Friday, November 07, 2014

PlayGround Company in the News Nov-14

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

Trevor Allen’s plays LOLITA ROADTRIP, TENDERS IN THE FOG, CHAIN REACTIONS (each originally developed by PlayGround), THE CREATURE, and WORKING FOR THE MOUSE will be all published by EXIT Press in a book length collection of his plays this winter. He is also now producing and hosting the Theatre Process podcast series, recorded by Black Box and distributed by Theatre Bay Area

Jonathan Spector's play IN FROM THE COLD runs through November 23rd at Live Oak Theater

The world premiere of REDWOLF by Amy Sass and Anthony Clarvoe (PlayGround Faculty) has been called "brutal", "sensual" and "compassionate". Come out for our final weekend Friday, Nov 7 at 8 pm and Saturday, Nov. 8 at 2 pm and 8 pm. The Saturday matinee is Pay What You Can for students and educators with a post-show discussion afterwards: Predator & Prey: In Bed With Red Riding Hood. For tickets: go to

Tracy Ward directed THE DRAGON PLAY by Jenny Connell Davis, running currently at the Impact Theatre.

Rachel Bublitz's new one-act play THE RED HOUSE MONSTER will be staged on November 15th at the Exit Theatre with the San Francisco Olympians Festival ( Madeline Puccioni's play,  THE THREE GRAEAE MEET PERSEUS AND A BANANA PEEL, will be performed at The Exit Theatre in SF on November 19 as part of the San Francisco Olympians Festival, which runs from Nov 5-22; cafe opens at 7 pm, door at 7:30; tickets 10.00 at the door. Speaking of the Olympians, Meghan Kathleen O'Connor has been commissioned to write the full length play PONTOS for the 2015 Olympians Festival, closing out the festival next November.

Bublitz will also join the line-up for Playwright Foundation's 5th Annual One Minute Play Festival coming up on December 15th and 16th at the Brava Theater Center (

Cindy Goldfield just directed The Boyfriend for 42nd Street Moon and begins rehearsal for her 11th season of A Christmas Carol at A.C.T.

Ignacio Zulueta writes for ShotzSF's MONOCULTURE episode this November 25th and provides dramaturgy and live foley for Colin Johnson's audio horror play THE BOOK OF TYPHON at the SF Olympians at the Exit Theatre this Nov 12th.  (

Michael Barrett Austin will be supporting Kathleen Turner in Berkeley Repertory Theatre's RED HOT PATRIOT: THE KICK-ASS WIT OF MOLLY IVINS from Nov 21-Jan 4.

Molly Noble is in rehearsals for OUR TOWN at Shotgun Players.

Brian Herndon will be appearing in 42nd Street Moon’s production of SOMETHING FOR THE BOYS this winter!

Mary Baird has a busy end of the year going into 2015. She is doing a workshop/reading of ASPERN PAPERS at A.C.T, Dec 1-7. Next up, she’ll perform in INDIA INK, coming to A.C.T. early next year. And on Dec 13, she’ll perform in a straged reading of A CHRISTMAS STORY with fellow PlayGrounder Michael Barrett Austin at St Johns Church in Ross.

Colin Johnson is writing and directing Typhon for the San Francisco Olympians Festival Wednesday, Nov 12 at the EXIT Theatre.

Teddy Spencer will be playing Iago in OTHELLO with the Arabian Shakespeare Festival November 13-23. Showtimes and ticket information can be found at

Liz Anderson completed principle photography for the WWII/SciFi film she is directing entitled  The Toll.

Nancy Carlin's production of THE TEMPEST is running at African-American Shakespeare Company and she is helping with dialects on BREAKFAST WITH MUGABE at the Aurora

PlayGround's 6th Annual Musical Theatre Night Topic!

Who Could Ask For Anything More?! PlayGround writers will again draw from the music of George and Ira Gershwin for their inspiration for the sixth annual Monday Night PlayGround Musical Theatre Night, taking place at 8pm, Monday, November 17 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Writers have four days to generate their original scripts, inspired by the topic “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and the songs of the current Broadway touring show of the same name, including some of the greatest music written for the musical theatre – Someone to Watch Over Me, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, ‘S Wonderful, and the title song Nice Work If You Can Get It, among others. Performed on the set of Berkeley Rep’s current show, the Monday Night PlayGround performances will include accompaniment by noted Bay Area pianist and arranger Steve Sanders (1776, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess). Tickets and discount season subscriptions can be purchased online at

PlayGround audiences get to enjoy a unique behind-the-scenes perspective, with a free Pre-Performance Discussion at 7:10pm.  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.

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 PlayGround Festival of New Works, full-length play commissions and support for the production of new plays by local playwrights through the New Play Production Fund. To date, PlayGround has supported more than 200 local playwrights in the development and staging of over 700 original short plays and 54 new full-length plays, with 3 more commissions currently in development. For more information, visit

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.  For November, PlayGround will present six original short plays inspired by the music of George and Ira Gershwin, performed with live accompaniment by noted Bay Area pianist and arranger Steve Sanders (1776, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess).

