Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Other Stages: Nikole Beckwith, emerging

Who's that, emerging on the New York theater scene? Nikole Beckwith, probably best known locally for her work with the edgy (and much-missed) Independent Submarine, Gregory S. Moss's production company. She moved to the Big Apple almost a decade ago and has been writing writing writing, her work being read at Ensemble Studio Theater, LAByrinth Theater Company and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, among other stages.  The Port actress, a member of the YoungBloods' playwright group and the Striking Viking Story Pirates,  also earned a 2010 Innovative Theater nomination for her role in Joshua Conkel's hit "MilkMilkLemonade." And this year she's been named to the Emerging Writers Group, a NYC-based troupe designed to target up-and-coming playwrights. In addition to snagging bragging rights, the 11 emerging artists will have a staged reading of one of their plays during the Spotlight Series at The Public Theater. Beckwith's piece, called "Stockholm, Pennsylvania," gets its first test drive at the end of the month.

The playwright sees "Stockholm, Pennsylvania" as a response, or sorts, to "House of Gold," Moss's creepy, in-your-face take on the Jon-Benet Ramsey case — and the disturbing culture that produced and tricked out the pre-pubescent beauty queen, lovingly nurtured by a pandering press for our purient interests — back in 2005, although they are night-and-day-different.  "It's like, if 'House of Gold' were a letter I got, this is the letter I'd write back." Where "House of Gold" is about a girl being held away from the earth, "Stockholm"  is about a girl made to return to it: After 17 years of captivity in a boarded-up basement, Leia is returned home to her parents, where she discovers her birth-name is Leanne and her birthday isn’t in March after all. With little understanding of the world around her, Leia struggles to find her place in it and what it means to be “Leanne.” This complicated reunion with her family is made all the more trying as she longs for the life she remembers and the man who kept her in the basement; while her mother works harder than ever to get her daughter back — by any means necessary.

Other plays in the series include Laura Marks' "Mine," June 1; Aaron Wigdor Levy's "The Ball Player," June 2; Augusto Federico Amador's "Kissing Che," June 8; Dominique Morisseau's "Detroit 67," June 9; Sevan Kaloustian Green's "Babel," June 13; Stella Fawn Ragsdale's "Perish," June 14; Sukari Jones' "Location, Location, Location," June 15; Anna Moench's "Hunger," June 22; Jerome A. Parker's "Bliss," June 23; and Javierantonio González's "Zoetrope," June 28.

JUST THE FACTS: Nikole Beckwith's "Stockholm, Pennsylvania" will get a reading as part of The Public Theater's Emerging Artists Series at 8 p.m. June 27 at The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., New York. The reading is free. Spaces can be reserved by emailing spotlightrsvp@publictheater.org. Beckwith is also 

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