Friday, December 19, 2014

December People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The December People's Choice Award goes to first-time PlayGrounder Davern Wright for his short play, Cratchit, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround Holiday Extravaganza on December 15 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Davern!

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

by Davern Wright

Character Breakdown:
BOB — Male — 40-50 — A clerk
EMILY — Female — 40-50 — His wife
MARTHA — Female — 14-18 — His older daughter
BELINDA — Female — 12-16 — His younger daughter
PETER — Male — 10-16 — His older son
TIM — Male — 9 — His younger son
SCROOGE — Male — 60s — A miser
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT — Male — 30-50 — A large man

A tiny cottage.  MARTHA and BELINDA stand near a POT on a stove, arguing. 

Don’t lie to me!  Sarah told me you told him I liked him and that was only because you liked him and wanted to get with him —

No, I don’t like him ’cause he’s ugly and he told me he’s not talking to you anymore ’cause he thinks you’re ugly and Anna’s prettier —

(taking up the POT)
You know what, I’m about to dump this all over your stupid lying face, you lying —

Suddenly, BOB bursts through the door, tearing off his coat. 

Tell me the gravy’s ready.  TELL ME THE GRAVY’S READY!!

Dad, Martha threatened to pour boiling hot liquid all over my —

That’s cause Belinda told Adam at school that I liked —

HOLY!  SHIT!  Not today, girls!!  NOT!!! TODAY!!! 
(The girls fall silent.)
Now that gravy better be ready in thirty fucking seconds or you’re both spending next year at a workhouse!
(The girls go back to fixing the gravy.  BOB calls into the other room.)




Hey, Pop —

Tim, where the fuck is your crutch?!

It’s, it’s in the corner  —

(running to get the CRUTCH)
WHAT DID I TELL YOU?!  Do I have to NAIL that thing to your armpit??  Jesus FUCK, you’re not even practicing the limp!

(taking the CRUTCH, putting it on)
I practiced this morning, Dad...

THIS MORNING isn’t good enough!  I need you GIMPED UP 24/7!!!  You’re the fucking emotional centerpiece to the entire fucking enterprise! 

It just strikes me as a bit... dishonest, Pop...

What did you say?


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, January 26, at Berkeley Rep and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.

Friday, December 12, 2014

PlayGround Midwinter/Spring 2015 Playwriting Classes!

If you're an aspiring or emerging playwright or even just a die-hard theatre enthusiast interested in learning how to tap into your own creativity and expand your playwriting horizons, you'll want to check out the lineup for PlayGround’s 2015 Midwinter/Spring playwriting classes (Intensives and PlayLabs), kicking off Monday, January 5 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. Advance registration is required and is $50 per individual class with a Pick-4 subscription for $160 (20% savings), a Pick-6 subscription for $210 (30% savings) and an 8-class subscription for $240 (40% savings).

Our new Tuesday PlayLab Master Class series offers a more hands-on and deeper investigation of class material. In 2015, we’ll offer an 8-week PlayLab with PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann (1/27-3/17) and a 6-week PlayLab with Anthony Clarvoe (3/24-4/28). All PlayLab sessions take place in the PlaySpace on consecutive Tuesdays, 7pm-10pm. Advance registration is required and early-bird discounts are available.

For complete class descriptions and schedule, see below or visit To register for the Monday Night Intensives and/or PlayLabs, visit


PlayLab: Master Class with Jim Kleinmann
1/27, 2/3, 2/10, 2/17, 2/24, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17
$400 ($240 Early-Bird – 40% discount)

This eight-session workshop, led by PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann, explores aspects of playwriting through the lens of the short form and an examination of best practices from twenty years of PlayGround. Sessions will focus on setup, creating characters, dialogue, stage business, conflict/stakes, mapping, and endings. Students will write material each week, to be examined aloud at the following session.

PlayLab: Master Class with Anthony Clarvoe
3/24, 3/31, 4/7, 4/14, 4/21, 4/28
$300 ($240 Early-Bird – 20% discount)

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 further explore in greater depth the art and craft of playwriting. Some experience in theater practice, dramatic writing (straight plays, screenplays, or musicals), or writing in other genres strongly encouraged. Get the tools to finish that play! Shop talks, targeted writing exercises, and discussions will be driven by your questions and needs. The final session will include readings of student work and facilitated feedback.


