Wednesday, September 03, 2014

PlayGround Fall 2014 Playwriting Classes!

PlayGround announces the Fall 2014 lineup of playwriting classes for Bay Area playwrights from beginners to advanced, beginning Monday, September 22 at the PlayGround PlaySpace (BART-accessible and plenty of free parking).

Monday Night Intensives are weekly three-hour classes, led by leading playwrights and other members of the Bay Area theatre community, addressing various aspects of playwriting craft. All Intensives take place at the PlaySpace on select Mondays, 7pm-10pm (NOTE: Most Intensives are designed as stand-alone single sessions though there are occasional two-session classes). Advance registration is required and is $50 per individual session with a Pick-3 subscription for $135 (10% savings), Pick-6 subscription for $240 (20% savings) and 10-class subscription for $300 (40% savings).

This Fall, PlayGround launches a new Tuesday series – PlayLabs – offering for a more hands-on and deeper investigation of class material. Each PlayLab includes six consecutive Tuesday evening sessions, 7pm-10pm, at the PlaySpace. Advance registration is required and is $300 for each PlayLab (save 20% with early-bird registration).

For complete class descriptions and faculty bios, visit
To register for the Monday Night Intensives and/or PlayLabs, visit


PlayLab: Independent Producing
9/23, 9/30, 10/7, 10/14, 10/21, 10/28
$300 ($240 Early-Bird)

This six-session workshop, led by PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann, explores the challenges and benefits of independent producing, from both business and artistic perspectives. Guest instructors Ken Slattery (Truffaldino Says No, The Shakespeare Bug), Evelyn Jean Pine (First, SF Olympians), Diane Sampson (Sleeping Cutie) and Katie May (Manic Pixie Dream Girl) will provide first-person case studies from their recent forays into the world of self-producing including discussion on script development, dramaturgy, deadlines, the role of the line and executive producer, building and capitalizing your budget, working with unions, venue selection, promotion, public relations, building your audience, and the future life of your new play. Students will develop their own action plan around getting their work on stage.

PlayLab: Master Class with Anthony Clarvoe
11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25, 12/2, 12/9
$300 ($240 Early-Bird)

This six-session workshop, led by award-winning playwright and master teacher Anthony Clarvoe (Pick Up Ax, The Living, Our Practical Heaven), will enable you to explore in greater depth the art and craft of playwriting. Shop talks, targeted writing exercises, and discussions will be driven by your questions and needs. The final session will include readings of student work by professional actors and facilitated feedback.


9/22: Kickstarting the Creative Process: Writing Exercises with Jonathan Luskin
9/29: Clowning Around: Physical Theatre for Playwrights with Brady Lea
10/6: The Theatre of History: Playing with Historical Material, Part I with Evelyn Jean Pine
10/13: The Theatre of History: Playing with Historical Material, Part II with Evelyn Jean Pine
10/27: One Singular Sensation: Writing Musicals with Diane Sampson
11/3: Building Better Plays through Bravery, Part I with Garret Jon Groenveld
11/10: Building Better Plays through Bravery, Part II with Garret Jon Groenveld
11/24: Uncommon Connections: Introduction to Devised Theatre with Naomi Newman
12/1: Truffaldino Says No: Comedy Writing for the Stage with Ken Slattery
12/8: Playing The Write: Ensemble-Based Creative Development with Amy Sass

Intensive: $50 per session
Pick-3 Subscription: $135 (10% savings)
Pick-6 Subscription: $240 (20% savings)
10-Session Subscription: $300 (40% savings)

Monday, September 22
Kickstarting the Creative Process: Writing Exercises with Jonathan Luskin

An introduction to a selection of concise yet powerful creative development tools and exercises. We will develop characters, cause scenes, and build stories, writing in class, working together and individually.

