Tuesday, December 31, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #20: The Final Chapter...

I love stories.  They tap into something primal in human nature and in my own. That's what I love most about PlayGround — it nurtures artists as they develop their stories.  Not merely to tell them but to have them brought to life before us in a communal setting that gives us something to think about long after we leave the theatre, long after we go to the bar to talk and share what those stories evoked.  I’m thrilled with the variety of programming that PlayGround creates, adapts and supports, allowing our artists to broaden and deepen their skills.

But my favorite time is bringing my group of “non-theatre type” friends to the PlayGround Festival every year. We gather to dine and share our own stories before being transported into the worlds created by such gifted artists. I’m proud to share this wonderful organization with my closest community and privileged to be a part of an enthusiastic board of trustees that invests in our artists. 

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS! 

Regina Guggenheim 
PlayGround Board Chair


https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists



  
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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.


Monday, December 30, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #19: Growing Up on the PlayGround

I grew up on the PlayGround. My first professional production came from PlayGround. My first commission as a professional playwright came from PlayGround. My connection to the vibrant, thriving artistic community of the Bay Area came from PlayGround. I learned to play there, sure, but I also learned how to be serious — particularly how to take my own work seriously. 

Year after year, PlayGround invested in me. It helped me grow in confidence and skill. It supported me as I tried new things. And it kept doing it. For years! And that's why I support PlayGround back, year after year. I'm proud to be a writer with PlayGround, but I'm even prouder to be a donor. I urge you to join me in supporting this remarkable Bay Area institution. INVEST IN THE ARTISTS!

Aaron Loeb
Playwright, Donor & Board Member

https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists




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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #18: Building Community

I took part in my first PlayGround nearly fifteen years ago when we convened at A Traveling Jewish Theatre in San Francisco and participants included everyone from Jim Carpenter to Nancy Carlin to my very own roommate, Greg Bryan. 15 years later, I've just been directed by Joy Carlin, and watched Jim and Nancy in a wonderful tribute to Barbara Oliver. (My erstwhile roommate, who was/is also a PlayGrounder, has since lived in London, New York and Los Angeles. But that's another story....)

PlayGround initiates and develops new plays. It gives playwrights the opportunity to hear and see their work come to life. From an actor's standpoint, PlayGround provides regular opportunities to work on new scripts and to be cast in roles one might not normally be cast in. This adds to an actor's toolbox in ways that really can't be quantified.

But my favorite aspect of PlayGround is the way it illustrates what a vibrant, supportive and creative community we have in the Bay Area. I get to regularly see friends/colleagues/cohorts in a 'working' situation where we're not competing for work. I've gotten the chance to work with actors I admire with whom I would never ordinarily get to work (how many plays can you name off the top of your head that have more than one middle aged woman in the cast?). And best of all, I get to enjoy the work of my community in an atmosphere of mutual celebration, appreciation and respect.

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS!

Stacy Ross
Actor

https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists




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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #17: In Good Company

My fondest wish in theatre is to be a company member of a repertory theatre, getting to take on wildly different challenges from night to night.  It began with my trips to Berkeley Rep back in the 1980s as an audience member; it continued in the 1990s with my opportunities in summer stock and graduate school; and starting in 2000 I had the wonderful good fortune to start performing on Monday nights with PlayGround.  Becoming an inaugural company member in 2006 was a wonderfully exciting fulfillment of that childhood dream. 

I've gotten to play convicts and angels, FBI agents, at least three different kinds of primate, Shakespeare, Capitano and King Ferdinand, and the list goes on and on.  Getting to work with the most amazing actors, directors and playwrights in the Bay Area time and again makes the whole process a joy, and provides an instant language and rapport that lets the work happen quickly and easily.  My very favorite nights are the ones we perform on the Thrust Stage at Berkeley Rep where I wanted to be as a kid.
The most heartening aspect of what PlayGround does still takes me by surprise every third Monday.  The audience pours in and keeps coming and coming and I am overwhelmed by the support our community shows for live, risk-taking, experimental theatre.  Thank you for keeping my dream alive and well.  INVEST IN THE ARTISTS!

Brian Herndon
Actor

https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists



 
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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.



