Friday, December 09, 2016

Nutcracker, Sweet!

This month we celebrate the holidays PlayGround-style with bold and irreverent interpretations on that most traditional of holiday entertainments, The Nutcracker! Playwrights can draw for their inspiration from the original E.T.A. Hoffman story, Alexander Dumas’ adaptation, Tchaikovsky’s score and ballet, Duke Ellington’s musical adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s score, and more! The top six short works will be presented as script-in-hand staged readings on Monday, December 19 at Berkeley Rep. For tickets and discount flex passes, visit

Each month, PlayGround announces a topic to the thirty-six playwrights in the PlayGround Writers Pool and the writers have four-and-a-half days to generate original ten-minute scripts inspired by the topic. Recent topics have included: “We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident,” “Artificial Intelligence,” and “Awakening to the Dream of the Earth” as part of a now-three-year collaboration with Planet Earth Arts and Stanford University. The top six plays from each month 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-third 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 over 200 local playwrights in the development and staging of more than 800 original short plays and 71 new full-length plays, with 8 more commissions currently in development. PlayGround also operates Potrero Stage (formerly Thick House), a black box theatre in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, currently undergoing renovations and re-opening in late January 2017. For more information, visit

WHAT: Occurring monthly, September-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.  The given topic for the December 19  PlayGround Holiday Extravaganza is “Nutcracker, Sweet!”.

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

WHEN: Monday, December 19, 2016 at 8pm
Additional Season Dates:
January 16, 2017 – S.T.E.M. Night
February 20, 2017 - Social Justice Night
March 20, 2017 – WomenArts Night

TICKETS: Tickets are $15 general admission ($30, priority seating) online in advance and $20 general admission at the door, subject to availability. 5-admission flex passes are just $75 and include priority seating.  For more information about the Monday Night PlayGround series, call (415) 992-6677 or visit

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

PlayGround Company In the News Dec-16

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

Diane Sampson’s THE SOUND OF MOONLIGHT is one of eight short plays being produced by the Playwrights Center of San Francisco in PlayOffs, their annual fundraiser. Performances are 12/1-3 and 12/8-10. More info at

Check out the script-in-hand performance of Eugene O'Neill's Dynamo for the Eugene O'Neill Foundation, directed by Eric Hayes, at the Tao House at the start of January. It will feature fellow PlayGround vets Aaron Wilton and George Maguire.

L. Zephyr's, AFTER THE HOLIDAYS, will be performed as a part of Holidays With A Twist, at PianoFight. Dec 4th, 10th, 11th and 12th. Nothing says Christmas quite like unemployed, melting snowwomen.

The short film adaptation of Ruben Grijalva's VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT makes its world premiere at the Bahamas International Film Festival Saturday, December 10 in Nassau. The new film, adapted from the Best of PlayGround 17 short play of the same name, was directed by Grijalva and stars Craig Marker, Rod Gnapp, Elena Wright, Gabriel Marin, and Daryl Anthony Harper.

 Rachel Bublitz's play OY OY OY, MERRY CHRISTMAS! is being produced in the James Downing Theatre's Short Play Festival December 3, 4, 10, and 11 near Chicago, Illinois.
  The second play of the TheatreFirst season, Vs., continues through December 17th. The book was written by Cleavon Smith with lyrics by Reggie D. White and music by Stephanie Prentice.
Louis Parnell
continues to perform in the 3Girls Theatre production of ENTANGLEMENT (which he also directed) by AJ Baker through Dec 17. The show plays Thurs-Sun at Z Below at 450 Florida St in SF.

Each One Reach One is recruiting theater artists to mentor incarcerated youth. Dave Garrett will be leading playwriting workshops in December, January and March

Steven Westdahl the actor appears onstage as Ben Jonson the playwright in the American premiere of Clive Barker's Paradise Street, running Dec. 1st - 17th at The EXIT Theater.

ONE GOOD DAY by Simon Fill was just selected for the Ianiro Festival of Plays in the Bay Area.

Nic A. Sommerfeld is still performing as Spock at Oasis in SF till December 10th! Nic is also performing in KMLZ at Z Space on December 15th, 16th, and 17th. 

Congratulations are in order for Laylah Muran de Assereto who directed four of the plays in PCSF's PlayOffs 2016 opening Dec 1st at Exit Stage Left!!! Laylah has also been appointed Artistic Director of Spare Stage theatre company.

Robert Sicular returns to the California Revels this holiday season. This year's theme is A Child's Revels in Wales with Robert starring as Dylan Thomas. For tickets and more info:

Named as one of the 30 YBCA Arts and Social Justice Fellows tasked with exploring the question "What is Citizenship?" over the next 12 months is our very own Roberta D'Alois!!!!

Evelyn Jean Pine's play, INVESTING, about why autocratic leaders attack and expel Muslims and Jews, is being staged by Theatre Ariel, Philadelphia's Jewish Theatre. Evelyn will also be performing with other San Francisco State Faculty at Solo Sundays at StageWerx on December 11 at 7:00pm.

