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Reading and celebrating new work

Web%20Announcement%20copyFlorida Stage has long been a place where new plays are born. And for four years now, the Manalapan-based company (which will, as of this summer, be in new digs at West Palm Beach's Kravis Center) has enhanced its audiences' encounters with new work via the annual 1st Stage New Works Festival.

This year's event kicks off with an opening reception from 9 to 10 p.m. Sunday evening, then on Monday afternoon, the real fun begins.

First to be read, at 3 p.m. Monday, is Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas' Plowing the Sea, a piece about a playwright who visits a politically polarized Venezuela after Hugo Chavez's rise to power.  At 7 p.m., the featured playwrights share their views in a panel discussion, then at 8 p.m. is a reading of Karen Hartman's Goldie, Max and Milk, a play that involves a lesbian single mom, her newborn and an Orthodox Jewish lactation consultant.

On Tuesday, playwright Carter W. Lewis teaches a playwriting workshop at 11 a.m.  At 3 p.m., there's a reading of Jack Staub's Land's End, about twin theater legends who find their family embroiled in allegations of financial and sexual misconduct.  Andrew Rosendorf's Wasteland, a play commissioned by Florida Stage, examines how water-surrounded Florida has turned so dry; it gets read at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Wednesday's readings begin at 2 p.m. with Thomas Gibbons' Silverhill, a play about a utopian community founded on the principles of free love and "Bible communism."  Teresa Eyring, executive director of the Theatre Communications Group, gives the festival's keynote address at 6 p.m., followed by a 7:30 p.m. reading of Carter W. Lewis' The Cha-Cha of a Camel Spider, a play about the journey of a young female poet, a pair of mercenary soldiers and a Led Zeppelin-loving professor from Afghanistan.  The festival winds up with one last party at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

There are several festival pass options: the all-inclusive $100 Festival Plus Pass gets you admission to everything; the Festival Pass for $50 gets you into everything except the receptions; a $35 Play Pass buys admission to all six readings; and a $25 day pass gets you into all events on a given day (receptions excluded).

For info, call 1-800-514-3433 or visit the Florida Stage web site. The theater is located at 262 S. Ocean Blvd. in Manalapan's Plaza del Mar shopping plaza.