Friday, December 27, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #16: The June Anne Baker Prize

I have never been on stage as a writer, director, or actor, but I have loved being involved with PlayGround for over 18 years.  It all started innocently enough — my late wife June and I buying a couple tickets to a Monday Night PlayGround — those enhanced script readings of plays written in just a few short days for which PlayGround is famous. I was hooked. Couldn’t get enough. Added the fully produced festival of the best plays of the year.  Marveled at how just a few actors could play so many roles in one evening and bring those hastily written scripts to life. 

In 2000, June was struck down by cancer. She was such a unique person whose life was characterized by many wonderful traits, among them an unrestrained joie de vivre, a love of words (at the time of her death she was struggling to make public the writer within her) and an unwavering commitment to advancing opportunities for women.

To honor her, I created PlayGround’s June Anne Baker Prize which is awarded every year to an emerging female playwright whose work promises to embody two of June’s passions: comedy and politics. Each year I donate $2,500 to PlayGround to make possible the award and the $1,000 commissioning grant that goes with it.  Twelve women have won the prize and each has gone on to write a new full-length play as a result. Two of these plays have since premiered in the Bay Area and several others are in preparation for premieres in the coming season. And perhaps more importantly, these women have gone on to receive other commissions, productions and recognition for their playwriting since receiving the June Anne Baker Prize. What a joy it is for me to award the prize each year, to await the commissioned play, and to follow the lives and careers of these amazing women. I am honored to support PlayGround and the artists in this way.

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS!

John H. Gilman


June Anne Baker Prize Winners & Commissions (2002-13)
2013: Amy Sass, Song for a Whale
2012: Robin Lynn Rodriguez, Hella Love Oakland
2011: Mandy Hodge Rizvi, Drive Thru
2010: Diane Sampson, Naked
2009: Erin Marie Bregman, Nightmare Play
2008: Lauren Yee, Crevice
2007: Evelyn Pine, The Secrets of the World
2006: Brady Lea, Feets Too Big
2005: Geetha Reddy, Me Given You
2004: Maria Rokas, Plans & Peccadilloes
2003: Martha Soukup, Manumission
2002: Kristina Goodnight, The Eve Generation


https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists




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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #15: Tapas & ROI

Tapas for the mind. That’s how I sometimes think of PlayGround. Of course, the latest holiday-themed Monday Night topic was food-related. Coincidence? Maybe so.

Why tapas? A collection of small, delicious treats. Sustaining and fulfilling. Always a surprise along the way. When you leave, you look forward to coming back for more. Lots and lots of variety and spice!

I discovered PlayGround years ago by attending Best of PlayGround at the Zeum through an online meet-up post. I’ve been hooked ever since. It started with finding out about and attending the Monday Night series at Berkeley Rep. Then I became a supporting member so I could get the coveted “blue” programs for early(-ish) seating. Now I get to be a fan of the 2-year old Film Festival too!

PlayGround is a great investment of my time, energy, and attention. It definitely pays me back with interest.  The only difficult part of engaging with PlayGround is trying to decide which piece I want to cast my vote for every Monday!

I look forward to 20 more years of the creativity feast. Thanks to all the writers, actors, directors, organizers, and supporters who make this organization so special! 

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS!

Roxy Jones
Subscriber & Supporter


https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists





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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #14: A Bid to Save the World!

Pretty much everything I've done as a playwright has its roots in PlayGround. My first production (with Just Theater) began as a 10-minute play, grew into a full-length with a PlayGround commission, then got produced because of the New Play Production Fund. Projects on the horizon have a similar trajectory — 10 minute to commission to production (with a lot of work in between of course). Not only have I seen my career as a playwright begin to grow out of projects that started at PlayGround Monday nights, but many of my favorite Bay Area collaborators are writers, directors, and actors I first encountered on PlayGround stages, and got to know over a beer after a Monday night. INVEST IN THE ARTISTS!

Erin Bregman
Playwright

https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists




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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #13: (Re)Discovering Family

Three years ago, I made the move to the Bay Area.  After years of living in Los Angeles and being on tour, I was looking forward to moving home, being near family and exploring the Bay Area theatre scene.  PlayGround was my first audition when I got back.  After my first Monday night, I was hooked.  In the time that I’ve been involved with PlayGround, I’ve been fortunate to play a gamut of characters, be a part of exciting new work and most importantly, collaborate with some of the most talented playwrights, actors and directors that the theatre scene has to offer. 

