Thursday, November 19, 2015

November People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The November People's Choice Award goes to Patricia Cotter for her short musical, Wild and Precious Life, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround Musical Theatre Night on November 16 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Patricia!

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

by Patricia Cotter
Music & lyrics (“Next Time Around”) by Misner & Smith

Cast: two men, four women

Reverend Sandy - Female - late twenties - thirties. A fairly new minister at a Unitarian/Methodist/very liberal type of church. Trying to do a good job. Kind, smart, a bit uptight now, but will be a fantastic spiritual leader in a few more years.

Alice - female - forty and up. One of Sheila's best friends - loving, grieving. Good friends with Rex and Tina.

Rex - Male - forty and up. A bit of a loudmouth, but a good guy. Loved Sheila. Good friends with Tina and Alice. Grieving.

Tina - Female - thirties and up. Also one of Sheila's best friends. Good friends with Rex and Alice. Grieving.

Kevin - Male - maybe a tad younger than the rest. A nice guy. An outsider, not grieving.

Sheila - Female - at least forty and up. The dearly departed. One of a kind. Loved to stir it up in life and have a blast. Will be greatly missed.

Note: Alice, Rex and Tina are truly grieving the loss of their dear
friend, Sheila - their reaction to her "give away" is exactly what
Sheila would have made them feel something.

A memorial service REX, TINA, KEVIN and REVEREND SANDY (and
unseen other mourners) sit in folding chairs facing the
podium. ALICE just finishes reading a poem.

...”Tell me what else should I have
done? Doesn’t everything die at
last, and too soon? Tell me, what
is it you plan to do with your one
wild and precious life?” Mary
Oliver. That was one of Sheila’s
favorite poets and favorite
poems...Sheila you lived a wild and
precious life and I don’t know how
we will go through the rest of our
lives without you. You were one of
a kind. (beat) I can’t believe that
I’m using “were” I hate that. I
really do...

She finishes, overcome with emotion. Actually everyone is
pretty emotional. Reverend Sandy goes to the podium, she
comforts ALICE. ALICE takes her seat.

This is hard, what you are doing.
Sheila was very loved. She is
leaving an enormous hole in the
universe of her friends and family.
Now before our final song...also a
favorite of Sheila’s...Sheila in
her true iconoclastic style has a
couple more surprises in store for
us. One is this note that she
wanted me to share with those who
are gathered to send her on her
next great adventure. I have it
here. Unopened. Per her request.

(With a smile, to the others) Typical Sheila.

Alice and Tina agree. Rev Sandy opens the envelope.

“Hello. Sorry that my funeral is a
bit of a bummer...but
To take the sting out of my kicking
the bucket, I have instructed that
an envelope containing ten thousand
dollars in taped to the
bottom of one of your chairs. Good
luck, suckas!”

A beat of stunned silence, then they all check the bottom of
their chairs. KEVIN finds the envelope under his chair. He
reacts in a way that is appropriate for finding 10 K, but not
for finding it at a funeral.

Whoa! Yes! Yes! Yes!

He luxuriates in the moolah.


Good for you.

That’s...that’s hilarious.
Congrats...Kevin? Is it?

Yeah. Yeah. Hi everybody. I’m Kevin.

Kevin sits. Everyone tries not to hate him.

Well, now then...that was exciting
and...unusual. This is actually my
first funeral so...I don’t know.
Kevin maybe this would be a good
time for you to tell us how you
knew Sheila and what she meant to you.

Kevin stands.

KEVIN wife Lenore sold Sheila
her house on Morningside.

Kevin sits.

But that was years ago.

So you met her then?

I...yeah...I actually never met
Sheila. I just came with Lenore
today and then she had a showing at she left and I stayed.

Right. So technically you never met

No. Nope. I didn’t. But, you know,
it’s like why do the out of towners
always seem to win the lottery,


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, December 21, at Berkeley Rep and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

October People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The October People's Choice Award goes to Zoe Young for her short play, Rain Dance, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround season opener/2nd annual Planet Earth Arts New Play Festival on October 12 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Zoe!

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

Rain Dance
by Zoe Young
Based on the novel Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

A reservation – the area has been severely drought stricken for two years.

MEDICINE MAN: Male – Native American – Late 80s. Comes from a long line of Laguna medicine men and women. He is charged with retaining the stories and rituals of the people. *The actor for this part should be a young woman of color.
BOY – Leo: Male – 10 years old – Native American. BOY’S little sister died in a flash flood two years ago before the drought began. BOY is convinced he is responsible for the drought. *The actor for this part should be a young man of color. It is IMPERATIVE that the actor not focus too much on playing a child, but speak the lines naturalistically.
MOTHER: Female – 30s/40s – Native American – mother of BOY and his late sister. Since her daughter died she has been unable to touch BOY. *The actor for this part may be a woman of any race.

Costume note:
All characters are dressed plainly, in casual clothes.

Multiple large sticks, a few plastic trinkets, a rag

Lights up on BOY and MOTHER in the kitchen of their house. MEDICINE MAN is at the opposite end of the stage, unilluminated. He sits on a box with a pile of sticks and a few trinkets next to him.

