The California Gold Rush officially opened at Sutter’s Mill in 1849 and 300,000 prospectors scurried across country to strike it rich. Fast forward to 1964 when another promising gold rush began in the quiet hills of Waterford, a literary one, when the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center opened its innovative doors. If you haven’t yet investigated the rich veins of mineral wealth hidden in the Waterford hills. just ripe for the plucking, what are you waiting for?
The Eugene O’Neill Center is dedicated to the incubating of new works in a variety of areas. June is the month dedicated to the international exploration of puppets, with a Puppetry Conference headed by Artistic Director Pam Arciero. This year featured workshops by Marvyn Miller, the creative mind that produced the elegant animals of “War Horse” fame.
On July 1, 2, 5, and 7, get your dance shoes on for “iLLA! A Hip Hop Musical” with book, music and lyrics by Ronve O’Daniel, music by Jevares C. Myrick, with J.Kyle Myrick as co-writer and story consultant. Follow what happens when a young boy’s dreams are threatened by the country’s failing economy and a love that is misdirected.
From more than a thousand submissions, the National Playwrights Conference, headed by Wendy C. Goldberg, selects eight plays for development. On July 5 and 6, come and see “We Are Among Us” by Stephen Belber about how a younger generation copes with the secrets and deceptions of parents, living and dead. In “The Quiet Ones” by Mary Elizabeth Hamilton, being offered July 7 and 8, come discover how a kindergarten teacher juggles a number of disturbing problems trying to reconcile who and what she wants and needs in life.
Immigrant women from Poland, Ukraine, Honduras and Afghanistan are housed in a basement in Queens and search for a future in an uncertain new world where the past is also present. “queens” is written by Martyna Majok and will play July 12 and 13. Basketball as a game on and off the court occupies a new recruit Eli as he is wooed to make choices he may not be ready to accept. “Exposure” by Steve DiUbaldo will enjoy a fast dribble down the courts on July 14 and 15.
Elaine Romero, in the third part of her trilogy about Mexican immigrants, “Title IX,” continues the tale of a border family of Latino educators for more than four decades as they discover how their rights have been manipulated and not always improved. Watch for it July 19 and 20.
The New York Times crossword puzzles, especially on the weekends, are juxtaposed against the incredibly difficult task of staying sober in Adam Esquenazi Douglas’ “The One ATM in Antarctica” being revealed letter by clue on July 21 and 22.
When a white policeman shots her black son, a mother retreats onto a fantasy world of comic book superheroes instead of coping with her loss in “Black Super Hero Magic Mama” by Inda Craig-Galvan, turning pages on July 26 and 27. The golden years glow around a trio of couples who have enjoyed companionship and friendship over the decades and now are contemplating moving in together to continue their ties. Those ties are threatened to snap with the discovery of infidelity in “Assisted Living” by Michael Tucker on July 28 and 29.
For tickets or more information, call the O’Neill box office at 860-443-1238 or go online to www.theoneill.org. General admission to the puppetry, plays and musicals is $30 and to the cabaret $40-60, with tables $110-235.
The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford on thirteen rolling hills, with four theaters on site, is a gold mine of riches that you need to explore. Inquiring minds, not pick axes, are required.