandora Theatre and BooTown (Houston, TX), Horse and Cart (Denver, CO), Baby in the Corner & Astoria Performing Arts Theater (New York, NY). She is a published author of creative non-fiction, in addition to having been a regular contributor to the Houston Press and Arts + Culture Magazine.
Horse Head Theatre Co. produced her first full-length play, Your Family Sucks, in December 2012 in Houston, TX. In December 2013, Koenig wrote and produced an original one-woman performance art and installation piece, The Jew Who Loves Christmas, at the Fresh Arts Gallery in Houston, TX. She has reprised this show in 2014 and 2015 for the Horse Head Theatre’s annual Holiday Huzzah.
Additionally, Horse Head Theatre produced her second full-length play, Spaghetti Code, in July 2014. The play was awarded Broadway World Houston’s Annual “Best New Play” 2014 and was a finalist for the Houston Press Theater Awards “Best Play.”
About Ted Swindley
For over twenty-five years, Ted Swindley has directed and/or produced over 200 plays. He is nationally known for creating the hit musical ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE, which opened in New York in June, 1997, while continuing to play throughout the world. Some of his outstanding directorial credits include World Premieres, Classics and Musicals including CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, PACIFIC OVERTURES, FOLLIES, and CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, and rotating repertory projects such as Thornton Wilder’s OUR TOWN and THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH and DANGEROUS LIAISONS with THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.
Mr. Swindley was named to Esquire magazine’s register of Americans for Outstanding Achievement in Arts and Letters and was featured in Southern Living magazine. He was also the recipient of the Los Angeles Dramalogue Award for Outstanding Direction and nominated for the prestigious Los Angeles Critics Award for his work at the Pasadena Playhouse.
He has also guest directed for the Texas Shakespeare Festival, Duke University, San Diego Repertory, Red Barn Theatre, Flat Rock Playhouse, Denver Theatre Center, Virginia Stage, Barter Theatre, Mill Mountain Theatre, Ryman Auditorium, Actor’s Studio, York Theatre, and Pasadena Playhouse, to name a few.
As Playwright and Director, Mr. Swindley created the hit musical ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE, which has played all over the world. Mr. Swindley has served as dramaturg on numerous new plays which had their premiere at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston. Internationally, he has directed touring productions in the UK and Australia.
Mr. Swindley is the Founding Artistic Director of Stages Repertory Theatre, the second largest theatre in Houston, Texas. There he implemented such diverse programming as the Texas Playwrights’ Festival, for which he won national recognition in 1986 from the Wall Street Journal and Backstage magazine. His latest hit musical, THE HONKY TONK ANGELS and the sequel HONKY TONK ANGELS HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR are playing in theatres throughout the United States. Other shows by Mr. Swindley which had world premieres are STEP INTO MY PARLOR, BYE, BYE LOVE: THE EVERLY BROTHERS MUSICAL, SUMMER OF ’66 and SWINGSTEP, which was nominated for the Dora Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Tony in America) for best musical.
He recently premiered a new musical comedy, BACHELOR PAD, based on the short story “Thank You Anna,” by William Safire and featuring lounge music classics from the 50’s and 60’s. He has also written a play entitled STORIES MY GRANDMOTHER TOLD ME, a southern adaptation of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, and completed THE HONKY TONK ANGELS trilogy with BUBBA’S REVENGE and an adaptation of the best selling book, A SOUTHERN BELLE PRIMER (OR WHY PRINCESS MARGARET COULD NEVER BE IN KAPPA KAPPA GAMMA). He has also written a series of children’s stories for the Christmas season.
He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Houston, a Master of Arts from Baylor University and a Bachelor of Arts from Furman University. He has studied at the Lincoln Center Institute and the Institute of European Studies in Vienna, Austria.
Mr. Swindley is President/Executive Director of Ted Swindley Productions and APC, Inc., theatrical licensing companies. He is an active member of the Dramatists Guild and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. Mr. Swindley is available as artistic consultant, guest director or playwright in residence. As dramaturg and writer, he also accepts commissioned works and consults on the development of new shows.
In pre-Revolution Russia, young Jewish women escaping persecution and poverty in the Ukraine and looking for work in Moscow were required to register as prostitutes. In Beyond the Pale, Houston playwright Warren Holleman tells the story of one such woman, and the influence she had on her employer’s daughter.
Monday, March 21, 7 pm
Main Street Theater
2540 Times Blvd
Houston, TX 77005
On January 25, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., Wordsmyth Theater Company will premiere “Complaint Box and/or Good Times,” by the Houston-based playwright, Abby Koenig. The play and free staged reading, to be held at Studio 101, Spring Street Studios, is being funded through the Houston Arts Alliance esteemed Individual Artist Grant program, which was awarded to Koenig.
“Complaint Box and/or Good Times,” is a day in the life of three estranged sisters, who come together to clean out their childhood beach house. When an unexpected guest enters the picture, the women are forced to confront their sense of identity, their relationship to race and whether their complaints are nothing more than everyday problems. With droll, lightening-fast dialogue – at times bordering on the absurd – the play asks its audience whether racial issues are all relative or if it’s our relatives giving us issues.
The reading will also encourage audience participation, asking them to use their own experiences to fill the “complaint box.”
This partnership between Wordsmyth Theater and Koenig is a new approach to fostering local playwrights. With this reading the company has been a part of the entire writing process: reading, critiquing and rehearsing. Wordsmyth company member and director of the reading Melissa Flower has been actively involved since the beginning. “It’s been an interesting process to watch the play evolve since day one,” says Flower. “Abby [Koenig] and I have even been working through an online collaboration program to help us keep in touch. It is an engrossing piece, written with courage, wisdom and humor.”
Koenig’s most recent play, “Spaghetti Code,” won Broadway World Houston’s 2014 “Best New Play” and was a finalist in the Houston Press Theater Awards for “Best New Play.” She was awarded the HAA Individual Artist Grant to write a play and hold a staged reading.
“When I applied for the award, I didn’t want to do a production,” says Koenig. “I really wanted this play to get an honest first reading, so that I could incorporate the audience’s critique in earnest. Often readings are done when a play is completed and it’s too late to incorporate feedback. “Also, because the play is about race, a heated topic, I wanted to make sure I could get a genuinely diverse response,” Koenig adds.
We have been toying with the idea to work with a local playwright in a more synergistic manner for some time. Elizabeth Earle, Wordsmyth’s Artistic Director, met with Koenig and the project fell into place. “We love fostering local talent,” says Earle. “This is an opportunity to highlight a local playwright’s work so we can all – the Houston community — be active contributors.”
Additionally the reading will feature some of Houston’s top talents including: Kim Tobin (Stark Naked Theatre), Mischa Hutchings (Catastrophic, Horse Head Theatre), Shelby Bray (Stages Repertory Theatre), Joe Palmore (The Alley Theatre), and new-comer Jakob Hulten (HSPVA).