Monday, April 08, 2013

The 17th PlayGround Festival of New Works... New Name, Expanded Line-up!

PlayGround caps off its 2012-13 season with the Bay Area’s largest celebration of new works for the stage and screen – the 17th annual PlayGround Festival of New Works. Running May 1-26 at San Francisco’s Thick House (and other Bay Area locations), the festival features the 2nd annual PlayGround Film Festival, Festival Staged Readings of four new full-length plays, panel discussions, and the centerpiece of the festival, the Best of PlayGround 17, a fully-produced evening length program of six short plays selected from more than 190 submissions and 36 works developed as part of the season’s Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The Festival includes more than 40 performances, screenings and readings over four weeks, featuring more than 150 Bay Area writers, directors, actors, filmmakers and designers. All-Festival Passes begin at $50 and individual tickets are $15-$50. Tickets are available through the Box Office at 415-992-6677 or online at

Best of PlayGround
The six plays to be presented in this year’s Best of PlayGround are:
Symmetrical Smack-Down by William Bivins, directed by Jim Kleinmann
Value Over Replacement by Ruben Grijalva, directed by Katja Rivera
The Spherical Loneliness of Beverly Onion by Katie May, directed by Rebecca Ennals
Simple and Elegant by Evelyn Jean Pine, directed by Tracy Ward
Significant People by Amy Sass, directed by Steven Anthony Jones
My Better Half by Jonathan Spector, directed by Michael French

Best of PlayGround finalists include Patricia Cotter for Play Ball and Tracy Held Potter for Princess Audrey.

PlayGround Film Festival
The six films to be presented in this year’s PlayGround Film Festival are:
Aegis (Jonathan Luskin/Mark Leialoha/Flying Moose Pictures, filmmakers; Jonathan Luskin, screenwriter)
The Secret Life of a Hotel Room (The Runnels Brothers, filmmakers; Garret Jon Groenveld, screenwriter)
Climax (Jeremy Solterbeck, filmmaker; Sean Owens, screenwriter)
Miss Finknagle Succumbs to Chaos (Amy Harrison, filmmaker; Kirk Shimano, screenwriter)
Obit (Brian Tolle, filmmaker; Geetha Reddy, screenwriter)
Undone (Bruce Coughran, filmmaker; Diane Sampson, screenwriter)

Festival Staged Readings
The four full-length plays selected for this year’s PlayGround Festival, each receiving two staged readings, are:
The Empty Nesters by Garret Jon Groenveld
Abominable by Katie May (A PlayGround commission)
Magnitude by Sean Owens
Hella Love Oakland by Robin Lynn Rodriguez (A PlayGround commission)

Diane Sampson was named a finalist for her new musical, The Tale of the Sleeping Cutie.

Demo Day
PlayGround will host its second Demo Day on Monday evening, May 20. This by-invitation-only event features short pitches by 6-8 producing teams for new full-length plays being readied for production and seeking investment. Two projects coming out of the first Demo Day (Oct 2012) have or will soon receive their world premiere at the A.C.T. Costume Shop – Katie May’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Evelyn Jean Pine’s First, about a young Bill Gates and the birth of the digital age. For more information about Demo Day or to request an invitation, contact PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann at

About PlayGround:
PlayGround is the Bay Area's leading playwright incubator. The mission of PlayGround is to support the development of significant new local voices for the theatre. More than just another play development program, PlayGround focuses on the creation of a true theatre community by nurturing the collaborative process between first-time or early development playwrights, and established, professional actors and directors. Over the past nineteen years, PlayGround has developed a unique model for identifying and nurturing the Bay Area’s best new writers, while helping them to build a significant body of original work. PlayGround 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's Global Age Project, New York International Fringe Festival, the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival, Guthrie Theatre, and The Drama League’s New Directors-New Works series, among others. More information at

About the Plays:

Best of PlayGround

Symmetrical Smack-Down by William Bivins
In pro wrestling and love, make-believe keeps things safe; but what happens when two fighters and two lovers suddenly decide to get real?

Value Over Replacement by Ruben Grijalva
The official report on performance enhancing drugs in baseball is about to go public, and it will name names, giving sports radio host and former player Chip Fuller a lot to talk about.

The Spherical Loneliness of Beverly Onion by Katie May
A mortician’s assistant leads a quiet and lonely existence, until the forces of Fate and Luck step in to change her life forever.

