Saturday, August 25, 2012

PlayGround Demo Day: A Producer's Primer

On Monday evening, October 1, PlayGround will host its first-ever Demo Day at A.C.T.'s Geary Theatre for members of the PlayGround Producers Circle and prospective Angel Investors. What is Demo Day and what can attendees expect to see? And how might the results of Demo Day affect your theatre-going plans this season?

Modeled on the tech incubator Y Combinator, PlayGround's Demo Day will provide a platform for teams of artists and producers to pitch several new full-length plays commissioned and developed by PlayGround, now being readied for production and in search of funding.

While each project's needs are different, the proposals generally outline a premiere four-week engagement with total capitalization costs (the costs of preparing and mounting the world premiere and running costs for the initial run) between $20,000 and $40,000 per production. PlayGround will invest up to a total of $20,000 from its 2012-13 New Play Production Fund to support at least two world premiere productions of  commissions from previous seasons. PlayGround has also secured the in-kind contribution of a San Francisco performance space for two four-week runs in winter/spring 2013, valued at $12,000, although fully-funded projects could be done in any venue. Teams will seek to secure their target capitalization from donors and investors participating in Demo Day, as well as through crowdfunding, grants and other outside investment. Prospective producers and angels (theatre investors) will have a chance to meet directly with the lead artists (playwrights, directors, and in some cases, actors and designers already committed to the project) at a reception immediately following the presentations.

Producers/angels can elect to structure their financial participation as tax-deductible contributions (with no financial return though non-monetary perks may be offered) or investments (with investors having a financial stake in the production), depending on the level of participation and personal goals. Each project offers a unique opportunity for backers to become intimately involved in the process of producing a new play, from assisting in securing additional capitalization to providing feedback at developmental readings to serving as a sounding board for the producing team, etc

The ultimate goal? To help bring together the artists, producers and angels needed to ensure more quality new plays by local playwrights make it to the stage... and have a heck of a good time while doing it! So, without further ado, we proudly present the projects being pitched for the first Demo Day and hopefully coming soon to a theatre near you:

Altair by Evelyn Jean Pine
It’s 1976 and the only way to get your hands on a computer is to “roll your own.”  So assemble the hobbyist kit advertised in Popular Electronics and score a copy of Altair BASIC software. Without warning, you’re part of the first epic battle of the computer age. On one side: the hackers, the Future, the Revolution.  On the other side: 19-year old Bill Gates. And boy, is that guy pissed.

Drive Thru by Mandy Hodge Rizvi
It's the middle of a heat wave in Wellington, Kentucky: a town where people call each other by name, buy American, go to church on Sundays, and mind your business for you. When some strange new neighbors and a new fast food restaurant threaten to shake up the status quo, Wellington's residents are forced to face their worst nightmares in the harsh light of day. The town is determined to take down the opposition and preserve its way of life, but as the temperature heats up and the sun goes down, it's hard to tell where the enemy really is. All is not well in Wellington.

Ecce Homo by Jonathan Luskin
A romantic comedy. Troy Steel is an aspiring action movie hero, fired from a reality television show for his inability to lie, and left publicly humiliated but internationally famous. Annabella is a talented actress, too big-boned and brusque for a career on screen, she can only find work performing behind the mask of computer-animated characters. When Troy is hired to animate a heroic warrior using a motion-capture suit, he is unable to perform even the simplest of scenes without suffering a crisis of confidence. The producer coerces Annabella to act Troy’s part for him. The animated pilot is a wild success and Troy and Annabella are bound together by her secret work on his behalf and his unknowing collaboration. Their journey together is perilously guided by therapy sessions with Oona, a plush-toy orca whale, and Troy’s grandparents, famous vaudeville actors who return from the past.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Katie May
After his breakup with Evil Ex-girlfriend Jacqueline, Lee Tallman, a would-be graphic novelist, is unable to create. Enter the mysteriously silent Lily, with whom he falls in love. In a burst of creativity Tallman slays the specters of heartbreak and creative impotence, in this play-turned-graphic novel, starring himself as the hero. But when Tallman makes an agonizing discovery, he must confront Lily’s true identity, and his refusal to see her as more than just his muse.

The Serving Class by Garret Jon Groenveld
Winner of the 2010 Global Age Project. It should have been a simple "no" but an elite interior decorator gets roped into planning the high society wedding of the decade. Suddenly, he's knee deep in an unconventional love triangle, arrested, bribed, and planning an entirely different wedding! Three breathless acts without an intermission, this class comedy about love and commitment makes a lighthanded comment in the Beaumarchais style about the lives of gay men (who cannot get married), without whom many weddings would never happen. Fun, fast-paced romance with a wacky world view makes this the gayest comedy in years; a cult hit in the making!

Siren by Daniel Heath
Jason, a struggling painter, and Lisa, a successful programmer, buy a house on the edge of Puget Sound so Jason can find inspiration in the water. Instead, they find a mermaid. She revives their aspirations and ambitions in life, love and art but everyone knows that it's a bad idea to talk to mermaids, and the conflict between the couple's circumstances and their aspirations threatens to destroy them both.

Want to know how to get your invitation to PlayGround Demo Day? Unable to attend on October 1 but want to get more involved with one of these projects? Call PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann at (415) 992-6677 or email us for more information. 


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