Full Lineup Set For PlayGround's 28th Annual Festival Of New Works

Performances run May 7-26.

By: Apr. 19, 2024
Full Lineup Set For PlayGround's 28th Annual Festival Of New Works
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The full lineup for PlayGround's 28th annual Festival of New Works, a preeminent showcase for the next generation of great playwrights, has been revealed! This year's festival, all performed live at Potrero Stage and simulcast, will feature premiere presentations of Anne Yumi Kobori's Apertures of Love in Times of War and Jacob Marx Rice's A Thousand Natural Shocks, as well as developmental readings of Bridgette Dutta Portman's Rivals of Mars (JAB Prize Commission), Matthew Y. Morishige's Work/Shoot, Jessica June Rowe's The Passing Storm, and Bailey Jordan Garcia's Crazy Jezebels, as well as the 28th annual Best of PlayGround(SF), featuring the top short works from the 30th season Monday Night staged reading series, an evening of the top short works by Bay Area high school dramatists as part of the 16th annual Young Playwrights Project, and a playwrights panel and festival opening reception. Admission for the entire festival is free (donations gratefully accepted) with extended on-demand viewing for Festival Sponsors. For tickets and the full lineup, visit https://tickets.playground-sf.org.

Taken all together, the festival provides theatre-makers and theatregoers with one of the most varied and robust opportunities to discover leading new voices of the American Theatre while providing up-and-coming writers with the exposure, production experience, and networks they need to succeed on the national stage. Both Funny like and Abortion by Rachel Bublitz (2022) and Sapience by Diana Burbano (2021) premiered in the PlayGround Festival of New Works before moving on to National New Play Network Rolling World Premieres. Other distinguished festival alumni include: Lauren Yee, Geetha Reddy, Jonathan Spector, and Cleavon Smith, among others.

Festival Schedule (all events are at 7pm PST):

May 10 - RIVALS OF MARS by Bridgette Dutta Portman (Festival Reading)
May 11-12 - APERTURES OF LOVE IN TIMES OF WAR by Anne Yumi Kobori (Festival Premiere)
May 13 - WORK/SHOOT by Matthew Y. Morishige (Festival Reading)
May 17 - THE PASSING STORM by Jessica June Rowe (Festival Reading)
May 18-19 - A THOUSAND NATURAL SHOCKS by Jacob Marx Rice (Festival Premiere)
May 20 - CRAZY JEZEBELS by Bailey Jordan Garcia (Festival Reading)
May 25-26 - BEST OF PLAYGROUND(SF) '24 (Festival Premiere)

May 7, Festival Kick-off and Playwrights Panel

Hear from seven of the playwrights featured in this year's Festival of New Works! Join Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann in conversation with PlayGround playwright alumni Robyn Brooks, Anne Yumi Kobori, Matthew Y. Morishige, Bridgette Dutta Portman, Louel Señores, Stan Stone, and Lisa Gaye Thompson. These award-winning dramatists will discuss their plays, their processes, and the role of new works in the evolving landscape of American theatre. A festival kick-off reception with the playwrights immediately follows the panel discussion. More...

May 10, Festival Staged Reading

Rivals of Mars by Bridgette Dutta Portman, directed by Tanika Baptiste

After the first crewed mission to Mars ends in tragedy, the daughter and husband of one of the deceased astronauts plan a risky mission to recover the bodies. More...

Bridgette Dutta Portman is an award-winning playwright and novelist. More than two dozen of her plays have been produced locally, nationally, and internationally. She is president of the Pear Theatre board of directors and a member of the Pear Playwrights' Guild, the 2023-24 PlayGround writers pool, and the Dramatists' Guild. She received the 2023 June Anne Baker Prize from PlayGround, and has been a finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights' Festival, the Theatre Bay Area TITAN award, the PlayPenn Conference, the Kentucky Women's Theatre Conference Prize for Women Writers, the New Dramatists playwrights' residency, and more. She teaches composition and creative writing at UC Berkeley.

May 11-12, Festival Premiere

Apertures of Love in Times of War by Anne Yumi Kobori, directed by Katja Rivera

Apertures of Love in Times of War follows Ed, a Mexican-American photographer turned war correspondent, and Aya, a Japanese-American writer. Their love affair spans a vast ocean of time and space. But they cannot escape the brutal reality of their forced separation during World War II, when Aya was imprisoned in the Japanese Internment Camps, and Ed risked his life to capture photographs of war-ravaged Europe. Over the course of a tumultuous affair, they unite in their crusade to report the truth about the war-torn world. A play that re-examines what it means to be an American through the lens of the country's not-so-distant past. More..

Anne Yumi Kobori is a Japanese-American playwright, actor, producer, director, and teaching artist. As a director, she has worked with Utopia Theatre Project, EnActe Arts, Los Altos Youth Theatre, and SF Shakespeare Festival, where she spent 5 years as Education Program Manager. Her full-length plays Seeds, Every Day Alice, and her adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull have premiered with Utopia Theatre Project. Currently, Anne is a co-writer for Braided, a play exploring Native American liberation and Japanese American resilience, in development with Theatre of Yugen. BA Theatre Arts, summa cumlaude, Santa Clara University.

