Friday, October 26, 2012

Second PlayGround Film Fest Winners Announced!

PlayGround and partner Dances with Light are delighted to announce the finalists for the Second Annual PlayGround Film Festival. Each will receive $1,500 in seed funding for their film adaptations of the short plays previously developed and produced as part of PlayGround’s annual new plays showcase, the Best of PlayGround Festival. The six films will be screened at the Second Annual PlayGround Film Festival, taking place next May in conjunction with the 17th annual Best of PlayGround Festival.

The finalists are:
Aegis (Jonathan Luskin/Mark Leialoha/Flying Moose Pictures, filmmakers; Jonathan Luskin, screenwriter; based on the short play by Jonathan Luskin from the 2004 Best of PlayGround Festival)
The Secret Life of a Hotel Room (The Runnels Brothers, filmmakers; Garret Jon Groenveld, screenwriter; based on the short play by Garret Jon Groenveld from the 2008 Best of PlayGround Festival)
Iowa (Malachy Walsh and Alex Vietti, filmmakers; Malachy Walsh, screenwriter; based on the short play by Malachy Walsh from the 2001 Best of PlayGround Festival)
Miss Finknagle Succumbs to Chaos (Amy Harrison, filmmaker; Kirk Shimano, screenwriter; based on the short play by Kirk Shimano from the 2012 Best of PlayGround Festival)
Obit (Brian Tolle, filmmaker; Geetha Reddy, screenwriter; based on the short play by Geetha Reddy from the 2005 Best of PlayGround Festival)
Undone (Bruce Coughran, filmmaker; Diane Sampson, screenwriter; based on the short play by Diane Sampson from the 2010 Best of PlayGround Festival)
PlayGround Film Festival co-producers Jim Kleinmann and Barry Stone congratulated the winning teams at a private reception before the October 15 Monday Night PlayGround season opener. “We’re so excited by the strength of this year’s proposals – the incredible group of local filmmakers, writers and producers who have come together to develop these six short films! The theatre- and film-going communities are in for a real treat next May!”
Aegis follows the employees of a marketing firm as they compete to create the name for an enormous, wasteful, yet “green” sport utility vehicle. Under the direction of an abusive boss, they use modified acting exercises, or “Applied Marketing Dramatics”, to complete the task at hand. Director, writer, and producer Jonathan Luskin is a PlayGround veteran. He has received two Emerging Playwright Awards as well as a commission and short film grant for his play, Ecce Homo, featured in the inaugural PlayGround Film Festival. His work has been read at the Playwrights Lab, the Magic Theatre, and the Bay Area Shorts Festival. Jonathan has directed for theatre and film, animated visual effects, and is a co-founder of Flying Moose Pictures along with producer and director of photography Mark Leialoha. Mark has a passion for photography and film that spans over two decades, Mark has travelled throughout Europe, the US and Far East as a principal contributing photographer, his innovative and creative editorial & commercial photography featured in more than 75 magazines in over 25 countries. With extensive production skills, encompassing still & video camera operation, lighting, audio and editing, Mark offers a unique approach and vision to every project.
The Secret Life of a Hotel Room sheds new light on the popular saying “if walls could talk.” Three parallel stories unfold in one hotel room, including that of a businessman and recovering addict looking for redemption, a middle-aged couple trying to get away, and a honeymoon couple barely coming up for air. Garret Jon Groenveld is among the founding writers of PlayGround, and a seven-time winner of the Emerging Playwright Award. His play Missives, originally commissioned by PlayGround, appeared in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in 2004, premiered in San Francisco in 2005 at Theatre Rhino and in New York in 2008 at 59E59 Theatres. His play, The Serving Class also commissioned by PlayGround, won the Global Age Project from the Aurora Theatre in 2010. He was an inaugural Resident Playwright of the Playwrights Foundation and is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. In 2012, filmmakers Greg and Mark Runnels saw their animated feature film Bukowski: An Animated Life get optioned by Forest Whitaker's JuntoBox Films, acquired a filmmaker's residency at the CSU Stanislaus BFA program, and nabbed a development deal with Plasschaert and Associates at Paramount Studios. Their previous submission for the PlayGround Film Festival was Kenn Rabin’s Reunion.
What’s more important to a relationship? Forgetting? Or remembering? Dave and Jeanne hash it out at a rest stop over a discussion of corn, overpasses, and every kiss they have ever had in the animated film, Iowa. Writer and director Malachy Walsh received an MFA in playwriting from Columbia University and a BA in English from the University of Illinois. His TV work has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, honored by the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, and inducted into the NY MOMA archives. His plays have been seen or workshopped at Clubbed Thumb and Playwright’s Horizons in NY, South Coast Rep, Chicago Dramatists and PlayGround. Animator Alex Vietti is in the Fine Arts Program at the Academy of Art University and holds a BFA in Arts-Drawing from Northern Illinois University. He has been working on short film projects since 2004. His short, Work Days, has received the NIU CRU Funniest Short Film Award and he received first runner up in the Apple Student Film Contest for Zebra. His most recent animated film, Infant Hand Eyes with the Scary Crow filmmakers’ co-op was voted outstanding special effects prize.
