Friday, November 11, 2016

The Mozart Musicals: We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

 In the wake of the Presidential election and a divided nation questioning what it means to be an American, PlayGround looks back to the country’s origins and a uniquely American art form, the musical, for inspiration for the upcoming Monday Night PlayGround and our 7th annual Musical Theatre Night. In partnership with 42nd Street Moon, PlayGround will foster the creation of six original short musicals inspired by the phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident” from the Declaration of Independence and set to the music of one of the great musical ‘pop’ stars of the time, Mozart, and his Serenade No. 13 in G Major (“Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”), completed just 11 years after America’s defining declaration. PlayGround playwrights have just four-and-a-half days to generate their original short scripts inspired by the topic (“The Mozart Plays: We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident”) and the top six works will be presented as script-in-hand staged readings with live accompaniment by violist Katie Wreede and cellist Carla Kaufman on November 21 at Berkeley Rep’s Peet’s Stage. For more information, online tickets and discount season subscriptions, visit

Each month, PlayGround announces a topic to the thirty-six playwrights in the PlayGround Writers Pool and the writers have four-and-a-half days to generate original ten-minute scripts inspired by the topic. Recent topics have included: “A Very Hitchcock Christmas,” “Artificial Intelligence,” and “Awakening to the Dream of the Earth” as part of a now-three-year collaboration with Planet Earth Arts and Stanford University. The top six plays from each month are rehearsed for just one-and-a-half hours each and presented as script-in-hand staged readings at Monday Night PlayGround, now celebrating its twenty-third year. PlayGround audiences get to enjoy a unique behind-the-scenes perspective, with a free Pre-Performance Discussion at 7:10pm.  Audience members can also experience the thrill of being a producer through the monthly People’s Choice Awards, helping to determine which plays and playwrights go on for consideration in PlayGround’s annual showcase, the Best of PlayGround Festival.

PlayGround, the Bay Area’s leading playwright incubator, provides unique development opportunities for the Bay Area’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 200 local playwrights in the development and staging of more than 750 original short plays and 61 new full-length plays, with 6 more commissions currently in development. For more information, visit

42nd Street Moon celebrates and preserves the art and spirit of the American Musical Theatre. We contribute to its evolution and continuing vitality by presenting intimately produced performances of classic and rarely performed musical works. Through our productions, educational programs, and community outreach, we are committed to increasing the awareness and appreciation of the rich heritage and cultural perspective of the musical theatre and its vast influence on the world stage. For more information, visit:

WHAT:     Occurring monthly, September-March, the popular Monday Night PlayGround series presents staged readings of thematically-connected short works by the Bay Area’s best new playwrights each month at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, staged by leading local professional actors and directors.  The given topic for the November 21  PlayGround Musical Theatre Night is “The Mozart Musicals: We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident.

WHERE:    Berkeley Repertory’s Peet’s Stage
2025 Addison St
Berkeley, CA

WHEN:    Monday, November 21, 2016 at 8pm
        Additional Season Dates:
        December 19, 2016 – Holiday Extravaganza
        January 16, 2017 – S.T.E.M. Night
        February 20, 2017 - Social Justice Night
        March 20, 2017 – WomenArts Night

TICKETS:    Tickets are $15 general admission ($30, priority seating) online in advance and $20 general admission at the door, subject to availability. 5-admission Introductory subscriptions are just $60 (50% off priority seating).  For more information about the Monday Night PlayGround series, call (415) 992-6677 or visit

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

PlayGround Company In the News Nov-16

Read on to learn more about PlayGround Company Member and Alumni recent news, current happenings, and upcoming events.

Simon Fill is feeling grateful that his full-length play BURNING CITIES is a Panndora's Box winner and a staged reading of it will open Panndora Productions' 10th Annual New Works Festival at the Garage Theatre in Long Beach, CA, at 8 PM on Friday, November 4. If you're in the Los Angeles area, please come by and support this wonderful theatre company Panndora Productions - five new full-length plays chosen out of 205 for staged readings that weekend.

This month Douglas Giorgis finishes up his run as Edward Rutledge in 1776 at CCMT as well as performing the role of Lieb in the developmental workshop of FOR HONOR, written and directed by Lee Sankowich

Reprising their role as Spock in Star Trek Live at Oasis in SF will be Nic A. Sommerfeld. Star Trek Live opens Nov. 17th and runs Wednesdays-Saturdays, except Thanksgiving day. Tickets at

Ragged Wing Ensemble presents an unusual take on Shakespeare's THE WINTER'S TALE featuring the work of PlayGround Company Member Amy Sass and PlayGround regular David Stein along with a stellar multilingual cast at The Flight Deck running through November 12th. Get tickets at

Madeline Puccioni's brave young BACKSEAT BETSY will take on the evil Crisis Pregnancy Centers and malevolent MYRA on ReproRights Night -- Sunday, November 6, 7:00pm at PianoFight! On December 3-4 Madeline's favorite chihuahua, Rico, will appear in Playwright Foundation's gala fundraiser, FLASH PLAYS at Brava Theatre.

