Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Race to be FIRST: Evelyn Jean Pine's New Play on Bill Gates

Altair Productions, in cooperation with The Aluminous Collective and PlayGround, presents the world premiere of Evelyn Jean Pine’s newest play, FIRST, October 10-November 3 at Stage Werx, 446 Valencia Street, San Francisco. Directed by Michael French, FIRST is set at the very first personal computer conference in 1976, where 20-year-old Bill Gates (played by Jeremy Kahn) attempts to secure the future for his fledgling software company, Microsoft. Opening Night is Saturday, October 12. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 8PM and Sundays at 2PM. Tickets for Opening Night (10/12) are $40; all other performances are $25 for General Admission seating and $35 for Premium seating. Tickets are available online at For more information, visit FIRST marks the first collaboration between acclaimed Bay Area playwright Evelyn Jean Pine and British director Michael French.

Take your place alongside a 20-year-old Bill Gates at the very first personal computer conference ever held. First will transport you there for a fictional look at the extraordinary people and events that led to the personal computer revolution. The year is 1976. The place is Albuquerque, New Mexico. Young Bill Gates, who looks no older than 16, demands people stop sharing his software. His know-it-all attitude and grand ambition make him an instant source of controversy among his fellow visionaries, hackers, hobbyists, salespeople, and entrepreneurs. In First, playwright Evelyn Jean Pine does what she does best -- capture that moment when you feel your life is brand new. First was commissioned and originally developed by PlayGround at the 2012 PlayGround Festival. 

About Evelyn Jean Pine (Playwright/Producer)
In addition to First, her PlayGround commissions include The Secrets of the World about Queen Isabella and the Indians in Spain, and Astonishment about the birth of the movies. The SF Olympians Festival commissioned three of her plays. A PlayGround Resident Playwright, she’s won the Distinguished Playwright Award, the Emerging Playwright Award (five times) plus the June Anne Baker Prize. This summer she is a 2013 Resident Writer at the Djerassi Artists Residency Program in Woodside, CA. Her short play, Sweet Dreams, launched the Manhattan Shakespeare Project’s Emerging Voices Festival and her award-winning short plays have been staged around the country.  She served as Executive Director of the Community Memory Project, Managing Director of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Director of HandsNet’s Working Families Online Roundtables, and founding Director of the Tides Foundation's Community Clinic Voice.  She is a proud co-owner of the most groundbreaking social networking site on earth, The WELL.

About Michael French (Director/Producer)
Michael is originally from London, England.  He studied acting at the Drama School in England and the Acting Studio in New York City, and the craft of directing under the tutelage of the great Tom Ellis. Michael has also written and directed a number of his own plays, including the award winning The Rainy Season and the much-acclaimed Bellyache. He also co-wrote and co-produced The Buddha Prince, a “walking play” about the life of the Dalai Lama, which has toured the U.S. extensively and was performed in Central Park in New York City during the summers of 2005 and 2008. In 2011 Mr. French moved to the Bay Area where he is a resident director for PlayGround and the Artistic Director of the multidisciplinary group known as The Aluminous Collective.

About Jeremy Kahn (“Bill Gates”)
Jeremy is thrilled to be working with this ensemble on the world premiere of FIRST. His theatre credits include: Another Way Home (Magic), Would (NYC Fringe/New Ohio Theatre), Tortilla Curtain (San Diego Repertory Theatre), The Storytelling Ability of a Boy (Center Repertory Company), Kimberly Akimbo, The Fantasticks, and Tigers Be Still (San Francisco Playhouse), Moonshiner (Jackalope Theatre Company), SHAKESPOD (Edinburgh Fringe), Alice In Wonderland (Chicago Playworks), and Chicagoland (The Inconvenience). In Chicago, Jeremy was an ensemble member at Theatre Mir, where he appeared in Beautiful City, Caucasian Chalk Circle, and the web series Bang Bang Shoot. Theatre Mir closed in the spring of 2012. Jeremy has participated in the development of new plays at Magic Theatre, Jackalope Theatre Co., Marin Theatre Co. and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. B.F.A in acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University in 2009.

