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2016 Matchbox Reading Series

Nov 16–Nov 19 · Bindlestiff Studios · Directions


The Matchbox @ Crowded Fire actively supports the creation of high quality contemporary theater through commissions, in-house workshops, and this annual public reading series. Committed to diversifying the canon of contemporary plays, Crowded Fire champions playwrights whose work offers a vital contribution to the American theater landscape.

Readings are free and open to the public. Please “purchase” no cost tickets to reserve your seat.

November 16th, 7pm


By Betty Shamieh
Directed by Evren Odcikin
Midway through Camus’s classic novel The Stranger, an unnamed Arab is killed.  Leaping from this moment and working backwards through possible histories of tangled romance, ethnic conflict, and random violence, playwright Betty Shamieh has crafted a new play inspired by this unknown character. The Strangest is an absurdist murder mystery about three Algerian brothers who vie for the love of the same woman.

Betty Shamieh is the author of fifteen plays. Shamieh was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship in Drama and Performance Art. Her off-Broadway premieres are The Black Eyed (New York Theatre Workshop, Director: Sam Gold), and Roar (The New Group, Director Marion McClinton). Roar is currently being taught at universities throughout the United States. Her European productions in translation include Again and Against (Playhouse Theater, Stockholm), The Black Eyed (Fournos Theatre, Athens), and Territories (a co-production of the Landes Theatre and the 2009 European Union Capital of Culture Festival). The Machine (Director: Marisa Tomei) was produced by Naked Angels at the Duke Theatre.  Shamieh was an NEA/TCG playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre, where The Black Eyed and Territories had their world premieres directed by Jessica Heidt.  A graduate of Harvard College and the Yale School of Drama, she was selected as a Clifton Visiting Artist at Harvard College and a Playwriting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Shamieh was named a UNESCO Young Artist for Intercultural Dialogue in 2011.  Fit for the Queen had its world premiere at the Classical Theatre of Harlem in October 2016.  Her works have been translated into seven languages.

November 17th, 7pm

Ipap & Cucaracha

By Matthew Keuter
Directed by Sonia Fernandez

Ipap & Cucaracha is a story told between borders: the border between the first and third world, the border between social and moral law, the border between our histories and our myths, the border between the common and the miraculous, the border between love and those we love.

Matthew Keuter is a playwright and director. His plays have been produced in AZ, CA, CO, and NYC. He directed the inaugural production of the Active Theater Company (NYC, 2009-2014) and premiered his play Bridgeboy with the Active Theater in 2011 (featured in Theater World). In 2013 he was an Artist in Resident at Arizona State University, where he created the multi-media, noir musical, The Tenement, which was invited to the Kennedy Center American Theater College Festival. Other full-length plays include Ipap and Cucaracha: Adventures in the Dead World, Morning Glory Mati, The Sun in NY, and After Sunsets. He is currently developing River Ditty, a two-act drama, with Virginia Rep and Glass Half Full Productions (West End, Broadway). His poetry has appeared in journals across the U.S. and in the U.K, and The Short Imposition of Living, a book of poetry, is available from Rain Mountain Press, NYC. He is thrilled to be working with Crowded Fire Theater Company.

November 18th, 7pm


Playwrights include Nathan James, Nathan Yungerberg, Idris Goodwin, Nambi Kelley, Glenn Gordon, Dennis Allen II, and Eric Holmes.

Directed by Lisa Marie Rollins

In light of the police shootings of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and John Crawford III in Beavercreek, Ohio, among others, The New Black Fest commissioned 7 emerging black playwrights to write 10-15 monologues that explore their feelings about the well-being of black in a culture of institutional profiling.

Join us for this evening of communion, healing, and action.

The New Black Fest is a theater organization committed to celebrating insurgent voices within the diverse African Diaspora through theater and discussion. It is a gathering of artists, thinkers, activists and audiences who are dedicated to stretching, interrogating and uplifting the Black aesthetic in the 21st century.

Playwright Websites: Nathan JamesNathan Yungerberg Idris Goodwin, Nambi Kelley, Glenn Gordon, Dennis Allen IIand Eric Holmes.


November 19th, 2pm

A Tale of Autumn: Parts 1 and 2

By Christopher Chen
Directed by Mina Morita

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Richard III and Macbeth, along with popular “quest-for-power” TV shows Game of Thrones and House of Cards, this new collaboration between Crowded Fire and Christopher Chen is a modern day fable about the psychology of a one-time altruistic corporation whose seemingly benign tactics destroy a people over time.  

Christopher Chen is an international award-winning playwright whose full-length works have been produced and developed across the United States and abroad. Plays include The Hundred Flowers Project and The Late Wedding (both Crowded Fire commissioned world premieres), Mutt, Aulis: An Act of Nihilism in One Long Act, You Mean To Do Me Harm, and Caught, currently showing at Shotgun Players and enjoying a sold-out run at The Play Company in New York. Honors include the 2015-2016 Sundance Institute/Time Warner Foundation Fellowship for theater; the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, through which he was the 2013-2014 playwright-in-residence at The Vineyard; the Barrymore Award; the Glickman Award. Current commissions include American Conservatory Theatre, Aurora Theatre Company, Crowded Fire, San Francisco Playhouse and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Chris is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and holds an M.F.A. in playwriting from S.F. State. He is a San Francisco native.

November 19th, 4:30pm

Join us following the afternoon reading to celebrate 2016 and for our 2017 SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT party! Be the first to hear what exciting projects are on the horizon.