Now entering its second year, the Sheen Center Theater Festival celebrates the voices of emerging and established Catholic playwrights. This year’s full-length plays – featuring a young Nuyorican comic book artist seeking his place in the world, a Montreal family struggling with the aftermath of suicide and gun violence, and a pair of Shakespearean widows testing the freedoms and limitations of widowhood – showcase a Catholic perspective in both traditional and surprising new ways. The selected plays explore the mystery of the human person in all its brokenness and hope, as the playwrights examine faith, its loss, and the possibility of its retrieval from the lens of their own religious experience.
The Sheen Center Theater Festival presents the work of Catholic playwrights, whether or not the play's subject matter is explicitly Catholic. We operate from the premise that the work of a Catholic writer will provide glimpses of a Catholic vision, no matter what their subject.
Admission Free. RSVP Required.
Thursday, June 21st, 7 PM:
Festival Opening – Showcase of Catholic Theatre Companies & Conversation with Artistic Directors
Join us for an evening that features some of the most prominent Catholic theatre companies in New York City, including Turn To Flesh, Xavier, Magis, and Storm, as they showcase excerpts from current shows and engage in a talkback on the importance of theatre with a Catholic vision in today’s cultural landscape. The showcase and talkback will be followed by a cocktail reception.
Friday, June 22nd, 7 PM:
Staged Reading – El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom by Matt Barbot, directed by Victoria Collado
followed by Q&A
El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom examines the ways in which we define our heritage and ourselves. Alex, a comic book artist whose ideas might be "too Puerto Rican," has begun secretly dressing up as his creation: El Coquí Espectacular, defender of Nuyoricans in all five boroughs! When his brother Joe is fired from a project for not being Puerto Rican enough, the two, with the help of a young photographer named Yesica, hatch a plan: to debut El Coquí at the Puerto Rican Day Parade and prove themselves to the world.
Matt Barbot is a writer from Brooklyn, NY. His play El Coquí Espectacular and the Bottle of Doom - which was a finalist in the 2013 Repertorio Español Nuestras Voces competition and recipient of the Kennedy Center's Darrel Ayers Award for Outstanding Student-Written Play for Young Audiences, as well as the Kennedy Center's Latinidad Award for Outstanding Play Written by a Student of Latino/Hispanic Heritage – received its world premiere at Two River Theater in January of 2018. His play Infallibility was produced as part of the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival, where it was named one of Indie Theater Now’s Best of FringeNYC 2013. Recently, his short play "A List of Some Shit I've Killed” was published as part of the Red Bull Theater's anthology Red Bull Shorts Volume III. During his time at the Latinx-focused digital media company Remezcla, Matt created the webseries "Bodega Chat" for Brisk Iced Tea and the Pepsi short film "The Perfect Play," shot in East Harlem with the New York Giants' Victor Cruz. Additionally, Matt has worked with comic book creator Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez as an editor and co-writer for Darryl Makes Comics' DMC, as well as Somos Arte's La Borinqueña. He was recently a Playwright Observer at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center's 2017 National Playwrights Conference. Matt received his MFA from Columbia University.
Saturday, June 23rd, 7 PM:
Staged Reading – The December Man by Colleen Murphy, directed by Kathy Gail MacGowan
followed by Q&A
The December Man follows the tale of Jean Fournier, a young man coping with grief and regret after fleeing the massacre at L’École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989. By exploring the aftermath of the tragic event, the play forces the question: what would we have done had we found ourselves in Jean’s situation? This searing drama on courage, heroism and despair explores the long private shadow that public violence casts.
Colleen Murphy is a two-time Governor General’s Literary Award Winner for English Language Drama. In 2016 she won for Pig Girl, and in 2007 she won for The December Man (L’homme de décembre). Twice she has won the Carol Bolt Award for Best Play. Other plays include The Society For The Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius, The Breathing Hole, I Hope My Heart Burns First, Armstrong’s War, The Goodnight Bird, Beating Heart Cadaver and The Piper. Libretti include the full scale opera Oksana G., composed by Aaron Gervais, and the fifteen-minute My Mouth On Your Heart, composed by August Murphy-King. Colleen is also a filmmaker and her distinct, award-winning films have played in festivals around the world.
