Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative (CPI) gives aspiring writers the chance to have their plays read in a public forum, usually once a month in the Aronoff Center's Fifth Third Bank Theater. They've been doing that for a decade, drawing small, thoughtful audiences who watch and comment on scripts presented publicly for the first time. The May reading, set for Tuesday, has caught people's attention early: It's already sold out, necessitating a CPI first -- a repeat reading on May 15 at 7:30 p.m. The work that's generated all this interest is Kalman Kivkovich's IN THE VISE OF EVILS, which is directed by Carrie-Ellen Zappa. Based on Kivkovich's 2006 novel, the play describes a lesser known aspect of the Holocaust: the Russian side. In 1938 two Jewish brothers, Natek and Berek Kikowicz, with Natek's fiancée, Fryda, flee Hitler's oppression by making a daring escape to Russian territories. But they are arrested by Soviet authorities. The brothers remain together, but Natek and Fryda are separated. The play tells of the brothers' journey to survive and find Fryda. Playwright Kivkovich is a retired architect, born in Kazakhstan in 1945 to Polish nationals. Stories from his family's history are the basis for his novel and play.
Musical theater composer/lyricist STEPHEN SONDHEIM has visited Cincinnati just once, about a year ago. He came to see two previews of the Playhouse's production of Company, directed by Tony Award-winning director John Doyle. That show had an immensely successful run locally, then moved to Broadway in late November 2006. It's still running there, a likely candidate for multiple 2007 Tony Award nominations. Sondheim pays Cincinnati a second visit on Monday evening to pick up the ROSA F. AND SAMUEL B. SACHS PRIZE from the Fine Arts Fund. The award, created to celebrate outstanding achievements in the arts, last year went to architect Zaha Hadid, designer of the Contemporary Arts Center. This year Sondheim is being honored for his contributions to Cincinnati's regional theater community. In a private presentation at the Playhouse, Sondheim's local impact -- from high school and community theater productions to many at UC's College-Conservatory of Music and a half-dozen at the Playhouse -- will be cited. The Playhouse's Ed Stern says, "Cincinnati has recognized the breathtaking range and brilliance in Sondheim's ability, not only to reinvent the musical but show us its breadth and scope. No other artist working in American theater today is more deserving of this prize." ...
On April 23 (which happens to have been Shakespeare's 443rd birthday), CINCINNATI SHAKESPEARE COMPANY (CSC) announced that it has again been selected as one of 35 companies to receive a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as a participant in the Shakespeare for a New Generation program. This funding will enable CSC to present touring productions of Taming of the Shrew and Julius Caesar to Tristate schools during 2007-08. Productions feature the CSC Young Company, six young professional actors who spend the season training in Cincinnati. They'll travel in a new touring van, thanks to a second grant (another $25,000) announced the same day from the Ohio Valley Foundation. ...
Do you know of an aspiring Tiny Tim? The Cincinnati Playhouse will soon audition kids for its annual production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL next December. They're seeking boys and girls for several speaking and non-speaking parts. Nine will be selected, aged 8-13; Tim needs to be 6-7 years old. Send headshots and resumes to: Cincinnati Playhouse, ATTN: AUDITIONS, c/o Michael Haney, P.O. Box 6537, Cincinnati, OH 45206. Materials need to arrive at the Playhouse by May 18; kids selected to audition need to be available for a specific appointment time on June 23 or 24 to perform a one-minute monologue, story or poem.
contact rick Pender: rpender(at)citybeat.com