Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts announces the three finalists for the 21st Annual New Play Contest: Love and Communication by Jim Christy, The Wild Boar by Daniel Damiano and The Chechens by Phillip Smith. Finalists were selected from over 600 entries from around the world. The audience will vote for their favorite at the event on Dec. 14 at the Alliance for the Arts 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers FL  33919.

The New Play Contest, now in its 21st year, provides an opportunity for audiences to get involved with the contest process itself, rather than the end result.

The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a reception including food and drink. At 7:30 p.m. selections from the finalists will be read by a cast of Alliance for the Arts actors. After the conclusion of the final reading the audience will vote for which show they think should be the winner. The winning script will be given a full production in the Alliance’s 2020-21 Season and receive the Janet & Bruce Bunch New Play Contest Award.

“Our New Play Contest is a daunting task each year, but the payoff is worthy of the effort,” says artistic producing director Bill Taylor. “Supporting new work is an important part of our mission. These playwrights and their work are the future of theatre in America.”

Tickets are $50 and include the reception and readings.  Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 239-939-2787.

Love and Communication by Jim Christy

Samuel Holden is by all accounts, a spectacularly beautiful child. His parents, school administrators, therapists and lawyers fighting about the best way to treat his autism all agree on that. And practically nothing else.

His father Rob will do anything necessary – anything — to get Samuel into a private school with a years-long waiting list. For his mother Megan, the answer is a relatively new therapy patented by a charismatic doctor. As these increasingly desperate efforts take them in different directions, their marriage — and their relationship with their son — hang in the balance.

The show is about autism as an analogy for the difficulty people have communicating with each other. Every allegedly normal character in the play — parents, educators, bureaucrats — displays an inability to communicate or to show empathy for those they are supposed to love, the core of autism.

The Wild Boar by Daniel Damiano

A newly retired teacher moves to a remote island, seeking nothing but solitude and serenity. However, when a boar arrives at her house one day, an unlikely relationship develops, bringing about unexpected feelings from her past, while placing her at odds with the local authorities and the island’s other inhabitants.

The Wild Boar by Daniel Damiano was a finalist for the Woodward/Newman Drama Award and Bloomington Playwrights Project.

The Chechens by Phillip Smith

In modern Chechnya homosexuals are rumored to be held in camps. Can one family protect their brother suspected of being gay, or will they honor kill him to protect the name of the family? What prevails in the end-religion, politics or love?

Our Member Margaret Sylvester has embraced adventure, visiting 10 museums in 6 different states with her Traveler card! Learn about her experiences, her inspirations and why she loves the Alliance for the Arts!

Why did you choose to become a Traveler member with the Alliance?

I knew I would be in Colorado and Connecticut this past spring for both grandsons’ graduations so visiting museums and art galleries would be a bonus.

My reason for renewing this season is to continue to support the Alliance, to discover new treasures, and to keep me inspired to continue painting.

How many museums/arts organizations have you visited using your NARM benefits?

  • I visited 10 museums in 6 different states including:
  • Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO
  • New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT
  • The Preservation Society of Newport County, Newport, RI

Where was your most memorable NARM museum/arts organization experience?

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg visit was a perfectly unplanned day. Both indoors and outdoors the museum provided me with visual inspiration, “hold my breath” moments of awe and quiet areas to meditate and absorb.

What inspires you?

As I age, the more simple, the more inspired I become. I see everything as art, the shapes of things, vibrant color, soft color, movement, textures, and sounds, anything created by God or man. Could be the sheen of a perfectly ripe tomato, the juice of a just cut peach, the shape of a butterfly, the sound of wind through the trees, the song of a bird nearby, the placement of dinner on my plate, the sound of a child’s giggle, the sunrise, the sunset…..

If you had intro music, what song would it be? Why?

Imagine by John Lennon.  I like its timeless and soulful lyrics.  Every time I hear it, it puts me back in Phoenix at MIM, Musical Instrument Museum and Lennon’s piano he used when writing this song.

What would the title of your memoir be?

…there could be many titles. I’ve had an interesting life. “Appearance When Needed”.  “Continued Learning My Way”  “Reality Once Thoughts”  “Short Stories of Forever Friends”

What would you say to encourage others to become Traveler Level members with the Alliance?

To pay $70.00 more annually for this upgrade is equal to 2 dinners out with wine. That meal will be long forgotten.  The joy, inspiration, the opportunity to see works of the Masters…. cannot compare.

Want to learn more about the Traveler level? Click here.

The Alliance is a vibrant arts center driven by one desire: to transform lives and improve our community through the arts. Now meet the newest people at the helm of that vision, our GreenMarket Manager Whitney, Guest Services Coordinator Brianna and Gallery Director Ehren.

Brianna Day – Guest Services Coordinator

What’s one of the most interesting aspects of working at the Alliance?

