Thursday, March 19, 2015

March People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The March People's Choice Award goes to Takeo Rivera for his short play, Feminist Valhalla, presented as a staged reading at the “HerStory”-inspired Monday Night PlayGround on March 16 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Takeo!

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

by Takeo Rivera

Cast in order of appearance
AUDRE – Black female, late 50s to early 60s
HATSHEPSUT – Black female, late 40s to early 50s
GABRIELA – Filipina female, early 30s
FRIDA – Mexican female, early to late 40s
JOAN – White female, late teens to early 20s
CAROL – white female, early to mid 40s; also plays OFFSTAGE TV VOICE

All action takes place in Feminist Valhalla, the mythical, glorious afterlife for fierce women who have fought for liberation. Stage can either be bare and abstract, or ridiculously adorned like a fire-lit hall from Norse myth.

AUDRE – loose-fitting and colorful 20th century poet’s garb
HATSHEPSUT- as an Egyptian pharaoh, including false beard
GABRIELA – colonial Spanish-inflected traditional clothes
FRIDA – anything you’d associate with Frida Kahlo, really
JOAN – something medieval, preferably armor
CAROL – contemporary boardroom CEO pantsuit

Huge claymore-like sword, TV, easel, chairs, chessboard, briefcase full of resum├ęs

This work is entirely a work of fiction. Although the characters represented here are loosely inspired by historical figures, it is in no way depicting any actual events or even behaviors.

“//”indicates overlapping lines

It is a leisurely day in Feminist Valhalla, the glorious feminist afterworld. The honored heroes lounge around doing various activities: AUDRE lazily sits in front of a TV watching Top Chef. HATSHEPSUT and GABRIELA sit opposite one another intensely concentrating on a chess match. FRIDA is in one corner carefully focusing on painting a self-portrait.

And for this week’s challenge, you will have to cook braised chickens.... with the lights off. DUN-DUN! And no knives!  DUN-DUN!

Audre, shut off the damn TV.

Just let me watch ‘til the elimination part.

I can’t hear myself think and I’m getting my ass whupped. [moves a chess piece]

Honey, we’re in Feminist Valhalla. Last time I checked, I can do whatever I damn want up here after a lifetime of service.

All you did is write a bunch of poems. I could do that with my eyes closed.

Yeah, well, at least I succeeded at something, Mrs. I’m Gonna Lead a Filipino Resistance Struggle to Its Death in the Eighteenth Century.

HATSHEPSUT quietly moves her piece. GABRIELA glares frustratingly, eyeing the board carefully. The OFFSTAGE TV VOICE kicks back in and AUDRE pays close attention.

You’ll have to work as teams to slaughter the chickens with your bare hands. And you’ll have to impress guest judges Taylor Swift and Donald Rumsfeld with your original culinary creations.

Ohmygod shut off that trash. Frida! Help me out, here!


How the hell can you work with Audre’s Top Chef on full blast? [moves piece]

Because.... I am my own muse. I am all I need. (beat) Besides, Feminist Ragnarok can happen any day now. We must make the most of all we can.

(beat) This is why I don’t talk to you.

Frida’s right, you know. The shitty thing with a Norse-themed afterlife is that it all comes crashing down eventually. Ragnarok. End of days! Glorious battle!

HATSHEPSUT moves her piece and checkmates GABRIELA. GABRIELA is pissed, and HATSHEPSUT is delighted.

Oh, kantot!

Checkmate. Ante up. You owe me twenty. // Haha!

[reaches into her pocket, gives HATSHEPSUT a twenty dollar bill] // That ain’t fair. Chess wasn’t even invented in fifteen hundred BC or whenever your mummy ass died. Neither was paper money, for that matter.

But you know what we had in the Eighteenth Dynasty? Brains. I know because we kept them in canopic jars. (beat) Wait, did we?

GABRIELA puts up both her middle fingers at HATSHEPSUT, who blows her a kiss in return. GABRIELA turns to AUDRE.

This is your fault.

You just don’t want to admit that a fierce Black sister is better than you at something.

AUDRE and HATSHEPSUT acknowledge each other and throw fists up. GABRIELA rolls her eyes. Suddenly, JOAN rushes in, clutching her massive sword.

I have a vision! I have a vision!!!

Well, good afternoon to you, too, Joan.