Monday, September 29
Clowning Around: Physical Theatre for Playwrights with Brady Lea

An on-our-feet introduction to physical theatre. We’ll use our bodies to look at new ways to find inspiration and explore new ways to create bold characters. Playing with physical relationships and exploring clowning, mime* and physical improvisation, we’ll write the stories that our bodies create. Be prepared to move and write.  *Instructor was actually kicked out of mime school in 1990

Mondays, October 6 & 13
The Theatre of History: Playing with Historical Material, Parts I & II with Evelyn Jean Pine

Shakespeare didn't write Richard the III because it was history.  He wrote it because it was compelling, political, scary, hilarious and fun. Explore  tools and tactics to transform stories from history into powerful and passionate theatre that speaks to today.

Monday, October 27
One Singular Sensation: Writing Musicals with Diane Sampson

Why should you write a musical and how should you go about doing it?  This three-hour session addresses some of the basic questions such as "which comes first, the music or the lyrics?" and gives you the opportunity to write some lyrics yourself.

Mondays, November 3 & 10
Building Better Plays through Bravery, Parts I & II with Garret Jon Groenveld

Let’s set a resolution to step into the unknown and let bravery guide us into exploring the limits of the craft of playwriting.  What’s off limits? What are you afraid of?  What cannot be said?  We’re going to figure how to get past that and bravely write into the necessary and the vital. Come to the first week with an idea and we’ll tackle the big three pillars of playwriting in a whole new light:  1) Break open structure and explore the notion that every story can be new if we find the right take;  2) Dig into dialogue and take our cue from the Italian poet Pavese, and use our plays as “the Adamic act of naming the world into itself;”  3) Crack open the possibilities for character - pushing the envelope on who can carry a play the whole distance. You’ll leave with in-class writing exercises as a starting point for at-home work exploring the ideas and pushing into your material. The second week we’ll continue our conversation as we workshop your writing with an eye for suggesting new directions and pushing your limits.  “May I suggest” spoken here.

Monday, November 24
Uncommon Connections: Introduction to Devised Theatre with Naomi Newman

Get risky; get lost. Don’t know where you’re going. Combine unusual and not obviously related material. Put whatever calls to you into the pot. This three-hour experiential class by A Traveling Jewish Theatre co-founder Naomi Newman involves writing, movement and sound exercises, and improvisation.

Monday, December 1
Truffaldino Says No: Comedy Writing for the Stage with Ken Slattery

What are the specific challenges of writing comedy for the stage and what makes something funny? This three-hour session with PlayGround playwright and Killing My Lobster Writing Director Ken Slattery will involve hands-on exercises to help you get your funny onto the page (and stage)!

Monday, December 8
Playing The Write: Ensemble-Based Creative Development with Amy Sass

Writing is known to be a fierce solo activity. It exists for a long time in our minds and on the screens of our computers. The work is cloistered and private until suddenly... it’s not.  What if you had an ensemble of creative people to work with from day one? What if you could feel the story develop in real time using all your senses? Playing The Write is a fresh approach to developing story on our feet, beyond words and beyond the page. This energetic class will engage writers in multidisciplinary activities used by Ragged Wing Ensemble (visual art, acting, directing, and prop-play) designed to alight the imagination and stir the senses toward the development of a new work. In small groups, attendees will form mini-ensembles for the duration of the class. We will generate raw material based on a common theme and experiment with imagery, action and juxtaposition as primary forces in storytelling.

About the Faculty

Anthony Clarvoe is an award-winning playwright and acclaimed teacher. His adaptations include The Brothers Karamazov (LA Drama Critics Circle and Garland Awards), City of Light (which sold out its extended run at Studio Arena Theatre), translations of Ibsen and Camus, and most recently Gizmo, inspired by Capek’s R.U.R. and Sinclair’s The Jungle, premiered last season at Pennsylvania Center Stage and in Cutting Ball Theater’s Risk Is This festival.

