DORSET - The Dorset Theater Festival will open its 39th Summer Season New Play Reading series with a new play by local favorite Theresa Rebeck.

The play, "Zealot," is a finalist for the Susan Blackburn Prize and is set at the British consulate in Mecca, where a tactical tea is interrupted by news of nearby violence. When a witness seeks asylum, a diplomatic battle of wits ensues, while a life hangs in the balance. The reading will star renowned actress Alfre Woodard and will be directed by award winning director John Doyle.

DTF has become renowned as an incubator for new work and supports playwrights at every stage of the creative process, from conception to production, through its Annual Writers Retreat (now in its 7th year), its popular New Play Reading Series, and the Annual Young Playwrights Competition.

From left, Suzanne Bradbeer, Theresa Rebeck, Alex Kilgore, Ken Witzman, Sam Marks, Sarah Gubbins, Marisa Smith, and Lisa Rothe took part in a
From left, Suzanne Bradbeer, Theresa Rebeck, Alex Kilgore, Ken Witzman, Sam Marks, Sarah Gubbins, Marisa Smith, and Lisa Rothe took part in a writer's retreat held by the Dorset Theater Festival. A reading of Rebeck's new play, "Zealot," will be held June 5. (Brian Jones Photo)

"We look for authentic voices in the theatre, and are not afraid to take risks. For me, it's all about finding good plays. That is what people want to see, and this particular play, Zealot, is not only good . . . it's fantastic! And what a cast!" says Dina Janis, DTF's artistic director.

Playwright Theresa Rebeck is a widely produced playwright throughout the United States and abroad. New York productions of her work include 'Dead Accounts' at the Music Box Theatre; 'Seminar' at the Golden Theatre; and 'Mauritius' at the Biltmore Theatre in a Manhattan Theater Club Production.

Her newest work, 'Poor Behavior,' premiered at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2011 and will be seen at Primary Stages in 2014. She was the creator of the NBC drama 'Smash.' She has been a writer/producer for 'Canterbury's Law,' 'Smith,' 'Law and Order: Criminal Intent' and 'NYPD Blue.'

Alfre Woodard is an American film, stage and television actress. She has been nominated once for an Academy Award and Grammy Award, 18 times for the Emmy Award (winning four) and has also won a Golden Globe Award and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. Her television credits include 'Memphis Beat,' 'Three Rivers,' and 'True Blood.' She recently starred in the Academy Award winning film '12 Years a Slave.'

John Doyle is a Tony Award winner for his 2005 actor-musician staging of 'Sweeney Todd.' He also staged the 2006 actor-musician production of 'Company' on Broadway and the New York premiere of Sondheim's 'Road Show.' Reg Rogers is best known for his roles in 'Primal Fear' and 'Runaway Bride' and for the TV miniseries 'Attila.' He was nominated for Broadway's 1996 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for a revival of Philip Barry's 'Holiday.'

Demosthenes Chrysan is an accomplished actor who has appeared extensively on Broadway, Off Broadway and in TV and Film. Most recently he appeared in 'Golden Boy on Broadway.' Dina Shihabi has appeared recently in several hit Indie films including 'Sam and Amira' directed by Sean Mullin and 'Cigarette Soup' directed by Damien Voerg.

The reading will take place on June 5 at 7 p.m. A Talk Back will take place directly after the reading with the playwright, cast and director. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the box office at 802-867-2223 or on-line at www.dorsettheatrefestival.org.