Playwrights’ Arena presents a workshop of “Cinnamon Girl,” a chamber musical with book and lyrics by Velina Hasu Houston and lyrics by Nathan Wang, directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, on Monday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m. at Greenway Court Theater, 544 N. Fairfax Ave. (just south of Melrose), Los Angeles.

In 1937 Ceylon, a mother’s mysterious death and a cinnamon plantation owner’s violent abuse of power causes Salani, a young cinnamon peeler, to flee the plantation and begin an odyssey.

“Cinnamon Girl” had its first public presentation, a reading, as part of Playwrights’ Arena’s New Pages playwright residences on April 29 at Los Angeles Theatre Center. It will have its world premiere at Playwrights’ Arena in spring 2014.

Free parking on-site. Admission: Pay what you can.

Houston has written over 30 plays, including 17 commissions, in a career that began Off-Broadway with “Tea” at Manhattan Theatre Club and “American Dreams” at Negro Ensemble Company.  She also writes opera, musical theatre, television, and film and is a published poet and essayist. She has completed a novel, “Tea,” based upon her play. A collection of her plays, “Green Tea Girl in Orange Pekoe Country,” will be published next year.

Under the auspices of a grant from Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences, USC, Houston is developing a second chamber musical, “Brown Girl in the Ring Tra-La-La-La,” with music by Wang, directed by Michael Arabian. It had its first public presentation last May, with East West Players, California African American Museum, and Pasadena Playhouse as community partners.

Houston also writes theatre for young audiences, including “The Matsuyama Mirror” and “Hula Heart.”

She has just been nominated for an LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Award for best book for an original musical for “Tea, with Music,” which was produced by East West Players.

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