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Neil LaBute, Julie Hebert lined up for Open Fist's new play festival

July 7, 2009 | 11:31 am

NeilLaBute New dramas by Neil LaBute, Julie Hebert and Karen Hartman will kick off the Open Fist Theatre's inaugural First Look Festival of Plays, scheduled to run for two months starting July 23.

The festival will take place at Open Fist's new location at 6209 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood and will feature four fully staged productions and six staged reading and concert events.

LaBute will present two one-act plays, "The New Testament," a world premiere, and "Helter Skelter," which the playwright will also direct. "The New Testamant" tells of a writer and producer who try to recast a key role in a new play on the eve of the show's Broadway opening. "Helter Skelter" follows the deteriorating relationship between a husband and wife when a cellphone call interrupts their conversation.

The LaBute plays will run Aug. 21 to Sept. 12.

Hebert will present her drama "Saint Joan and the Dancing Sickness," about a modern-day Joan of Arc whose message to the world is an online sensation until politician, the media and religious leaders conspire to manipulate her. The play runs Aug. 28 to Sept. 13.

Hartman's "Goliath" takes place over a single day during the 2005 Israeli pullout from Gaza and tells the interlocking stories of an American settler, her teenage son, their Palestinian employee, an Israeli Army commander and a young Ethiopian soldier. The play, which will be directed by Marya Mazor, will run July 31 to Aug. 16.

Steven Charles Haworth's "Fernando" is about a hapless American art scholar who travels to Spain in search of a missing artist but encounters only a gallery of eccentric and vaguely hostile characters. Directed by Charles Otte, the serio-comic play will run July 24 to Aug. 15.

The remainder of the festival will consist of staged readings and concerts, including George Brant's "Elephant's Graveyard," Mark Wilson's "Both," Rolfe Kent's "It Was the End of the Affair and the Beginning," Brooke Berman's "Sam and Lucy," Rick Pagano's "Old Actor Fights" and Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's "Lidless."

-- David Ng

Photo: Writer-director Neil LaBute. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times