She has been Playwright-in-Residence at Finborough Theatre in London, U.K., and Necessary Angel Theatre and Factory Theatre in Toronto. She has been Writer in Residence at the University of Regina, the Mabel Pugh Taylor Writer in Residence at McMaster University, the University of Guelph, the Edna Staebler Laurier Writer in Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University, the Lee Playwright in Residence at the University of Alberta, and Writer in Residence at the University of New Brunswick. Her work has been nominated twice for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, once for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and eight times for Genie Awards.
Sunday, June 24th, 2 PM:
Staged Reading – The Merry Widows of Windsor by Emily C.A. Snyder, directed by Chris Rivera
followed by Q&A
The Merry Widows of Windsor: Shakespeare's Merry Wives have become Snyder's Merry Widows in this hilarious sequel with a feminist edge. Alice Ford and Margaret Page find themselves newly autonomous - but while Alice embraces all the possibilities the world has to offer, Margaret continues to mourn the loss of her husband. When news comes that the bastard son of Henry V might be in the town, Alice is told it is her duty to seduce the young man to keep him, and his wealth, in the town. Except, it seems her husband, Francis Ford, isn't quite as dead as everyone thought he was! With an added touch of Hamlet, Shakespearean cross-dressing, and a very confused Dogberry and Verges (who took a left turn at Illyria), The Merry Widows of Windsor is sure to delight audiences of all ages.
Emily C. A. Snyder is a published and internationally produced playwright and novelist of over a hundred works, whose plays have been performed from Christchurch, New Zealand to Dublin, Ireland. A NYC-based verse coach and director, she is the premiere international scholar on writing and performing new verse drama. Her verse plays have received special recognition: Cupid and Psyche (Princess Grace semi-finalist), To The Dark Tower Came (Thornton Wilder finalist), and A Comedy of Heirors (American Shakespeare Center semi-finalist, listed as Top 15 NYC Shows in 2017 by A Work Unfinishing). She is the Artistic Director and Co-Founder of TURN TO FLESH PRODUCTIONS (TTF), a New York City-based theatre company which develops new work in heightened text with vibrant roles for women on-stage and off. Emily is thrilled to return to The Sheen Center after developing her near-future play More Human last year at the first annual Sheen Center Theater Festival. She also had the pleasure of working as dramaturg and development consultant for the well-received The Wars of Dagger John by Turlough McConnell at the Sheen. Along with Cole Matson, she is the co-founder and a board member of the Catholic Artist Connection. An advocate for the intersection of arts, feminism, pop culture and faith, Emily has recently been brought on to blog as the "Pop Feminist" on Catholic Patheos. A Shakespearean, Emily studied the John Barton method under the tutelage of members of the Royal Shakespeare Company in London and Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where she also performed as Rosalind in As You Like It catty-corner to Shakespeare's birthplace. For the past twenty years, she has directed the major works of Shakespeare's canon, including Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, and A Midsummer Night's Dream (twice) in Massachusetts, and Shakespeare and Shakespeare-adjacent plays in New York City, including Richard II, King Lear, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and May Violets Spring: A New Story for a New Ophelia. As an actor, some of her favorite roles include Brutus in Julius Caesar, Prospero in The Tempest, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Feste in Twelfth Night, Gloucester in Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 & 3 - and her non-Shakespearean turn as Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. A much sought-after teacher, she has given classes up and down the eastern seaboard on performing Shakespeare and writing new verse, including at NYC's Shakespeare Convention and The Shakespeare Forum's Annual El Barrio Art Festival. Emily holds her Masters in Theatre Education from Emerson College, and a double-major with her BA in English: Literature and Drama from Franciscan University of Steubenville. You can find out more by following her on Patreon or on emilycasnyder.info.