Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2017-18 PlayGround Writers Pool Deadline

Applications for the 2017-18 PlayGround Writers Pool are being accepted, now through June 30, 2017. Only members of the Writers Pool may submit scripts as part of the monthly staged reading series, Monday Night PlayGround, and from which are selected the six plays and playwrights for each year's Best of PlayGround Festival. For specific eligibility requirements and responsibilities, see below.

To be eligible, writers must reside within the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay Area. To apply for a place in the 2017-18 writers pool, playwrights must submit a maximum ten-page double-spaced script (previously produced and unproduced scripts eligible) via email to scripts<at>playground-sf.org as Portable Document Format (.pdf) attachment. Applications must be received by 11:59pm PST, Friday, June 30, 2017. The script must have the playwright's name, address, email and phone number at the top of the first page of the script and all pages must be numbered. Excerpts from longer works are not accepted but short plays that meet the above requirements and are derived from a longer work are accepted. Writers featured in a Best of PlayGround Festival since 2013 need not submit a script but must send an email confirming interest in being in the pool by the deadline. Women and playwrights of color encouraged to apply.

To view sample script formats, click the link(s) below.
Submission Format #1
Submission Format #2

Announcement & Pool Requirements

Applicants will be notified of selections on or before August 1. Selected writers must attend a mandatory company meeting at 7pm on Sunday, August 28 at the PlayGround PlaySpace, 3286 Adeline St #4, Berkeley, CA 94703. The 2017-18 PlayGround Writers Pool and Resident Playwrights will be publicly announced at the PlayGround Season Kick-Off/Alumni Celebration on Monday evening, September 18, 2017. Writers Pool members must commit to submitting for at least five of the six Monday Night PlayGrounds in any season, Oct-Mar. The submission of a script to Monday Night PlayGround grants PlayGround the exclusive option to stage the play as part of the Monday Night PlayGround and, should it be so selected, to present the world premiere as part of The Best of PlayGround Festival and publish the script in the "Best of PlayGround" anthology.

For any questions not answered above, email to info<at>playground-sf.org.

March People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The March People's Choice Award goes to Maury Zeff for his short play, Come and Knock on Our Door, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround WomenArts Night on March 20 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Maury!

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

COME AND KNOCK ON OUR DOOR
by Maury Zeff

Cast in Order of Appearance:
JANET WOOD – Female – 20s or 30s – White, brunette – Three’s Company sitcom character. Sensible, sweet, level-headed, reliable foil to her ditzy blonde roommate’s antics. Secretly, she’s sick to death of the so-called “liberation” of the 1970s, with its free love, but same-old same-old sexism of earlier decades. After three years of living with Jack Tripper, she’s feeling the first stirrings of her feminist identity. All she needs is a kindred spirit to help her see that women’s rights aren’t just about equal rights, but also equal dignity.

JACK TRIPPER – Male – 20s or 30s – White, brown hair – Three’s Company sitcom character. Goofy, clumsy, charismatic, and deeply sexist. Every time he makes a dumb pun or sexist comment, he hams it up. (If you watch original episodes of the show on Youtube, you will see that this is not an exaggerated version of Jack Tripper. The show was a toxic stew of leering men, women equating their self-worth with how attractive those men found them, and date rape jokes.) To the women’s liberation movement, Jack Tripper is the antichrist—a ‘nice’ guy who lives blissfully and blithely in a world of objectification and gender stereotyping. He is about to get a new roommate who will change all that.

GLORIA STEINEM – Female – 40s – White – Founder of Ms., icon of feminism, and a distant cousin of Chrissy Snow, Janet and Jack’s former roommate. She is in LA for a few months to teach a women studies seminar at UCLA. During Chrissy’s absence, Gloria is subletting her cousin’s apartment. When faced with sexism, Gloria keeps her cool, meeting it with dignity and well-reasoned logic.

