Friday, April 03, 2015

PlayGround's 19th PlayGround Festival of New Works!

PlayGround, the Bay Area’s leading playwright incubator, caps off its 2014-15 season with the 19th annual PLAYGROUND FESTIVAL OF NEW WORKS, running May 7-June 14, 2015, at San Francisco’s Thick House. This year’s expanded Festival features more than 44 performances and readings by over a dozen local writers, including: BEST OF PLAYGROUND 19, a fully-produced program of six 10-minute plays selected from more than 180 submissions to the Monday Night PlayGround series; the world premiere of Robin Lynn Rodriguez’s HELLA LOVE OAKLAND (2013 PlayGround Festival selection) and Garret Jon Groenveld’s THE EMPTY NESTERS (2013 PlayGround Festival selection), and staged readings of four bold new full-length plays in development. Individual tickets are $25-$55 and All-Festival Passes (including priority seating tickets to all festival activities) start at $60. Tickets are available through the Box Office at 415-992-6677 or online at For the complete schedule of performances and readings, visit

BEST OF PLAYGROUND 19 (World Premiere)
Featuring New Works by: Rachel Bublitz, Genne Murphy, Erin Marie Panttaja, Kirk Shimano, Steven Westdahl, and Davern Wright
May 7-24, 2015 at Thick House

The six ten-minute plays to be presented at this year’s Best of PlayGround are:
Reading Babar in 2070 by Rachel Bublitz, directed by Rebecca Ennals
Someone by Genne Murphy, directed by Jeffrey Lo
Preapocalyptica by Erin Marie Panttaja, directed by Katja Rivera
Art and Tech by Kirk Shimano, directed by Jon Tracy
Frankenstein's Grandmother by Steven Westdahl, directed by Tracy Ward
Cratchit by Davern Wright, directed by Jim Kleinmann

This year’s Best of PlayGround ensemble includes: Michael Barrett Austin, Millie DeBenedet, Melissa Ortiz, Michael Phillis, Stephanie Prentice, Lindsey Marie Schmeltzer, and Jomar Tagatac.

HELLA LOVE OAKLAND by Robin Lynn Rodriguez (World Premiere)
Directed by Rebecca Novick
May 11-June 13, 2015 at Thick House

Hella Love Productions in association with PlayGround presents the world premiere of Robin Lynn Rodriguez’s HELLA LOVE OAKLAND, running May 11-June 13. Can a conscientious mother choose between raising awareness and raising her kids? This ninety-minute one-act play uses mixed genres of spoken word poetry, turf dancing, meta and traditional theater to tell the stories of three women in the city of Oakland, dealing with issues of equity in education and the experience of gentrification in urban public schools. Rodriguez’s Hella Love Oakland was commissioned and developed by PlayGround, based on her popular 2012 Best of PlayGround short (also a 20th Anniversary Celebration finalist). Directed by Rebecca Novick and featuring Lisa Morse, Safiya Fredericks and Lizzie Calogero. An Equity-approved project.

THE EMPTY NESTERS by Garret Jon Groenveld (World Premiere)
Directed by Amy Glazer
May 18-June 14, 2015 at Thick House

Empty Nesters Productions in association with PlayGround and Virago Theatre Company present the world premiere of Garret Jon Groenveld’s THE EMPTY NESTERS, running May 18-June 14. When Greg and Frances drop their youngest child off at college in Arizona, they take a little vacation to the Skywalk at the Grand Canyon West on their way back to Los Angeles.  Returning to an empty home, these helicopter parents are faced with the question, "What do you want to be when they grow up?" Groenveld’s The Empty Nesters was a 2013 PlayGround Festival selection. It was further developed last June at the TRU Voices New Plays Reading Series in NYC. Directed by Amy Glazer and featuring John and Pamela Gaye Walker. An Equity-approved project.


Rachel Bublitz (Reading Babar in 2070) is the Founder of the 31 Plays in 31 Days Project and a Youth Ambassador for the Dramatists Guild of America. This is her second season with PlayGround. Rachel’s full-length play, Of Serpents & Sea Spray, will open at Custom Made Theatre Co. in January of 2016.