Garret Jon Groenveld is a founding writer of PlayGround and seven-time winner of the Emerging Playwrights Award. Among his full-length plays include: The Empty Nesters, The Grand Divorce, The Hummingbirds, Missives and The Serving Class. His play Missives, originally commissioned by PlayGround, appeared in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in 2004, premiered in San Francisco in 2005 at Theatre Rhino and in New York in 2008 at 59E59 Theatres. His play The Hummingbirds won the Global Age Project at the Aurora and the Internationalists Global Playwriting Prize which has lead to an ongoing tour in Romania, two productions in Mexico City and a developmental workshop with Olympia Dukakis in New York. He is an inaugural Writer in Residence at the Playwrights Foundation, a PlayGround Resident Playwright, and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.

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 twenty 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 has co-produced the world premieres of more than a dozen plays by Bay Area writers, including most recently Katie May’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Evelyn Jean Pine’s First and Diane Sampson’s Sleeping Cutie. He is a veteran arts administrator with more than twenty-five years of experience, including stints leading Traveling Jewish Theatre, Smuin Ballet and Berkeley Symphony, and received his MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

Brady Lea is a playwright, performer and theatre arts educator. She is a three-time PlayGround Emerging Playwright Award winner and the recipient of the 2006 June Anne Baker Prize. She is a graduate of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and performed for several years with the vaudeville trio The Kloons. Brady is currently a visiting artist in physical theatre and improvisation at San Francisco School of the Arts.

Jonathan Luskin has received two PlayGround Emerging Playwright Awards, a full length commission and two short film grants. His work has been read at the Playwrights Lab, the Magic Theatre, and the Bay Area Shorts Festival. Jonathan has directed for theater and film, and is a co-founder of Flying Moose Pictures, a video design company.

Katie May’s plays include Manic Pixie Dream Girl (fringeNYC), Black Sheep Gospel (Great Plains Theater Conference), A History of Freaks (Finalist David Mark Cohen Award), among others. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Virginia Piper Writing Center, a grant from the Women in Film Foundation, and is a two-time PlayGround Emerging Writers Award winner. Her animated short film adaptation of Rapunzel’s Etymology of Zero was featured in the inaugural PlayGround Film Festival as an animatic, and will soon be making its fully-animated debut. May holds an MFA in Playwriting from Arizona State University.

Naomi Newman co-founded A Traveling Jewish Theatre. For over three decades she alternated between director, playwright and performer, winning awards in each field.  For her contributions to Bay Area cultural life she has received a Tikkun Award, Mill Valley Creative Achievement Award, and Theatre Bay Area’s Community Leadership Award.

Evelyn Jean Pine writes plays about that moment when you feel your life is brand new. In addition to First, her play about the birth of personal computing and the role of Bill Gates, 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. She was a 2013 Resident Writer at the Djerassi Artists Residency Program. 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.

Diane Sampson has written three musicals: Sleeping Cutie (book and lyrics), Writes and Re-writes  and Oh, Progeny! (lyrics and melodies, and book co-author). She has been a PlayGround writer for ten years, and under their auspices has written over 50 ten-minute plays. Her short pieces have been staged in venues as far afield as Seattle and Miami. One of them, Undone, was made into a film that was screened as part of PlayGround’s 2nd  Annual Film Festival in May 2013. Her full-length (non-musical) plays include Charlotte Takes the Plunge and Naked, another PlayGround commission. She is the 2010 recipient of the June Anne Baker Prize.

Amy Sass is a multidisciplinary artist and the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Ragged Wing Ensemble. She is recipient of the 2013 Emerging Playwright Award for her short play Significant People (also a People’s Choice Award winner) and the 2013 June Anne Baker Prize and commission.

Originally from Ireland, Ken Slattery studied Drama and Theatre at Trinity College Dublin. In recent years in the Bay Area, Shotgun Players produced Truffaldino Says No and Killing My Lobster produced The Shakespeare Bug, both of which were full-length plays initially commissioned by PlayGround. Ken is the Writing Director for KML.

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