Wednesday, February 22, 2017

PlayGround's Apr 3 Gala Lineup!

PlayGround has announced the line-up for the 2017 Gala fundraiser taking place on Monday, April 3 at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater: America’s most produced living playwright this season, Lauren Gunderson (“I and You”), will join PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann and Event Honorary Co-Chairs Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston to celebrate the Bay Area’s best new playwrights. The evening features a reception and silent auction, private dinner and “fireside chat” with Gunderson, and presentation of the 2017 PlayGround Playwright Awards. A special treat at this year’s event will be the live auction of a pair of coveted “Hamilton” tickets for the upcoming Broadway tour at the Orpheum. Tickets are $300-$1,000 and all proceeds benefit PlayGround’s award-winning new play incubator programs and newly-renovated Potrero Stage: PlayGround Center for New Plays. For tickets and more information, visit

Lauren M. Gunderson is the most produced living playwright in America of 2016-17, the winner of the Dramatist Guild’s Lanford Wilson Award and the American Theatre Critics Association’s Steinberg New Play Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at companies across the US including South Cost Rep (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful And Her Dog!), The O’Neill, The Denver Center, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Olney Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire and more. She co-authored Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley with Margot Melcon. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You, Exit Pursued By A Bear, The Taming, and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists (Silent Sky, Bauer, Miss Bennet) and Samuel French (Emilie). Her picture book "Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon!" will be released from Two Lions / Amazon in May 2017.

Since 1994, PlayGround has nurtured more than 200 Bay Area playwrights, supporting the development of over 800 original short plays and 71 new full-length plays. PlayGround recently re-opened its San Francisco home, Potrero Stage (formerly Thick House), after an extensive renovation and renaming. PlayGround continues to produce its celebrated Monday Night PlayGround short play staged reading series at Berkeley Rep, where the series has been performed since 2003 on third Mondays, September-March. 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, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Aurora Theatre's Global Age Project, and New York International Fringe Festival, among others.; this event serves to recognize and support the ongoing efforts of these theatre artists. For more information, visit

Event:                         2017 PlayGround Benefit & Awards Night
with Lauren Gunderson

Date/Time:      Monday, April 3, 2017

Location:        A.C.T.’s Strand Theater, 1127 Market Street, San Francisco, CA

Tickets:           Benefit Individual Ticket - $300
                        Premium Individual Ticket - $500
                        Host Individual Ticket - $1,000
                        Tables of 10 are $3,000/$5,000/$10,000
All tickets include access to a reception and silent auction, seated dinner, and “fireside chat”.
For more information, call (415) 992-6677, or visit

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The February People's Choice Award goes to Martha Soukup for her short play, The Night Before The March, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround Social Justice Night on February 20 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Martha!

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

by Martha Soukup

(A DC Metro train car, the seats near the door. DOLORES sits in the double seat facing the door to stage left. There is enough room between the door and the seat for a posted transit map. Stage right of the door, at the car’s end, facing DOLORES, are two double seats, divided by the aisle. The MAJOR and his WIFE sit in the upstage ones; the downstage is empty. On DOLORES’s side, perpendicular to her, is another double seat, empty. Sound of the train rattling along, stopping as it breaks. Sound of the train’s door opening. SARA gets on, sits in the downstage seats across the aisle from MAJOR and WIFE. A couple of people in “Make America Great Again” hats may get on, turn to DOLORES’s side of the door, and continue until offstage. NARRATOR gets on. Sound of the doors shutting, and train starting again. She stands, looking around, addresses audience.)

(a bit breathless)
Thank god I made the train. Connecting flight to DC was delayed, like, an hour. Jogged to the Metro and the agent was frantically waving everyone through—“Last train to DC! Last train, go on through!”

 “I’m going to Springfield,” I tell her, and she says there’s not quite as much hurry. So I waited on the platform twenty minutes. It’ll be past midnight before I’m there and I need to be up early for the march. Probably should’ve taken a cab, got an extra half hour sleep at the hotel. Nothing for it now, though.