BAKER STREET, the Sherlock Holmes musical directed by Cindy Goldfield, runs Nov. 2 - 20 at 42nd Street Moon featuring Michael Barrett Austin as Professor Moriarty. Cindy is also beginning rehearsals for her 13th season of A Christmas Carol at A.C.T.

Ross Peter Nelson has two pieces in the Last Chance New Play Fest in Helena, MT. His one-act IN THE END features a carnivorous chair, and his ten-minute play APARTMENT 213 will be presented in the "Reality TV" segment of the festival. Performances run Nov 4 - 14. Last Chance New Play Festival

Acting as Festival Manager for New Italian Cinema, a film festival of the best new Italian films, is October People's Choice Winner Nancy Fishman! The New Italian Cinema festival runs November 16-20 at the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco. 

Ron Campbell is beginning rehearsals for his one-man adaptation of THE DYBBUK opening a the San Diego Repertory Theatre Nov. 23rd.

Be sure to check out the Ubisoft video game Watch Dogs 2 when it is released on November 15th, Aaron Wilton recorded voices for it!

Jerome Joseph Gentes is co-producing the Musical Cafe Fall Showcase on Saturday November 12 at 4 pm, Sunday November 13 at 7 pm, and Monday November 14 at 7 pm. Musical Cafe is a presentation platform for new, originally, locally-sourced musical theatre projects. Selections from four new musical works-in-progress will be featured, and the Showcase performances are at PianoFight, 144 Taylor Street, SF. See for ticket info, or to find out about future showcases.

Guess who just launched her own Speaking, Consulting and Coaching business?! Tania Katan! She's putting her theatre degree to use with the launch of Creative Trespassing, here's the website!

Brian Herndon is in rehearsal for SHE LOVES ME at SF Playhouse, opening on November 30th.

ENTANGLEMENT, a new play by AJ Baker, plays Thursday - Sunday, Nov 18 - Dec 17 at Z Below (450 Florida St in San Francisco) featuring Louis Parnell who both directed it and is performing in it as well! For tickets and more information check out:

Garret Jon Groenveld's short play, HE COMES UP BEHIND ME, continues its journey with the After Orlando theatre action, including performances in London, New York, Orlando, Ithaca and San Diego.

Traveling to Mesa, Arizona with the cast of NOGALES will be our very own Carla Pantoja!

David Cramer is currently in rehearsals for the Bay Area premiere of Sam Shepard's play AGES OF THE MOON produced by Anton's Well Theater Company opening December 2nd at the Berkeley City Club. 

In rehearsals for the role of Fred in Center REPertory Company's production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL will be Teddy Spencer! Performances run December 8 - 18 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. More information can be found at

Congratulations to Rachel Bublitz, Karen Macklin, and Aimee Suzara for getting their plays chosen for the Playwright Foundation's annual benefit FlashPlays on December 3rd and 4th at the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco. Aimee also recently completed her residency as an Artist Investigator with CalShakes (California Shakespeare Theater) for the Spring-Summer 2016 season with her collaborating organization AYPAL's MAY ARTS: Reclaiming Our Roots performance in San Antonio Park, Oakland. In this residency, Aimee brought theater writing and performance techniques to this group of Southeast Asian (Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, Hmong) youth exploring topics such as family dynamics, poverty, escaping cycles of violence, labor issues, LGBTQ identity and visibility. See the culminating video documentary crafted by United Roots and learn how theater, dance and performance have helped empower these young people, many of whom come from refugee and war-torn experiences and are taking leadership in their schools and communities:

 It's a busy month for Margo Hall. She is directing FABULATION by Lynn Nottage at Chabot College, opening on November 3rd and performing in Word for Word's ALL AUNT HAGAR'S CHILDREN opening November 19th.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

PlayGround 2016-17 Playwriting Classes

PlayGround has announced its 2016-17 class and workshop offerings for playwrights, kicking off on Monday, November 7 with a one-night Intensive on “Developing Memorable Characters & High Impact Plays” led by 19-year PlayGround Casting Director Annie Stuart, followed by a one-day Documentary Theater Workshop led by playwright/performance artist Paul Flores on Saturday, November 12, and continuing with a new six-week PlayLab with Ragged Wing Ensemble Artistic Director Amy Sass on “Writing the Sensual Script,” launching Tuesday, November 15. The season continues through April with more than ten different offerings, from the monthly Monday evening two-hour Intensives on various aspects of playwriting to the all-new Saturday 4-hour workshops and the immersive six-week Tuesday evening PlayLabs. Classes start at just $40/session and significant discounts (up to 50%) are available with early-bird registration. All classes take place at the PlayGround PlaySpace in South Berkeley (BART-accessible and plenty of free available parking). For more information and detailed class descriptions, visit  To register, visit



