THE SUREST POISON, 2018
Kristin Idaszak, a two-time Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow, has received the Kennedy Center’s Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and the Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award. Her play ANOTHER JUNGLE (Relentless Award Honorable Mention) received its world premiere with Cloudgate Theatre and The Syndicate in April 2018. She is the Shank Playwright in Residence at the Goodman Theatre and a member of the 2017-2018 Goodman Playwrights Unit. Currently she is working on a commission from EST/The Sloan Foundation. Previously, Kristin served as Associate Artistic Director/Literary Manager of Caffeine Theatre and Associate Artistic Director of Collaboraction. MFA: UC San Diego. kristinidaszak.com
ABOUT WRITING THE PLAY
Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Sloan Foundation commissioned me to write this play. I started off knowing two things: there was going to be a murder mystery, and it was going to be solved by two characters inspired by history, toxicologist Alexander Gettler and journalist/flapper Lois Long. As I dug into the research, I learned that during the 1920s, the federal government hired chemists to make denatured alcohol as deadly as possible, with the intention to kill individuals who drank this bootlegged liquor. The rational was that only the wrong kind of Americans consumed alcohol. However, wealthy Americans (white, often Protestant) were able to afford imported and therefore potable alcohol. This government policy of adding additional poisons to industrial alcohol was barely disguised xenophobia, racism, and classism.
That discovery shaped the play. For me, the theatrical vocabulary of murder mystery comedies such as Dashiell Hammett's THE THIN MAN was a way of tackling these darker social and political issues that feel exceedingly timely and relevant to our world today.
Before CSI, there was Alexander Gettler, an obsessive chemist whose research helped create the modern field of forensic toxicology. Set against the backdrop of prohibition-era New York, THE SUREST POISON imagines his work through the eyes and typewriter of Lois Long, a flapper and intrepid reporter who wrote under the pen name Lipstick.
NUBIAN STORIES, 2018
Nabra Nelson is from California, Egypt, and now Milwaukee. She is the Community Engagement Associate at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and has worked with Renaissance Theaterworks as a dramaturg for Br!NK two summers in a row, and recently as the director of the Groundworks production BLISS (OR EMILY POST IS DEAD!). She has worked locally as a director and deviser at UWM, The Battery Factory, Milwaukee Rep’s Rep Lab, APT’s Winter Words, and Ten Chimneys. Nationally, she has worked at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Santa Cruz Shakespeare. Her short plays have been performed by the Multicultural Drama Company and Women’s Ensemble Theater Troupe in Santa Barbara, and NUBIAN STORIES is her first full-length script. She has a passion for new works and is incredibly honored to be working on this play at Renaissance Theaterworks.
ABOUT WRITING THE PLAY
My mother began writing down the folk tales that she grew up with several years ago. After her village was flooded when she was a child by the construction of the Aswan High Dam and her family and many other Nubian families were displaced to Cairo, she realized that these stories that had been passed down solely through oral tradition may actually disappear now that her village has disappeared. She would write them and I would edit them (for better English-language adaptation). I had these stories stored on my computer for a long time, glad that they were finally written down but unsure what to do with them.
A couple years ago, I went through a period of artistic reflection in which I was searching for a topic of passion which would fuel me. I found that my own Nubian culture’s unique and tragic history was a subject of perhaps disproportionate anger and sadness for me – it felt almost as though I was born having already lost a piece of myself under Lake Nasser, the lake that drown my mother’s village. I resolved to write about Nubia.
That’s when the idea to revive the folkloric stories came to me. I realized that they needed to be heard again, told to an audience in the way that they had been in the past. I have also always thought that the stories that my mom told me about her own life were almost unbelievably fantastical – at least as much as the traditional folktales she told me as a child. The result is this play.
Nuba, a Nubian woman who was forcibly relocated from her village in the south of Egypt due to its intentional flooding for the construction of the Aswan High Dam, tells the story of her people through her own incredible biography as well as through the ancient Nubian folkloric tales she grew up with. Based on a true story, NUBIAN STORIES is a play about loss and legacy set simultaneously in the past and present. It transports us to the village for a brief moment and makes us realize how far we are from a not-so-distant history that is being erased.
Lineve Redlin is a Wisconsin native who began to find her love of theatre at a very young age. Lineve graduated from UW-Milwaukee with her BFA in Acting in 2010. She currently lives in Whitefish Bay with her husband Jon and two children, Benvolio and Adayla. She would like to thank her family and friends for their support.
THAT BEAUTIFUL NOTHING
Parker Sterling is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins writing program, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Kenyon Playwrights Conference and the Meisner program at Artistic Home Chicago. Her photography and writing have appeared in The Nebraska Review, The Formalist and Anti Poetry. Recent stage and film credits include “Viv” in Jumpers for Goalposts for Pride Films and Plays and “Hard Gal” for The Shade Shepherd (2019). She is thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to be part of Br!NK Br!efs 2018.
Alanya Barnes, ALL OF THE EVERYTHING
layna Jacqueline is a Minneapolis-based playwright, born and raised in Buckeye Nation. She’s a creative instigator with the Twin Cities Playwright Cabal. In her absurd experimental writing, she loves to turn figurative into the literal. Alayna’s plays include Empty Houses, Persephone’s Spring, Drapetomania, and It’s Too Cold for You Here. She received her MFA in creative writing from Goddard College.
Kelly McBurnette-Andronicos, END OF AN ERA
Winner of the Southern Playwrights Competition, Kelly’s plays have been produced or developed by the Barter Theatre (VA), Something Marvelous (Chicago), Renaissance Theaterworks (Milwaukee), The Bechdel Group (NY), Raíces Theatre Company (Buffalo), Teatro Vivo (Austin), Something Something Theatre (Tucson), Outpost Repertory Theatre (Lubbock) and Jacksonville State University. She is a proud Member of the Dramatists Guild.
Rachel Bykowski, BODIES
Rachel Bykowski writes plays to explore the many facets of womanhood. Her plays have been featured at the Kennedy Center with The National New Play Network (NNPN), was a top 20 finalist for CulturalDC’s Source Theatre Festival, and received Honorable Mention for the Jane Chambers 2017 Student Playwriting Award. She received her BFA from DePaul University’s Theatre School and MFA from Ohio University. www.rachelbykowskiplays.com
Maria Pretzl, JUNIPER FLIES
BIO: Maria Pretzl, earned her BFA in Film Production and BA in Theatre Studies from UW-Milwaukee and studied playwriting under Will Dunne at Chicago Dramatists. She co-founded Traveling Lemur Productions, LLC in 2015. Writer/director of the award-winning short film Super Dad!. Writing Credits include Roommates (Cooperative Performance), Super Dad! (Chicago Dramatists). Directing Credits include Nightmare Boy (UWM), She Kills Monsters (Village Playhouse).