Truman Capote's A CHRISTMAS MEMORY at a candlelit church in Ross at 7pm on Fri. Dec. 2 and 2pm on Sat. Dec. 3. by Michael Barrett Austin and Mary Baird. Mary will also be presenting REEL BY REEL at 8:00pm on December 8 at the Magic. 

Madeline Puccioni's three little RICO PLAYS (a homeless old Chihuahua crooner seeks a humane human - and a bath ) bookended the Playwrights Foundation's stellar FLASH PLAYS on Dec 3 and 4! Brava Theatre SF! Opening January 17, her COOLEY'S REEL will be up and dancin' again for Actor's Theatre of Santa Cruz and she hopes to see you there!

November People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The November People's Choice Award goes to Ignacio Zulueta for his short play, The Dream of the Founding Mother, presented as a staged reading at Monday Night PlayGround on November 21 as a part of The Mozart Musicals at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Iggy!

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


Book and lyrics by Ignacio Zulueta
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(Serenade No. 13 in G Major, "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik")

ALEXANDRA HAMILTON, black female, secretary of the US Treasury from the alternate 18th century.

HILLARY CLINTON, white female, from exactly now.

VULPINE AMADEA MOZART, from the alternate 18th century. “Vulpine” is pronounced like “Delphine”. Conducts the strings, or pretends to. Has a very silly austrian accent, ja?

Lyrics Note: measures are indicated in parens, before the lyrics that are sung over the notes in those measures. Sing along below to Eine Kleine’s first movement melody, and you’ll get the feel.

(1) Here’s, the words, for (2) measures one and two.
(3) Three, starts here till (4) Four begins anew.


VULPINE: Danke. Danke. Danke mein damen und herren. I, Vulpine Amadea Mozart, will be right back after a briefest intermission. (She drinks from her glass) Nobody touch that. Est verboten!

ALEXANDRA: So… Not a Mozart fan, are you? (as Hillary stirs)  These viennese political salons can be a real wringer.

HILLARY : Malia? Where’s your father?


HILLARY: Barack. Malia, It’s me, Hillary.

ALEXANDRA: Well, Hillary, my name is Alexandra. (shakes hand) Pleasure to meet you.
HILLARY: Was I dreaming?

ALEXANDRA: I daresay you were. Did you go and smoke any of Thomasina Jefferson’s ‘special Virginia tobacco’?

HILLARY: Thomasina who?

ALEXANDRA: Jefferson, duh. Postmistress, slave owner, hemp fiend, and ambassador to France. One of my countless frenemies in Washington’s new govern-.

HILLARY: Thomasina Jefferson? Who are you?

ALEXANDRA: Alexandra Hamilton. Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

HILLARY: Wait. Alexander Hamilton?

ALEXANDRA: AlexandrA. You know. (rapped)
The female bastard, orphan, born of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in
the Carribean with providence empowered like a
baller, whose face doth grace the space on the ten dollar...?
(new rhythm) ...Bills, yeah, (in tune) I’m Alexandra Hamilton (beat.) That’s right I’m Alexandra Hamil... (spoken.) Girl you’re killing me here. Do you know who I am?

HILLARY: You’re one of the leading proponents of the Electoral College.

ALEXANDRA: Leading? Pssh, The leader! The electoral college will be my proudest work to date - or will be. Touch wood. So, Hillary, what brings you to Vienna?

HILL: I think I’ve come from an alternate future timeline.

ALEX: Alternate future what-now?

HILL: An alternate future of democracy imperiled. Unless… I can prevent it from coming to pass.

ALEX: Uh. How, exactly?

(Hillary starts to choke Alex. The struggle winds up near the music stand)

ALEX: But... why?

HILLARY: He must be stopped! You can’t create the electoral college! It has to be a popular vote!

ALEX: Bitch, please!

She throws Mozart’s glass into Hillary’s eyes.

HILL: Ahhh god! It burns! What the hell was that?

ALEX: Vulpine Amadea Mozart’s favorite whiskey brandy campari absinthe cocktail. (sips the dregs) It’s called The Marriage of Lickaro. Now, are you going to behave, or am I going to have to find the rest of the liquor cabinet? (Hillary assents) Okay then. Real talk. What could have possibly driven you to want to murder a total stranger?

HILL: I just lost the U.S. Presidential Election.

ALEX: Oh, Damn, Girl. Girl. Girrrl. Frenemy girl. I feel you on this. (beat)
But you can’t just go around strangling people from alternate timelines.

HILL: But why not?

ALEX: That’s not how physics or ethics actually works.

HILL: No, seriously. If you had a chance to prevent the rise of Ginger Hitler, wouldn’t you not be throwing away your shot? 


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, December 19, at Berkeley Rep and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Launch of Potrero Stage!

