For the past three years Castillo Theatre has presented the Mario Fratti-Fred Newman Political Play Reading Series. Born out of a conversation between world-renowned Political Playwright Mario Fratti and then Artistic Director of Castillo, Fred Newman for the need to bring a bigger platform for political plays.  The Fratti-Newman Political Playwriting Contest was born just like that. Last October over 200 submissions were received from all over the country and in May 4 winners were announced.

The Third Crossing by Debora Threedy

Put Your Trust in God and Keep Your Powder Dry by Michael Vukadinovich

Tangled by Nicole Anderson-Cobb

Another Kind of Hunger by Judith Marie Wallace

In August, 2010 Castillo Theatre presented the Play Reading Series Monday Nights from August 2-23. Showcasing this great plays that dealt with some powerful issues. Each play was cast and directed by some remarkable actors/ directors. Following each reading there was a Q&A with the playwright moderated by Artistic Director Dan Friedman. It was also opened up for the audience as well.

Here’s a little info on the plays:

directed by PETER JAMES COOK

The Third Crossing is a theatrical collage of scenes and monologues on the subject of inter-racial relationships and racial identity in the United States. Race is more than blood and identity is more than race. The play is centered on the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave, lover and the mother of his children, Sally Hemings, and includes a layering of other viewpoints and texts that comment or reflect on that “founding story.”


Courtesy of

Three interwoven monologues, Put Your Trust in God and Keep Your Powder Dry is based on the lives of three women with extraordinary stories and an unusual connection: a nameless slave running to save her baby’s life, a young woman serving as male soldier during the Civil War, and an eccentric widow trying to reverse a curse. Three women with very different lives, in this play, their histories interweave through echoes of violence that effect us all.

directed by WOODIE KING, JR.

Clo and her sisters run a family-owned funeral home on Chicago’s South Side, busy lately due to a string of neighborhood shootings. Clo is happy for the business, but burying young people week after week takes its toll on the sisters as they struggle to serve the community while battling their mounting fears and despair. Will anyone, including Gram-mama’s ghost, inspire Clo to stand up and fight for a safer community? Will she stop tending to the dead, and start tending to the living? Tangled uses humor, warmth and local texture to look at a crisis that is devastating poor communities of color throughout the United States.

* I had the pleasure in performing in this reading, and was blown away. This is Dr.Nicole Anderson-Cobb’s first play which is amazing!! She is from Chicago and is telling the story of the South Side*

directed by ERIC VITALE

After a decades-long absence, the well-educated and charismatic Preston returns home to a remote reservation in the desert Southwest. Determined to lift his people out of poverty, he pursues a plan to build a five-star resort on pristine reservation land. But his lifelong mentor, Mary, a highly respected tribal elder, is convinced a resort will lead to the destruction of the land and her people’s traditional way of life. Their conflict over what makes for a better life for their community is intensified by their complex personal history and the actions of a corporate executive who has come to the reservation to pursue love, land, and natural resources (not necessarily in that order).

Congratulations to the winners of the 2010 Mario Fratti-Fred Newman Political Play Writing Contest! If you are interested or know someone interested in submitting a script for the 2011 contest, please go to and read the conditions and restrictions.




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