Since its founding 50 years ago, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has had at its core the creation of new works. And this weekend brings its 18th New Works Festival, with performances of two musicals and three straight plays at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. Giovanna Sardelli, Director of New Works, gives a preview.

There’s more information and a complete schedule of the performances at the TheatreWorks Silicon Valley website.

“We launch the festival with a new musical called Revival; the book and music are by Chris Miller, and then the book and lyrics are by Nathan Tysen, who our audiences know from Tuck Everlasting. They’re an incredible writing duo, have been working together since their time at NYU… This piece is also commissioned, between TheatreWorks and Playwrights Horizons in New York. It’s based on a Willa Cather story called “Eric Hermannson’s Soul”. The second musical is Iron John, An American Ghost Story, by Rebecca Hart and Jacinth Greywoode. “They’re really looking at racism, and our tendency to bury it. And one of the themes is ‘that which you bury just takes root, and continues to grow.’ …Will this generation be the generation that actually stops burying our past, and perhaps in that way, we have a chance of something new to grow?” The straight plays include a farce called The Imperialists by Lynn Rosen, about a British-themed tea shop, with owners praying members of the Royal family will pop in; Father/Daughter, by Kait Kerrigan, exploring that relationship and how it affects other kinds of love; and Nan and the Lower Body (The Pap Smear Play) by Jessica Dickey, which Sardelli will be directing. “This year, when I’m looking at the Me Too movement, when I’m looking at all the conversations, women still fighting for the right to control their body, I was so happy to find a play that actually celebrates the beauty and wonder of a woman’s body.” Sardelli says the success the festival has already had helps them attract the highest caliber of playwright and material. “Every one of these plays is timeless, and yet they speak to this moment. And I think those are the strongest plays. So each one of these plays will have a long life, because they defy the present moment, while they also identify and connect us to the present moment.”

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