Saturday, December 21, 2013


"Fail boldly."

That was PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann’s advice to a roomful of playwrights in October. And, when in November, I’d written a play for Gershwin musical month, I realized something: It was boring. I had made the safe choices and it showed. Jim’s words came back to me. It was Monday evening by this time (plays are due 2pm Tuesday). So I brewed a pot of coffee…well, a series of cups of coffee (you know, Keurig), and got to work on something new.

My second attempt was a play that took place in zero-gravity and I was honored to have it selected. And as I watched the brilliant director and cast rehearse, trying to simulate dancing in outer space, I saw the risks they’d be taking in front of an audience of 400. I thought of all of my wonderful fellow playwrights who use their innovative work to comment on history, literature, love, culture, and everything in between; and of the great directors who regularly bring these experimental, quickly written scripts to life; and, of course, of the army of fearless actors who sing, dance, scream, kiss, laugh, cry, walk on their hands like monkeys, and run around in diapers (or less!), all onstage, in the service of this awesome experiment; and of the generous audiences who show up every month at Berkeley Rep to support these collaborations. It struck me then that PlayGround is this magical cauldron in which these elements come together and are not just encouraged, but dared to fail—boldly, beautifully, hilariously, and, in those transcendent moments in theatre when it all comes together, successfully. This insane mix of freedom and support that PlayGround gives its artists is a gift. Please give generously so that we may fail boldly. INVEST IN THE ARTISTS!

Maury Zeff

As we count down twenty days of PlayGround's 20th Season Year-End Campaign, we're pleased to share with you a daily testimonial from PlayGround artists, subscribers and supporters and community leaders. To participate in the Year-End Campaign, make a tax-deductible contribution online at or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.


  1. Maury is a genius.

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