May 13, Festival Staged Reading

Work/Shoot by Matthew Y. Morishige, directed by Ciera Eis

Maya Money, Aurora, and Farrah Fenix fight to find what's real in the "heightened" world of professional wrestling. More...

Matthew Y. Morishige is an actor, musician, and playwright based in the Bay Area. Matthew has been a member of the Playground Writers' pool since the '22-'23 season. This is Matthew's first full-length as a part of Playground's Festival Staged Readings. Matthew is committed to amplifying diverse perspectives and is energized by collaboration with artists across many disciplines.

May 17, Festival Staged Reading

The Passing Storm by Jessica June Rowe, directed by Katja Rivera

A man trapped in a deadly storm during his ascent of Mount Everest must wrestle with ghosts of the past-both figurative and literal. More...

Jessica June Rowe is a writer, playwright, editor, and perpetual daydreamer. Her short plays have been featured on multiple stages in Los Angeles with companies such as Playground-LA and NEO Ensemble Theatre. She is the Flash Fiction Editor of Exposition Review and her own fiction has appeared in Best Microfiction 2022, among others, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net. One of her poems is stamped into a sidewalk in Valencia, CA. She also really loves chai lattes.

May 18-19, Festival Premiere

A Thousand Natural Shocks by Jacob Marx Rice, directed by Tracy Ward

A Thousand Natural Shocks follows Kennedy, who is doing okay! Her depression is under control, she's got a stable job, and her wife adores her. But when the couple decides to make a baby, they must navigate the chaos of IVF, the inevitability of pain, and the Tik-Tok teen crashing on their couch. Taking its title from Hamlet's famous monologue, the play takes us on a journey through the increasingly fraught trials and tribulations of modern love and life. More..

Jacob Marx Rice has written plays that have been produced and developed at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, The Finborough Theatre in London, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Flea Theater, The New Ohio, Atlantic Theatre Stage 2, and others. His play Chemistry has premiered in seven cities across three continents. Recent prizes include the Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, an Ensemble Studio Theater Sloan Commission, and the Faculty Award from the NYU/Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing. MFA: NYU.

May 20, Festival Staged Reading

Crazy Jezebels by Bailey Jordan Garcia, directed by Tessa Corrie

In lue of heaven or hell, the biblical "crazy women" Eve, Jezebel, Lot's Wife, and Lillith have been committed to a mental health residential treatment program to teach them how to behave properly, but they might have found a potential way out. More...

Bailey Jordan Garcia is a queer non-binary playwright based in NYC. Their full-length Pedo Punchers was a part of The Blank Theatre's Living Room series. Also with The Blank, they became a winner of The Young Playwrights Festival with their piece "What to Expect When You're Expecting Our Lord and Savior" (a play that also won "Best Play" at The Players Theatre Short Play Festival). They have gotten 4 people's choice awards with PlayGround-NY and -LA, including two "Best Of the Best Ofs". They're also in their second year of Playground-One's residency program where they've written their full-length Is this Beauty (which was a finalist for WaterWorks 2024). They've also worked with groups such as Atlantic Acting Studio, Bite Sized Theatrics, Boston Theatre Company, Cry Havoc, Ohio University, and over 30 others! They are also the co-founder of Fresh Binder Productions - a theatre company highlighting transgender and non-binary voices. When they aren't writing or seeing as much theatre as humanly possible, Bailey can usually be found at Bethesda Fountain, cuddling with their 3-legged pup, volunteering at Brave Trails (an LGBT+ summer camp) or talking your ear off about Angels in America. baileyjordangarcia.com

May 24, Young Playwrights Project Finalists

Finalists for the 16th annual Young Playwrights Contest, a showcase celebrating the best budding new voices for the stage, will be presented as a staged reading. Finalists were chosen from submissions by Bay area high school students on the theme of "The Legacy of the Land We Inhabit", a prompt also given to PlayGround's professional writers for the November 2023 round of Monday Night PlayGround. More...

May 25-26: Best of PlayGround(SF) '24

A fully-produced evening of the top short plays from PlayGround's 30th season. The lineup includes Bessie in Medias Res by Robyn Brooks, Iván y El Justiciero by Justin P. Lopez, Madam Gorgo by Kimberly Ridgeway, Better Unkept by Louel Señores, Freedom by Stan Stone, and Mack & Mimi Encounter Totality by Lisa Gaye Thompson. More...