(To MOTHER- whining) Come with me.

Leo, I’ve got to wait for the water man.

He comes here all the time.

He only comes to the Reservation every two days. If I don’t catch him that’ll be another two days without showers.

I’m clean!

Not clean enough.

Just come for five minutes.

We can’t risk it. But you go enjoy the outside world for me. And what are you gonna do?

(Resignedly) Stick to the road and look both ways.


MOTHER moves as though she’s about to hug BOY. BOY looks up expectantly but MOTHER moves away.

Be home in time for dinner.

Lights down on MOTHER and BOY. Exit MOTHER and BOY.
Lights up on MEDICINE MAN

(Speaking to the audience slowly, enjoying telling his story)
A long time ago
When people could still talk to the sky,
The clouds used to cry
And give the people rain.
They didn’t cry with sadness, or with pain,
Because who would dare hurt a cloud.
They cried tears of laughter
Because Mockingbird was so funny.
Her impression of lightning was so good,
The clouds would storm just for her to make fun of them.
Her thunder, would have them clutching their sides, rolling over the fields.
There was always water
And the corn grew tall.
One day, Coyote was in a sad mood.
He was having a bad day,
And he decided to steal Mockingbird
So that he could laugh like the clouds.

Enter BOY hitting two sticks together over his head looking up. He does not notice MEDICINE MAN sitting on the opposite side of the stage.

Wha‘chu doin with those sticks, boy?

(Hides sticks behind his back) Nothin’

Didn’t look like nothin’ to me.

What do you care?

Well that’s my house (points behind him) and that’s my tree (Points in front of him). So I’m guessin’ those are my sticks.

You can’t own sticks!


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, December 21, at Berkeley Rep and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.

Friday, November 06, 2015

PlayGround Company in the News Nov-15

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

Rachel Bublitz's BREAK ROOM and Kirk Shimano's AEOLUS will be presented together as staged readings as part of the sixth SAN FRANCISCO OLYMPIANS FESTIVAL on November 19th at the Exit Theatre. Tickets are available at and more information about the festival can be found at

Steven Westdahl has got his writer, director, and actor hats on again, this time for THE SAN FRANCISCO OLYMPIANS FESTIVAL VI: WINE DARK SEA ( The festival runs for 12 nights, November 4-21, Wednesday through Saturday, at the EXIT Theatre in San Francisco. Weds. Nov. 11th will feature THE CREW, a night of 8 short plays directed by Steven (who also wrote one of the plays, based on the mythological virgin huntress, ATALANTA). And, on Friday Nov. 20th, Steven takes the stage to read multiple roles in OCEANUS by Daniel Hirsch and Siyu Song.

Colin Johnson has two shows in this year’s San Francisco Olympians Festival at The Exit Theatre in SF. His full length play NO CLOSER THAN THE BONE will be performed as a staged reading on November 6th at 8pm. He will be directing DELPHIN on Wednesday Nov 18th at 8pm. Colin will also be writing a short play for this month’s Shotz: Future Fantasy on Nov 11th at 8pm at Pianofight.

Cathleen Riddley is currently performing in Arctic Requiem:  The Story of Luke Cole and Kivalina, directed by Tracy Ward, at Z below through November 16th.

Robert Sicular will be participating in a staged reading of THE RISING by Bernard Weiner at the Mill Valley Library, 7:00 PM, Tuesday, November 17th; and begins rehearsals for THE CHRISTMAS REVELS: A VENETIAN MASQUE, playing the Doge of Venice. The Revels will be performed the second and third weekends of December at the Scottish Rite Temple located by beautiful Lake Merritt in Oakland: 

Amber Sommerfeld is performing in LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST THE MUSICAL at the Douglas Morrison Theatre in Hayward. The show opens Nov. 6th and runs through Nov. 29th, with a preview on Nov. 5th.  

Louis Parnell will next be appearing in THE NETHER at the SF Playhouse in January. He will also be workshopping a new play, ENTANGLEMENT, by AJ Baker in March which will be produced at Z Below in Nov 2016.

Cindy Goldfield is starting rehearsal for her 12th season with ACT's A CHRISTMAS CAROL, playing the Ghost of Christmas Present. 

Nancy Carlin is performing in Amy Freeds THE MONSTER BUILDER at the Aurora Theater Co.

Elena Wright is performing in A DOLL’S HOUSE at Capital Stage now thru Nov 22nd.

Mary Baird just did a reading of JOHN for ACT. She will be at Groundswell: the International Theatre Intensive in San Miguel Nov 5-18. On Nov 27th and 28th she is doing a reading of A CHRISTMAS STORY A by Truman Capote in Ross. 

Katja Rivera took over direction of ANONYMOUS at Bentley school for very pregnant Molly Aaronsen-Gelb, and is looking forward to attending GROUNDSWELL International Theatre Institute in San Miguel de Allende in mid-November. 

Lauren Yee's play KING OF THE YEES is running as part of the Goodman Theatre's New Stages Festival in Chicago, directed by Joshua Kahan Brody. 

Douglas Giorgis recently closed MOMENTS OF TRUTH with 3 Girls Theatre Company.