Playwrights Union to Host 5th Annual First Peek Reading Series, 5/17-18

Playwrights Union to Host 5th Annual First Peek Reading Series, 5/17-18

The Playwrights Union, a network of Los Angeles theater artists writing for stage, tv and film, hosts its fifth annual FIRST PEEK reading series of new work, May 17 and 18 at Monk Space in Koreatown. Original plays were first drafted during a month-long writing challenge in February. Plays have been finished or re-written in the weeks leading up to the Festival. Readings start at 2pm on Saturday and 1:30pm on Sunday. Tickets are free, but donations are suggested. There will be a Reception with Small Bites from Chef JC (aka PU member Jonathan Ceniceroz) and tunes from DJ Mad Joint (aka PU member Terence Anthony) starting at 8:30pm on Saturday.

The Playwrights Union was founded in 2009 by Jennifer Haley, a playwright who had been living in Los Angeles for only two years, but felt the need to find a local writing community. According to Haley: "I sent out a few emails to my contacts in town, hoping to start a small writer's group, but the response was so immediate-and involved so many friends of friends-I realized there were several playwrights out there looking for the same thing."

Early members of the group met and discovered they had commonality in that they considered themselves playwrights, but were living in L.A. because they either wrote for, or aspired to write for, television and film. "We identified ourselves as dramatic writers building our chops and contacts in all genres, determined to remain artists even as we seek to make a living in our field," says Haley. The group has expanded to thirty members who meet regularly, run an internal writing workshop, attend each other's shows and support each other both personally and professionally with job and development opportunities.

The Reading Festival follows up a Writing Challenge that was put to the group in February. Since that weekend, the writers have taken another pass at their plays, teamed up with directors and actors, and are set to present their new work. Playwrights Union member Deron Bos says of both the Writing Challenge and the Reading Festival: "I couldn't be more grateful for both events. They create an accountability and opportunities to share and grow my work that are invaluable to my continuing journey as a Los Angeles theater artist. Plus it's a lot of fun."

Many of past Reading Festival plays have gone on to production and national accolades. Dorothy Fortenberry's Partners was featured this year at the 2014 Humana Festival. Jennifer Haley's The Nether was produced by Center Theatre Group at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in this Spring, after winning the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Padraic Duffy's Puzzler saw an Ovation-recommended production by Sacred Fools Theater Company, Deros Bos' Very Simple was workshopped at the Page 73 Productions 2012 Summer Residency at Yale, and Lisa Kenner's Chambers and Dorothy Fortenberry's Status Update were Finalists for the 2011 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference.

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