kean stage readingPHOTO: Actors rehearse 2015 Play Festival finalist Great Kills by Kate Cortesi, directed by John J. Wooten. Photo by Ben Gancsos.

UNION, N.J. – Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, has announced its four finalists for the 2016 Premiere Stages Play Festival, and will offer free public readings of the plays by professional actors during its 12th Annual Spring Readings Series. The readings will take place Thursday, March 10 through Saturday, March 12 at 7:00 pm and Sunday, March 13 at 3:00 pm in the Murphy Dunn Theatre, located in Vaughn Eames Hall on Kean’s central campus (1000 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J.).

This year’s readings will feature the following finalists: The Blameless by Nick Gandiello, who currently serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Writopia Lab’s Worldwide Plays Festival and was named Page 73’s 2015 Playwriting Fellow; What I Tell You in the Dark by Keelay Gipson, Co-Artistic Director of The Oneness Project and a playwriting fellow with The Amoralists Theater Company’s ‘Wright Club; Las Cruces by Vincent Delaney, a recipient of McKnight and Bush Fellowships, Core Membership at the Playwrights Center, the Heideman, and a Jerome Commission; and Three Rules for the Dragon by Jeff Talbott, whose playThe Submissionwas the inaugural recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Award and received the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for New American Play the following year. One new play will be read by professional actors at each performance, and the public is encouraged to actively participate in the new play development process through post-reading dialogues with the writers. Patrons are also afforded the opportunity to provide written evaluations.

The Premiere Stages Play Festival is an annual competition for unproduced scripts that offers developmental opportunities to playwrights born or currently residing in the greater metropolitan area (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut). Four finalist plays are selected from more than 400 submissions, given professional readings and considered for expanded development as part of Premiere Stages’ 2016 Season. One of the four plays will be selected for an Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) staged reading in June, and the most promising play will be awarded a fully produced AEA production in September. All of the finalists also receive cash awards ranging from $500 to $2000.

The schedule for the March events is as follows:


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Thursday, March 10 at 7pm – The Blameless by Nick Gandiello 

Diana Garcia is trying to wrangle her family and prepare her home to welcome Drew Davis for dinner. It isn’t easy: Drew’s son murdered Diana’s son. As the daily chaos of the Garcia home collides with Drew’s visit, they all must confront questions that may not have answers, and find love and grace in the face of loss.

Friday, March 11 at 7pm – What I Tell You in the Dark by Keelay Gipson

Told in two parts, What I Tell You in the Dark explores the story of a promising new writer’s return to the place of his boyhood to confront the memories that have helped to shape his success at the expense of those closest to him.  The play is a beautiful coming-of-age story that examines the consequences, unforeseen, that public self-discovery may have in shaping who we are.

Saturday, March 12 at 7pm – Las Cruces by Vincent Delaney

Out in the New Mexico desert, not far from the casinos and the spaceport, Sheridan is camped out, hiding in a gutted trailer. Everyone knows he’s there, but no one knows why. Except maybe a card player named Soledad.

Sunday, March 13 at 3pm – Three Rules for the Dragon by Jeff Talbott

Douglas Barnes has a job.  It’s not the job his wife thinks he has.  And balancing his work life and his home life is taking its toll.  Three Rules for the Dragonis an intense and probing new drama about Douglas’s eternal struggle to get information from a suspected terrorist, while also trying to salvage a marriage that hangs in the balance.

The heart of Premiere Stages’ mission, the Play Festival has quickly become known for being a launch pad for regional dramatists. Numerous plays developed through the Festival have been published, subsequently produced in New York and regionally, and honored by the American Theatre Critics Association.

“We are very excited to share these four important and topical works with our audience.  Through our interactive talk-backs and written patron evaluations, we look forward to directly engaging the public for these four uniquely compelling and thought-provoking new plays,” stated John J. Wooten, producing artistic director of Premiere Stages.

Admission and parking for the Spring Reading Series is free. As seating is limited, reservations are highly recommended; please contact the Kean Stage box office at 908-737-SHOW (7469) or email [email protected] to reserve. For more information, please visit

Premiere’s 12th Annual Spring Reading Series is part of The New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival, which offers dozens of performances, workshops, classes, and events at the state’s professional theatres, performing arts centers, libraries, schools, senior centers, and other community venues. The program was developed to encourage New Jersey’s residents to attend their local professional theatres by making the experience affordable, accessible, and fun. Since its inception 19 years ago, the program has served over 190,000 people.The Stages Festival is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; Bank of America; and The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. Additional program support has been provided by The Smart Family Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Prudential Foundation, F.M. Kirby Foundation, and The George A. Ohl, Jr. Trust Foundation. For more information on the Stages Festival, please visit or

Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advanced notice. Please call (908) 737-4092 for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances. For more information, visit Premiere Stages online at

Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The Provident Bank Foundation, Union County HEART Grants, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance’s Stages Festival and through the generous support of individual patrons. Discover Jersey Arts is our marketing partner. Visit for more information about other arts programming happening around the Garden State.


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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...