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GAYFEST NYC ANNOUNCES NEW PLAYS FOR SPRING FESTIVAL
 Proceeds to benefit Harvey Milk High School Students

 

New York, NY (March 18, 2008) – The second annual GAYFEST NYC, the country’s premier festival of new gay-themed plays, will be presented May 14 - June 15, 2008 at the TBG Arts Center, 312 West 36th Street, New York City. The five-week event, produced by Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, presents professional Off-Broadway productions of new works by LGBT authors or spotlighting gay issues. Five fully-staged professional productions featuring Actors’ Equity Association casts, talk-backs with the authors of the Festival plays, appearances by celebrated members of the LGBT community, plus other events are planned.
GAYFEST NYC’s reach has extended beyond national borders and into the international theatre community. This year’s Main Stage selections, from dozens of submissions worldwide, are Edward the King by David Brendan Hopes, directed by Sidney J. Burgoyne, Spill the Wine by Brian Dykstra, directed by Margarett Perry and Jumping Blind by Philip Gerson, director TBA. Two additional plays will be produced in the Studio Theatre: The Wrath of Aphrodite by Tim O’Leary, directed by Martin Casella and Steve Hayes’ Hollywood Reunion, written by and starring Steve Hayes.
Festival Passports and Individual tickets for all productions will go on sale March 15, 2008 at www.Theatermania.com or by calling 212-351-3101. For more information log onto: www.GAYFESTNYC.com.  Casting will be announced in April. 

 

GAYFEST NYC’s mission is to develop new voices for the LGBT community and expand the reach and accessibility of both emerging and established playwrights, composers and lyricists, while providing high level entertainment to a very discerning and supportive audience,” said Jack W. Batman, co-Producer of the festival.  “At the same time, we are committed to giving back to the LGBT community, through our fundraising efforts and the generosity of our sponsors, advertisers and supporters. To that end, we established a scholarship fund to benefit students of Harvey Milk High School,” continued Batman, “and last year GAYFEST NYC awarded eleven scholarships to graduating seniors and established an after-school acting program for the students.” Harvey Milk High School (HMHS) is a fully-accredited, voluntary NYC public high school focused on the educational needs of teenagers who are in crisis or at risk of physical violence and/or emotional harm in a traditional educational environment.

GAYFEST NYC is also committed to producing plays that will have a life outside the Festival,” said Bruce Robert Harris, co-Producer of GAYFEST NYC, “plays that will represent the Festival in productions around the English-speaking world and which might also be brought to life in television and/or film presentations. Board members of GAYFEST NYC include Terrence McNally, Kate Clinton, Charles Busch, Douglas Carter Beane, Mario Cantone and a distinguished group of Broadway producers, actors, writers, artistic and executive directors of regional theatres plus other entertainment professionals. The play choices present a balanced program that will give audiences a comprehensive educational and entertainment experience.”

Sponsors of GAYFEST NYC include HSBC Bank, Bud Light, RockStar energy drink, Andrew Christian, DG Neary Real Estate, Jamie deRoy, Gayla, Inc., Interactive Male, Dr. Frank Spinelli, Steel Gym, Sutter Home Vineyards, Theatermania.com and media sponsors including Where New York, IN New York magazine, Next Magazine, Back Stage, HX Magazine, The New York Blade, GO! Magazine, FunMaps, Mark Nelson Events and others.  GAYFEST NYC also receives generous support private from the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.

On April 14, 2008 GAYFEST NYC will host a major fundraising event as a kick-off for this year’s Festival and a benefit for the Harvey Milk High School scholarship fund. The evening includes a performance by Emmy Award-winning actor Leslie Jordan and will be held at New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10036, with a reception to follow. All profits will benefit the Harvey Milk High School. Tickets are $75/$100 and are available now at Telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200.

  1. This year’s featured plays are:

On the Main Stage:

EDWARD THE KING by David Brendan Hopes (World Premiere) – May 14-24
Beset by the duties of his birth and dominated by a heroic father, Edward looks forward to a life of apparent conformity and desperate subterfuge, until he meets Piers Gaveston in a dirty alley. It is love and rebellion at first sight. From then on, Edward steers a perilous course between desire and safety, which does not entirely end even when he becomes king, and faces not only the usual enemies of unconventional love, but his queen and her lover as well. Edward the King neatly straddles the fourteenth and twenty-first centuries, which manage to appear almost equally violent and inhospitable to love.

