Merrimack Rep in Lowell

Merrimack Rep wins Edgerton Award for The Exceptionals.

Specialized grant to support world premiere of Bob Clyman’s The Exceptionals

Lowell, MAMerrimack Repertory Theatre, which has earned a national reputation for producing and developing vibrant contemporary plays, is honored to have received a prestigious 2010 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award for its upcoming world premiere production of The Exceptionals by Bob Clyman, directed by Charles Towers.  The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award is given to select theatres that have demonstrated a strong and consistent track record in producing new work.  This Award came with a generous $6,000 grant to support added rehearsal and development time for The Exceptionals, which will premiere February 10 – March 6, 2011.

In 2006, California’s Edgerton Foundation piloted this program with the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles by offering plays in development an extended rehearsal period for the entire creative team including the playwrights.  The goal of the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Awards is to utilize up-front development time to help extend the future life of the plays.  Those first two plays, Curtains and 13 both went on to Broadway.  Dr. Edgerton launched the program nationally in 2007 by funding 21 plays, continued in 2008 by supporting 23 plays, in 2009 supporting 27 plays and in 2010 supported a record 38 plays.  Over the past four years, 111 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Awards, totaling $3.2 million, had been granted and thirty-four of those plays had gone on to further productions, including 2009 Tony Award Winners Next To Normal and 33 Variations; and 2010 Tony Award nominees Time Stands Still and In The Next Room, Or The Vibrator Play.  Next To Normal also received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

“The Edgerton may be the single smartest idea for an award ever imagined by anyone,” says playwright Bob Clyman.  “I imagine any play could use more rehearsal time, but when the play has never been produced, there’s no way to know in advance what will work and what won’t.  So everything’s up for discussion, and discussion takes time.  Everyone in the rehearsal room realizes how important this kind of exploration is, but with a typical rehearsal schedule, they’re also acutely aware that the clock is ticking, and pretty soon they’ll be standing in front of an audience.  I was fortunate to receive this award once before, and simply knowing we all had that extra week made it easier to do our best work.”

Artistic Director Charles Towers seconds Clyman’s statement, adding, “What is wonderful about the Edgerton Foundation is how precisely they understand the inner workings of the theatre.  The one thing a new script needs more than anything, especially one going into full production and not just a reading or a workshop, is more rehearsal time with the playwright and the actual cast that will be performing the work.  It allows the playwright to make script changes based on what he or she learns from the actors, changes that might otherwise have to be set aside during a shorter rehearsal period.  One week may not sound like much, but given the intense nature of the rehearsal process, it’s a major gift to the development of a new play.”

The Exceptionals, a new drama by Bob Clyman, is a play that brings to the stage a deep understanding of parental devotion, placed against the unique and still not completely understood world of infertility, artificial insemination and genetics.  Set in the very near future, two mothers from very different backgrounds must make some tough decisions regarding their uniquely gifted children in a situation that examines parenthood through a prism of conflicting definitions.  The play explores the human and ethical contours of this world and the balance between morality and desire, asking parents how far they will they go to ensure their children have every possible opportunity to be truly exceptional. The Exceptionals will be the third Clyman play produced by Merrimack Rep.  In 2006, MRT produced the regional premiere of Secret Order, which was transferred Off-Broadway to 59E59 Theaters and then to Houston’s Tony Award winning Alley Theatre.  MRT also produced the regional premiere of Tranced in 2009.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s production of The Exceptionals is sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, with additional support by Yellowbook.  Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2010-2011 season is sponsored by Lowell Cooperative Bank.  Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.  The Exceptionals is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award.

TICKETS: Individual tickets for the 2010-2011 Season are on sale now.  Tickets begin at $25.  Discounts are available for students and seniors.  Tickets may be purchased online at www.MerrimackRep.org or by calling the Box Office at 978.654.4MRT (4678).

SUBSCRIPTIONS: Don’t miss a single show!  On sale now, MRT offers subscription packages to fit every lifestyle and budget.  With season subscription packages ranging from $46-$273, all subscriptions offer deep discounts off the single ticket prices as well as exclusive subscriber-only benefits, including free parking, restaurant and theatre discounts, lost ticket insurance and free, unlimited ticket exchanges.  For season or subscription information, call 978.654.4MRT (4678), or visit www.MerrimackRep.org.

For more information, bios, interviews, or photos, please contact Dan Berube at 978.654.7595 or berube@merrimackrep.org.

For MRT show times, tickets, season information, directions, or to request a brochure, please visit www.merrimackrep.org or call the Box Office at 978.654.4MRT (4678).

The nationally-acclaimed and award-winning Merrimack Repertory Theatre is located in beautiful historic downtown Lowell at Liberty Hall, the Company’s 308-seat theatre, 50 E. Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852 (adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium).  Each season, Merrimack Rep presents an eclectic mix of contemporary productions, engaging the country’s best available actors, designers and directors.  Founded in 1979, MRT’s mission is “To advance the cause of human understanding by creating theatrical productions at the highest level of artistic excellence and making them affordable to the broadest possible community.”  Its unique artistic vision is shaped by a passion for excellence and a profound commitment to its community.  MRT strives to enhance the community’s quality of life while contributing to its economic strength, measuring success by the depth of the Company’s artistic and social contribution to the region.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2010-2011 Season
Reduced Shakespeare Company® in The Complete World of Sports (abridged) by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, September 9 – October 3, 2010; Four Places by Joel Drake Johnson, October 14 – November 7, 2010; Beasley’s Christmas Party adapted by C.W. Munger, from the story by Booth Tarkington, November 26 – December 19, 2010; Tryst by Karoline Leach,  January 6 – January 30, 2011; The Exceptionals by Bob Clyman, February 10 – March 6, 2011; Two Jews Walk Into A War… by Seth Rozin, March 17 – April 10, 2011; A Picasso by Jeffrey Hatcher, April 21 – May 15, 2011.