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Announcing The Filaments: Sparked by Suzan Zeder


Written by Cassidy Browning, Engaging Research

The Cohen New Works Festival presented by the University Co-Op is proud to announce the creation of a new series within the Festival: The Filaments: Sparked by Suzan Zeder. The Filaments is an expansion on the Reading Room from the 2011 Festival – which offered a space for three project submissions to hold staged readings.

Named after the conductor in an incandescent light bulb, this year’s series has a specific goal to diversify the kinds of projects to be given a laboratory space to grow their work. As the name suggests, the projects selected for this series have wonderful core elements, and the goal is that these projects will use the resources given to them to experiment with an aspect of the project, try manifesting their work in a new way, and receive close critical attention and feedback. Festival attendees will have multiple opportunities to experience and engage with each of the Filaments projects.

This series is curated by the Engaging Research subcommittee, which works to extend the mission of the Festival by crafting accessible spaces within the Festival for critical inquiry, collaboration, reflection, and innovative research in, around, about, and for performance.

The Filaments are, indeed, “sparked” by Suzan Zeder – her commitment to supporting new work throughout her career continues today, and inspired the creation of the 2011 Festival’s Reading Room. Zeder attended each and every event in the Reading Room, and we hope to follow in her footsteps and maintain the mission of the Festival with the crafting of a new tradition: The Filaments.


Written by Kirk Lynn, Producer

Suzan Zeder is the wild heart and true spirit behind every Cohen New Works Festival to date at the University of Texas.  Suzan has carried the Festival through several growing pains toward the mature beast it is today.  Suzan has broken rules, cut corners and wrestled with bureaucratic angels, all in the name of celebrating student work. If you get a chance to kiss Suzan on the cheek during this festival, don’t miss it.  But if you really want to get her attention – buy her a really nice martini.

And just as she has been invaluable to the students at the University of Texas, Suzan also altered the landscape of the American Theatre.  Expanding the available subject matter of Theatre for Young Audiences from adaptations of fairy tales to complicated narratives that dare to take the thoughts and feelings of young people seriously, Suzan has written about divorce in Doors and dealing with stepparents in Step On A Crack.  Don’t miss her new play, The Edge of Peace coming to Austin in Feb. of 2013.

Suzan Zeder is one of the nation’s leading playwrights of plays for young and family audiences. Her work has been seen in all fifty states and has been produced and published in Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Japan, Israel, and Switzerland. Step On A Crack, Wiley And The Hairy Man, In A Room Somewhere, and The Death And Life Of Sherlock Holmes are regularly performed by professional and university theatres throughout the country. Doors and Mother Hicks were produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., which also co-commissioned Do Not Go Gentle.

Suzan Zeder is a four-time winner of the Distinguished Play Award given by the American Alliance of Theatre and Education. She is also a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at The University of Texas and The College of Fellows of the American Theatre in Washington, D.C. Suzan Zeder is the first holder of an endowed chair in Theatre For Youth/Playwriting at the University of Texas.


Our Committee-at-Large recommended projects for this series during Festival selection and then voted to select six projects for the 2013 Filament series.  The exciting lineup includes:

Project Lead: Raymundo Delgadillo
Cancun is a multimedia performance addressing American stereotypes of Mexico and the lack of knowledge about American involvement in the Mexican drug war.

Creative Skin
Project Lead: Courtney Mazeika
Creative Skin provides an inside look at creative processes that choreographers navigate while focusing on the blazing flashes of inspiration, the struggles of insecurity, and the willingness to expose one’s vulnerabilities. Using dance, text, media, and music this project guides the audience through an accumulative performance that exposes a choreographer’s journey. 

Danseur Drama
Project Lead: Mark-Anthony Zuniga
Danseur Drama is the story about 28 year-old Kavin who is convinced by friends to try ballet to help him get over his ex-boyfriend.  Unexpectedly, ballet will ultimately test friendships, define family, and promote healing.  The format is a play, but each scene will demonstrate a ballet term, which also represents the underlying theme.

Believe You Me: Interpreting Media
Project Lead: Daniel Berkowitz
How do you see yourself? Believe You Me is an interactive installation which explores the relationship between humans and media through the use of video, live performance and an alien invasion. We invite you to log off, cancel your subscriptions and come as you are.

Project Lead: Kenny Chilton
What does safety really mean? The actors explore safety versus security through the citizens of the Safehouse.

War Games
Project Leads: Meg Greene and Lindsay Hearn
War Games is a play for family audiences that explores the story of Jonah, a young boy whose father is deployed in Afghanistan. Jonah and his family work to navigate the harsh emotional realities of war and discover a language that they can all understand.

Isaac Gomez (PR/Marketing Committee Chair) is a fourth-year undergraduate in the Department of Theatre and Dance with a focus on Acting and Dramaturgy. Recent performance and production experience includes: And Then Came Tango (Guapo), Ragtime (Co-Dramaturg - ZACH Theatre), Love's Labours Lost (Marcade/Asst. Dramaturg), Bacha Bazi (Asst. Dramaturg-UTNT), The Transition of Doodle Pequeno (Reno), Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells (Jose - The Paramount Theatre), The Threepenny Opera (Nelly), and many others. In addition to his performance/production experience, Isaac is also the Senior Student Associate for Programming and Production at Texas Performing Arts, and a core member of the Student Intelligence Agency, an organization catered to programming and engagement for student employees at TPA. He is also the co-writer/director for The Women of Juarez, a new work as part of the 2013 Festival that addresses storytelling methodologies surrounding the testimonials of the women subjected to violence in Juarez.

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