City Theatre Kicks Off MOMENTUM Festival of New Plays This Weekend

By: May. 29, 2014
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City Theatre presents four original plays in MOMENTUM, the theatre's annual festival of new plays at different stages. This year's selection features three of City's favorite alums as well as a distinguished playwright new to Pittsburgh audiences. The play's themes run the gamut from technology and football to history and community.

MOMENTUM is a celebration of new theatrical works featuring readings, workshops, panels, and conversation. The festival is a chance for audiences to not only see four new works in their earliest incarnations, but also to get to know the process of creating new plays and to glimpse inside the minds of the playwrights.

"MOMENTUM is vital to our mission as a home for playwrights and new play development," says Tracy Brigden, City Theatre's Artistic Director. "The festival provides an opportunity for writers to hear their work performed in front of an audience and a creative community, and that has impact. Last year, we featured a reading of Michael Hollinger's new play, Hope and Gravity. Subsequently, after revisions, rehearsal, and collaborative artistic input, the world premiere of Hope and Gravity is now enjoying a successful run on City Theatre's Mainstage. This progression exemplifies the goal of MOMENTUM-to launch new plays into their next phase of development. This year, we're excited to welcome playwright Madeleine George back to City after her success here with Precious Little. Her Pulitzer-nominated play, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, spans centuries and uniquely confronts our reliance on ever-changing technology. In addition, Keith Bunin, author of Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir and The Credeaux Canvas, returns with The Unbuilt City, an enigmatic story set in Brooklyn about life, love and art. We'll also feature Ken Weitzman's play Halftime with Don. Featuring a retired NFL player, Weitzman's engaging and topical script is inspired by NFL players suffering from game-induced trauma, including former Steeler "Iron Mike" Webster. Lastly, beloved playwright Daniel Beaty, returns with Mr. Joy, a moving solo play about how a Harlem community comes together in crisis. Audiences will have the opportunity to watch this poignant work progress from a reading at MOMENTUM to a fully-produced show on our Mainstage during the 2014-2015 season. We're thrilled to feature these gifted writers throughout the festival weekend."

Staged Readings

The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence

by Madeleine George

Directed by Sheila McKenna

Watson: trusty sidekick to Sherlock Holmes; loyal engineer who built Bell's first telephone; unstoppable super-computer that became reigning Jeopardy! champ; amiable techno-dweeb who, in the present day, is just looking for love. These four constant companions become one in this brilliantly witty, time-jumping, loving tribute (and cautionary tale) dedicated to the people-and machines-upon which we all depend.

The Unbuilt City

by Keith Bunin
Directed by Tracy Brigden

Still residing in the Brooklyn Heights townhouse in which she grew up, Claudia has lived a life of luxury and loneliness. Now as her health is failing, and her money is drying up, a representative from an archive visits with an opportunity. Hoping to persuade Claudia to sell her famously secret collection, Jonah uncovers mysteries surrounding the nature of her legacy and the untold history of New York City.

Halftime with Don

by Ken Weitzman

Directed by Christian Parker

Featuring Tom Atkins

Retired NFL player Don Devers has had more surgeries than he can count, experiences violent outbursts, and relies on Post-It notes to offset his struggle with traumatic brain injury. Just as he's ready to throw in the towel, super fan Ed Ryan knocks on his door. With the help of Don's daughter Stephanie and Ed's wife Sarah, both pregnant and plotting from the sidelines, the fan and his hero find new resolve to get back in the game.

Mr. Joy

by Daniel Beaty

What happened to Mr. Joy? A Harlem community is disrupted when the Chinese immigrant's shoe repair shop, a neighborhood pillar for decades, does not open its doors. Nine customers, ranging from 11-year-old Clarissa, a budding shoe designer, to Bessie, a "gangsta granny," reflect on the shop owner's impact in this moving exploration of one community's efforts to heal in order to dream again.


Playwrights and Directors Panel

Participating artists join together for an insightful panel about the festival's featured plays.

Workshop: Writing Across Dramatic Mediums

Instructor: Keith Bunin

Today's well-rounded dramatist must be able to work across multiple storytelling mediums. To have a successful career, you want to be the master of as many mediums as possible. So what are the story principles common among plays, movies, and novels adapted for film? And what makes each form different from the next? Join playwright and screenwriter Keith Bunin, who will lay out the similarities and differences, and share what he's learned while working across mediums. Bunin is currently writing screenplays for Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, CBS Films, Fox Searchlight, and Likely Story/Mandalay Films, among others. He wrote the screenplay for the film Horns, directed by Alexandre Aja, starring Daniel Radcliffe, and based on the novel by Joe Hill. City Theatre has produced his plays Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir (2011) and The Credeaux Canvas (2002). His plays, including The Busy World is Hushed, The World Over, Vera Laughed, The Principality of Sorrows, The King of Clocks, and the musical (book) 10 Million Miles, have also been produced at Playwrights Horizons, Atlantic Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, New York Stage and Film, Lincoln Center Lab at HERE, and Pure Orange Productions. He was a writer for the HBO TV-series "In Treatment."

Festival Schedule

All events take place at City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203.

Thursday, May 29, 7:00 pm: Reading: The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence

Friday, May 30, 6:30 pm: Playwrights and Directors Panel

Friday, May 30, 8:00 pm: Reading: The Unbuilt City

Saturday, May 3, 2:00-3:00 pm: Workshop: Writing Across Dramatic Mediums

Saturday, May 3, 4:00 pm: Reading: Halftime with Don

Saturday, May 3, 6:00 pm: Momentum Party

Saturday, May 3, 8:00 pm: Reading: Mr. Joy

Sunday, June 1, 2:00 pm: Reading: The Unbuilt City


$20 four-day pass; $5 per show

Available by phone at 412.431.CITY (2489) or online at

For more information visit


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