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New Classics series begins second season

November 11, 2010
The Herald-Star

PITTSBURGH - The New Classics series begins its second season at 7 p.m. Sunday at Stephen Foster Memorial Hall on Forbes Avenue with Jason Hall's play "The Tulip Brothers," directed by Melissa Hill Grande.

"The Tulip Brothers" is about a family in conflict in 17th century Holland. The tulip bulb market is on the rise, and Nils DeGroot believes this is his opportunity to make his fortune and gain independence from the stench of the bleaching mill. He needs help, but brother Pieter knows life offers up no assurances.

The reading will feature actors from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Theatre Arts, including Aric Hudson, Brendan Schatzki, Andrew Sours, Kristi Good, Erin Collopy and John Michnya.

New Classics is a cooperative program presented by the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Theatre Arts and Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre. The series is intNew ended to highlight new works and showcase up-and-coming early-career playwrights.

The reading is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a talk-back with the cast and audience. The moderators will be series coordinators Grande and David Peterson, a Department of Theatre Arts doctorate program student.

Jason Hall is a third-year master's degree student in Ohio University's playwriting program and the recipient of the 2010 Scott McPherson Playwriting Award. He has recently received the Anthony Trisolini Fellowship to write a play about active mountain-top removal coal mining occurring near a West Virginia elementary school. A Student Enhancement Award will fund a second public reading of "The Tulip Brothers" at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater this spring.

Hall's short plays have been performed at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, Chicago's n.u.f.a.n Ensemble and the Mid-America Theater Conference. In 2009, a feature film Hall wrote and directed, "The Ballad of Faith Divine," won the best feature award at Ohio's Colony Film Festival. He is preparing "Kate and Comet," a dark comedy play about women fighting to hold their own in 1950s live television, for production in this spring's Seabury Quinn Jr. Playwrights Festival.

Melissa Hill Grande is the Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre associate artistic director and director of marketing. A three-time graduate of Ohio University, she holds a bachelor's degree in production design and technology, a master's degree in theater history and criticism and a master's degree in directing. Local directing credits include productions for P.I.C.T., Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co., Phase 3 Productions, Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks, No Name Players' SWAN Day and Pittsburgh Pride Theatre Festival.

Those unable to attend the reading in person will be able to view it online via "Live and in Person, Live and Online," a new Internet technology pioneered by P.I.C.T.

Operations Director Stephanie Riso and Alex Geis. Geis of 21 Productions and videographer Randy Griffith of RLG Creations will live-broadcast the readings, and viewers will be able to respond via live chat as they watch the performances on the LIPLO website,

For information about New Classics, contact Grande at (412) 561-6000, extension 203, or

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