Best of PlayGround 23 Lineup!

PlayGround has announced the lineup for its twenty-third annual ten-minute play showcase, BEST OF PLAYGROUND 23. The fully-produced evening-length program of short plays by Linda Amayo-Hassan, Tom Bruett, Lauren Gorski, Sam Hurwitt, Molly Olis Krost, Alanna McFall, and Nic A. Sommerfeld were drawn from more than 170 submissions and 36 ten-minute plays developed at this season’s Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series at Berkeley Rep and will kick off the 25th Season’s PlayGround Festival of New Works, May 9-26, 2019, at Potrero Stage. For more information and tickets, visit http://playground-sf.org/bestof.

This year’s lineup includes:

La Vida Lobo by Linda Amayo-Hassan
Just As It Is Today by Tom Bruett
A Feminist Revisionist History of Rosemary’s Baby by Lauren Gorski
Well, Actually by Sam Hurwitt
After Hubris by Molly Olis Krost
Third Date by Alanna McFall
Dear Santa by Nic A. Sommerfeld

This year’s Best of PlayGround directors are: Tessa Corrie, Britney Frazier, Jim Kleinmann, May Liang, Rondrell McCormick, Ely Sonny Orquiza, and Katja Rivera. The acting ensemble is: Angel Adedokun, Caleb Cabrera, Livia Gomes Demarchi*, Jed Parsario*, Cathleen Riddley*, and David O. Stein. Designers include: Brittany Mellerson, Sarah Phykitt, Jessica McGovern, and Lana Palmer. * Member, Actors’ Equity Association.

And winner of the 2019 June Anne Baker Prize is Alanna McFall, a two-time Best of PlayGround finalist and recipient of a 2018 PlayGround-Planet Earth Arts co-commission. The prize, which includes a full-length play commission, is awarded annually to a female playwright representing a gifted new comedic or political voice. Past prize winners include Lauren Yee, Geetha Reddy, and Erin Bregman. The awards presentation and a reception with the winner will take place immediately following the Saturday, May 18 performance of Best of PlayGround.

The PlayGround Festival and Best of PlayGround are one of PlayGround’s longest standing programs (now on its twenty-third year) and the Bay Area’s largest showcase of new plays, with more than a dozen new short and full-length plays, from developmental staged readings to world premiere productions, featured over forty performances over six weeks. The festival has become one of the most important launching pads for early-career Bay Area (and, more recently, Los Angeles) playwrights and their work, leading to collaborations, commissions and productions both in continuing relationship to and often well beyond PlayGround. Alumni include Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Aaron Loeb, Geetha Reddy, Lauren Yee, Garret Jon Groenveld, Cleavon Smith, and Patricia Cotter, among others. Ruben Grijalva and Katie May have participated in a number of past festivals and were last paired up in the 2016 PlayGround Festival, where PlayGround premiered May’s Abominable and Grijalva’s Value Over Replacement.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHTS

Linda Amayo-Hassan (Playwright, La Vida Lobo) is an actor, director and playwright, and is completing her first year in the PlayGround Writers Company. She is currently launching a new theatre company, Theatre Cultura, which was selected to participate in PlayGround’s inaugural Innovator Incubator program. Linda attended the Kennedy Center Summer Playwriting Intensive and holds an MFA in acting/directing from UMKC. She is in the faculty of Chabot College.

Tom Bruett (Playwright, Just As It Is Today) is a playwright and director. His plays have been seen at PianoFight, PCSF, ReGroup Theatre(LA), Lakeshore Players and Players’ Theatre (NYC). This season he directed the TBA recommended production of Hansol Jung’s Cardboard Piano at NCTC.

Lauren Gorski (Playwright, A Feminist Revisionist History of Rosemary’s Baby) is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Exposition Review, a multi-genre literary journal. She has a Master’s in Writing from USC. Her fiction and poetry have been featured in apt, Jersey Devil Press, Underground Voices, and elsewhere. She has written for both Playground-LA and Playground-SF. In 2017, her full-length play Emergency Operation debuted at the Hollywood Fringe Festival (based on a PG-LA play!). In 2018, her short play Living Conditions was featured in Best of PlayGround 22.

Sam Hurwitt (Playwright, Well, Actually) is a Bay Area arts journalist who currently writes for Bay Area News Group and the Marin Independent Journal. This is his second season in the PlayGround Writers Pool. His trilogy of full-length plays about Helen of Troy, Penelope and Medea, Ellen’s Undone, The Weavers and Kill Your Darlings, had staged readings in the San Francisco Olympians Festival, and he’s had several 10-minute comedies produced in PianoFight’s ShortLived and Pint Sized Plays.

Molly Olis Krost (Playwright, After Hubris) is a Bay Area playwright currently pursuing her MFA in Playwriting at SFSU. Molly’s plays have been performed or are forthcoming at Z Space, PlayGround, Clutch Productions, Ain’t I A Woman Playfest, MaArte Theatre Collective, SOMArts Cultural Center, SFSU Fringe, Zellerbach Hall and Durham Studio Theater. She was awarded the Gita Specker First Place Award for Best Dramatic Monologue by the San Francisco Browning Society. Her writing has been published in {m}aganda magazine.

Alanna McFall (Playwright, Third Date) is a playwright and novelist. Her play Sh*t Farming for Fun and Profit was performed in the 22nd Best of PlayGround, for which she received a PlayGround/Planet Earth Arts commission to develop a full-length play. She was awarded the 2019 June Anne Baker Prize, which will be presented at Best of PlayGround on May 18. Her debut novel, The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus, comes out in June 2019 with publisher Atthis Arts. When she’s not writing, she works at Kinetic Arts Center, a circus school in Oakland.

