Plays & Players Brings The Grotesque to PIFA


Since its founding in 1911, Plays & Players (P&P) has maintained its mission to support emerging and established local artists practice and perform their crafts. To mark its 100th year of upholding this mission, P&P is celebrating the creativity and innovation of Philadelphia-area theater artists by staging two brand new one-act plays in its PIFA New Play Festival.

In late February of this year, playwrights of all experience levels participated in a writing exercise where they had 72 hours to "bake" a play using three "ingredients" or elements provided by Isaiah Zagar of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens; Barbara Silverstein, founder of The Pennsylvania Opera Theater; and playwright Sheila Callaghan. The three ingredients were:

1. Riots - That is, artistic riots, or riots precipitated by artistic daring, or perhaps artistic demagoguery, or artistic thumbings of the nose.

2. "That is probably the most repulsive thing I've ever seen."

3. And two ceramic tiles

A panel comprised of one P&P member, one Philadelphia Dramatists Center (PDC) member and one playwright from outside of the Philadelphia-area selected two plays to be staged and produced as P&P's PIFA New Play Festival.

The winning plays are Marilyn Monroe Has Sex for the Last Time with Groucho Marx by Greg Romero and The Stormy Hanky by Joy Cutler. Both are experimental one-act plays that border on the grotesque, challenging people's views on propriety, relationships and behavior.

"These plays will explode from the page to the stage, inspired by the ingredients that spoke of artistic riots, repulsiveness and sexuality in visual art," said Daniel Student, Plays & Players Artistic Director. "While we cannot promise all audiences will like them, we hope that some people will love them and be inspired by them. As PIFA reminds us, art is supposed to challenge. We need to encourage our new playwrights to experiment and push the boundaries of art. We hope the PIFA New Play Festival will accomplish just that."

Monroe/Groucho is a daring - and at times disturbing - play about the intersection of sexuality and obscenity. It puts its audience into the position of voyeur as they watch a woman and man role-playing as Marilyn Monroe and Groucho Marx engage in various acts of carnal lust.

Stormy Hanky takes an absurdist look at the anarchy that emerges when one of the characters inadvertently "brings back the 4th primary color." As a result, artists riot, and all colors and shapes in the world no longer hold their original integrity.

Greg Romero is a playwright/theater artist originally from Louisiana whose plays include The Most Beautiful Lullaby You've Ever Heard, The Milky Way Cabaret, The Shelter, The Mishumaa, Dandelion Momma, American Potlatch Road-trip and Tugboat Headache, and which have been produced in New York, Philadelphia, Austin, Denver, Louisville, New Orleans and other cities around the country. Romero enjoys an ongoing collaboration with electronic music composer Mike Vernusky on "electro-theater" performance works that have received airplay in Toronto, Canada as part of New Adventures In Sound Art's Deep Wireless Festival and Zürich, Switzerland as part of Digital Art Weeks. Romero has been a finalist for the Heideman Award, a semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Award, nominated for the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Theater Artist and was selected as the first-ever Resident Writer of the Arts Edge Residency, created by The Kelly Writers House and The University of Pennsylvania. Romero received a BA in Liberal Arts from the Louisiana Scholars College and an MFA in Playwriting from The University of Texas-Austin where he held the James A. Michener Fellowship. Romero is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater at Drexel University.

Joy Cutler has worked as a playwright and performer with the San Francisco performance ensemble Elbows Akimbo and with Berlin theatre companies Berlin Playactors and Out To Lunch Theater Group. She has written and performed solo work in Berlin, Amsterdam and NYC and co-created with Priscilla Be the Berlin performance duo The Flying Buttresses. Her radio plays Shag, If You See Legs, Don't Bowl and Reaching Beatrice were broadcast on the New York City radio station WBAI from 1998-2000. She co-wrote the film script Blank Jack with film director Martin Walz, and they are currently collaborating on a new script. Joy moved to Philadelphia in 2007 where her short plays The Frogg Prince and The Craving were performed in the 2009 and 2010 Philadelphia Bake-Off and New Play Festivals (Now PIFA New Play Festival). The Frogg Prince went on to be produced at the International School in Jakarta, Indonesia. Her play Reaching Beatrice can be seen during the 2011 Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Joy has a BFA from The California College of Art and an MA in Experimental and Interdisciplinary Art from San Francisco State University.

Plays & Players (P&P) is at once 100 years old and 3 years old, having recently changed from a community theatre to a professional theatre. P&P engages and involves the local community by producing new and classic theatrical productions with local artists; crafting collaborative opportunities with other performing arts companies; offering adult and family focused educational programs; and preserving, restoring and enhancing our historic Plays and Players Theatre. Plays & Players: community taking center stage for 100 years and counting. Please visit us at

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