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

WHEN: Monday, November 17, 2014 at 8pm            
Additional Season Dates:
December 15, 2014 – Holiday Extravaganza
January 26, 2015
February 16, 2015
March 16, 2015

TICKETS: $15 general admission ($20, priority seating) in advance, $20 at the door.  Pay-What-You-Can at the door beginning one hour before the performance, subject to availability.  6-pack flex subscriptions are just $60 (50% off priority seating).  For more information about the Monday Night PlayGround series, call (415) 992-6677 or visit

October People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The October People's Choice Award goes to Maury Zeff for his short play, The Universe on Ice, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround season opener/inaugural Planet Earth New Play Festival on October 20 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Maury!

Courtesy of Mr. Zeff, we're pleased to share the first two pages from the award-winning script. Enjoy!

by Maury Zeff

Cast in Order of Appearance:

NARRATOR – Male – 30s to 50s – Any race – Physically imposing. Stentorian British accent, the most authoritative voice you’ve ever heard. Reminiscent of the very self-assured, stodgy narrators from documentaries of an earlier era.

SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON – Male – 30s to 50s – Caucasian – Hearty, sturdy, stocky. The great polar explorer. British accent with the mildest Irish brogue. Unflaggingly confident, relentlessly ambitious, ravenously hungry. Focused on the singular goal of reaching the South Pole.

EMPEROR PENGUIN – Male – 20s to 30s (but needs to be able to play adult and adolescent) – Any race – Diminutive. Confident, outspoken, principled, impassioned. Has the physicality of a penguin and the gravitas and strength of character of an emperor. Wants humanity to leave him and his egg alone. (Although PENGUIN is a serious character, actor should use the unique physicality of penguins to contrast the character’s seriousness.)

REAR ADMIRAL ROBERT E. PEARY – Male – 30s to 50s – Caucasian – Physically imposing. American, with a vague, ironic resemblance to a walrus. The slightly less great polar explorer. Ruthlessly ambitious, occasionally lecherous, ravenously hungry. Desperately wants to reach the pole—the northern one.

POLAR BEAR – Female – Any age – Any race – Physically imposing. Maternal figure, protective, gentle. Wants to know how the hell she got here, but, even more, wants to protect her family and home.

 (A fierce wind howls over an empty stage. Wind blows throughout play. Actors playing humans should brace against the wind accordingly.)

The great polar historian Raymond Priestly once said, “When disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.”

(SHACKLETON enters, carrying a rifle, braced against the polar squall.)

(Studying his compass, staring in disbelief at the ground in front of him.)
Is it to be believed? 90 degrees South, 0 degrees West? Have I finally reached the pole?

Antarctica is the endemic habitat of the Emperor Penguin, penguindom’s largest species. Phylum Chordata. The female of the species lays a 13.5 centimeter egg that the exhausted bird transfers to the male, who incubates the egg for sixty-four days during the long Antarctic winter.

(PENGUIN waddles on with large egg attached to his belly or legs, or carries egg and places it gingerly on the ground before nesting it in his body. Throughout the play, he is struggling to keep the egg safe.)

 (Reaching for his rifle) Fresh meat!

 (Trying to protect egg with flippers) Whoa, easy, Ernie! I’m going to be a daddy.

You know my name? Wait…What am I saying? You bloody speak?...English?

You speak Penguish?

I must be hallucinating. Three days wandering in this cold and snow will do that to a man.

Commander Robert E. Peary has been described as “undoubtedly the most driven, possibly the most successful and probably the most unpleasant man in the annals of polar exploration.”

Oh God, not Peary!

(Annoyed) Peary? Really?

(PEARY enters, bundled in furs against the sharp wind, carrying a rifle.)

 (Studying his compass) 90 degrees North, 0 degrees West. At long last, I’ve reached the pole.

Ah, Commander Peary, conqueror of the Arctic.
(Aside) In your mind, at least.

A penguin? At the North Pole? Preposterous. You’re not supposed to be here.

I’m not supposed to be here? I’m not the one whose ambient scrotum temperature is 12 degrees.

(Raising his gun toward PENGUIN) Well, it makes no difference. Fresh meat is fresh meat.

(Waving his flippers) Hey, hey, I’m incubating an egg here!

(Looking through the site of his gun) Splendid. An omelet too.

Do I come into your home and wave a gun in your face, threatening your family?

(Clears throat; to Peary; as Jerry Seinfeld used to say to Newman) Hellooooo…Peary.

(PEARY turns toward SHACKLETON, puts down gun when he sees him.)

(Coolly) It’s an honor, Sir Ernest.


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, November 17, at Berkeley Rep and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.