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South Coast Theater Festival Provides Platforms For New Works

A theater marathon is set to take place on the South Coast, with six original plays being spotlighted.

It’s part of an ongoing project which supports new works. But, this latest festival is highlighting black, indigenous, and playwrights of color.

“Launch Pad” is a 16 year old project based at UC Santa Barbara, focused on developing new stage projects. This weekend’s festival is focused on the works of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color playwrights. Risa Brainin is founder, and Artistic Director of “Launch Pad,” which is part of UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Theater and Dance. She says given the social justice issues which occurred in the last year, they wanted to use the festival as a platform to help.

Brainin says the pandemic meant it would be an online, as opposed to an in-person event. She says it created challenges, but also opportunities, with cast members literally around the world taking part in the productions.

One of the six works is called Pilar and Paloma. It's about twin sisters who were metaphorically born on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Arizona playwright Milta Ortiz has been working on the play for about three years. She says while it looks at a very real issue, it’s an adult fable.

The festival has obviously taken on a different twist, because of the pandemic. It’s all online. But, that’s a good thing for you, because it means you can watch all six plays from the comfort of your home.

Three will be presented Friday. “American Fast” will be at noon, “Lorena, a Tabloid Epic” at 3 p.m., and “A People’s Guide To History In The Time Of Here and Now” at 6 p.m.

Saturday, “Exotic Deadly: Or The MSG Play” will be presented at noon. “A Medusa Thread” will be at 3 p.m. And, the play you just heard about, “Pilar and Paloma” will be livestreamed at 6 Saturday night.

Brainin says while the public gets a taste of new works, playwrights get important feedback in fine tuning their work.

Link to The BIPOC Reading Series Festival:

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.