Simple and Elegant by Evelyn Jean Pine
Once two sisters fight over a gold coin found in the belly of a silvery fish, can either girl live happily ever after?

Significant People by Amy Sass
Docents lead a tour through the preserved home-turned-historical-site of a noted author and his wife, providing an intimate and revealing look at the people behind the celebrities.

My Better Half by Jonathan Spector
A woman wronged by her husband must choose how to move forward with her life: forgiveness, therapy or perhaps… murder.

Festival Full-Length Staged Readings

The Empty Nesters by Garret Jon Groenveld
A middle-aged couple sets off on a sight-seeing adventure to mark their last child leaving the nest. But can you ever really go home again? 

Abominable or the Misappropriation of Beverly Onion by Forces Beyond Her Control by Katie May
A Yeti-obsessed mortician’s assistant finds herself at the mercy of Fate and Luck. Can she regain control of her life and fulfill her destiny?

Magnitude by Sean Owens
Three women make their annual pilgrimage to the mountain retreat of their departed mentor, lover and friend and begin to piece together the mystery of her life… and their own future.

Hella Love Oakland by Robin Lynn Rodriguez
Can a conscientious mother choose between raising awareness and raising her kids? 

About the Playwrights:

William Bivins (Symmetrical Smack-Down) is an award-winning playwright whose full-length productions include The Education of a Rake, The Apotheosis of Pig Husbandry, and Pulp Scripture, among others. He has won the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, the Hyperion Project Original Play Competition, and numerous SF Fringe Awards. William is currently working on a reimagining of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for Mad Cap Productions. He lives in San Francisco and has a background in pecan farming.

Ruben Grijalva (Value Over Replacement) is a playwright, director, and filmmaker. His first full length play, Foresight (2010), explores the prospect of digital immortality. His short film, Shadow Ball (2007), about the Negro League ritual of baseball in pantomime, was recognized by Eastman/Kodak, screened at festivals worldwide, and included on the Official Best of Fest DVD series. He helped start Virtual Active, an exercise-media company that brings iconic sights from around the world to your treadmill. He is the recipient of a 2013 PlayGround Fellowship commission.

Garret Jon Groenveld (The Empty Nesters) is a founding writer with PlayGround and PlayGround Resident Playwright.  His play, The Hummingbirds, won the Internationalist Global Playwriting competition and is receiving productions in Bucharest, Romania, Mexico City, Mexico and Zaragoza Spain, with a final reading in April in Zoetmeer, the Netherlands. He is a recipient of four PlayGround commissions and a seven-time PlayGround Emerging Playwright Award winner for his short plays. He is the screenwriter for The Secret Life of a Hotel Room, featured in the second PlayGround Film Festival and adapted from the Best of PlayGround short play.

Katie May (The Spherical Loneliness of Beverly Onion; Abominable) is a playwright, comedy writer, and performer. Her plays include Black Sheep Gospel (Great Plains Theater Conference), A History of Freaks (finalist for the David Mark Cohen Award in playwriting), and Manic Pixie Dream Girl (PlayGround Fellowship commission) among others. Her short play Rapunzel’s Etymology of Zero (Best of PlayGround, Short + Sweet Sydney) was published in the Best of PlayGround 2011. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Virginia Piper Writing Center and the National University of Singapore, a grant from the Society for Women in Film, and a PlayGround Emerging Playwright Award winner. She is currently working on a second PlayGround full-length commission, Abominable,  and on the web series Liz/Kat with Liz Anderson. May holds an MFA in Playwriting from Arizona State University.

Sean Owens (Magnitude) is the author of over 35 short and full-length plays, and the film version of Climax, which premiered in play form at PlayGround. He is currently working on Gogol Dossiers, a commission from Do It Live Productions, and Magnitude, a play for women over 40, selected for the PlayGround Festival of New Works.

Evelyn Jean Pine (Elegant and Simple) writes about the moment when you feel your world is brand new. A PlayGround Resident Playwright, she’s won the Emerging Playwright Award five times plus the June Anne Baker Prize.  Her PlayGround commissions include First, about Bill Gates and the first personal computer, premiering this July at A.C.T.’s Costume Shop, directed by Michael French. A 2013 Djerassi Resident Artist, she has an MFA from San Francisco State where she teaches performance studies.