(takes the empty seat near DOLORES)

Shut my eyes or people watch? Let the MAGA hats get on ahead of me—they looked to have been out partying as late as trains were running. At least someone’s happy.

(looks at MAJOR and WIFE)

Wow. That is a lot of braid. What branch of service is light blue dress pants? Someone was at the armed services ball. Bet you don’t see shoes that shiny on the Metro all that often.

Maybe I should cover my shirt. Protest is tomorrow, tonight let’s not push anyone. Especially at almost midnight.

(SARA gets up from her seat and stands near DOLORES, puzzling over the transit map.)

Though she’s probably march demographic.

(SARA traces a route in the air with her finger. She looks confused. DOLORES smiles kindly at her.)

(strong Hispanic accent)
Where are you going to?

I’m just trying to figure out how many stops to the Dunn Loring station.

Dunn Loring?

Oh dear.

You’re on the wrong train for that, honey.

(to SARA)
This train’s going to Springfield.

(tracing map)
Springfield? Wow. That’s—down there, and I want to go—across here.

You needed to go in to Rosslyn, and transfer your train west.

Okay—so—can I get off and go back?

I think it’s too late.

Trains stop running.

Oh man.

I’m not from here either, I had to check three times to make sure I was going the right direction.

My friends are going to be waiting for me at Dunn Loring. I’m going to have to let them know.


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, March 20, at Berkeley Rep and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

PlayGround Company in the News Feb-17

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

PlayGround writers Victoria Chong Der, Genevieve Jesse McCall, Madeline Daly Puccioni will have plays in a new show, ESCAPE VELOCITY, produced by THOSE WOMEN PRODUCTIONS, which opens February 17 at 8 pm in the Temescal Arts Center! Get your tix now. It's an intimate venue and tickets are selling fast. See you there! Maybe share some chat and some pizza next door at LaneSplitters after the show?

Trevor Allen's play One Stone is enjoying a sold-out run at Cinnebar through Feb 19. His book, Working for the Mouse (and other plays), including PlayGround full-length plays Lolita Roadtrip and Tenders in the Fog is available here: He was also just voted onto the Vallejo Arts Commission.

Several PlayGround members are included in The Playwrights' Center of San Francisco's Playoffs Round One on March 5th at the Shelton Theatre.  Laylah Muran de Assereto, Jerome Joseph Gentes, and Madeline Puccioni will be competing against other PCSF members for two of the eight slots that will go on to production in November.  Audiences vote for their top three favorites. Tickets are available at

Teddy Spencer is currently touring with the Reduced Shakespeare Company in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S LONG LOST FIRST PLAY (ABRIDGED). Later this month he will be shooting the pilot episode of THE HIGHLIGHTER READING SERIES with fellow PlayGrounders Michael Barrett Austin, Christian Haines, and Melissa Ortiz, and an episode of the web series STUDIO CITY KINGS directed by Kyle Newacheck from Comedy Central's WORKAHOLICS.

Molly Noble will be directing Maple and Vine by Jordan Harrison this spring at the College of Marin.

Ignacio Zulueta has wrapped Decameron Finland at the Normaalilippu Teaterri Kiisu in Outokumpu, Finland. He is raising money for Ragged Wing at Shotzcars! on Saturday 2/19 at the Flight Deck.

Jump Theatre's Artistic Director Roberta D'Alois announces Springboard Series 2017, new works created in response to a call for pieces that reflect the authentic experience of mental illness.  The series runs March 17-19 at A.C.T.'s Costume Shop. More information and tickets at

Stephanie Prentice is currently performing in The Christians at SF Playhouse which runs until 3/11.

Gwen Loeb will be heading to New York this March to perform in Lisa Rafel and Gary Malkin's new musical CAN YOU HEAR ME BABY under the direction of Cara Reichel, the Producing Artistic Director of Prospect Theater Company. After that, Gwen heads straight into workshops and rehearsals at Central Works for STRANGE LADIES, a new musical about the founding mothers of the suffrage movement.

