Emerging Playwrights Bring Four Fresh Plays to UC Santa Barbara This Weekend

Annual LAUNCH PAD Festival Brings Four New Plays to be Workshopped and Performed

Poster for the LAUNCH PAD Amplify Reading Series Festival at UCSB | Credit: UCSB Department of Theater/Dance

UCSB’s Department of Theater and Dance brings its third annual LAUNCH PAD Amplify Reading Series Festival to the public — held in person for the first time after two years of livestreaming — and showcasing a diverse array of sure-to-be intriguing new plays.

Taking place January 13-14 and in collaboration with the National New Play Network, the festival weaves together the excitement of watching a new play with the prospect of supporting emerging playwrights. Focusing on equity, diversity, and inclusion, the festival distinguishes writers of color as they fine-tune their new works. 

The playwrights, Yussef El Guindi, Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters, Jacqueline E. Lawton, and Eric Reyes Loo, will be working alongside UCSB students, faculty, and guest artists in 20-hour workshops throughout the festival, ultimately culminating in an exciting final reading of the play. Risa Brainin, the LAUNCH PAD Artistic Director, describes this process, expressing that “there is a special alchemy that occurs when veteran and emerging artists work together.”

Nan Barnett, Executive Director of National New Play Network, furthers this sentiment, stating proudly that “We here at National New Play Network are always delighted to provide additional opportunities for our Member Theaters and Affiliated Artists, who are our programmatic alumni, to develop and share the work they are creating.”

The four plays hold a wide thematic and substantive compass, including a depiction of the wife of a headless husband investigating enigmatic missing chunks of time, a late 19th century representation of newly freed black citizens building their community, a 13-year-old coping with grief amidst the backdrop of a tomato farm, and a comedy about a mixed-race novelist in Los Angeles whose big plans get foiled. 

The schedule is as follows:

Friday, January 13  | 4 p.m. – Wife of Headless Man Investigates Her Own Disappearance by Yussef El Guindi

Friday, January 13 | 8 p.m. – Freedom Hill by Jacqueline E. Lawton

Saturday, January 14 | 1 p.m. – Dalia is Dead and Her Dad Keeps Making Dumplings by Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters

Saturday, January 14 | 5 p.m. – Replaced by Eric Reyes Loo

To attend this free event, RSVP here, and prepare for a rich composition of plays from skilled emerging writers. The event will also be live streamed on Facebook. For more information, visit theaterdance.ucsb.edu.

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