Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Princess and the Pea... A Story of Impact

In Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea, the princess’ nobility is confirmed by her incredible sensitivity, by the impact of one tiny pea, felt through twenty mattresses and feather beds!  We learn that impact is not simply the act of something pushing or impressing but of the pushing being felt, the impression being noted. Impact. We strive for it in our lives and in our work, and, of course in our theatre! 

im·pact noun \ˈim-ˌpakt\
1a : an impinging or striking especially of one body against another
1b : a forceful contact or onset; also : the impetus communicated in or as if in such a contact
2: the force of impression of one thing on another : a significant or major effect

How have PlayGround playwrights and plays impacted you this year? Have you been impressed? Moved? Affected?

GUS: We tell stories, Fanny. Flesh and blood stories by real people. Not shadows on a screen. Whatever inventions they invent, there’ll always be an audience for stories by real live people. (Ecce Homo by Jonathan Luskin)

Ready to make an impact of your own? Support the PlayGround Year-End Campaign and help us raise $25,000 to support PlayGround’s new play incubator programs. Every gift matters (remember the impact of that one little pea??). And through December 31, all gifts up to $100 will be matched courtesy of a generous anonymous challenge match, doubling your impact!

So, what are you waiting for? Invest in tomorrow’s great playwrights today! Give to the PlayGround Year-End Campaign! To join the PlayGround Cause and give online to the PlayGround Year-End Campaign, visit To give via PayPal, Google Checkout (Google is currently donating back all processing fees for donations made by year-end) or mail, visit To give by phone or for any other questions, call (415) 992-6677.

December People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... This month's People's Choice Award goes to Leah Halper for her original short play, Home Front, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround "Holiday Extravaganza" at Berkeley Rep this past Monday.  Congratulations, Leah!

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

by Leah Halper
Franklin Roosevelt—male, late 50s, ending his third term, tired but calm, in shirt sleeves
Eleanor Roosevelt—female, mid-50s, busy, sad; in period dress, shoes, & hat with purse
Mrs. Henrietta Nesbitt—female, 70, plainly dressed

Franklin’s White House study the week before Christmas, 1941. Sounds of moving furniture overhead off and on throughout.

(Franklin sits writing and smoking. Overhead, sound of breaking glass. He rolls his eyes.)

                                                                        ELEANOR (entering, breathless, peevish):
Franklin! How could you let me go off without telling me? They’ve taken over the entire upstairs! And now for Christmas dinner we’re to have three dozen 

It’s wartime. Hardly knew myself.  (They wince at the sound of scraping furniture.)

But Christmas! And Winston—(Stops short. Removes hat.) You mean you didn’t know?

I knew he was coming. No idea when.  Security’s tightened up.

                                                                        ELEANOR (in despair):
Is this what it’s to be like? Our boys all off to war and within two weeks swoop! a convoy of babbling
Winston’s fond of you. (Smokes.) You never complained of his babbling before.

He’s already put in orders for sherry before breakfast, scotch and sodas—he said three or four, Franklin—before lunch, and French champagne and brandy before bed.

Give it to him if it cheers him up. He urgently requested a visit—left right after the Jap attack. Couldn’t hold him off. (Leaning in, pointedly.) We have a war on our hands now.

He specifies that the brandy must be 90 years old. (They look at each other. They have to laugh.) It’s provoking. (Really concerned.) And what can I possibly tell Mrs. Nesbitt? She planned a quiet dinner for six on Christmas Eve and a simple Christmas breakfast

I’m firing Mrs. Nesbitt in the New Year.

You can’t.

Wartime necessity.

You cannot interfere with my management of the household, Franklin. Upon that I insist.

Three times a day I’ve choked down the ungodliest food woman can inflict on man. Do you know word is out to pack hotplates so guests can scramble eggs on their own here?

She serves

                                                                        (Franklin joins in wearily)
plain food plainly prepared.

It’s bad enough that all Washington knows to eat before a state dinner. (Smokes.) The White House is now the meeting place for the free world. Very important people will be coming and going at very high levels, secretly and without notice. I will not torture prime ministers, presidents, and governments in exile with chipped beef on toast, shrimp wiggle, prune paste, or any other atrocity issuing from that woman’s kitchen. She’s fired as of the first of the year.

It’s prune whip. Where will she go? A widow without professional skills

Exactly! I see you grasp the situation.


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround at Berkeley Rep on Monday, January 16, 2012 at 8pm and choose your own favorite!

Friday, December 09, 2011

PlayGround's Year-End Top Ten List, Part II

Ten Reasons to Give to PlayGround – A Poem

Reason One:  We need your cash.
Reason Two:  We need it fast.
Reason Three:  We do good work.
Reason Four:  The cash won’t lurk.

(We put it right to work, we do,
We get it to the writers, who,
Create new plays in record time,
And do so with your precious dime.)

Reason Five:  Our need is great.
Reason Six:  It’s our full plate.

(Festivals, commissions, too,
Joint productions, actors who,
Read the words our writers write,
Directors who must get it right,
Space that costs a pretty penny,
Please believe our needs are many!)

Reason Seven is your taxes,

(Ask your tax-man, it relaxes,
The amount you have to pay,
So don’t forget to give today.)

Reason Eight:  Our staff is growing,
Reason Nine:  Reviews are glowing!

Reason Ten:  In fifteen years,
We’ve produced more laughs, more tears,
More local plays than all our peers!

That’s thirty-five, to count each one,
Six more are coming, for forty-one,

Short plays produced?
Well that’s six hundred!

Have you deduced,
Or, have you wondered,
How PlayGround works,
And, gets this done?

It’s through support from folks like you!
You know what you need to do.

You’ve seen our list – our “Ten Becauses,”
And, thank you for your gift today,
Have a Happy Holiday!

Thanks to Tom Swift for his contribution of this poem. For more information about the PlayGround Year-End Campaign, visit us on Causes at, email us at info<at> or call us at (415) 992-6677.


PlayGround's Year-End Top Ten List, Part I

To get you into the spirit, we asked the PlayGround Company to give us their Top Ten Reasons to Give to the PlayGround Year-End Campaign. Without further ado, here they are:

10. Because playwrights are sexy.
9. Because it's more fun than donating to 'WorkGround'.
8. Because everyone needs a little economic stimulus.  So, stimulate us.
7. Because The Muppets are fully funded.
6. Because we’ve been naughty AND nice.
5. Because for just ten cents a day, you can feed 36 playwrights and Bay Area theatre for a whole year!
4. Because, next to sex and exercise, nothing will make you happier (really, there’s been a study)!
3. Because where else can you see a musical about the DMV?
2. Because your generous contribution can keep at least one playwright from marrying for money.

And the number one reason to give to the PlayGround Year-End Campaign is…

1. Don't make us write you into one of our plays as a villain.

To give to the PlayGround Year-End Campaign, visit us on Causes, give through PayPal or call us at (415) 992-6677.