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San Diego Repertory Theatre

79 Horton Plaza, Downtown San Diego

The Good: the Rep has been chosen as the site for this year’s NNPN National Showcase of New Plays 2013.

This is a prestigious deal.

Beginning on Friday, December 6, and running through Sunday, 31 actors (29 local) and six directors (three local) will perform staged readings of six new works.

Every year the National New Play Network (NNPN), an alliance of non-profit theaters, receives submissions from its core group: 75 theaters around the country. Each entry has a number, but neither the playwright nor the company’s name. A committee selects six for the showcase, held at one of the core theaters each year.

The aim is not only to feature the works but to give the playwrights an important interim step in their development. Few plays spring complete from Zeus’s thigh – and the famous ones that have, like Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit (two days, allegedly, in his bathtub) or William Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life (six days holed up in a San Francisco dive with a case of scotch) make light of the necessary stages.

(As we speak, the actors are in rehearsals, and some authors are still sending in revisions).

Since these are works in progress, the NNPN invites local media but not to review.

The NNPN’s flagship program, “The Continued Life of New Plays,” also gives new plays “rolling” world premieres: they open at several theaters in a 12-month period. In 2012, William Missouri Downs’ The Exit Interview, premiered at the Rep and four others. NNPN had five different “rolling” openings that year.

The six plays are: Dontrel, Who Kissed the Sea, by Alan Davis, submitted by Centerstage; River City, by Diana Grisanti, Actors Theatre of Charlotte; The Claire Play, by Reina Hardy, MFA Playwrights Workshop; The Most Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington, by James Ijames, submitted by PlayPen; Skin and the November Sky, by Stephen Spottswood, Forum Theatre; County Line, by David Wells, Performance Network.

The Bad: the event is not open to the public. A select group of artistic directors, literary managers, independent producers, and “theater insiders” will come from all around the country by invitation only.

This year’s showcase is the 11th annual. It rotates to a different city each year. But hey, a December weekend in San Diego? Maybe the Rep should host it from now on.

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