PlayGround Celebrates BEST OF PLAYGROUND-LA GALA, April 10

For one night only, PlayGround-LA will celebrate local artists and their place within the next generation of great playwrights in Los Angeles and beyond.

By: Mar. 24, 2023
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PlayGround Celebrates BEST OF PLAYGROUND-LA GALA, April 10

PlayGround-LA has announced the selected plays and playwrights for the eleventh annual ten-minute play fest, BEST OF PLAYGROUND-LA GALA!

Please join in congratulating first-time Best of PlayGround-LA writers Esther Banegas Gatica, Bailey Jordan Garcia and Michael B. Kaplan, and returning "Best of" playwrights M.J. Kang, Mildred Inez Lewis and Ayesha Siddiqui.

For one night only, PlayGround-LA will celebrate these artists and their place within the next generation of great playwrights in Los Angeles and beyond. Tickets can be purchased at for live performances at Broadwater Theaters and simulcast online, Monday, April 10th at 7pm PT and on-demand for one week. Admission is free (donations gratefully accepted and directly support the artists) but advance reservations are required.

Best of PlayGround-LA Gala does what it says on the tin: this is PlayGround at its best. From over 150 submissions and the 36 plays staged this season for PlayGround-LA's Monday Night PlayGround series, PlayGround-LA's artist leaders have selected six ten-minute plays to give full productions in "Best of", based on the plays' artistic excellence and dynamism and the playwrights' unique voice. These plays and their playwrights highlight the commitment to playfullness, justice, and process at the heart of the PlayGround community.

Since 1997, PlayGround has recognized 126 of the most promising new writers through the annual Best of PlayGround, including Lauren Yee, Jonathan Spector, Geetha Reddy, Vincent Terrell Durham, and Diana Burbano, among others.

Lineup & Synopses (alphabetically by playwright)

Come Tomorrow by Esther Banegas Gatica, directed by Jesus Reyes

Maria needs her creative storytelling skills to give herself a fighting chance to enchant the toughest listener ever, a United States consulate officer.

Eve by Bailey Jordan Garcia, directed by Paris McCarthy

A poetic retelling of The Garden of Eden from the perspective of Eve.

Watermelon Love by M.J. Kang, directed by Sylvia Cervantes Blush

Nell loves watermelons. Her husband, Simon, isn't a fan of going to the grocery store. Will their marriage survive a trip to the supermarket to buy watermelons on sale?

That's Not Funny by Michael B. Kaplan, directed by Angela Sonner

A man walks into a pawnshop needing to exchange something for $10,000 and discovers that the only thing he has that's worth that much is his sense of humor.

Louisiana Shoal by Mildred Inez Lewis, directed by Rondrell McCormick

In the face of a devastating hurricane in Louisiana's Cancer Alley, a scientist and retiree decide to stay and fight to reclaim the land.

The Hunter by Ayesha Siddiqui, directed by Jim Kleinmann

A philosophical deer confronts the man hunting him.

About the Playwright

Esther Banegas Gatica (Come Tomorrow), she/her, is Honduran and proud; She's a graduate from Teatro Prometeo's Conservatory at Miami Dade College.Then received her BFA from Oral Roberts University, in Oklahoma. She translates plays from English to Spanish and vice versa. She's taught Rasaboxes Jr. for Syracuse Stage in NY and directed for Fort Worth Fringe Festival. Her writing is bilingual and seeks to explore the liminal identities of women and immigrants through a comedic angle. As a playwright and dramaturg, she's written/directed several of her own one-act plays. She premiered her play "Latinext" at the New Play Festival at the University of California, Riverside. She was part of Limearts Unfinished where she developed "Una Cita en él Salon". Esther recently obtained her MFA in Playwriting at the University of California, Riverside- where she's collaborated with Latinx Play Project and Gluck Foundation.

Bailey Jordan Garcia (Eve), they/them, is a queer, non-binary writer based in LA and a recent graduate of The New School (BFA in Playwriting). They've worked with places such as The Blank Theatre ("What To Expect When You're Expecting Our Lord and Savior", "Pedo Punchers"), The Bechdel Group ("Tvilah; or Arriving Where She Left") and Playground-NY, along with many others. They're also in Playground's residency program, commissioned to write a full length entitled "Is This Beauty", adapted from their award-winning 10-minute entitled, "This Is Beauty". Currently, they're the Writer's Room PA on a new show they can't talk about yet!

M.J. Kang (Watermelon Love), she/her, is a playwright, actor, director and improvisor. She's been awarded The Breathe Project 2022 New Play award, Theater J's Expanding The Canon award (2022-24) and has been commissioned by Portland Playhouse, Shotgun Players, Blyth Festival Theater, Shakespeare in Action and AFO Solo Shorts (twice). Her plays have been produced in Toronto, NYC, and Los Angeles by Tarragon Theater, Theater Passe Muraille, Factory Theater, The Barrow Group, Cahoots Theater Projects, Raising Sun, Son of Semele, PlayGround-LA, East-West Players, Pan Asian Rep and many others.