Brianna– I love learning about everyone’s backgrounds, specifically how they found the arts and how they found the Alliance. It is so interesting to see how we all came together by such different routes.

Whitney– The people-Everyone is so kind and different. Different backgrounds, and cultures that all come together for the love of art.

Ehren– The variety of our programming and communities served.  We work collaboratively on everything from quality art exhibitions, innovative theater, community building events, adult and youth education all with diversity and accessibility, and inclusion in mind.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Brianna- My chance to interact with literally everyone that comes in. I speak directly to all of the employees, instructors, students, and gallery guests since I am right at the front door. I’m glad that I am able to be a part of everyone’s day, even in just a small way.

Whitney- Making people happy- I love when a customer is able to find exactly what they were looking for, or they tell me that the Alliance GreenMarket is their happy place.

Ehren- Creating opportunities for artists in any shape or form.  It could be the challenge of an exhibition theme, seeing the growth of an artist over the years, or fostering the creative possibilities in others.  What’s most exciting is that it’s a mutually beneficial process with unlimited potential.

Why are the arts important to you?

Brianna– The arts have always been important to me because they have been my way of expressing myself. I have been acting since a young age and it has always helped me to put all my emotions into the character I am creating. I’m so lucky to have found the arts because it’s my way of sharing a little part of myself with others.

Ehren Gerhard – Gallery Director

Whitney– Because they bring people of many walks of life together, and gives those people an opportunity to share their cultures, histories, and what’s close to their hearts.

Ehren– The arts are a vital part of human existence.  In visual art, it is a way to interpret our world and communicate the unspeakable to others.  In the performing arts, we can hold a mirror to ourselves, be released from the constraints of daily life and lifted into realms unimagined.

Which author, playwright or artist has influenced you the most and why?

Brianna– Tennessee Williams is my favorite playwright and I relate so deeply to his female characters. He creates seemingly broken women, but they have an incredible strength behind them. Williams’ multi-faceted characters are so beautiful to me and on top of it, his stories are incredible.

Whitney– Thich Nhat Hanh- I’m always really busy, but reading Mr. Hanh’s books on mindfulness reminds me to stop every now and then to enjoy life and be mindful of relaxation and the good it does for the soul.

Ehren- Two very different people that inspire me are the writings of Edward Abbey and the paintings of Charles Burchfield.  Both are spiritually moved by nature and seek to express it with the fullest of respect.  In Abbey’s writing I found a kindred spirit who could put into words what I was seeking to say with my artwork.  Burchfield’s paintings revealed to me that other people saw what I saw and showed me a way to represent it visually.

What would the title of your memoir be?

Brianna–  “Sweet Tea and Big Dreams.” I’m from South Carolina so I hold my Southern roots very close to me and it has always been a large part of my identity. And although I come from a relatively small town, I’ve always had big dreams when it comes to theatre and performing.

Whitney–  “Always Workin.” I’ve always had a strong work ethic and over time it has become what defines me. All of my friends and family often point out how I’m always workin’.

Ehren– “Ramblings of the Wolf Man: Excerpts and Passages of Illustrative Moments.”  The text would strive to find decipherable truths from random daily experiences: nothing too serious but deep with context (and funny).

What inspires you?

Brianna- Helping other people. I’ve always felt that if I create art out of my struggles, then maybe one day someone will see it and be encouraged to continue to fight against whatever they feel is in their way. That little imaginary person is always in the back of my head and they inspire me more than anything.

Whitney- Making the world a better and happier place one interaction at a time. The change is within all of us, live the way you want to see the world.

Whitney Tucker – Market Manager

Ehren– Being around art and working with artists daily is the best job ever but it can create a bit of separation from the process of making things for myself.  I can be creative in building an artist installation or making a call for artists but I find myself seeking to refuel my personal creative ambitions regularly. I find the most reward from working in my garden, hiking, camping in the wilderness, or paddling in a canoe, kayak or paddleboard.  My artistic goals are to share the energy, power, and healing properties of the natural world with others.  I have to keep my soul fueled with those emotions in order to share them.

What would you say to encourage others to get connected with the Alliance?

Brianna- You have to start somewhere. In my short time here, I’ve already had newcomers tell me they are worried about taking classes because they don’t have much experience. But what I love about the Alliance is that our classes are made for everyone, from beginning to expert.

Whitney– I would say, just come out. See the art, the people, hear the children singing, and enjoy the Saturday GreenMarkets. There is something here that speaks to the hearts of all people.

Ehren– Come on down!  If you’re not an artist, start by coming to some of our free events.  If you are an artist, what are you waiting for!  Say hello to people and ask them questions.  You’ll have new friends before you know it!  Once you feel inspired, take a class and get your feet wet.  We are here to help you grow and learn new things!

Want to learn more about the Alliance staff? Click here.