Friday, March 06, 2015

2015 Young Playwrights Project Topic & Guidelines

PlayGround in association with WomenArts announced the topic for the 7th Annual Young Playwrights Contest: Herstory: The Greatest Stories Never Told. This same topic was given to PlayGround’s writers pool for the March 16 Monday Night PlayGround. We invite aspiring high school writers and theatre artists, currently enrolled in grades 9-12, to submit their own ten-minute plays inspired by this topic. The topic is intended as a jumping-off point and all forms of theatrical expression are encouraged. Submissions will be accepted until April 6th, 2015. Four plays will be selected as finalists and receive professionally staged readings concurrent with the 19th Best of PlayGround Festival in May. For complete guidelines, visit  

“Through the Young Playwrights Project, PlayGround and Bay Area high schools partner to enable young writers to find their own expressive voice through the creation, development, and production of short plays,” stated PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann. This year marks the seventh year of the Bay Area-wide Young Playwrights Contest.  This is a tremendous opportunity for creatively-inclined high school students to experiment with writing for theatre in the ten minute theatre form. The finalists gain immeasurable confidence and accomplishment from seeing their works staged by Bay Area theatre professionals, alongside the adult professional playwrights at Best of PlayGround,” added PlayGround Education Coordinator Dylan Russell.

High school students from the Bay Area nine counties are invited to submit original short scripts inspired by the assigned topic by the deadline of Monday, April 6, 2015 deadline. The same topic was also assigned to PlayGround’s professional writers pool members for the March 16th round of Monday Night PlayGround in residence at Berkeley Rep.

Past Young Playwrights Project finalists include: Jake Rosenberg (Jewish Community High School of the Bay ’14), Christine Lim (SOTA ’15), Alona Bach (Berkeley High ’11), and Tessa King (Tamalpais ’15).

SUBJECT: Young Playwrights Project Contest
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Monday, April 6th, 2pm
TOPIC: “Herstory: The Greatest Stories Never Told”
MORE INFO: Dylan Russell, Education Coordinator; 415.992.6677;;

About PlayGround:
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 more than 200 local playwrights in the development and staging of over 700 original short plays and 54 new full-length plays, including more than a dozen that have since premiered in the Bay Area. For more information, visit
For more information, visit  For more information on the Young Playwrights Project, visit

PlayGround & WomenArts Announce March 16 Topic!

PlayGround and WomenArts have announced the topic for the inaugural “WomenArts Night,” a special Monday Night PlayGround evening featuring short plays that will celebrate women in the arts and exemplify gender parity in theatre. Writers have four days to generate their original ten-minute scripts, inspired by the topic “Herstory: The Greatest Stories Never Told,” with the top six plays to be performed on the set of Berkeley Rep’s current show. Monday Night PlayGround “WomenArts Night” will take place at 8pm on Monday, March 16 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.  [NOTE: This is also the topic for this year’s Young Playwrights Project, providing unique opportunities for the Bay Area’s top high school dramatists.] Tickets and discount flex passes for Monday Night PlayGround can be purchased online at

Each month, PlayGround announces a topic to the forty-eight playwrights in the PlayGround Company and the writers have four-and-a-half days to generate original ten-minute scripts inspired by the topic. The top six plays are rehearsed for just one-and-a-half hours each and presented as script-in-hand staged readings at Monday Night PlayGround, now celebrating its twenty-first year. 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

WomenArts (Co-Producer) is a non-profit advocacy group for women artists that facilitates the annual world-wide Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) celebrations in March and April.  Currently celebrating its twentieth anniversary, WomenArts created Support Women Artists Now Day (SWAN Day) as a new international holiday in 2008.  SWAN Day has inspired people all over the world to donate to women artists and to create events celebrating women artists on SWAN Day (the last Saturday of March) and throughout March and April.  There have been over 1,200 SWAN events in 24 countries over the past seven years.  Everyone is welcome to participate by creating or attending SWAN events or by making donations to their favorite women artists. No applications or fees are required.  For more information, please 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 March’s performance, PlayGround and WomenArts will present an evening of short plays, inspired by the topic “HERSTORY: THE GREATEST STORIES NEVER TOLD.”

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

WHEN: Monday, March 16, 2015 at 8pm
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

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

PlayGround Company in the News Mar-15

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

Mina Morita will be joining the Crowded Fire team as their new artistic director! She is also directing Chris Chen’s AULIS: AN ACT OF NIHILISM IN ONE LONG ACT, which opens at UC Berkeley on March 6, with Anthony Williams as Menelaus.

Tracy Ward is directing Fancy Nancy for Bay Area Children's Theatre, which opens April 11 at the Freight and Salvage before touring to Marin Theatre Company and later to the Children's Creativity Museum in SF.

