Collective Consciousness Gets "Fresh"

A still from last year's season at CCT. Courtesy CCT.

A still from last year's season at CCT. Courtesy CCT.

There are stories hiding everywhere that can bring you to your knees. Taking their slow, keening breaths deep in the human brain. Trapped under years of history or heavy piles of nerves. Someone just needs to take their tellers by the hand, and lead them out onto the stage. 

That’s the idea behind the Freshworks New Play Festival, a new initiative that Collective Consciousness Theatre’s Dexter Singleton and Jenny Nelson are rolling out as their 2017-2018 season gets underway. Planned for June 8-9 of 2018, the festival is taking submissions through Sept. 30.

The company's logo. Courtesy CCT. 

The company's logo. Courtesy CCT. 

At that time, Singleton and Nelson are asking “a bunch of volunteer readers” to join them, and ultimately selecting three winning entries. They plan to then get back to entrants about their submissions by December. As the plays are workshopped between December and June, season highlights will include Suzan Lori-Parks’ Topdog/Underdog and Dominique Morisseau’s Sunset Baby. More season information is available here.

“We try to listen to the community and people are always asking about new plays,” Singleton said in an interview last month. “We want to do something that opens up the door a little bit more.” 

“We’ve done a lot of producing of Connecticut playwrights, but then we’ve also … looked at playwrights outside of Connecticut,” he added. “We want to continue to provide a platform for writers and new plays as best we can. This gives us an option to do that, and to develop new work.”  

The idea for the festival itself has been bouncing around his head for some time, he said. That’s partly because he loves theater: producing, directing and running it out of CCT's intimate space in Erector Square has become his life. Nelson’s too. 

But they also often find themselves in the audience at new plays—last year’s Salt Pepper Ketchup by Josh Wilder at the Yale Cabaret was particularly memorable, they said—and they leave thinking about how to bring that innovation back to CCT.   

“For a lot of years, we had been thinking about doing a festival that was some kind of social justice, play, theater festival—and so this is kind of the first piece of it,” he said. “We’re just kind of seeing where it goes, but it gives us an option to have new plays on a stage.”

He and Nelson said they’re hoping for scripts that dovetail with Collective Consciousness’ mission and vision: transmitting social justice through the arts. And they need eager readers to help them get through the scripts that are heading their way.

That is, “If you really wanna read a play,” Nelson said with a laugh. “Or plays.” 

To submit to the Freshworks New Play Festival, check out CCT”s website