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM – Female – 50s – Black – The first African-American woman elected to Congress, the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination. Frustrated with the slow implementation and spotty enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, which forbids housing discrimination by landlords, she has organized women and minorities to collectively purchase apartment buildings that have a history of such discriminatory practices. Shirley has become Janet, Jack, and Gloria’s new landlord. Educated during her formative years in Barbados, she still carries the crisp, clipped accent of this former British colony along with a mild West Indies musicality to her speech. When faced with sexism and racism, keeps her cool, meeting it with humor, dignity, and warmth.

NOTE ABOUT CLOTHING: This is Santa Monica, 1980. Characters dress and adorn their hair accordingly.

NOTE ABOUT LAUGH TRACK: There is none. This is the universe within the show Three’s Company, not the set of the show itself.
 
(Lights are down. The first twenty-three seconds of the theme song from the 1970s television show “Three’s Company” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TjDgcqa_H0] begins to play. At fifteen seconds, the song drops from normal speed to half-speed, indicating that we are in some sort of fever-dream, distorted parallel universe. [Within Youtube, the song’s speed can be dropped mid-playback.] Lights go up.)
Setting: The living room from the 1970s sitcom “Three’s Company.”
(Janet is on the phone. This being 1980, she should ideally have some sort of vintage phone with a curly cord. As she talks, the sound of an electric mixer is heard going on and off, as if it is running out of power.)
JANET
(pacing back and forth, to the extent of the phone cord’s length)
I hope she feels better soon, Chrissy. Your mom is lucky to have you. [BEAT] Jack and I would love that. If she’s your cousin, I’m sure she’s as sweet as you. [BEAT] What’s that? [BEAT] Oh...well, even if she’s only half as sweet as you, that’s still plenty sweet. [BEAT] Okay. [BEAT] You know, ten percent as sweet as you would still be pretty sweet. [BEAT] I see. [BEAT] Well, I’m sure she’s a nice girl. [BEAT] Don’t call her a girl? Under any circumstances? [BEAT] And nice implies that she has accepted her subservient role in the white male patriarchy? I’m sorry, Chrissy. I-I don’t know what that means. [BEAT] Got it. She’s ‘a strong, independent woman.’ [sarcastically] Just Jack’s type. [BEAT] Don’t worry. We’ll make her feel welcome. [BEAT] Okay, sweetie. Send my love to your mom. Bye.

(Janet hangs up the phone and looks contemplative. JACK enters, wearing an apron and stirring a wooden spoon in a mixing bowl. He stumbles and falls to the floor in a slapstick manner, but JANET grabs the bowl from him mid-pratfall, before he hits the ground.)

JACK
I can always count on you, Janet.

JANET
What was all that noise?

JACK
I’ve entered a soufflĂ©-baking contest. And my hand mixer is dying. I need two D batteries. You don’t...?
            (JANET gives him exasperated look as he leers at her chest. JACK looks dejected.)

JACK
No, I guess you don’t have double D’s. [BEAT] Too bad Chrissy is away.

(JACK looks at the audience and gives a cheesy grin, as if hamming for the camera.)

JANET
You know, Jack. It is 1980. Now that we’re in a new decade, you may want to rein it in a bit.

JACK
Why? The eighties are gonna be just like the seventies, only more.

JANET
More what?

JACK
More wild parties. More hot tubs. More disco infernos. More foxy mamas! I assure you, nothing
is going to stop the free love movement from turning into a complete free-for-all in the 1980s.

JANET
(quietly)
More male chauvinism.

JACK
What was that?
 (JANET is silent for a beat, looks at JACK with annoyance.)

JANET
Nothing. [BEAT] Oh, we’re getting a new roommate.

JACK
Really?
JANET
While Chrissy is in Fresno taking care of her mom, her cousin is coming to sublet her room.

JACK
Ooh, Missy! She has many talents. [tracing an hourglass figure in the air with his fingers] Two,
in particular.
JANET
Do you ever think that comments like that are maybe a little insensitive?

