Award-winning play, with First Coast setting, moves north | Arts & Culture

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Award-winning play, with First Coast setting, moves north


GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Jacksonville native and current Clay County resident, playwright Elaine Smith, is chosen for the Northern Writes New Works Festival, June 18-23, 2012, by the Penobscot Theatre Company in Bangor, Maine.  Elaine’s award-winning play, “Angels and Ministers of Grace Defend Us,” is a serio-comic family drama set on a First Coast-area farm reminiscent of her grandparents’ homestead outside of Green Cove Springs.

The play has previously been read at the New Jersey Repertory starring Linda Hamilton (The Terminator), as well as in presentations at the TRU Voices Series in New York City, the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge MA, the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA, BoarsHead Theatre in Lansing, MI, and an early reading at the Abingdon Theatre Company in New York where its Southern flavor has been well-received by audiences.

“The Penobscot Theatre describes their audience and talent pool as being ‘a fairly rural community in Maine,’ Elaine says.  “I thought ‘Angels…’ might provide a sense of both the familiar and the foreign in an interesting mixture that would make it a good fit for their Festival.”

Apparently, they agreed.  Smith is one of seven playwrights to be chosen for Northern Writes.  Each playwright will be assigned a director and actors, and each play will be given three public readings over the course of the Festival week.  Audience feedback sessions will occur, and playwrights will have time to work on the pieces between readings.  “That’s an enormous gift,” says Smith.  “Usually, you get one reading and have to go away and write in a vacuum until you’re lucky enough to get another to test the changes.”

Elaine Smith was a 2011 semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference, a 2008-2009 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize nominee, 2nd prize winner in the Barter Theatre Appalachian Festival of Plays & Playwights and a 2007 Finalist in the Eudora Welty New Play Series.

Synopsis:  Angels and Ministers of Grace Defend Us by Elaine Smith

Miriam is staring down the barrel of an uncertain future while still holding onto a tragic accident from the past. With a sister who can’t keep her craft angels corralled, a brother who can’t seem to make good, and an ex-husband who can’t quite give up on her, it's way past time to unravel her eccentric family’s tangled problems once and for all. When current crises collide with long buried secrets, even the angels can't keep all hell from breaking loose. 

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