About Jim Kleinmann (Producer)
Jim Kleinmann co-founded PlayGround in 1994 and has served as Artistic Director since 1996.  For PlayGround, he has provided artistic and administrative leadership for the past nineteen seasons, developing PlayGround’s unique array of new playwright and new play incubator programs, including Monday Night PlayGround, the Best of PlayGround Festival, the full-length play Commissioning Initiative, the New Play Production Fund, and most recently the PlayGround Film Festival.  He is a veteran arts administrator with more than twenty years of experience, including stints leading Traveling Jewish Theatre, Smuin Ballet and Berkeley Symphony. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Brown University.

About PlayGround (Producer)
PlayGround is the Bay Area’s leading playwright incubator.  Founded in 1994, PlayGround creates community by nurturing collaboration between early career playwrights and established professional directors and actors.  Led by co-founder and Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann, PlayGround has developed more than 600 short plays by 175 Bay Area writers and, since 2002, has commissioned and developed 41 new full-length plays, including Evelyn Jean Pine’s First.  PlayGround is the producer of the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series at Berkeley Rep and the Best of PlayGround Festival, the Bay Area’s largest annual showcase for local writers. For more information, visit

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Co-Working at the PlaySpace

If you're tired of working out of a coffee shop or your bedroom and are looking for affordable co-working space with the opportunity to meet other artists and the artistically-inclined, PlayGround has begun offering Weekday Co-Working at the PlaySpace, PlayGround’s writers lab and rehearsal space in Berkeley’s Lorin Arts District. Over the past year, the PlaySpace has housed PlayGround’s classes, in-house play development programs and rehearsals for a multitude of PlayGround-developed and PlayGround company member projects, serving as a hub for the PlayGround community. Now, for the first time, PlayGround is opening the space to the greater Bay Area artistic and general communities.

Bay Area artists (and others) can work in a quiet shared environment, Monday thru Friday, 8am to 6pm, with access to free high-speed wi-fi, networked printing, copying and scanning, coffee and water, Ashby BART and plenty of free available parking, for much less than comparable co-working opportunities and just a fraction of the cost of renting an office. Co-Working is open to everyone, with affordable day and weekly walk-in rates (subject to availability), as well as discounted monthly and annual memberships (payment plans are available for annual memberships). Evening walk-ins are also available for most weekday and weekend evenings (6pm-midnight), subject to the PlaySpace master calendar and availability. For more information and rates, visit

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

PlayGround Company in the News Aug-13

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

M. Graham Smith is directing Ken Slattery’s THE SHAKESPEARE BUG for Killing My Lobster. Featuring Will Dao, David Cramer, and Rosie Hallett, the play will run September 6-29 at Stage Werx. September 7 is PlayGround Night.

Mary Baird, Gwen Loeb, Julia McNeal, Cathleen Riddley and Stacy Ross are doing an all-female reading of Glengarry Glen Ross at The Shotgun Players on September 2 (sold out!) and September 9.

Ignacio Zulueta blogs for TBA this week about his participation in the inaugural Atlas Playwrights program. His short dramedy, 3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters, opens September 15 at the 2013 Bay One Acts Festival at Tides Theatre, and his full length comedy, The Fellowship, opens at AlterTheater in San Rafael in November.

Nancy Carlin is off to University of Virginia for a month to be an artist-in-residence.

Aldo Billingslea and Stacy Ross are currently performing in Lady Windmere’s Fan at Cal Shakes through September 8.

Tim Kniffin is currently performing in Comedy of Errors with Shakespeare Napa Valley.

Anne Darragh is in Good People at Marin Theatre Company, running August 22-September 15.

Anthony Williams will perform in The Witch by Thomas Middleton as part of Free Shakespeare in the Park with SF Shakespeare Festival on August 25.

Dodds Delzell is performing in the world premiere of The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged) at the Napa Valley Playhouse, August 30-September 15.

Katie May’s MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL was featured in the New York International Fringe Festival, August 9-16, directed by Jon Tracy and featuring Michael Barrett Austin and much of the original San Francisco cast.