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#TenthPlanet: Anthony P. Pennino


Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, the brainchild of arts professional Glory Kadigan, turns 10 years old. In that decade, PCTF has successfully changed the landscape of the theatre festival and all of New York independent theatre. The multi-award-winning theatre festival will celebrate in a big way by premiering more than 50 timely and topical plays and musicals written by the next generation of playwrights. Each play contains a powerful message serving as a parable of various world themes.

Premiering more than 50 original plays & musicals The Tenth Planet: Planet Connections Theatre Festivity will run from July 9 through August 5, 2018 at The Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, NYC. http://www.planetconnections.org

Across our sites, Five-Star Arts Journals will spotlight this special season with interviews, articles, and reviews.

nuclear-plays-logo.jpgAi talks to ANTHONY P. PENNINO about The Nuclear Plays
In a nuclear war, there are no winners only survivors.

Benefiting Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy

The Flamboyán @ The Clemente
Thursday 7/12 @6:15pm-7:30pm
Saturday 7/14 @3:15pm-4:30pm
Sunday 7/15 @1:00pm-2:15pm
Friday 7/20 @6:15pm-7:30pm
Sunday 7/22 @3:00pm-4:15pm
Thursday 7/26 @8:15pm-9:30pm

A nuclear device explodes at Madison Square Park. Six college students, rehearsing at The Clemente Center, must grapple with the terror of what for them is an unknown horror. Told in a series of short pieces that mix tragic, comedic, and documentary styles, The Nuclear Plays tells, from the perspective of those just staring out on life, the sobering consequences of nuclear war and its aftermath in a world that has largely forgotten the dangers of the ultimate conflict. A project commissioned by the Reinventing Civil Defense Project to educate the public about nuclear risk.

OK, let’s start with you… tell us about yourself as an artist

My whole self – left brain and right brain – is devoted to theatre. As a playwright, I believe that theatre exists to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, to put the spotlight on the marginalized, to give voice to the voiceless, to tell the narrative and stories that the dominant culture may not want to hear. My plays tackles controversial subjects such as police shootings in the African-American community, attacks on immigrants, and our seemingly endless wars. I have been awarded two fellowships from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, had numerous plays published, and seen my work produced across the world. Additionally, I teach literature and theatre at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. My book Staging the Past in the Age of Thatcher: “The History We Haven’t Had will be published by Palgrave Macmillan UK later this year, and I have written articles on William Shakespeare and August Wilson. I hold an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Drama from the University of London.

You are a Renaissance Man for sure! OK, let’s dig deeper… share with us a little something about your play that we WON’T see in the press release.

This play emerged from an investigation launched by the Reinventing Civil Defense Project, which is exploring different ways we think (or don’t think) about nuclear risk in the present moment. In the past, there was a great deal of education – faulty though it may be – about what to do in case there was a nuclear attack (think “Duck and Cover”). And so the Project is exploring ways to talk about nuclear risk and trying to answer such questions as: how do we educate the populace – particularly the young  – about nuclear war? how much is too much? when does information become panic? And so, this is one part of that project. They are also looking at graphic novels, computer games, and art installations.

Wow. Things don’t change. I was going to ask if your play resonates today? I guess it does, Tell us about it. Feel free to be blunt.

We are careening toward nuclear crises with Iran and North Korea, and, if you are younger than, say 40, you really have no idea what that means. There was an article in The Weekly Standard recently that claimed we could easily shake off a nuclear attack. So, the job of the play is to put the issue front and center (sometimes in humorous ways, sometimes in dramatic ways).The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has a mission to eliminate the risk of nuclear war by eliminating nuclear weapons. This play ultimately shares that mission.

Theatre is best when its a cautionary tale. Why did you choose Planet Connections to get the word out?  

I have worked with Planet Connections before. They are always jonesing for political theatre, and I am more than happy to feed that addiction.

They – and you – are to be commended. PC doesn’t mean politically correct in your case. Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?  

What I am doing at Planet Connections is kind of a beta test for the project. I hope to learn a lot about the play myself. The ultimate goal is that it is something that can be performed at high schools and colleges, and I want to see what works and what doesn’t. I am working with the Reinventing Civil Defense folks to get that ball rolling, and I have some nibbles.

Final thoughts?

I’ve never done something quite like this before, so I am flying without a net. But it is exciting, and I think important to put this issue – which paradoxically everyone agrees is important but also no one thinks about – front and center in a way that makes sense dramatically and theatrically.


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