Miss Finknagle Succumbs to Chaos is the story of how one lonely librarian's impossible probabilities bring together four unlikely school friends. Celebrating his second year in the PlayGround Writers Pool Kirk Shimano’s original short play Miss Finknagle Succumbs to Chaos was featured this past May in the 16th annual Best of PlayGround Festival. His first full length play, Love in the Time of Zombies was produced by San Francisco Theater Pub in October. Filmmaker Amy Harrison likes to delight her audiences with short films about unseen worlds and dark possibilities. Her work has screened in places as varied as New York’s Film Forum, the Museum of Modern Art, on MTV, and at the Virgin Mobile Festival before an audience of 60,000 (at a Bob Dylan concert). She teaches at a film school in San Francisco.
Obit is the story of an aging man and his daughter as they cope with his decline. Writer Geetha Reddy's plays include Safe House and Blastosphere (with Aaron Loeb,). She received the 2005-2006 June Anne Baker Prize, five Emerging Playwright Awards and multiple alumni commissions from PlayGround. Her plays have been included in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Playwright's Revolution Festival, and the Playwrights Foundation's 'Rough Reading' series. Brian Tolle has written and directed short films for the past fifteen years. His most recent short, Tom Swift’s The Beginning, premiered at the inaugural PlayGround Film Festival and was recently selected for the Seattle and Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals. When he’s not producing his own films, he works as a visual effects artist for Hollywood movies. Since 2005 he has contributed to the visual effects for over twenty films.
Undone explores the conflict between parents trying to cope, through acceptance and denial, with the possibly untreatable mental illness of their daughter. Writer Diane Sampson earned an M.A. in Creative Writing. She has penned two musicals, Oh, Progeny! and Writes and Re-writes, and the full-length plays, Charlotte Takes the Plunge and Naked, a 2010 PlayGround commission and recipient of the June Anne Baker Prize. Her short plays have appeared in venues as far afield as Miami and Seattle. Bruce Coughran is a freelance director headquartered in Berkeley who works on new plays, classics, experimental, and ensemble pieces. He is the founder of Indra’s Net Theatre in Berkeley in 2012. He is a member of Directors Lab West and Directors Lab Chicago, recipient of an SDC Observership, and a TBA ATLAS directing fellow. He is also an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.
Since 1994, PlayGround has been a leading incubator for some of the Bay Area’s most promising new playwrights, premiering 110 original short plays by 57 Bay Area emerging playwrights from several thousand submissions through its Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series and Best of PlayGround Festival. PlayGround has also commissioned 48 new full-length plays and supports the premiere of many of these works in partnership with Bay Area theatres through its innovative New Play Production Fund. PlayGround alumni include a who’s who of the Bay Area’s best up-and-coming writers, including Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Aaron Loeb, Lauren Yee, Daniel Heath, Ken Slattery, among others, with many having their first professional production through PlayGround.
PlayGround’s alumni have gone on to win not only local but also national honors for short and full-length work, including recognition at the Humana Festival, Sundance Festival, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Aurora Theatre Company’s Global Age Project, Guthrie Theatre, Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival, and The Drama League’s New Directors-New Works series.  Works have been premiered at numerous theatres throughout the Bay Area, including: Theatre Rhinoceros, San Jose Stage Company, Just Theater, and SF Playhouse. Of particular note is Aaron Loeb’s Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party which, following its premiere at SF Playhouse in 2008, received a sold-out run at the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival (named “Outstanding Play”), its off-Broadway debut in 2010, and was produced around the country last season.
Barry Stone, owner of Dances with Light, made his first film in 1979. He has professional credits as an actor, composer and director in the theatre, and as a producer, director, writer, composer, actor, cinematographer and editor in film and television. His directorial credits include four episodes of the British hit series rENFORD rEJECTS, filmed in London for Nickelodeon and Channel Four, "All Ways Welcome", produced and directed for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation, and numerous commercials, music videos and corporate films. Barry has been the cinematographer on forty-seven episodes of series television, six MOWs, numerous commercials and twenty-one feature films, notably Lie with me, Mouth to Mouth, Cherish, Triggermen, Pale Saints, Paris France, Rude, Dumbarton Bridge,  The Perfect Son and Dream with the Fishes.  Recently Barry produced and directed SNIFF, a feature length drama / documentary hybrid with Amanda Plummer, Neil Morrissey (and a lot of great dogs).
For more information, contact PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann at or (415) 992-6677.