Michael B. Kaplan (That's Not Funny), he/him, had his first play produced in the One-Act Marathon at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York. Since then he has worked primarily as a TV writer and producer on a dozen different prime time shows for ABC, NBC, FOX and the CW, including stints on such seminal shows as "Roseanne" and "Frasier." He created "I'm in the Band" on Disney XD and "Dog with a Blog" on Disney Channel, serving as showrunner for both. He has been nominated for four Emmy Awards, winning one, and received a BET Comedy Award for his work as a writer on "Girlfriends." He is the author of the "Betty Bunny" series of children's books. Recently, he has been writing plays for EST/LA and PlayGround-LA.

Mildred Inez Lewis (Louisiana Shoal), she/her, writes and directs for stage and screen. She is currently in a winter intensive with her play/kom'plisit/ at the Workshop Theatre (NYC) and looking forward to upcoming projects with Noise Now at A Noise Within (Glendale) and Central Works (Berkeley).

Ayesha Siddiqui (The Hunter), she/her, is a playwright of Pakistani-American descent. Works include: Water Lily (Sundance Institute Playwriting Intensive, 2019) and Baba, Jee (Father, Yes)(Hollywood Fringe Scholarship Winner, 2018). Her newest play, Jaldee/Hurry, is in development with The Vagrancy 2020-21 Writers' Group.

Founded in 1994 by Jim Kleinmann, Brighde Mullins and Denise Shama, PlayGround has grown into the Bay Area's leading playwright incubator and theatre community hub, with a core commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, helping to uplift and center artists from historically underrepresented communities. Over the past 29 years, PlayGround has supported more than 350 early-career playwrights, developing and staging over 1,500 of their original short plays through PlayGround's signature programs, Monday Night PlayGround and the PlayGround Festival of New Works. PlayGround has also commissioned 100 new full-length plays by 60 of these writers through its Commissioning Initiative and has directly facilitated the premiere of 34 of those works through its innovative New Play Production Fund. Over the past 29 years, PlayGround has developed a unique model for identifying and nurturing the Bay Area's best new writers, while helping them to build a significant body of original work and lasting connections with the artistic collaborators they need to know to ensure their success. PlayGround expanded to Los Angeles in 2012, NYC in 2021, and launched PlayGround-Chicago in 2022. PlayGround-LA has been in residence at the Broadwater Theaters since 2018.

In 2015, PlayGround signed a long-term lease to operate the former Thick House Theater, where PlayGround has produced its festival since 2008. Following a successful $300,000 renovation which included new theatrical lighting, seating, signage, and upgrades to the lobby, box office and restrooms, PlayGround reopened the theatre in February 2017 as Potrero Stage: PlayGround Center for New Plays. In addition to supporting PlayGround's expanding new play programs (including the PlayGround Solo Performance Festival launched in 2018), the theatre serves as home for some of the Bay Area's other leading new play developers and producers, including Crowded Fire, Golden Thread, and Playwrights Foundation, as well as up-and-coming companies such as Ferocious Lotus and Bread & Butter Theatre, among others. In 2019, PlayGround launched the Innovator Incubator, fostering theatrical innovation and next generation innovative theatre companies. The program culminates in the annual Innovators Showcase, which takes place each November/December, featuring over half-a-dozen new works, from developmental readings to full premieres, by the year's Innovator Incubator cohort.

Following the closure of theaters due to the pandemic in 2020, PlayGround was one of the first theatres in the country to shift all of its programming online, with the launch of the PlayGround Zoom Fest and a unique partnership with the performers union, SAG-AFTRA. With the return of in-person performance, PlayGround has recommitted to radical accessibility with admission-free programming and online simulcast and on-demand streaming of all performances. PlayGround's radical accessibility initiative is sponsored in part by First Republic Bank.

PlayGround's alumni have gone on to win local, national, and international honors for their short and full-length work, including recognition at the Steinberg Awards, Humana Festival, O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, New York International Fringe Festival, and others. PlayGround received the 2009 Paine Knickerbocker Award for outstanding contributions to Bay Area theatre, 3 BATCC Awards for Best Original Script for PlayGround commissions, a 2014 National Theatre Company Grant from the American Theatre Wing (founder of the Tony Awards) and a 2016 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

In addition to its company of playwrights, PlayGround maintains a company of leading local directors, actors, designers and technicians whose work is regularly seen on the Bay Area's top professional stages. PlayGround has actively positioned itself as a hub, bringing together hundreds of individuals and organizations representing the best in California theatre. For more information about PlayGround, visit


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