2/2: Adaptations with Jon Tracy2/9: Triggers, Hooks and Block-busters with Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
3/2: Ten-Minute Play Tips & Tricks with Aaron Loeb
3/9: From Stage to Screen: Screenplay Writing for Playwrights with Amy Glazer
4/6: Writing with an Eye for Staging & Physicality with Mark Jackson
4/13: Stealing from Aristotle: Pity, Fear, and Climactic Catharsis with Lauren Gunderson

Intensive: $50 per session
Pic 2: $90 (10% savings)
Pick 4: $160 (20% savings)
Pick 6-Session Subscription: $210 (30% savings)

Monday, February 2
Adaptations with Jon Tracy
There is nothing new in art except talent.” –Anton Chekhov.  Join PlayGround Resident Director and frequent adapter Jon Tracy on adaptations and how to reimagine classic stories and characters.

Monday, February 9
Triggers, Hooks and Block-busters with Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
How do we spark new work, start new scenes, get them moving, and bust out of a moments where we get stuck.  A group collective brainstorming and exploration where hopefully we’ll emerge from the class with a bunch of new ideas for material as well as new techniques to help us get out of trouble and get the writing started and keep it going.

Monday, March 2
Ten-Minute Play Tips & Tricks with Aaron Loeb
Join seven-time Best of PlayGround participant and 2013 Glickman Award winner Aaron Loeb (Ideation) for this three-hour intensive on the short play.

Monday, March 9
From Stage to Screen: Screenplay Writing for Playwrights with Amy Glazer
Join veteran Bay Area director/filmmaker Amy Glazer for this exploration of how to adapt stage plays to the screen. A professor of film and theatre at San Jose State University, Amy made her feature film debut in 2006 with Drifting Elegant based on Stephen Belber's play of the same name and in 2011 produced her second feature, Seducing Charlie Barker, based on Theresa Rebeck's play The Scene. This class is strongly recommended for those interested in submitting for the PlayGround Film Festival. 

Monday, April 6
Writing with an Eye for Staging & Physicality with Mark Jackson 
A play is at once heard by an audience and seen by spectators. How might a playwright write for both? Shakespeare had virtually no stage directions, allowing his dialogue to paint the action. In recent decades playwrights have been given to stage directions like “a sunflower bursts from the floor and grows above their heads” to prompt their collaborators toward visual storytelling. In this class we’ll look at a variety of examples of what a playwright might write on the page to tell a theatrical story that’s both heard and seen on the stage. 

Monday, April 13
Stealing from Aristotle: Pity, Fear, and Climactic Catharsis with Lauren Gunderson
We’ll explore Aristotle's concept of "pity and fear" and catharsis as a way to keep the stakes and climax of a play high, vibrant and riveting. This will be an exploration not just of tragedy but of comedy and "dramady" too. All levels of writers are welcome to apply these ideas to create powerful plays that satisfy and move audiences.

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.

Amy Glazer has directed numerous World, American and West Coast premieres. Recent productions include Seminar by Theresa Rebeck, as well as Becky Shaw, Tigers Be Still, Harper Regan, Animals Out of Paper, Shining City, and The Scene at San Francisco Playhouse where she is the Associate Artistic Director. For Magic Theatre her work included Sam Shepard's The God Of Hell, Rebecca Gilman's The Crowd You're In With, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, Blue Surge and The American in Me, Steven Belber's Drifting Elegant and Tape, and Barry Gifford's Wyoming. For Marin Theatre Company Amy has directed What The Butler Saw, Frozen, Displaced, Life x 3, My Old Lady, The Music Lesson, Misalliance, Candida and Indiscretions. She has also directed plays for Eureka Theatre, TheatreWorks, SJ Stage Company and the Assembly Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Also a filmmaker, Amy has directed Ball Lightning by Barry Gifford, Drifting Elegant by Steven Belber and Seducing Charlie Barker by Theresa Rebeck, both available on VOD, Netflix and Amazon. All three films were developed from plays she previously directed. Amy Glazer is a theatre and film professor at San Jose State University. SF Chronicle Interview - "Amy Glazer Finds Niche by Turning Plays into Movies"

An award-winning playwright living in San Francisco, Lauren Gunderson has been produced and developed at companies across the US, including Berkeley Rep, Marin Theatre, Crowded Fire Theater, Impact Theatre, Magic Theatre, SF Playhouse, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, the Kennedy Center, South Coast Rep, the O’Neill, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Actors Express Theatre in Atlanta, and Second Stage Theatre and Lark Play Development Center in New York City. She is a Playwright in Residence at The Playwrights Foundation.

Mark Jackson is a playwright, director, and performer whose work has been seen throughout the Bay Area, as well as Denver, Washington D.C., and internationally at Arts International Festival IV (Japan), Edinburgh Festival Fringe (UK), Deutsches Theater Berlin and English Theatre Berlin (Germany). Two collections of his plays have been published by EXIT Press. More at

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.

