TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's annual New Works Festival, now in its 19th year, is always one of the local theater scene's highlights — a chance to catch future masterpieces while they're still in the workshop stages and to learn about the fledgling productions directly from the artists creating them. After two years of pandemic-induced virtual events, the festival returns to an in-person format Nov. 6-13, showcasing a musical and two plays.
Rather than its usual home base in Palo Alto, the festival will be held at Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga, in partnership with Montalvo's Lucas Artists Residency Program, which provides accommodation for festival artists to live and work.
This year's New Works lineup includes readings of the musical "Hart Island," by Danny Haengil Larsen and Michelle Elliott, which takes place at the site of a burial ground on an island in New York City's East River where unmarked graves house the remains of the poor and the unknown. The musical tells the story of the touching relationship that develops between an immigrant searching for her child and an inmate working on the burial crew.
Christopher Chen's "The Motion" is a play centered on the questions of "How do we value a meaningful life?" and "What does it mean to be human?" which is posed as a scholarly debate on animal rights that takes some surprising turns.
In "Words We Believe," written by Rehana Lew Mirza, a California teenager is seeking answers regarding the mysterious disappearance of her best friend.
"These plays are exhilarating in their explorations of the human condition and their examining of the things that divide us and those that connect us to one another," TheatreWorks' Artistic Associate and Director of New Works Giovanna Sardelli said in a press release.
"Hart Island" will be presented Nov. 6, 10 and 13 at 7 p.m.. "The Motion" will be presented Nov. 6 and 13 at 3 p.m. "Words We Believe" will be presented Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 13 at noon. Festival passes are $48 and single tickets are $20. More information is available at theatreworks.org.