Caridad Svich is the 2015-16 New Play Initiative playwright
New Play Initiative will be Caridad Svich. The name of the play is “The Breath of Stars.”The next playwright in Carthage’s acclaimed
Ms. Svich has received a 2012 OBIE Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, a 2012 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award for “Guapa,” and the 2011 American Theatre Critics Association Primus Prize for “The House of the Spirits,” based on the Isabel Allende novel.
“The Breath of Stars” will not be Ms. Svich’s first interaction with Carthage. Last year, Ms. Svich’s “Upon the Fragile Shore” was performed worldwide, and Carthage was chosen as the Wisconsin venue. “Upon the Fragile Shore” explores global human rights and environmental issues around the world, especially the relation of human-made tragedies and their aftermath. The worldwide performance was an effort to create conversation about serious issues, and that effort to inspire conversation was one of the reasons she was selected for the New Play Initiative.
A Global Voice
“Her writing is edgy, exciting, and unconventional, and she’s seriously engaged with social justice and environmental issues,” said Neil Scharnick, assistant professor of theatre at Carthage. Prof. Scharnick will direct Ms. Svich’s new play. “That’s definitely a perspective we wanted to bring here.”
Her international background—she was born to Cuban-Argentine-Spanish-Croatian parents and has translated a plethora of Spanish plays into English—also appealed to Prof. Scharnick.
“She’s a new voice for the department—a global one.”
Loss in a digital world
Shot through the lens of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” reconfigured for the digital age, “The Breath of Stars” challenges the very limits of live theatre as it examines the workings of memory itself. The play weaves together stories of love and loss, new and familiar, timeless and contemporary.
The play begins with Ariel, fractured and alone, as she grieves for the man she loves and recently lost, who is now only a memory and a picture in cyberspace. As a way to deal with her grief, she continually visits his social media accounts, places where he still remains alive. One day though, she receives a message from him to join him in a digital world. Is it technology? Is it magic? Is it a dream? “The Breath of Stars” is a play about the spinning globe, a lost city of strings, electric dreams, and finding a lover again in the body of a stranger.
New Play Initiative
The New Play Initiative has been a staple in Carthage Theatre since 2008. Each year Carthage commissions, develops, and premieres an original production by a noted playwright. While each project has been unique, all have provided otherwise unattainable opportunities for students. These opportunities include working closely with an outstanding playwright to originate a role (often one written with the specific actor in mind), experiencing the joys and challenges that come with being a part of the creative process, and making history. Students help contribute not just a new production for the season, but a brand new play for the world of theatre.
Many productions in the initiative’s history have been selected to be performed at the Kennedy Center’s Region III American College Theater Festival, a yearly event that brings theatre students from across the Midwest to showcase productions and compete in individual competitions. This has allowed Carthage Theatre students to showcase their acting, stage management, and design work to their peers from other institutions around the Midwest.
Previous Plays in the New Play Initiative:
- 2008-09 — “Honest” by Tony Award nominee Eric Simonson
- 2009-10 — “One Day in the Season of Rain” by Mohan Rakesh; new translation by Aparna Dharwadker and Vinay Dharwadker
- 2010-11 — “The Rail Splitter” by Emmy Award winner Rick Cleveland
- 2011-12 — “Ghost Bike” by Wasserstein Prize winner Laura Jacqmin
- 2012-13 — “A Clamour of Rooks” by Martin Maguire
- 2013-14 — “No Name” by Iver Award winner Jeffrey Hatcher
- 2014-15 — “Up the Hill” by Emmy Award nominee Keith Huff