Diane Sampson's short play TWEAK will be done as part of Little Black Dress Ink's Outside the Lines Female Playwrights Festival, dates and location TBA. Another of her ten-minute plays, An Unexpected Stop Along the Yellow Brick Road, will be produced in May by North Park Vaudeville in San Diego, and WHAT’S TRUE, a Monday Night PG selection, will be performed in Virginia this month. 

Melissa Keith is performing in OTHER DESERT CITIES at the New Conservatory Theatre Center from March 6–April 5.

Doyle Ott directs the West Coast premier of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane for Bay Area Children's Theatre, which runs through April 12 at Berkeley Rep’s Osher Studio and at the Children's Creativity Museum Theatre in San Francisco.

Mary Baird will be playing Lord Capulet in ROMEO AND JULIET at the Omni Commons in Oakland on March 27, 28; April 3, 4, 10, 11. (Parking is tricky, so come early.) The show is free, but artists are paid with funds raised via Indigogo. To donate, go to 

Bethanie Baeyen is stage managing for Livermore Valley Opera’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor on March 14, 15, 21, and 22.

Rebecca Ennals just opened Jane Eyre, a co-production of SF Shakes and Los Altos Youth Theatre, and will be directing Romeo & Juliet for SF Shakes’ Free Shakespeare in the Park this summer, featuring several fellow PG company members! (See below.)

Gwen Loeb is heading to the Berkshires in March for a workshop performance of the new musical Can You Hear Me Baby, which originated as a PG cast reading. It will be directed by two-time Tony nominee Jayne Atkinson. Gwen is also playing the Nurse this summer in San Francisco Shakespeare Festival's production of Romeo & Juliet, which includes PG company members Carla Pantoja as Tybalt and Michael Asberry as Lord Capulet.

Michael J. Asberry just finished LANDLESS with AlterTheater in San Rafael, playing four distinctly different characters. Says Asberry, “I thought about how my experience in Best of Playground 16 prepared me for that challenge.” He credits PlayGround for the opportunity to show versatility and range, which led to more opportunities.

Julia McNeal will be reading Heather in Fred's Diner at the Magic's Virgin Play Series on March 4, and is thrilled to be working with several other PlayGround company members on the four-performance reading of Talley and Son at the Aurora this spring.

Molly Noble is directing SEAGULL at the College of Marin and will be acting in four staged readings of Talley and Son at Aurora Theatre in May.

Ross Peter Nelson's full-length play BONES will receive a staged reading at the University of New Orleans on March 26.

Rehearsals start this month for the musical MAX UNDERSTOOD, written by Nancy Carlin with composer Michael Rasbury. It will run two weeks only, April 15–26, at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason in SF. PlayGround regular Teddy Spencer plays Dad.

Teddy Spencer is currently playing Nicholas in a workshop production of the new musical SOME PEOPLE HEAR THUNDER at the Southside Theatre in San Francisco. There will be three free public performances March 6, 7, and 8. For more information, go to

Colin Johnson’s play, The Night Before, initially developed as part of Monday Night Playground, will be performed March 5–7 as part of Pianofight's Shortlived audience-judged playwriting competition.

Louis Parnell will be directing the 3GirlsTheatre production of MOMENTS OF TRUTH, a new musical by Patricia Milton and Caroline Altman that will play in September and October at the Royce Gallery in SF.

Patricia Cotter's play THE RULES OF COMEDY will be featured at the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 39th Humana Festival in April.

The collaborative theatre ensemble BrickaBrack is moving to New York in April. Gabriel Grilli, its founding artistic director, says, “I will miss all of you in the Bay! We're very excited about this next chapter of BrickaBrack, and hope our Bay Area friends will continue to follow our work in New York."

Brian Herndon, Cindy Goldfield, and Michael Barrett Austin are currently in rehearsal for NICK & NORA for 42nd Street Moon, which will be playing April 1–19.

Nick Sholley and Thais welcomed baby boy Sidney Joseph late last October and are now seeing more sunlight and hopefully more of you, too. Nick is now in Conor Mcpherson's Shining City at Main Stage West in Sebastopol through March 15, and will be appearing as Clarence in RICHARD III at Marin Shakes this summer.

Ignacio Zulueta's PRESS CONFERENCE goes into its final week at the Snowdance Comedy Festival in Wisconsin. He is also collaborating on a large-scale immersive theatrical experience coming to San Jose in early summer. Only a limited number of tickets will be released for this one-night-only event, so join Ignacio's mailing list ( to be one of the first to know when tickets become available.