Aaron Loeb is a playwright and video game maker. His work has been extensively produced by PlayGround and other theaters around the country. He won the 2013 Glickman Award for his play Ideation, premiered at SF Playhouse. His PlayGround-commissioned full-length plays First Person Shooter and Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party also premiered at SF Playhouse and subsequently around the country and his play, Blastosphere, co-written with Geetha Reddy, premiered at CentralWorks.

Peter Sinn Nachtrieb is a San Francisco-based playwright whose works include boom (TCG's most-produced play 2009-10), T.I.C. (Trenchcoat In Common), Hunter Gatherers (2007 ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award, 2007 Will Glickman Prize), Colorado, Multiplex and, his most recent work, The Totalitarians, an NNPN rolling world premiere currently running at Z Space. His work has been seen Off-Broadway and at theaters across the country including at Ars Nova, SPF, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Seattle Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Public Theatre, Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep, Wellfleet Harbor Actor's Theatre, Dad's Garage, and in the Bay Area at Encore Theatre, Killing My Lobster, Marin Theatre Company, Impact Theatre, and The Bay Area Playwrights Festival. He is under commission from South Coast Repertory and American Conservatory Theater, and is a Resident Playwright at the Playwrights Foundation, San Francisco. He holds a degree in Theater and Biology from Brown and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. He likes to promote himself online at

Jon Tracy works as a director, playwright, designer and educator with such companies as Shotgun Players, San Francisco Playhouse, Magic Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, American Conservatory Theatre, and Aurora Theatre, among others, and is a PlayGround Company Member. His work frequently involves adaptation, both as a writer and a director.

Friday, December 05, 2014

PlayGround's Dec 15 Topic Announcement

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!” PlayGround writers will indeed look upon the fabled holiday spirit and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for their inspiration for this month’s Monday Night PlayGround Holiday Extravaganza, taking place at 8pm, Monday, December 15 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Writers have four days to generate their original ten-minute scripts, inspired by the topic “Ghost of Christmas Present,” with the top six plays to be performed on the set of Berkeley Rep’s current show. 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 December, PlayGround will present six original short plays inspired by the “Ghost of Christmas Present.”

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

WHEN: Monday, December 15, 2014 at 8pm
Additional Season Dates:
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.  4-admission priority seating flex passes are just $60.  For more information about the Monday Night PlayGround series, call (415) 992-6677 or visit

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

PlayGround Company in the News Dec-14

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

The 5th Annual San Francisco One-Minute Play Festival at The Brava Theater on December 15th & 16th is a benefit for Playwrights Foundation and features many PlayGround folks, including Trevor Allen, Tim Bauer, Erin Bregman, Rachel Bublitz, Victoria Chong Der, Anthony Clarvoe (faculty), Garret Jon Groenveld, Daniel Heath, Aaron Loeb, Jon Wai-keung Lowe, Jonathan Luskin, Peter Nachtrieb, Naomi Newman, Evelyn Jean Pine, Andrew Saito, Jonathan Spector, Aimee Suzara, Tom Swift, Arisa White, and Ignacio Zulueta. Visit The Brava! For Women in the Arts website or the Brava Box Office to purchase, 415-641-7657.

Rachel Bublitz’s play MOM'S HAM, performed last December in PlayGround's Holiday Recipe, will join the line-up for the Charles Stewart Howard Playhouse's Hard Candy Christmas playing December 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th in LA Another of Rachel’s holiday plays, OY OY OY, MERRY CHRISTMAS! will be performed in Chicago with the James Downing Theatre on December 6th and 7th

Ignacio Zulueta's horror radio play DOWN BY THE LAKE airs in Chicago at Wildclaw Theater's Deathscribe.

Molly Noble is currently playing Mrs. Gibbs in Shotgun Players' OUR TOWN. 

Teddy Spencer will be playing Mick in a reading of the new play YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE with the Alma Theatre Company at the Tides Theatre in San Francisco. More information can be found at

Gwen Loeb is spending December in Yosemite performing as a principal in the Bracebridge Dinner, Holiday Choral, and SAY IT WITH MUSIC review in the Ahwahnee Lodge. She sends her love to the entire PlayGround family and cannot wait to see everyone in January!

Mark Routhier is directing a new play called (A LOVE STORY) at the University of Central Florida and then a world premiere called BAD DOG at Orlando Shakes.
Both were part of PlayFest 2013 (which Mark runs).

Bethanie Baeyen is stage managing the Christmas Revels at the Scottish Rite Temple in Oakland. An American Journey takes us through the traditions of song and dance in the Northeast, Appalachia, New Orleans, and the West. The chorus creates outstanding live music interwoven with a story about a mysterious stranger and a man at the crossroads. This show for all ages opens Dec 13, 2014.