Robyn Brooks (Bessie in Medias Res), she/her, M.F.A., Creative Writing/Poetry, and M.F.A., Creative Writing/Playwriting, author of the poetry chapbook, "venus in retrograde" (Finishing Line Press, 2015), is a poet, playwright, and director. Her plays have been staged/read at Berkeley Repertory Theatre; Tennessee Women's Theater Project; Theatre of Yugen; Theatre Rhinoceros; Los Angeles Women's Theater Project; Potrero Stage; and other venues. She has directed several of her plays. A playwright for SF PlayGround's Writers Pool 2007-2013 and 2023-2024, Brooks is SF PlayGround's November 2023 People's Choice Award winner, and a selected playwright for CIMIENTOS 2024, a play development program for playwrights, through IATI Theater, New York.

Justin P. Lopez (Iván y El Justiciero), he/him, is a mixed-race Indigenous, Latino, and Asian actor, singer, writer, and boba-milk-tea enthusiast, who is passionate about new works and loves finding true connection and humanity in each script. As an actor, recent credits include the world premieres of Kiss My Aztec! (Berkeley Repertory Theatre) and Unbreakable by Andrew Lippa (SFGMC). As a writer, Justin's work has been recognized by the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Ashland New Play Festival, and many organizations around the country, including Teatro Chelsea, Custom Made Theatre Company, and Town Hall Theatre. Find out what else Justin is up to at www.justinplopez.com

Kimberly Ridgeway (Madam Gorgo), she/her, has been working professionally as a director, actor, playwright, and producer in theater for over 25 years. Kim directed projects for many Bay Area Theatre Companies including Altarena Playhouse, Contra Costa Civic Theatre, Dragon Productions Theatre Company, Playwrights Center of San Francisco, San Francisco Playhouse, Theatre Rhinoceros, and TheatreFirst, and Ubuntu Theater Project. Kim will be making her directing debut at Spokane Civic Theatre (Spokane, Washington) in April 2023. She is also a member of the PlayGround Directing Company.

Louel Señores (Better Unkept), he/him, is an actor, playwright, and stage manager based right here in Berkeley! You may have recently seen him in The Engine of Our Disruption (Central Works), Tea Party (One of Our Own), or you probably didn't see him stage managing Yerma (Shotgun Players), Balikbayan Box (TheatreFIRST), and Water by the Spoonful (SF Playhouse). He's a proud company member of Berkeley Interactive Theater and PlayGround SF (This is his first season in the Writers' Pool!), as well as a member of Shotgun Players' EDIB Committee. Much gratitude to those still creating and supporting live theater in this crazy time we're living in! LouelSenores.com

Stan Stone's (Freedom), he/him, past work at a SF hospice facility taught him a lot about life and death and love. It was rewarding work but also emotionally exhausting. As a way of self-care, he found solace in writing. Journaling and short stories gave birth to screenwriting, poetry and playwriting. When his mother passed, he wrote and performed a one-man show about it. Life, death and love are a constant thread in the fabric of his imagination.

Lisa Gaye Thompson (Mack & Mimi Encounter Totality), she/her, is thrilled to be in her fifth season writing with Monday Night PlayGround. This season, Mack & Mimi Encounter Totality and America Chavez: Particle Flyer were staged and won the People's Choice award. Last year, Three Centimeters Per Second also won that award before going on to a production at Fringe of Marin. Other short plays have also had readings around the Bay. She's a founding company member, playwright and sometime host of Write Away, an online improvisational playwriting show.

Ticket and Venue Information

Tickets are available now and can be reserved here:

FESTIVAL STAGED READINGS (May 10, May 13, May 17, May 20)
APERTURES OF LOVE IN TIMES OF WAR by Anne Yumi Kobori (May 11-12)
A THOUSAND NATURAL SHOCKS by Jacob Marx Rice (May 18-19)
BEST OF PLAYGROUND(SF) '24 (May 25-26)

Why Free?

PlayGround has made all programs admission-free in furtherance of our commitment to radical accessibility. If you are able, we hope that you'll consider donating with your free ticket reservation, recognizing that your direct support makes it possible for us to continue providing fair and equitable wages for professional artists while sustaining our radical accessibility efforts for all.

PlayGround, a leading national playwright incubator, provides unique development opportunities for the Bay Area's, Los Angeles', New York's, and Chicago's best new playwrights, including the monthly Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series, annual PlayGround Festival of New Works, full-length play commissions and support for the production of new plays by local playwrights through the New Play Production Fund. To date, PlayGround has supported over 350 early career playwrights, developing and staging more than 1,500 of their original short plays through the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series and the PlayGround Festival. PlayGround has also commissioned 100 new full-length plays by 60 of these writers through its Commissioning Initiative and, through the innovative New Play Production Fund, has directly facilitated the premiere of 36 plays at theatres of every size, including three that have gone on to NYC and other major theater communities. Most recently, PlayGround renovated and relaunched the former Thick House Theater in San Francisco's Potrero Hill as Potrero Stage, a state-of-the-art center for new plays, home to PlayGround's expanding artistic programs and some of the Bay Area's most distinguished new play developers and producers. Over the past twenty-seven years, PlayGround has served to identify some of the most important new local voices for the theatre. 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, Glickman Awards (including 6 of the last 10), O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and New York International Fringe Festival, among 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.


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