David Brendan Hopes is Professor of Literature and Language at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and director of Black Swan Theater. He is extensively published in poetry, fiction and non-fiction. His most recent volume of non-fiction is the book of nature essays, Bird Songs of the Mesozoic (Milkweed), and his newest volume of poetry, A Dream of Adonis, was published by Pecan Grove last fall. His plays have been performed recently in California, Wisconsin, New York, Minnesota, Ohio and Ireland, and have won the Arch Brown scholarship, the Siena prize and the YES Festival production prize. He is also a painter and a basso profundo.

SPILL THE WINE by Brian Dykstra (World Premiere) – May 27- June 1
The compelling story of a woman forced to confront her own identity. After being diagnosed with a fatal disease, Emma makes a decision to spare her husband the pain of watching her die. She leaves him and, to her surprise, discovers that she is attracted to a woman, then faces the possibility that perhaps she left her marriage less to spare her husband, than to make the discovery about her own sexuality.

Brian Dykstra has been seen on stage and screen throughout the US and UK. His play, Clean Alternatives, won the coveted Fringe First Award at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. His solo show, Cornered and Alone, received an extended Off-Broadway run and was hailed by critics, and landed him on several watch-lists including the NRA and Rush Limbaugh. The conservative talk show host put the word out against Dykstra as an “enemy”—but of course Limbaugh never actually saw the show. He is currently appearing in Brian Dykstra: The Jesus Factor at the Barrow Street TheatreOff-Broadway. Brian’s play Hiding Behind Comets saw its world premiere at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park during its 2004 Tony Award-winning season. Hiding Behind Comets then moved to NYC for an extended run at 29th Street Rep and Brian was awarded the National Theatre Conference Playwright Award. Notable television credits include: HBO’s “Def Poetry” “Third Watch”, “Law & Order” and Comedy Central’s “Chappelle’s Show.” Brian’s television writing credits include the Emmy-nominated television show “The Life” on ESPN. Brian was 05-06 Playwright Fellow with the Lark Play Development Center and was awarded The Vault’s It’s the End of the World As We Know It Award for exceptionalcutting edge artists who consistently take risks with their art. www.briandykstra.net.

JUMPING BLIND by Philip Gerson (World Premiere) – June 4-14
What if you had to choose between country and love? During World War II, an English resistance fighter and a wounded German soldier fall in love in occupied France.  During the final fight of the resistance, they are drawn into a furtive, passionate affair and on the eve of D-Day both are forced to make choices that will haunt them the rest of their lives.  Jumping Blind is inspired by a true story of unique heroism, sacrifice and lifelong love.  

Philip Gerson writes for theatre, television and film. His work for theatre includes the play Night (NY International Fringe Festival 2007); the book for the musical, The Last Metro, based on Francois Truffaut’s film (Musical Theatre Works, NY, and the Colony Theatre, LA), and the books for the enormously popular musical theatre parodies, Fiddler on the West Hollywood Roof and West Hollywood Gypsy (produced by Charity Parody Productions with the special permissions of the original authors, to benefit AIDS charities, at the Harmony Gold Theatre in LA and UCLA’s Freud Theatre).  Philip Gerson has written for two of the most successful series in TV history – “Murder, She Wrote” (for which he was Story Editor) and “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” (for which he was Co-Executive Producer).  Other series for which has written include “Christy” (Executive Story Editor), “Legacy” (Co-Executive Producer), “Cover Me” (Co-Executive Producer) and “Mysterious Ways.” He wrote the hit TV movie, “A Change of Seasons,” and pilots for several studios and networks.  His pilot, “R & D,” was selected to be published by the Writers’ Guild of America’s “Written By” magazine as one of the six Best Unproduced Sci-Fi scripts. Philip Gerson is the recipient of the Film Advisory Board Award, The Prism Award from the Entertainment Industry Council, and the Dialogue Award from the Institute for Mental Health, all for his work in television. 

