Friday, September 19, 2014

PlayGround's 20th Anniversary Season Announcement!

Write A Play, Save the Planet! At PlayGround’s 20th Anniversary Celebration on Monday evening, PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann announced plans for the upcoming twentieth anniversary season, including a brand-new collaboration with Berkeley-based Sustainable World Coalition, a project of Earth Island Institute. Sustainable World Coalition and PlayGround will present the inaugural Planet Earth New Play Festival at Berkeley Rep on Monday, October 20 for the opening Monday Night PlayGround and repeat the program on Tuesday, October 21 at Stanford University in partnership with the National Center for New Plays. The Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series continues on third Mondays through March (the January round will take place on the fourth Monday, January 26) and six-admission season subscriptions are available for just $60 (a 50% savings off priority seating individual tickets). For tickets and more information, visit

Planet Earth New Play Festival is a new initiative designed to inspire playwrights to create bold new works for the stage that explore issues of planetary sustainability and social justice. PlayGround’s writers (see below) will participate in a pre-topic announcement prep session on October 7 at the Ecology Center with the topic announcement to follow on Friday, October 10. Writers will have four-and-a-half days to generate their original short scripts and the top six plays will be selected, rehearsed with leading Bay Area directors and actors, and presented on Monday, October 20 at Berkeley Rep. In a recent interview Tony Kushner described climate change as “without question the greatest danger that the human race as ever faced and we have to figure out a way to live on the planet with less negative consequences. Everything that is good about humans will need to be summoned into this fight.” Planet Earth New Play Festival is using the transformative power of theater to awaken, enlighten and move audiences to action and change in their own lives as well as in their communities.

“Our vision and mission is to create a body of artistic work that explores and fosters a new understanding of and commitment to a world where people thrive and nature flourishes” says Vinit Allen, founder and Executive Director of the Sustainable World Coalition. Michael Fried, co-founder and Artistic Executive Producer of the Planet Earth New Play Festival explains, “Theater has always been a powerful form for exploring and mirroring the issues each generation faces. We are dedicated to inspiring theater artists and audiences to claim the issue of planetary sustainability as the most important issue of our time.”

PlayGround audiences will get to enjoy a unique behind-the-scenes perspective, with a free pre-performance discussion before each Monday Night performance, featuring select playwrights, PlayGround company members and other special guests.  Audience members can also experience the thrill of being a producer through the monthly People’s Choice Awards, helping to determine which plays and playwrights go on for consideration in PlayGround’s annual showcase, the Best of PlayGround Festival.

The 2014-15 PlayGround Writers Company includes: Terry Anderson, Zara Benner, Bill Bivins, Cass Brayton+, Erin Bregman+, Rachel Bublitz, Madeleine Butler, Ron Campbell, Patricia Cotter, Victoria Der, Dave Garrett, Ruben Grijalva+, Garret Groenveld+, Tanya Grove, Leah Halper, Karen Hartline, Colin Johnson, Melissa Keith, Sang Kim, Elliott Kopstein, Brady Lea+, Jon Lowe, Jonathan Luskin+, Karen Macklin, Katie May+, Genne Murphy, Naomi Newman, Meghan O'Connor, Erin Panttaja, Madeline Puccioni, Takeo Rivera, Mandy Rizvi+, Robin Lynn Rodriguez+, Andrew Saito, Diane Sampson+, Amy Sass+, Kirk Shimano, Cleavon Smith, Martha Soukup, Aimee Suzara, Tom Swift+, Steven Westdahl, Arisa White, Josh Williams, Davern Wright, Zoe Young, Maury Zeff, Lesli Zephyr, and Ignacio Zulueta+. 
 + Resident Playwrights 

PlayGround, the Bay Area’s leading playwright incubator, provides unique development opportunities for the Bay Area’s best new playwrights, including the monthly Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series, annual Best of PlayGround Festival, full-length play commissions and support for the production of new plays by local playwrights through the New Play Production Fund and, PlayGround’s newest initiative, the PlayGround Film Festival. To date, PlayGround has supported 200 local playwrights in the development and staging of nearly 700 original short plays and 50 new full-length plays, including more than a dozen that have since premiered in the Bay Area, New York and around the country. PlayGround alumni represent the who’s who of the Bay Area’s best new playwrights, including Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Aaron Loeb, Erin Bregman, Garret Jon Groenveld, Geetha Reddy, and Lauren Yee, among others. For more information, visit

A project of the Earth Island Institute in Berkeley, Sustainable World Coalition (SWC) works to educate, inspire and activate, fostering a strong engagement in planetary sustainability and a fair, equitable human society. SWC produces its annual Spring of Sustainability, a 12-week virtual sustainability education and engagement program comprised of free teleseminars. It also publishes an annual Sustainable World Sourcebook. Planet Earth Arts Initiative was born out of a creative partnership between Vinit Allen, founder and Executive Director of SWC, and theater and film producer/director Michael Fried, who serves as Artistic/Executive Producer. Planet Earth Arts is bringing together a community of artists from all disciplines in a bold new collaborative partnership with scientists, public policy leaders, universities and non-profit organizations. Its vision and mission is to create a body of work that explores and fosters a new understanding of and commitment to a world where people thrive and nature flourishes. Composer Gary Malkin and Writer/Filmmaker Neal Rogin joined Vinit and Michael in the creative visioning of the Planet Earth Arts Initiative. Planet Earth New Play Festival is a collaboration between Sustainable World Coalition, National Center for New Plays at Stanford and PlayGround.

WHAT:           Occurring monthly, October-March, the popular Monday Night PlayGround series presents staged readings of thematically-connected short works by the Bay Area’s best new playwrights each month at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, staged by leading local professional actors and directors.  The 20th anniversary season begins Monday, October 20 with the inaugural Planet Earth New Play Festival, presented by Sustainable World Coalition, PlayGround and the National Center for New Plays at Stanford. 

WHERE:         Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison St, Berkeley, CA 

WHEN:           Monday, October 20, 2014 at 8pm (program repeats Tuesday, October 21, 7:30pm at Stanford University)

Additional Season Dates: 
November 17, 2014
December 15, 2014
January 26, 2015
February 16, 2015
March 16, 2015

TICKETS:       Advance tickets ($15, $20 - priority seating) are available online. $20 general admission tickets go on sale at the door one hour before the performance, subject to availability.  Six-admission priority seating subscriptions are just $60.  For more information about the Monday Night PlayGround series, call (415) 992-6677 or visit


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