-----------

Join us April 3, 2017 for the PlayGround Benefit & Awards Night to celebrate this year’s Emerging Playwright Award winners! For tickets and information, visit http://playground-sf.org/benefit.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

PlayGround Gala Update

PlayGround is thrilled to announce our growing line-up for the 2017 Gala fundraiser taking place on Monday, April 3 at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater. America’s most produced living playwright this season, Lauren Gunderson (“I and You”), will now be joined by long-time Bay Area theatre critic Chad Jones as our interviewer for the evening with local favorite Reggie D. White, recently seen in Gunderson’s off-Broadway production of I and You and the World Premiere of her now famous Exit, Pursued By A Bear,as Master of Ceremonies.

Hosted by Event Honorary Co-Chairs Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, the evening features a reception and silent auction, intimate dinner and “fireside chat” with Gunderson and Jones, and presentation of the 2017 PlayGround Playwright Awards. A highlight of this year’s auction will be two coveted tickets for the upcoming Hamilton Broadway tour at the Orpheum, available exclusively to gala attendees. All proceeds from the gala benefit PlayGround’s award-winning new play incubator programs and newly-renovated Potrero Stage: The PlayGround Center for New Plays. For tickets ($300-$1,000) and more information, visit http://playground-sf.org/benefit. Unable to attend but want to support PlayGround's efforts? Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution and/or help underwrite artist tickets!

"Lauren Gunderson is a local treasure with national clout, whose fierce voice is lifting up the often invisible experience of women in our history and world." –Mina Morita, Artistic Director of Crowded Fire Theatre. The most produced living playwright in America of 2016-17, Gunderson’s accolades include winning the Dramatist Guild’s Lanford Wilson Award and the American Theatre Critics Association’s Steinberg New Play Award, being a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and receiving the Mellon Foundation’s 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Company. Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at companies across the US including South Cost Rep, The Kennedy Center, The O’Neill, The Denver Center, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Olney Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire and more. “Lauren's work never fails to leap off the page - it crackles with whip smart dialogue as it draws attention to its subject matter, which is always timely and meaningful. But perhaps my favorite thing about Lauren’s writing is how female-forward it is. She tells stories that put women at the center of her narratives, something our culture desperately needs more of right now.” – Madeline Oldham, Director of Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep.

Reggie D. White is a multidisciplinary theatre artist and a PlayGround Company Member. He is a TITAN Award winner, the founding recipient of the RHE Artistic Fellowship, and is currently a TCG Fox Fellow in residence at Berkeley Rep. Last year, he was seen in Lauren Gunderson's I and You off-Broadway. He also appeared in the World Premiere of Gunderson's Exit, Pursued By A Bear at Crowded Fire Theater Company. Reggie and Lauren have also collaborated on several other pieces in various stages of development.

Chad Jones has covered theater in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1992. Before becoming the theater critic for the Bay Area News Group-East Bay, a chain of daily newspapers that includes the Oakland Tribune, the Tri-Valley Herald and the San Mateo County Times, he was chief theater writer for the Bay Area Reporter. Chad was with the Bay Area News Group for more than 10 years. For three years he was the San Francisco correspondent for the London-based magazine Plays International. As a freelance writer, his work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and Wired magazine, Theatre Bay Area magazine, the Marin Independent Journal, the Sacramento Bee, the Palo Alto Weekly and the Nob Hill Gazette. After spending a year as the communications manager for Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Chad is now the executive director of the San Francisco Arts Education Project (www.sfartsed.org), a 49-year-old nonprofit that pairs professional artists in the visual and performing arts with children in the public schools, after-school programs and arts summer camp.

Since 1994, PlayGround has nurtured more than 200 Bay Area playwrights, supporting the development of over 800 original short plays and 71 new full-length plays. PlayGround recently re-opened its San Francisco home, Potrero Stage (formerly Thick House), after an extensive renovation and renaming. PlayGround continues to produce its celebrated Monday Night PlayGround short play staged reading series at Berkeley Rep, where the series has been performed since 2003 on third Mondays, September-March. PlayGround alumni have gone on to win local, national and international honors for their short and full-length work, including recognition at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Humana Festival, Sundance Festival, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Aurora Theatre's Global Age Project, and New York International Fringe Festival, among others.; this event serves to recognize and support the ongoing efforts of these theatre artists. For more information, visit http://playground-sf.org.