Friday, October 19, 2012

October People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... This month's People's Choice Award goes to first-time PlayGround writer Patricia Cotter for her original short play, Tallulah, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround season opener at Berkeley Rep this past Monday.  Congratulations, Patricia!

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

by Patricia Cotter 

MOLLY - Female - Age near forty - any race - urban, patient (up to a point), Billy's old friend.
BILLY - Male - Age near forty (old enough to be a slightly older parent of an eighteen month old) - any race - usually a good friend, currently slightly obsessed with his child.

A bare stage. BILLY, a newish dad and a MOLLY, his dear, baby beleaguered, friend play "catch" with his unseen eleven-month-old, TALLULAH. MOLLY is bored, but trying not to show it. BILLY slowly rolls the ball to his daughter. HE does this throughout the play: rolls it, and  then has to go fetch it, since his daughter is too young to be able to play ball. (Actors can use a real ball, or an imagined one.)

(to Molly) ...did you see that? Did you see it? See what she did?


The way her hands are just naturally cupping? Ready to receive it? That's so advanced.

Yeah. Nice try.

GOOD GIRL, Tallulah! Now roll it back.

Yeah, Billy? I don't think she's actually capable of doing that yet. Is she? I mean, she's pretty little.

Oh, no. She is. She just got confused for a second. Right, sweetie?

She does seem to like putting it in her mouth. Which is, you know, fine by me. Big, round object. Who wouldn't want to gnaw on that?

Her coordination is actually amazing. She's in the ninety eighth percentile.

Cool. (beat) I...I don't know what that means.

Here it comes again, honey! Well, you know her friend Leo?

No. I don't think so...

You met him. He was at her party, half-Asian kid? Super cute parents.

Oh, yeah. Kinda...that's okay though...

Leo is in the second percentile.

So what then? Tallulah is ninety six percentiles better than poor little, half-Asian Leo?

What? No. I mean, yes, but not really in that sort of competitive way. It's just a gauge to give you an idea, comparatively, of how advanced she is - that's all. He's a great kid. (Billy claps his hands so that Tallulah will roll the ball back. She doesn't.) Come on. Show Molly how you roll the ball back to Papa.

I thought we might open that red I brought.

Look! Look! She's leaning into it. Are you seeing this? GOOD JOB!

It looks like she's just kind of collapsing under the weight of her own head.

Roll it back, Tallulah! Roll it back! I don't think of her head as being abnormally large.

Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround at Berkeley Rep on Monday, November 19, 2012 at 8pm and choose your own favorite! For more info, click here.

Friday, October 05, 2012

PlayGround Company in the News Oct-12

Read on to learn about PlayGround Company Members' recent news, current happenings, and upcoming events.

Tom Swift learned this past weekend that his Short Film, THE BEGINNING, winner of the Audience Choice Award for the First Annual PlayGround Film Festival, was selected for the Indianapolis LGBT FilmFestival.  The festival runs from Nov. 9 – 12 in Indianapolis.
Bennett Fisher’s full-length play HERMES is receiving its third production since its premiere in 2011 at Bread and WaterTheater of Rochester New York, opening Oct. 26. He is dramaturging THE STRINDBERG CYCLE at Cutting Ball, which opens Oct. 12. He also wrote the screenplay for the film S.E.R.P., which will receive it's first public screening in Oct. 21 and is headed to the festival circuit.

