Due to the novel coronavirus, the Portland Stage’s New Works Program – the 31st Annual Little Festival of the Unexpected – will be presented free in livestream format on Facebook as series of digital readings and discussions of the following plays: “Perseverance” by Callie Kimball at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 29; “Marianas Trench” by Scott C. Sickles at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 5, and “What Comes Next” by Jonathan Spector at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 11.

Since its debut in 1990, the Little Festival of the Unexpected has established a tradition of nurturing artists, invigorating audiences, and exploring new voices, visions, and forms of theater. The festival furnishes a supportive environment for playwrights to develop their work, as well as a unique opportunity for audiences to catch a firsthand look at the creative process that brings scripts to the stage. LFU readings are performed by a company of professional actors and are followed by an open discussion with the audience, director, and playwright. Past LFU scripts have successfully moved on to full productions at Portland Stage and at other professional theaters around the country. Both Almost, Maine (LFU 2003) and Papermaker (LFU 2014) went on to become the most commercially successful Mainstage productions in Portland Stage’s history. Many other LFU works have gone on to productions across the country, including successful Off-Broadway, Film, and TV.

THE 2020 31st ANNUAL LITTLE FESTIVAL OF THE UNEXPECTED

“Perseverance” by Callie Kimball
Friday, May 29, at 7 p.m.
Directed by Jade King Carroll
An excerpt of the play will be read live by actors followed by a discussion with playwright Callie Kimball and its upcoming Portland Stage 2020-21 Mainstage production Director Jade King Carroll.

ABOUT “Perseverance”:  In the fictional town of Hillcroft, Maine, a 19th-century African American schoolteacher is determined to elevate her students. One hundred years later, in the same place, a white teacher is running for office. As the two stories intertwine, ownership of history takes center stage.

“Marianas Trench” by Scott C. Sickles
Friday, June 5, at 7 p.m.
Directed by Kevin R. Free
Read live by professional actors, and followed by a discussion with the playwright and director, moderated by Portland Stage Literary Manager Todd Brian Backus.

ABOUT “Marianas Trench”: Teddy is an unathletic, half-Asian nerd living in a liberal US made up of the Blue States. Anzor is the child of Muslim refugees trapped in a militant right-wing Christian theocracy that used to be the Red States. The boys send secret messages to one another about the Marianas Trench under the government’s watchful eye and find the person they need the most, is someone they’ve never met.

“What Comes Next” by Jonathan Spector
Thursday, June 11, at 7 p.m.
Directed by Cait Robinson
Read live by professional actors, followed by a discussion with the playwright and director, moderated by Literary Manager Todd Brian Backus.

ABOUT “What Comes Next”:  Set in the Sea Ranch community on the Sonoma Coast, “What Comes Next” is about the distance between who we are and who we were, the sneaky, creeping influence of technology on our lives … and it’s about Jews.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.