For more information about the PlayGround Benefit & Awards Night or to purchase tickets, visit http://playground-sf.org/benefit.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

3rd Annual WomenArts Night

“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”- Gloria Steinem. PlayGround and WomenArts are partnering once again on “WomenArts Night,” a special Monday Night PlayGround evening featuring short plays that will celebrate women leaders and exemplify gender parity in theatre. For this year’s WomenArts Night, playwrights were invited identify a nominee for an imagined “Feminist Hall of Fame” and create an original work with that woman in action. Plays will feature women who broke new ground or led the way, helping other women along the way (as example, first female ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick, aviator Amelia Earhart, Manhattan Project nuclear physicist Joan Hinton, theatre artist Lorraine Hansberry, tennis player Billie Jean King, just to name a few)! Writers have been encouraged to include strong roles for women of color.  PlayGround writers had four days to generate their original ten-minute scripts inspired by the topic. The top six plays will be performed on the set of Berkeley Rep’s current show on Monday, March 20 at 8pm at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.  Tickets and discount flex passes for Monday Night PlayGround can be purchased online at http://playground-sf.org/monday.

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: “Going Viral,” “Nutcracker, Sweet!,” and “Awakening to the Dream of the Earth” as part of a now three-year collaboration with Planet Earth Arts. 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 more than 200 local playwrights in the development and staging of over 750 original short plays and 61 commissioned full-length plays. For more information, visit http://playground-sf.org.

ABOUT THE SPONSOR: This month’s PlayGround is sponsored by WomenArts (www.WomenArts.org ), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the visibility and opportunities for women artists, especially women in theatre, film, and video.

WomenArts has been a strong advocate for gender parity in the arts for more than twenty years. In 2015 WomenArts published The Not Even Report, Valerie Weak’s study of women’s employment in Bay Area theatres (www.WomenArts.org/not-even/ ), and WomenArts coordinated an international summit on gender parity in theatre in Toronto. (http://www.americantheatre.org/2015/06/09/7-steps-for-achieving-gender-parity-in-the-theatre/)

WomenArts also coordinates an annual international celebration of women artists called Support Women Artists Now Day or SWAN Day for short. (See www.WomenArts.org/swan/.)  Over the past 9 years there have been over 1,500 SWAN events in 36 countries, including substantial festivals in Kenya, Bulgaria, Germany, and Prague, as well as in cities across the U.S. Check the SWAN Calendar for upcoming events (www.WomenArts.org/swandates/) or the WomenArts Blog for articles about past events (www.WomenArts.org/blog/). WomenArts Night at PlayGround is part of the SWAN Day 2017 celebrations.  A primary goal of SWAN Day is to create events that will inspire and entertain feminist audiences.

To learn more about the way women are portrayed in films and television shows, check out the excellent work by Dr. Martha Lauzen for the Center for the Study of Women in Film & Television (http://womenintvfilm.sdsu.edu/research.html) and by Dr. Stacy Smith for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender & Media (http://seejane.org/research-informs-empowers/).  Additional studies about gender representation in the arts are listed on the WomenArts Employment page at:  http://www.womenarts.org/womens-employment-in-the-arts/. 

WHAT: Occurring monthly, October-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.  For March’s performance, PlayGround and WomenArts will present an evening of short plays, inspired by the stories of imagined inductees to the “Feminist Hall of Fame”.

WHERE: Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison St, Berkeley, CA

WHEN: Monday, March 20, 2017 at 8pm
                         
TICKETS: $15 general admission ($20, priority seating) in advance, $20 at the door.  4-admission priority seating flex passes are just $60.  For more information about the Monday Night PlayGround series, call (415) 992-6677 or visit www.PlayGround-sf.org.