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 http://playground-sf.org.