Wednesday, July 17, 2013

PlayGround's Second Demo Day: A Producer's Primer

On Monday evening, September 16, PlayGround will host its second 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 in the next season?

Modeled on the tech incubator Y Combinator, PlayGround's Demo Day provides 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.Two projects successfully emerging from the inaugural Demo Day last fall are Katie May's Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Evelyn Jean Pine's First (formerly Altair), the former which premiered this past January at the A.C.T. Costume Shop and is a 2013 New York International Fringe Festival selection and the latter to receive its world premiere at Stage Werx in October.

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 $25,000 and $50,000 per production. PlayGround often invests in these productions through its innovative New Play Production Fund which has, since 2007, supported the premiere of more than a dozen new plays by Bay Area playwrights. 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! Here, then, are the projects being pitched for the second Demo Day and hopefully coming soon to a theatre near you:

A Marriage by Tom Swift
As the country debates gay marriage and on the heels of the recent Supreme Court decision, Tom Swift addresses the defining civil rights issue of our generation. A Marriage tells the story of one gay marriage, spanning a period of forty years. Heartfelt, poignant and outrageously theatrical, A Marriage is a play for our time. Adapted from two Best of PlayGround short plays, The Beginning (2005) and A New Season (2010).

Abominable 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? Adapted from the 2013 Best of PlayGround short play and a 2013 PlayGround Festival finalist. Written by the author of 2013's smash hit, Manic Pixie Dream Girl (a 2013 New York International Fringe Festival selection). 

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. Adapted from the 2011 Best of PlayGround short play and a 2012 PlayGround Festival finalist.

Hella Love Oakland by Robin Lynn Rodriguez
Can a conscientious mother choose between raising awareness and raising her kids? Hella Love Oakland is a ninety-minute one-act play that uses mixed genres of spoken word poetry, turf dancing, meta and traditional theater to tell the stories of three women who are negotiating family life in the city of Oakland. It particularly deals with issues of equity in education and the experience of gentrification in urban public schools. Based on the 2012 Best of PlayGround short play of the same and a 2013 PlayGround Festival finalist.

Kano and Abe by Ignacio Zulueta
Abe’s the good son, Kano’s the prodigal, and Regina’s the woman who comes between them. A Daly City-set Filipino family thriller about sibling rivalry, illegal immigration, murder, and other biblical pastimes. A 2012 PlayGround commission.

The Tale of the Sleeping Cutie by Diane Sampson, music by Doug Katsaros
It’s a 21st century fairytale musical that will leave you smiling. A very confused Narrator introduces the story of Lucy, a young woman raised in blissful ignorance by her soon-to-be-incarcerated father (think Bernie Madoff).  Awaiting word on his final appeal, he signs Lucy up for an on-line dating service, hoping to marry her off before he has to go “away.” Lucy has other plans – to become a drummer in an indie rock band.  The plot thickens as Lucy meets the prospective suitors and the Narrator loses control of the story. A 2013 PlayGround Festival honorable mention.
 
Want to know how to get your invitation to PlayGround Demo Day? Unable to attend on September 16 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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