PlayGround, the Bay Area’s leading playwright incubator and theatre community hub, announced last December that it had taken on the master lease at Thick House, the Potrero Hill-based black box theatre owned by Art Space Development Corporation where PlayGround has presented its annual new works festival since 2008. The company shared its plans to launch a capital campaign to fund critical improvements – new air conditioning, seating, theatrical lighting, and signage – and to create a state-of-the-art performance space dedicated to new plays and serving some of the Bay Area’s most adventurous theatre companies. Today, PlayGround is pleased to announce that, having successfully raised nearly $250,000, construction has begun and the theatre will reopen in late January, under the new name Potrero Stage: The PlayGround Center for New Plays.

Reflecting on the news, PlayGround Co-Founder/Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann commented, “The creation of Potrero Stage marks a huge step forward for PlayGround and the entire Bay Area theatre community, in our ability to support new plays and new voices.” PlayGround Board Chair added, “We’re particularly grateful to lead funders Negley Flinn Charitable Foundation and Fred Levin and Nancy Livingston, as well as Koret Foundation, the Voluntary Arts Contribution Fund, and the hundreds of individuals who stepped up over the past year to make this transformation possible.”

Beginning in 2017, Potrero Stage will serve as the go-to place for the very best new plays the Bay Area has to offer, including new seasons by Crowded Fire Theater Company and Golden Thread Productions, a world premiere by Philip Kan Gotanda courtesy of First Look Sonoma, 3Girls Theatre Company’s latest New Works Festival, and a touring production from Blue Panther Productions.

PlayGround’s own 2017 season at Potrero Stage will include the return of the annual PlayGround Festival of New Works in May and four world premieres by Bay Area playwrights.

To mark the grand re-opening of the theatre, PlayGround commissioned eight PlayGround alumni – Patricia Cotter, Victoria Chong Der, Ruben Grijalva, Garret Jon Groenveld, Genevieve Jessee, Martha Soukup, Maury Zeff, and Ignacio Zulueta – to help create a theatrical imagining of Potrero Hill’s past, present and future. Through The Potrero Nuevo Project, audiences will journey over 250 years to experience the people, places, and times that shaped this region: the Ohlone who first hunted and fished here; the Spanish missionaries and early Californios who began settling the region; Kit Carson, the De Haro twins, and the launch of the Mexican-American War; survivors of the 1906 earthquake; Fritz Maytag and the birth of the craft brewing movement; a Potrero Annex family on the eve of the Hope SF reconstruction, and beyond. The Potrero Nuevo Project, helmed by PlayGround Company Member Margo Hall and Founding Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann, runs January 26 through February 19. Tickets go on sale December 5.

In May, PlayGround will celebrate the 21st annual PlayGround Festival of New Works, the Bay Area’s largest celebration of new plays by local playwrights, including 46 performances and readings over six weeks. The festival kicks off May 11 with Best of PlayGround 21, a fully-produced program of the top short plays from this season’s Monday Night PlayGround series at Berkeley Rep. On May 15, PlayGround launches the Groundbreaker Series, placing two bold new full-length plays side-by-side to explore common themes and create deeper engagement. This year’s Groundbreaker premieres are Hedge by Robin Lynn Rodriguez (May 15-June 17) and Kano + Abe by Ignacio Zulueta (May 22-June 18). The PlayGround Festival also provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse into plays in development, with public staged readings of four up-and-coming works (Hedge and Kano + Abe were both developed at prior festivals).

Closing out PlayGround’s 2017 season at Potrero Stage, the company will premiere Vignettes on Love, a tragi-comic character study on self-reflection and self-deception, co-written by David Steele, Victoria Chong Der and Davern Wright, with a soundtrack curated by music festival producer Noise Pop (July 6-30).

Regarding the Potrero Stage announcement, Crowded Fire Theater Company Managing Director Tiffany Cothran commented, “Crowded Fire is excited for our 2017 season at the newly-named Potrero Stage. Working together with the additional anchor tenants, we look forward to continuing to build upon our relationships within the neighborhood, creating a stronger community of arts participants invested in a diverse, new cannon of contemporary plays. A tremendous thanks to PlayGround and their patrons for spearheading these much needed upgrades.”

Golden Thread Productions Artistic Director Torange Yeghiazarian added, “Golden Thread Productions is excited to be a part of this new chapter of the Thick House, now to be known as Potrero Stage. We look forward to working with PlayGround, Crowded Fire, and all other companies that will make this cherished space their home, and to building on its stellar reputation as a center for new plays and underrepresented voices in San Francisco.”

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. With the January 2017 launch of Potrero Stage: The PlayGround Center for New Plays, PlayGround has significantly expanded the resources and opportunities we can make available to playwrights, new plays and the theatres that support them. To date, PlayGround has fostered over 200 local playwrights in the development and staging of more than 800 original short plays and 71 new full-length commissions, including 21 that have premiered in the Bay Area, New York and around the country. PlayGround alumni represent the who’s who of the Bay Area’s best new playwrights, including Lauren Yee, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Aaron Loeb, Geetha Reddy, and Garret Jon Groenveld, among others. For more information, visit