#GodHatesYou by Emily Dendinger is the third play of PlayFest’s new works.

Durango PlayFest


Durango PlayFest is excited to announce its innovative, inaugural new play festival during which audiences will have a window into the theater world’s creative process.

Durango PlayFest announced today its inaugural festival of new play development and staged readings.  Durango PlayFest will take place the week of August 6th with two reading-style performances of each of the Festival’s three main-stage plays on the 10th and 11th.  Performances will take place at the Durango Arts Center and the Henry Strater Theater.  During the week-long festival, audiences will have a window into the creative process of playwrights, directors and actors and have an opportunity to interact with the artists during a Playwrights Panel, artist talks, a Festival Party, and show talkbacks.

PlayFest grew from the passion of a dedicated committee of Durango-area residents and actors Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years) and Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me and Hot in Cleveland).  Lauria and Malick are well-known in Durango for their appearances in Love Letters and The Guys and will play the lead roles in Pulitzer-nominated playwright Lee Blessing’s A Body of Water.  Mike Farrell (M*A*S*H) will be playing the lead in playwright Stephen Nathan’s The Dizziness of Freedom.

A Body of Water will be directed by award-winning Denver director Christy Montour-Larson.  It is the story of Avis and Moss, who wake up in a house surrounded by a body of water and have no memory of themselves or their situation.  Throughout the play they are challenged by a mysterious woman, Wren, their only company, and they must struggle to find the truth and their sanity.   Also featured in the play is Durango product Elizabeth Gray, who after graduating from Durango High School attended New York University’s Tisch School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.  She appeared earlier this summer as Titania in Merely Players’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  A Body of Water will be performed on Friday, august, 10 at 7:00 pm with a talkback and Saturday, August 11 at 3:00 pm.

In addition to Mike Farrell playing the lead in The Dizziness of Freedom, the play will also feature veteran Los Angeles actress Laura Spencer (Big Bang Theory and Bones) as Annie and local actor Benjamin Mattson as David.  Ferrell is Roger, the last remaining tenant of an apartment building scheduled for demolition.  At 75, with a history of social activism, Roger has no intention of going without a fight.  A young attorney, Annie, has the task of evicting Roger and what ensues is a test of wills, integrity, fear, the gaping generational divide and a discovery of what transcends our differences and binds even the most unlikely pair of combatants.  For its second staged reading, The Dizziness of Freedom will be performed Friday, August 10 at 7:00 pm with a talkback and Saturday, August 11 at 1:00 pm.

#GodHatesYou by Emily Dendinger is the third play of PlayFest’s mainstage new works.  Emily is a Brooklyn-based writer whose plays include No Home for Bees, Little House in the Big City and Pocketful of Sand.  She has received numerous awards for her work and is currently under commission by Curious Theater and collective unconscious.  God Hates You is about Laurel, a young woman with a zeal for Christ and her church.  However, when she encounters social media for the first time the innumerable people, thoughts, ideas and opinions deeply challenge her and force her to examine the rigorous beliefs she has held for so long.  The cast includes New York actors Anya Whalen-Smith, Angela Pierce, David Lansbury, Christopher McFarland and West Coast actress Gwen Malick, and Fort Lewis College theatre students Zack Bauer and Gustavo Palma.  God Hates You will be directed by Ian Belknap, the Artistic Director of the Acting Company in New York City.  This is the first staged reading of God Hates You and it will be performed Saturday, August 11 at 1:00 pm and on Saturday, August 11 at 7:30 pm with a talkback.

PlayFest is also pleased to announce a bonus reading of a play written by local playwright, Jake Yost.  Standby to Standby is an interweaving of real interviews with veterans and re-enactments which challengingly explores patriotism and what it means to be a Veteran who was never deployed.  Jake is a graduate of Durango High School and Fort Lewis College.  The play will be performed by Fort Lewis College students and local actors.  Standby to Standby will be directed by Daniel Sullivan of Silverton’s Theater Mine.  The play will be read at the Henry Strater Theater with a talkback on Saturday, August 11 at 10:00 am.

The PlayFest Advisory Committee is comprised of Terry Bacon, Richard Ballantine, Christina Erteszek, Jim Foster, Bud Franks, Fran Franks, Fritz Geisler, Margie Dean Gray, David Hill, Hunter Johnson, and Felicia Lansbury Meyer.