Arts & Culture

Houston Playwright Makes New York Premiere This Week

Crystal Rae is the first Houstonian featured in the theater festival’s 17-year history.

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Troy Scheid and Crystal Rae
Playwright Crystal Rae (right) and Director Troy Scheid (left) head to New York City’s Midtown International Theatre Festival with the nine member cast of Lamariya this week.

Playwright Crystal Rae says the best way to describe Lamariya is a sci-fi parable. "It's sci-fi because it's very strange and we've got these weird beings walking around and being very deity-like," Rae explains. "And parable because it's kind of based on a story from the Bible. So those two have met, married, and made a very weird-looking child."

The one-act play is set in Mississippi during the Jim Crow era, but also includes influences of ancient African mythology. It's premiering at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York City this week, the first time a Houston playwright has taken part in its 17-year history.

"I want to tell African-American stories that put us in different situations than what I've seen," Rae says. "If I've seen them there before, then what new thing can I add? And if I can't add anything new – if it's been said and done – then I need to apply my thought process somewhere else."

This year, Lamariya was one of about sixty plays chosen from hundreds of entries. If a production sells out, the company could be asked to revive it at the following festival, which can be a breakthrough for a small theatre company or new playwright.

Director Troy Scheid says they've been working to get as many of the seats filled as possible. "As far as expectations go, we've tried to do a lot of outreach by inviting people personally to come and see the show," she says.

The play premieres Tuesday night at the WorkShop Theatre in Manhattan with additional performances this weekend.

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