LAURAL MEADE

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Laural Meade works as a playwright, director, performer and educator in her native Los Angeles. Her original plays have been seen in a variety of traditional and alternative venues throughout Los Angeles, and in theaters in Seattle, New York, Chicago and London.

 

Laural’s current project is a commission from the Mark Taper Forum for one of three California Plays. She, along with playwrights Evangeline Ordaz and Dan O’Brien, has been asked to create a piece about the current cultural and political landscape in California. Her play will focus specifically on the state of public education. The Taper recently convened a 20-member Student Advisory Committee, made up of local high school students with an interest in social justice issues, to advise and assist her on the work. She’s proud to report that the participants used the questions posed as a launching opportunity for their own student-centered organizing efforts.

 

She is also at work on turning her most recent piece, Dynamite in to a musical with composer Steven Argila. Dynamite explores the union-backed 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times – an act of industrial terror that took place against a backdrop of class warfare that is eerily reminiscent of our current socioeconomic landscape. In the fall of 2011 she developed and directed a non-musical production of the piece in collaboration with her students and colleagues at Occidental College.

 

In Fall of 2012, Laural’s original musical work Harry Thaw Hates Everybody, was published by Samuel French. The play, a true story centered on the Gilded Age collision between hedonism and poverty,made its highly acclaimed world premiere at the Los Angeles Theatre Center after a series of developmental readings in the Mark Taper Forum’s New Work Festival. Directed by Meade, Harry Thaw went on to win the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle award for Best Writing, along with a variety of LA Weekly, Ovation and Garland awards and nominations for writing, directing, acting and design.

 

Also in Fall of 2012, Speeltheater Holland and Childsplay collaborated to bring the European version of Rock Paper Scissors to the U.S. for a limited run in Arizona.  In 2010, the play enjoyed a three-month tour throughout the Netherlands and Belgium in the under the auspices of Speeltheater. Co-written and directed with collaborator Corey Madden, RPS was originally commissioned and produced by Childsplay in the Tempe, Arizona, where it was the recipient of a MAP Fund grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. A fully narrative, non‐verbal performance event, it explores the effect of technology on creativity through utilizing the transformative possibilities of white paper. The piece toured throughout Arizona in 2009, playing to over 20,000 audience members of all ages and was the recipient of Zoni Awards for Best Production, Acting and Sound. 

 

From 2009-2011, Laural was a Core Member of the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. Her original play, The Suffragist Roadshow was developed there in 2009 and 2011 as part of the Ruth Easton Reading Series. Originally developed in the Mark Taper Forum writers' lab, the piece is a semi‐fictionalized account of a 1915 coast‐to‐coast roadtrip/publicity stunt undertaken by a group of radical suffragists. 

 

Other projects with the Mark Taper Forum include her original play Animal Logic (also conceived with Corey Madden), a vaudevillian trunk show about the emotional and cognitive abilities of animals which toured extensively on three separate occasions throughout 2007‐08, concluding with a run at the Kirk Douglas Theatre; The Biggest Game of All, another piece for all ages, which chronicles the true stories of young people involved in curbing the manufacture of sporting goods by children; and a variety of new play development directing and dramaturgy projects.

 

In addition to a recent Rockefeller award, Laural has been the recipient of grants from the California Arts Council, the Flintridge Foundation, the Brody Fund, the National/State/County Partnership and the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department. In the early part of her career she worked in new play development at Los Angeles Theater Center (where she collaborated extensively with late directed Reza Abdoh) and A.S.K. Theater Projects (where she produced over 25 readings of new plays by local, national and international theater artists).

 

During and after this time she was also the Producing Director of two L.A. based-theater companies dedicated to the production of socially relevant new work. Among a variety of projects for The Butane Group, she wrote and directed Leopold and Loeb: A Goddamn Laff Riot. Named a critic’s pick by The Los Angeles Times and Back Stage West and the winner of a Garland Award for Best Writing, the piece made its premiere at Seattle’s On the Boards via a grant from Dance Theater Workshop. For Indecent Exposure she wrote, among others, The Wide Open Ocean, a musical vaudeville about Los Angeles charlatan/evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, as a co-production with The Actors’ Gang, under the direction of Tracy Young.

 

Meade also has an active presence as an actor-singer in the Los Angeles theater community. The roots of the music that is featured in her original works for the stage can be seen in her performances of legit, funk, and pop music for and with a variety a local companies including Chalk Rep, Orphean Circus, The Evidence Room, and Playwrights’ Arena. Most recently she was seen on stage performing with long-time collaborator Chris Wells and his Obie award-winning The Secret City, and in the new musicals Touch the Water with Cornerstone Theater Company, Robbie Weingarter Presents at the Bootleg with author/composer Ken Roht and Atelier's Surf Orpheus at the Getty Villa.

 

Laural holds an MFA in playwriting from UCLA and a BA in theater from Occidental College, where she is currently a member of the theater faculty. In 1999, Meade was the Remsen Bird Guest Artist at Occidental, conducting writing courses, directing main stage productions, and guest lecturing in related departments. The residency became a regular appointment and today Meade continues her work with students by teaching courses in playwriting and dramatic literature that specifically focus on writers from divergent cultural and aesthetic backgrounds. Additionally, she mentors thesis projects, directs mainstage productions, and produces an annual festival of student-written plays directed and performed by guest artists from the Los Angeles theater community. Other teaching and guest lecturer appointments include work at the USC School of Theater, California Institute of the Arts, the Ojai Playwrights Conference, Cal State Los Angeles, and Fairfax High School.

2013 will mark Laural's 15th year teaching at Occidental - highlighted by the inaugural year of the Edgerton Foundation Theater Program. Funded by a gift of $400,000 from the Los Angeles-based Edgerton Foundation, the program will enable Oxy to partner with The Theatre @ Boston Court and A Noise Within, providing, among other services, professional residencies, student internships, production support, and tickets to local performances.

 

 

playwright - educator - musician
lmeade@oxy.edu

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