Mon, November 7, 8pm-10pm
($40; subscriptions as low as $25/session)

Mon, December 5, 8pm-10pm
($40; subscriptions as low as $25/session)

Mon, January 2, 8pm-10pm
($40; subscriptions as low as $25/session)

Mon, February 6, 8pm-10pm
($40; subscriptions as low as $25/session)

Mon, March 6, 8pm-10pm
($40; subscriptions as low as $25/session)

Mon, March 27, 8pm-10pm
($40; subscriptions as low as $25/session)


Sat, November 12, 12pm-4pm
($100; $50 early-bird registration thru 10/31)


Tues, November 15- December 20, 7pm-10pm
PLAYLAB “Writing the Sensual Script” with Amy Sass
($360; $240 early-bird registration thru 10/31)

Tues, January 24-February 28, 7pm-10pm
PLAYLAB “Adapting Classics for the Contemporary Audience” with Dan Wolf
($360; $240 early-bird registration thru 12/16)

Tues, March 7-April 11, 7pm-10pm
PLAYLAB “Art & Craft of Playwriting” with Anthony Clarvoe
($360; $240 early-bird registration thru 10/31)


For more information and detailed class descriptions, visit

Friday, October 21, 2016

October People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The October People's Choice Award goes to Nancy K. Fishman for her short play, Pageant, presented as a staged reading at Monday Night PlayGround on October 17 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Nancy! The play along with the other short works from the evening were featured as a part of the 3rd Annual Planet Earth Arts New Play Festival.

Courtesy of Ms. Fishman, we're pleased to share the first two pages from the award-winning script. Enjoy!

By Nancy K. Fishman


Rosana Oppedisano– female–early 20s-Italian/any race-Italian accent

Noa Diskin- female-early 20s-Israeli/Caucasian or of Ethiopian descent-Israeli accent

Nadege Hayatou- female-early 20’s, a West African rhinoceros from Cameroon-any race-French accent (possibly two people in a costume, front and back)

Kanako Akita- female-early 20s-Japanese/Japanese accent

Donald Trump- male-late 60s-Caucasian-New York accent

Male employee/Male Judge- Male-any age over 30 - any race

Everyman Republican- male-any age over 21-any race -silent audience member

(In the dressing room of the Miss Universe
pageant, 2013. Rosana, Noa, and Kanako 
are in various states of dress and undress, trying 
desperately to get ready for the swimsuit contest)

(Searching desperately in a make-up bag She digs deeper and deeper
into her bag, throwing things out on the table as she looks for the eyeliner. 
We see her bag emptied of tampons, deodorant, bobby pins, tubes 
of lipstick. Finally she shrieks, which makes Rosana, Noa and Kanako 
jump a foot in the air. Then she slowly swivels in her chair 
and looks at the other three women with dagger eyes)

Okay, which one of bitches you took my eyeliner?

(swiveling in her own chair, which is opposite Noa’s chair)
Porca miseria, you think we care about your eyeliner? You are pazza…completamente pazza. Everyone else here is sweet--maybe a little manipulative--but you,(she stabs at the air for emphasis with the eyeliner brush), you are like a wet blanket.

Bat-zona! I know you took it!!! I’ve met pickpockets before. .

(standing up and facing NOA ).
You know, cara, you could get kicked out of the Miss Universe contest for using dirty words.Sozzone!

(wielding a curling iron like a sword)
Yes, you can get kicked out for cursing. But when I was in the army, I learned not to snitch on

(Frantically trying to tease some body into her hair).
Same with me. We don’t snitch. Better to suffer a bully than to snitch and be ostracized

(walks over to NOA’S station and picks 
up an eyeliner pencil off of the ground).

Is this your eyeliner?

NOA (grabbing the eyeliner)
Ah, thank god you found it.!

KANAKO (sarcastically)
Well, I’m so glad we avoided an international incident. Let’s set some ground rules, shall we girls?

I don’t know about you, but the only ground rule for me is that I’m gonna win this contest.

(applying lipstick)
When does Ms. Cameroon get here? If she’s not here in an hour, she’ll be disqualified.

Have you prepared for the final question?

(jumps up and starts pacing, pulling down the back of her bathing suit)
What do you think they’ll ask? Something about world peace? Zika? Motherhood, what?

As long as they don’t ask about the separation barrier, they can ask me whatever they want.


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, November 21, at Berkeley Rep and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.