A prevailing misconception of theater—frequently declared by those who seldom actually attend performances—is that the art form is outdated, lacking in the creative daring and technical innovations required to attract modern audiences. To such cynics, plays represent a moribund stagecraft that scavenges off the stripped remains of long-deceased scribes whose hallowed works hold little sway in our stimuli-saturated world. Challenging such dubiously informed beliefs, however, is the Playwrights' Center. While the organization stands as a year-round resource for aspiring performance artists, its annual PlayLabs best exemplifies the value of its mission. Set over five days, the event brings forth newly developed works from some of contemporary theater's most insightful voices, playwrights who speak to the tumultuous social and interpersonal pressures of this moment in history. The four playwrights selected for this year's series rank among contemporary theater's most exciting talents, each having generated critical acclaim for masterfully crafted, consistently challenging work. For evidence, PlayLabs offers the debut of Sarah Gubbins's The Water Play, Winter Miller's The Arrival, Dominic Orlando's All That Is Sold Melts into the Air, and Mat Smart's Tinker to Evers to Chance. Augmenting the evolving creative process will be panel discussions, profiles of the Playwrights' Center's awarded fellows, and a celebration of the local theater community. And as an entirely free showcase, PlayLabs is poised to convince even the most stubbornly stingy skeptics that relevant modern theater remains alive and well. For more info, visit www.pwcenter.org.
Tue., Oct. 18, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 19, 1, 6 & 8:30 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 20, 7 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 21, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 22, 4 & 8 p.m., 2011