Robin Lynn Rodriguez (Hella Love Oakland) is a second year member of PlayGround. She received PlayGround's Emerging Playwright Award and the June Anne Baker Prize for her short play Hella Love Oakland. The full-length version appears at this year's Festival. Her play Hedge was a finalist for the 2012 Bay Area Playwrights Festival.   

Amy Sass is the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Ragged Wing Ensemble. As playwright, director, actor, choreographer, and visual artist, Amy's creative vision sits firmly at the crossroads of artistic disciplines. A member of PlayGround, Amy has won the People’s Choice Award twice for her short plays: Significant People and Structural Instability, and is the recipient of the 2013 June Anne Baker Prize and commission. Ragged Wing Ensemble credits include: Maybe Baby (Writer, Director), OPEN. (Writer, Director), Handless, (Writer, Director), and So Many Ways To Kill A Man (Writer, Clytaemnestra).

Jonathan Spector (My Better Half) is a playwright and director. His plays have been produced and developed with Aurora Theater, Playwrights Foundation, PlayGround, Source Theater Festival and St. Bonaventure College and he’s been a finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, New Harmony Project, and Juilliard Lila Acheson Wallace Playwright Fellowship. His local directing credits include The Internationalist, 1001, Current Nobody, and I Have Loved Strangers, with his company Just Theater, and This Is All I Need with Mugwumpin. He is the recipient of a 2013 PlayGround Fellowship commission. He is currently pursuing an MFA in playwriting at SF State.

PlayGround Film Festival

Visit for the complete 2013 Film Festival announcement.

Master Calendar

Event:              PlayGround Film Festival
Dates:              May 1, 5:30pm and 7:30pm (Opening) at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 2966 College Ave, Berkeley
                        May 2, 6:30pm and 8:30pm at Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco
                        May 3, 7:00pm and 9:00pm at Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco
                        May 4, 6:30pm and 8:30pm at Zaentz Media Center, 2600 Tenth Street, Berkeley
                        May 4, 7:00pm and 9:00pm at Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco
                        May 5, 6:30pm and 8:30pm at Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco
                        May 6, 7:00pm only at Aquarius Theatre, 430 Emerson Street, Palo Alto
                        May 10, 7:30pm only at 32TEN Studios, 3210 Kerner Boulevard, San Rafael
                        May 18, 10:00pm only at Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco
                        May 25, 10:00pm only at Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco
Tickets:          PlayGround Film Festival: $15-$25, discounts available for students, PlayGround subscribers and members, and groups of 10 or more.

Event:            Best of PlayGround
Dates:            Thursdays - Sundays, May 9 - 26 (Friday, May 10th, press night)
Time:             Thurs. - Sat., 8pm; Sun., 7pm
Location:       Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco
Tickets:          Best of PlayGround: $25-$40 (general), discounts available for students, PlayGround subscribers and members, and groups of 10 or more. Thursdays, May 9, 16, and 23 are Pay-What-You-Can performances; Pay-What-You-Can tickets go on sale one hour before the performance, first-come first-served, subject to availability.
For tickets call (415) 992-6677 or on-line at

Event:            Festival Full-Length Staged Readings
Schedule:       May 18, 12:00pm – Reading #1, HELLA LOVE OAKLAND by Robin Lynn Rodriguez
                        May 18, 3:00pm – Reading #2, ABOMINABLE by Katie May
                        May 19, 11:00am – Reading #3, MAGNITUDE by Sean Owens
                        May 19, 2:00pm – Reading #4, THE EMPTY NESTERS by Garret Jon Groenveld
                        May 25, 1:30pm – Reading #5, THE EMPTY NESTERS by Garret Jon Groenveld
                        May 25, 4:00pm – Reading #6, HELLA LOVE OAKLAND by Robin Lynn Rodriguez
                        May 26, 12:30pm – Reading #7, ABOMINABLE by Katie May
                        May 26, 3:00pm – Reading #8, MAGNITUDE by Sean Owens
Tickets:          Festival Staged Readings: $15 suggested donation, online at or at the door. All readings included in All-Festival Pass.

All-Festival Passes: An All-Festival Pass includes one guaranteed priority-seating ticket to each festival event, including the PlayGround Film Festival, Best of PlayGround, four Festival Full-Length Staged Readings, and other festival ticketed events as announced. Individual performance tickets must be reserved in advance and are subject to availability. $50 for 2013-14 PlayGround subscribers; $75 for non-subscribers. To purchase an All-Festival Pass, call (415) 992-6677 or go online at

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