In the Studio Theatre:

THE WRATH OF APHRODITE (World Premiere) – May 23-25, May 30-June 1
Sex, love, jealousy, betrayal and violence pave the way for the final showdown in this radical re-imaging of the Greek tragedy. A handsome prince and his gang of friends have pledged celibacy but their devotion to chastity becomes much more difficult when the young prince realizes that his best friend is in love with him. Then things really get out of hand when his stepmother falls under the spell of Aphrodite and grows mad with lust towards him.  Which love will survive the wrath of Aphrodite?

Tim O’Leary grew up in New Jersey, and started acting at the age of 11 in the children’s chorus of a Paper Mill Playhouse production of Jesus Christ, Superstar. From that point on, he was hooked on theatre and never looked back. In college, he exercised his creative muscles by helping to found an a cappella group, eventually coming to write fully scripted shows and short films for them to act in, as well as performing in various theatrical productions. One of these productions was Euripides’ Hippolytus, and that experienced sparked in him the desire to write The Wrath of Aphrodite. Tim has always been drawn to the less traditional when it comes to theatre. Since moving to New York he appeared in productions such as Twist, an S&M rock musical based on Oliver Twist, and a staged reading of Bedbugs: The Musical, in which mutant bedbugs attack Manhattan. Tim is also an avid stage combat enthusiast, and it’s not uncommon to find him working a little bit, or a lot, of violent spectacle into his shows.  (When hit with a case of writer's block, he practices with his nunchucks. Seriously. Just ask his roommate.) As a writer, he enjoys flipping wildly between genres. His last outing was Pieces on the Board, a modern-day noir thriller; The Wrath of Aphrodite is quite literally a Greek tragedy; and up next is a sci-fi action adventure romantic comedy. But Greek mythology has always been very close to Tim’s geeky heart, and it is with great pleasure that he sees Aphrodite come to life.

STEVE HAYES’ HOLLYWOOD REUNION (World Premiere) – June 6-8, 13-15
An autobiographical comedy about the author's Christmas visit to Hollywood to cheer up an old friend. Obsessed with old movies all his life, Steve convinces his friend to forsake a traditional Christmas celebration for what he calls a "Hollywood Babylon Homosexual Holiday." In the hope of connecting to a world that his fantasies have thrived on, he drags his friend to an assortment of landmarks, cemeteries and meetings with some living legends who were part of Hollywood's “Golden Age.” In doing so, he comes to realize the role that the world of the movies has played in shaping his life as a gay man, not only in terms of what it has given him, but what it may have cost him as well.
Steve Hayes is an actor, comedian and playwright who has performed in one-man, two-person and musical comedies throughout the country. He was the recipient of the 2006 New York International Fringe Festival Award as Outstanding Actor for his role in The Penguin Tango by Stephen Svoboda. Other awards include the Backstage Bistro Award for Outstanding Comedian as well as being a three-time winner and nine-time nominee of the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC) Award for Outstanding Comedian and Characterization. He starred in the Off-Broadway comedy Queen's Boulevard by Paul Corrigan and directed by Vince Cardinal. He wrote the book and the lyrics for the musical Kiss Me Quick Before the Lava Reaches the Village, which was produced by the Village Theatre in Seattle and the lyrics for the musical Girl Of My Dreams which recently ran for five months at The Barter Theatre in Virginia. He also starred in The Last Sunday in June at The Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton.  Steve co-starred in the motion picture “Trick” for Fine Line Features which was nominated for Best Picture at the Sundance Film Festival and he’s featured singing on the soundtrack CD as well. For the past few years he has been part of the comedy team of Steve Hayes and Tom Cayler. Art Forum Magazine chose them as one of the Ten Best things to see in New York. Having received a grant from the New York State Council for the Arts, they performed their original comedy Parental Indiscretions at The Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca New York, and at The Pontine Theatre in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where they will premiere their new comedy, Stories We Tell Ourselves in the fall of 2008. Steve has taught comedy at The University of Miami, The Actor's Conservatory Of Manhattan, Helen Baldassare's Cabaret Symposium in New York and at The Cabaret Conservatory at Yale University.

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