Michael Barrett Austin will be appearing in SF Playhouse's BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON directed by Jon Tracy, Oct. 9-Nov. 24.

Mary Baird is still in South Carolina doing THE UNEXPECTED GUEST by Agatha Christie.  She won't be back to CA until Nov. 7.

Nancy Carlin is directing "HONK!" for Shakespeare Santa Cruz/UCSC. It will run Nov 16 - Dec 9

Cindy Goldfield, Chris Winslow and D'Arcy Drollinger are working on a stage reading of MR. IRRESISTABLE, a new musical by Drollinger and Winslow, to be presented in NY in Spring '13, with a public reading on Oct. 26th at ODC.

Christopher Chen’s play THE HUNDRED FLOWERS PROJECT will premiere Oct. 28th at Crowded Fire. It will be playing at the Thick House through Nov. 17th. 

Ken Slattery is on the Writing Team for the next Killing MyLobster sketch comedy show "KML Does Not Fear The End" which runs at the Intersection for the Arts, Nov. 1-18.

Kirk Shimano’s first ever full length play to be produced is being presented by San Francisco Theater Pub. It's called LOVE IN THE TIME OF ZOMBIES and it's at the Cafe Royale on Post Street at Leavenworth. There are five performances: Oct. 15, 16, 22, 29, and 30. Opening night conflicts with PlayGround, unfortunately, but there are four other nights that are PlayGround friendly! Admission is free but a $5 donation is suggested.
Patrick Alparone is performing in THE NORMAL HEART and ELEKTRA at ACT.  
Molly Noble is working on the San Quentin play, directing PACK OF LIES at RVP for January. In 2013, she will be performing with Theatre Lunatico in venues around the Bay Area. The two dance/movement/theatre pieces are inspired by Chekhov's women and a refrigerator. 

Patricia Cotter co-wrote the book of a new musical, JUSTIN LOVE, which just opened in LA at The Celebration Theatre and will run through Nov. 18th. 

Tim Kniffin just started rehearsals for THE SOUND OF MUSIC at Berkeley Playhouse in the role of Captain Georg von Trapp.

October marks the official premiere of the new web series, "DR. DARK PRESENTS". Starring Robert Sicular and produced by Bethanie Baeyen, "DR. DARK PRESENTS" is a unique and entertaining foray into the world's great literature: stories told with relish - hold the mustard. More info at

Robert Sicular will be doing two free readings of the works of Edgar Allan Poe at the Berkeley Public Library. Oct. 16 at the main branch and Oct. 24 at the north branch, both shows at 6:30 PM. The show is entitled, THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER. More info call (510) 981-6241 or visit If anyone has a venue or a Halloween party where you think they'd like a little Poe reading, please contact Robert at

Crish Barth's play DARYL HANNAH (from MSRI Monday last year) was selected for study and performance during the fall semester by the Bates College (Lewiston, ME) Directing 370 class, lead by Paul Kuritz. Lobsters are on Crish.

Reggie White is doing ANTIGONE with San Jose Rep for their fall school tours. The production of DOGSBODY that he did with Playwright's Foundation/InterSection is going to NY in November as a part of the Soulagraphie Festival. He also just became a member of AEA.

Ignacio Zulueta’s full-length comedy THE FELLOWSHIP received a grant from the Horizon Foundation for the advancement of LGBT issues.  His short comedy about vasectomy, SNIP SNIP, is part of the Repro Rights Benefit for Planned Parenthood at the Brava Theatre on Oct. 22.  For a lighter touch, his comic sketches written with Battle Stache Studios run from October 25-28 in their season closing PHENOMENA episode in Berkeley. His 10 minute play, THE AFTERSHOCK, has progressed to the Semi-Final round for 2013's PICK OF THE VINE production at Little Fish Theatre. He is also returning as a commissioned playwright for Playwright Foundation’s Third Annual SF One Minute Play Festival this December.  

Karen Macklin's 5-minute play The Doctor Is In will appear in an evening of short plays at Actors Theatre (855 Bush Street) on Monday night, October 1, at 8pm. The company producing the evening is aMios, and the play is directed by Lauren English.