Katja Rivera directed THREE TALL WOMEN at Custom Made Theatre, playing through December 14, and is assistant directing OUR TOWN with Shotgun Players at the Ashby Stage, opening December 11.

Michael J. Asberry will be appearing in AlterTheatre's production of LANDLESS in January and February 2015.

Michael Barrett Austin is supporting Kathleen Turner in Berkeley Repertory Theatre's RED HOT PATRIOT: THE KICK-ASS WIT OF MOLLY IVINS from Nov 21-Jan 4. He will also be performing a candlelit reading of Truman Capote's A CHRISTMAS MEMORY at St. John's in Ross at 5pm on Sat. Dec. 13.

Andrew Saito’s satire about a domestic worker, LA LECHERA, is being presented on December 2 @ 7pm at Crowded Fire Theater at The Thick House. Admission is free. Andrew translated LIFE IS A DREAM, which will be showing at The Cutting Ball Theater on Sunday, December 7 @ 1pm. Admission is free.  In MOUNT MISERY, Andrew imagines Donald Rumsfeld and Frederick Douglass’s interactions across time. Saturday, December 13 @ 2pm at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. Admission is free with museum admission

Aaron Wilton will be in Capital Stage Company's ( production of David Sedaris's one-man show THE SANTALAND DIARIES from December 3-27. 

Liz Anderson is the Managing Director for a three-week acting/filmmaking program for NYU in LA.

Monday, December 01, 2014

November People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The November People's Choice Award goes to Karen T. Hartline for her short play, A Real Humdinger, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround "Musical Theatre Night" on November 17 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Karen!

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

A Real Humdinger
by Karen T. Hartline

Character Breakdown
Jennifer - Female - Age 35-40 - Any Race - A Work-at-home mom
Betty - Female - Age 13 - Any Race - A bratty teen
Stanley - Male - Age 5 - Any Race - A typical little brother
Fred - Male - Age 35-40 - Caucasian - A dapper 1920's gentleman

JENNIFER sits at a computer in a messy living room.
She is on the phone.

Yes, well, I will shoot you that proposal via emal ASAP, Mr. Sampson.

BETTY enters and slams her backpack down.

Well, Mr. Samson, I assure you, my clients are my first priority. I’m truly dedicated-

School is the worst! Why do you even make me go!

A baby starts crying in the other room.

Shit. I mean, no sir, I didn’t mean you. I meant, shit I can’t wait to send you my
proposal! Oh shit, I can’t wait! Right away, sir. My number one priority! Okay. Bye.

JENNIFER hangs up.

Emily told Brian that I said he’s cute and then Brian said that he would only like me if I…

Hold on, I’m listening, just let me go get your brother, okay?

JENNIFER exits and reenters carrying a screaming baby.

This family is the worst!

Aw, there we go now little guy... Itsy bitsy spider climbed up the-

The teacher gave like 50 thousand pounds of homework again today.

Okay, I’ll help you get started right after I send this email for work.

STANLEY enters, holding something on his finger.

Oh goodness, Stanley, you’re up from your nap already. No!


Oh, don’t give it to mommy. Be a big boy and get a tissue.

Alexis has an iPad to do all of her homework.

Go get a tissue for mommy. I already got you an iPhone, you’re not getting an iPad.


Ugh, so unfair! You’re the worst.

Stanley, tissue!

Stanley wipes his finger in BETTY’s hair. She screams
and the two start fighting.

Stop it you two. Betty, let go of your brother. Stanley, don’t hit your sister. I have to
send this email!

FRED enters. He is dressed in 1920s clothing and acts
like a dapper fellow from the period.

Well if it isn’t my swell family all in one room! Who could ask for anything more, huh?


You’re the booger, you little-

I said stop it right now!

There’s my gal.

Yeah, hi. Could you help me? Betty’s got tons of homework, I’ve got to send this email...

Pos-i-lutely, Doll.

FRED makes himself a drink.

Oh, great, because I’ve had one hell of a-

But first, let me tell you a real humdinger of a story about my day.The big cheese down
at the office is goofy for this Gal we’ve got working there. He acts like a real sap around
this tomato and her the same. I don’t know what she sees in him. If you ask me, he’s a
real Palooka, if you know what I mean.

No, I don’t. Babe, could you tell me after I send this email? It’s really important.

So he comes on over to my desk and tells me - right in front of this dame, he says, “Fred, you’re fired.” And he’s giving this Dumb Dora my position.

You lost your job?


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, December 15, at Berkeley Rep and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.