Garret Jon Groenveld (The Empty Nesters) is a Poet and Playwright living in San Francisco.  An original writer of PlayGround his full-length plays include The Absence of Birds, Missives, The Serving Class, The Empty Nesters and The Hummingbirds.  An inaugural writer in Residence at the Playwights Foundation, his plays have appeared in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (1999, 2004), The Global Age Project (2010, 2012), the TRU Festival (2006, 2014) and have been produced in San Francisco, New York, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Romania, Zaragoza, Spain and Mexico City, Mexico.  THE HUMMINGBIRDS is also the winner of the Internationalists 2012 Global Playwrighting Competition with presentations in 6 Countries.

GENNE MURPHY (Someone) is a Philadelphia-born playwright / arts educator. Her plays include Hope Street and Other Lonely Places (2011 O'Neill finalist, 2012 Azuka Theatre production) and Outside the Wire (shortlist, 2013 BBC International Radio Play Competition). Genne is a member of PlayGround, the 2015 SF Olympians Festival and Philadelphia Young Playwrights’ Alumni Council.

ERIN MARIE PANTTAJA (Prepocalyptica) is in her third season as a member of the Writers Pool. She received a Planet Earth New Play Festival commission to develop a new full-length play based on her short Preapocalyptica, to be workshopped this spring at University of California Berkeley and Stanford. Her plays have been produced at the Dublin Fringe Festival's Thread workshop and Mendocino College's New Works Festival and as part of Twisted Christmas Live.  She is also an engineer, designer, roboticist, and homemaker.

Robin Lynn Rodriguez (Hella Love Oakland) is a PlayGround Resident writer, who received the Emerging Playwright Award when Hella Love Oakland was presented at the 2012 Best of PlayGround Festival. She has also won PlayGround's June Anne Baker Award and her commissioned full-length of Hella Love Oakland received a staged reading at its 2013 Festival. Her full-length play Hedge was a finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in 2011 and received a staged reading at the PlayGround Festival in 2014. She recently began writing for the stage after being a theater teacher. 

KIRK SHIMANO (Art and Tech) wrote the screenplay for Miss Finknagle Succumbs to Chaos, which received the People's Choice Award at the 2013 PlayGround Film Festival. His plays include Love in the Time of Zombies (San Francisco Theater Pub) and Pegasus: The Movie (The Play) (San Francisco Olympians), which was inspired by his day job of illuminating imaginary things with imaginary lights.

Steven Westdahl (Frankenstein’s Grandmother) graduated from Emory University (BAs in English and Theatre & Film), became a founding member of the SF Neo-Futurists (Best Theater, 2014, SF Weekly / Best of the Bay, 2014, Bay Guardian), and will direct Zurich Plays, a Dada history of the Dadaist, at the SF Fringe in 2015.

DAVERN WRIGHT’s (Cratchit) scripts include Would You Like the Can, Sir? (January 2015 PlayGround People’s Choice Award) and Something’s Wrong with Peter (2011 Santa Fe Film Festival Official Selection).  He also acts, and can be seen this summer in Marin Shakespeare Company’s Cymbeline and Richard III.  He has an M.F.A. in Film Production from USC, a B.A. in Theatre from Williams College, and currently teaches Film Editing at Academy of Art University.

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, PlayGround Festival of New Works, Best of PlayGround, 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 nearly 200 local playwrights in the development and staging of over 700 original short plays and 55 new full-length plays, including more than a dozen that have since premiered in the Bay Area. PlayGround alumni have gone on to win local, national and international honors for their short and full-length work, including recognition at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Humana Festival, Sundance Festival, Source Festival, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Aurora Theatre's Global Age Project, Internationalists Playwriting Prize, and New York International Fringe Festival, among others.  More information at

WHAT: 19th Annual PLAYGROUND FESTIVAL OF NEW WORKS, featuring more than 44 performances and readings of bold new plays by over a dozen Bay Area playwrights. The Festival includes: BEST OF PLAYGROUND 19 (world premiere), Robin Lynn Rodriguez’s HELLA LOVE OAKLAND (world premiere), Garret Jon Groenveld’s THE EMPTY NESTERS (world premiere), and staged readings of four new full-length plays in development.

WHERE: Thick House , 1695 18th Street, San Francisco, CA

WHEN:  May 7-June 14, 2015

TICKETS: $25-$55. All-Festival Passes start at just $60. For more information about the PlayGround Festival of New Works, call (415) 992-6677 or visit

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