EXCLUSIVE: Neil LaBute will premiere three new one-act plays Off Broadway in January as the St. Louis Actors’ Studio returns to New York for its fourth theater festival named for the Reasons to Be Pretty playwright.

LaBute himself will direct the world premiere of one of the plays: Unlikely Japan, starring Billions actress Gia Crovatin. The other two plays, written by LaBute, are the world premiere of Great Negro Works of Art, directed by John Pierson and starring KeiLyn Durrell (Time After Time, The Affair); and, in its New York premiere, The Fourth Reich, directed by Pierson and starring Eric Dean White.

Performances of the one-acts begin January 10, 2019, at Off Broadway’s The Davenport Theatre, with opening night set for January 14. The festival engagement runs through January 27.

The New York staging marks the fourth incarnation here of the LaBute New Theater Festival, a project of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio (the 2019 festival will be the seventh in St. Louis).

William Roth, artistic director of the St. Louis Actors’ Studio, said, “Neil is a prolific and generous playwright and the Festival in St. Louis and NYC is the highlight of what we do. We are thrilled to bring this festival to the Davenport Theatre and are excited to have audiences experience this festival.” 

Said LaBute, “I’m very excited to be working with William Roth and St. Louis Actors’ studio on our fourth incarnation of The LaBute New Theater Festival in New York (and headed toward our seventh season in St. Louis in 2019). Together we have created a wonderful venue for a variety of artists to see their work performed in full productions in front of paying audiences – the most valuable way to test their writing in the crucible of an actual performance – along with an important program that caters to high school authors as well.

“I feel very lucky,” he continued, “to have three of my new short plays being staged this year and look forward to a continued partnership with William and his forward-thinking company from the midwest.”

Unlikely Japan features Crovatin as a young woman who spots an old flame on television and vividly recounts how a single choice can alter the course of multiple lives. Great Negro Works of Art stars Durrell and Brenda Meaney as an under-celebrated artist and his gallery manager as they debate race, culture and what is and what is not art today. The Fourth Reich focuses on a public speaker as he presents his unique views on modern history, thoughts about the future and rumination on his favorite painter.

Creative team includes Patrick Huber (Set Design), Megan Harshaw (Costume Design) and Jonathan Zelezniak (Technical Director and Light Design).

LaBute’s credits include the films In the Company of Men, Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty, Possession, The Shape of Things, and Dirty Weekend, among others. Stage works include Bash: latter-day plays, The Shape of Things, The Mercy Seat, The Distance From Here, Autobahn, Fat Pig and Reasons To Be Pretty and the upcoming Reasons to be Pretty Happy.

The creator of Syfy’s Van Helsing, LaBute’s latest TV project is Netflix’s upcoming sci-fi action adventure series The I-Land starring Kate Bosworth and Alex Pettyfer. LaBute will be showrunner, as well as direct and write; Netflix recently ordered seven episodes.