I moved from LA excited that I’d be near my family, but I never anticipated becoming a part of a new one… the PlayGround family is one that I cherish dearly and whom I deem responsible for my falling in love with the Bay Area all over again. INVEST IN THE ARTISTS!

Rinabeth Apostol
Actor
https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists




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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.



Monday, December 23, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #12: Evy's Response to the Misanthrope


“I hate competition,” he sniffs.

“PlayGround’s my theatre company,” I say.  “At times it’s a competition, but it’s also a cozy, supportive network, a writer’s group, a ritual, a literary salon, a place to share work, learn from mistakes, celebrate triumphs, meet your audience.   It’s inspiring.”

“Artistic inspiration is passé,” he insists. “In 2014 people will be passionate about numbers.”

“Numbers?” I gulp, as I struggle to do the math. “Okay.  I’ve been a PlayGround member for ten years.  During that time PlayGround has presented 12 staged readings of my short plays, fully produced six, which went on to have 11 productions across the country and garner five playwriting awards. 

“Short plays,” he shrugs.  Ten minutes is a blink of an eye,”

“Like life,” I say.  “Besides PlayGround has commissioned three of my full-length plays, presenting five staged readings, and this fall with the Aluminous Collective and Altair Productions, PlayGround co-produced the World Premiere of my play, FIRST.  The one about Bill Gates and the first personal computer.

“Ancient history.  In 2014,” he warns me, “It’s not what you do, it’s whom you know.” 

“In 2014, it’s both,” I insist. “Through PlayGround I’ve linked up with over 150 playwrights.  And I’ve worked with 18 wildly inventive Bay Area directors as well as 93 brilliant Bay Area actors.  It doesn’t matter what year it is: PlayGround starts out as a contest, but it becomes a community.”

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS!

Evelyn Jean Pine
Playwright

https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists





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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #11: The Fabric of Community


There is so much that PlayGround has done for me and for our theatre community that I don’t really know where to begin.… When I first moved here (so long ago that the first tech bubble had yet to burst… dark ages, really), the Bay area had a sort of “second-class” reputation for its theatre. With the exception of a few major theatres, we just weren’t always considered “legitimate” by the likes of New York, LA, or Chicago.  Artists would come here for a year or two and then move someplace else to “start” their careers in earnest. Today, we have a reputation for excellence and leadership in new play development and production.  A reputation so strong that many of those “big houses” are working to jump in and catch the ride!  To which I say, “Huzzah! The more the merrier!”

Let’s ALL get on the ride, because this is now part of who we are: the Bay Area knows how to build a theatre community, support its writers, and develop great new plays. And don’t kid yourself — that is due in very large part to PlayGround!  So if you have, in any way, supported PlayGround over the years, this is due to YOU!

When directors, actors, or writers see each other at another theatre, we don’t just vaguely know of each other, we have a feeling of beloved family! We hug, we beam with happiness at our good fortune for running into each other, we feel nourished.  This is 100% because of PlayGround Monday Nights! 

So when it comes time to produce a play or work together, we do not hesitate. We know and love each other; we have seen each other succeed in insane circumstances, and we have seen each other face plant — only to be lifted up with love and applause!  We have risked everything together and so there is deep trust.

I am the artist that I am today in large part because of PlayGround. PlayGround gives us the room to try on new characters in a fully supportive environment. The audience and your peers are there to fully support you, to hear the words, and to see genuine theatrical magic happen. This has made me — and many of us throughout the Bay Area — truly fearless!  And that in turn has completely altered the level of theatre we all get to see on stages around the Bay Area.

PlayGround hones the writers, directors, and actors you see throughout the Bay Area. PlayGround has strengthened the very fabric of the Bay Area theatre community.

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS!

With love to all,

Gwen Loeb

https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists




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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

INVEST IN THE ARTISTS #10: Fail Boldly!

"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
Playwright

https://www.causes.com/campaigns/67350-invest-in-the-artists




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 Causes.com or on the PlayGround website, or call us at (415) 992-6677.