Aaron Wilton is acting in the Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience's production of Robert O'Hara's Bootycandy at Brava Theatre from now until March 5th. All info can be found at

Brian Herndon will be appearing in RAGS with TheatreWorks in April.

Ken Sonkin is playing "the Dad" in Billy Elliot: The Musical at Berkeley Playhouse. February 16 - March 25.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

January People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The January People's Choice Award goes to Aimee Suzara for her short play, The Bedtime Story, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround S.T.E.M. Night on January 16 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Aimee!

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

by Aimee Suzara


GIRL – female – mixed-race black and Filipina or passably so – any age playing a smart 8-year-old, revealed to be named Michelle at the end.

FATHER – male – African-American, late 20-s-late 30s, girl’s father, is revealed to be the slightly older version of Malcolm, another character.

MARIA – female, Filipino-American, 20s, community organizer and muralist

MALCOLM – male, African-American, 20s, is FATHER but 8 years ago, bohemian slightly-afro-centric artist

SANDEEP – queer male, Indian, Muslim, 20s or 30s, a chef and restaurant owner, very pensive guy, tends towards melancholy

JULIO – queer male, Mexican, 20s or 30s, a business owner in tech, an optimist, loves music and dancing

JEN – woman of color, Filipina, East or other Asian, Latina, African American, 20s

VOICE – general male or female computer-ish voice like Siri

Oakland, California, 2025. In a bedroom in a family’s home and outside, in public spaces; also in another home around the dinner table.

(Lights up on a Girl and Father in Girl’s bedroom.  She’s being tucked in.)

Tell me the story again, about how things came to be?

You mean the story about…

GIRL and FATHER (with gusto and giggles)
The Love Virus!

I can’t believe you don’t get tired of this story.

I want to hear about how Michelle became president too.

One thing at a time now.  So, once upon a time…a bit before you were born…
(Sound of a harp as the stage lights up with people entering a public space. Five people, MALCOLM, MARIA, JULIO, JEN and SANDEEP get on stage, roaming with their smart phones, heads down, nearly bumping into one another and clearly irritated and distracted with no awareness of their feet.)

It was a regular day in Oakland, California in 2017, just at the start of the Trump presidency.  Everyone was walking around the City Center doing what they normally do….

…Looking at their stupid-phones!

Well, at that time we called them smart-phones, but you’re right.  Everyone was taking their lunch breaks…

(Maria, Malcolm, Sandeep, Julio and Jen wander, nearly running into each other, irritated. Sandeep is carrying several grocery bags. After some wandering, Maria and Malcolm become back-to-back.  Sandeep and Julio are nearly back-to-back; Jen is in the center. All of them freeze all at once, jabbing at their phones and trying to turn their phones back on.)

Hey!  What happened to my phone!

(turning to Maria) Did yours freeze too?  Wait, there’s a message…

Mine too.  It says…

“You’ve just been hit with…the LOVE virus!  Your phone no longer works.  Look in the eyes of the person beside you. Good bye!”  Huh?

(Malcolm and Maria turn to each other and look into each other’s eyes.  They look fondly, and shake hands, and keep mouthing words as if conversing, shyly.)

And that’s how…

…wait, wait, we’re not quite there yet!  You do want to hear the whole story again, right?

Yes!  Okay, tell me about Julio and Sandeep Daddy!

Well, Sandeep had been very sad and lonely, especially depressed because his family was Muslim and the Trump election had been bad for them, and they had gotten bullied by a lot of mean people.  Julio was a very nice man who always thought about other’s feelings. Even though he was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico he was still very optimistic about things getting better, and when the Love Virus hit at that moment…

(As he keeps trying to make his phone work, shaking it and pressing buttons, Sandeep’s bags fall and the groceries scatter.  Julio leans down to help him…)


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, February 20, at Berkeley Rep and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.