Nic Sommerfeld (Playwright, Dear Santa) is an Oakland based actor and playwright. Nic, who is originally from Montana, received their degree from Santa Clara University.  They are thrilled to be back at Best Of PlayGround 2019 after being part of the Festival last year. They have also written for UCSF, Killing My Lobster, and The Olympians Festival. Recently they have been writing for events like The Cliterary Salon, Greeting From Queer Mountain, and an event at the Contemporary Jewish Museum.  

ABOUT THE PLAYS

JUST AS IT IS TODAY by Tom Bruett

A pair of blue-footed boobies struggle with rising sea levels, the loss of their natural habitat, and growing urges that even they don’t fully understand.

A FEMINIST REVISIONIST HISTORY OF ROSEMARY’S BABY by Lauren Gorski

Two women reimagine Rosemary’s Baby from a feminist perspective and discover a roadmap for their own self-determination.  

WELL, ACTUALLY by Sam Hurwitt

Why did Timoclea of Thebes throw a conquering soldier down a well? Alexander the Great investigates.

AFTER HUBRIS by Molly Olis Krost

What would happen if Icarus had survived his tragic fall and he and Daedalus were, once again, stuck in the labyrinth?

THIRD DATE by Alanna McFall

After three dates, it’s true love when this terrible person finds their perfect, terrible match.

DEAR SANTA by Nic Sommerfeld

A letter full of hopes and dreams can lead to unexpected things, especially when discovered by an unintended reader.

ABOUT THE DIRECTORS

Tessa Corrie (Director, La Vida Lobo) is a Bay Area director and recently completed PlayGround’s directing apprenticeship. She was last seen as the Associate Director for Leading Ladies at Hillbarn Theatre. Credits include work at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Center REPertory Company, TheatreFirst, the Champagne Staged Reading Series at Shotgun Players, and Shotz at AmiosWest.

Brit Frazier (Director, After Hubris) is a Bay Area actor,director, playwright and teaching artist. She has had the blessing of creatively collaborating as an actor with: Campo Santo, Cutting Ball Theatre, Shotgun Players, Brava, Ubuntu Theater Project, Marin Theatre Company, The San Francisco International Arts Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse and ACT’s Strand. Currently, she is a company member of PlayGround and directs for them year round. Next she will debut her first play Laveau at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley.

Jim Kleinmann (Artistic Director; Director, Dear Santa) co-founded PlayGround in 1994 and has served as Artistic Director since 1996. For PlayGround, he has provided artistic and administrative leadership for the past twenty-two seasons, developing PlayGround’s unique array of new playwright and new play incubator programs, including Monday Night PlayGround, the PlayGround Festival of New Works, the full-length play Commissioning Initiative, the New Play Production Fund, the PlayGround Film Festival, and, most recently, Potrero Stage: PlayGround Center for New Plays. During his tenure, he has directed more than 100 short plays by some of the Bay Area’s best new playwrights, including Lauren Yee, Geetha Reddy, Aaron Loeb, Trevor Allen, and Garret Jon Groenveld, among others, and has commissioned and developed over 75 full-length plays by these writers. He recently directed the world premiere of David Steele’s Vignettes on Love, co-written by Victoria Chong Der. Other directing credits include Ruben Grijalva’s full-length play, Value Over Replacement. Kleinmann is a veteran arts administrator with more than twenty-five years of experience, including stints leading Traveling Jewish Theatre, Smuin Ballet and Berkeley Symphony. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. Jim got his start in theatre while an undergraduate at Brown University, where he founded and performed in Brown’s first comedy improvisational theatre troupe, IMPROVidence.

May Liang (Director, Third Date) is an emerging Female Director/Theater Artist of Color establishing a career in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has worked with California Shakespeare Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theater’s Ground Floor Lab, Ferocious Lotus Theater Company (Literary Manager), San Francisco Playhouse, Ubuntu Theater Project, PlayGround (Directing Fellow 2017, Best of PlayGround 21), Playwrights Foundation, TheaterFirst, Just Theater, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Contra Costa Civic Theater, Bindlestiff Studios and Impact Theater. May also participated in the Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Lab 2017 in New York City. She graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in Theater/Performance Studies and Integrative Biology and currently works at the San Francisco Film Commission.

Rondrell McCormick (Director, A Feminist Revisionist History of Rosemary’s Baby) performed in Bella: An American Tall Tale as an alumnus of the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at MASS MoCA. He is the creator of the hit web series The Wesley’s, a long-form public service announcement, Black Women Talking, and Vol. 1 A Post Racial America (Highways Performance Space and Gallery). Television credits include Joseph McNeil in FEBRUARY ONE: The Story of The Greensboro Four (PBS) and D-Mac in Channel 00 (Spike). Theatre credits include Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Center REPertory Company, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle nominee for ensemble), Othello featuring John Douglas Thompson and All’s Well That Ends Well (Shakespeare and Company), Still Standing (Vitality Productions), A Christmas Carol and a workshop of The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window featuring Michael Stuhlbarg (American Conservatory Theater), and Philistines featuring Jack Willis. Rondrell earned a BFA from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and an MFA from American Conservatory Theater. He is a proud company member of PlayGround-LA, PlayGround’s sister playwright incubator in Los Angeles.

Ely Sonny Orquiza (Director, Fabulous Pink Pumps) is a Queer Filipino multidisciplinary Actor, Director and Teaching Artist based in San Francisco, Bay Area. He champions new & developing works and advocates for previously untold narratives highlighting multiethnic experience. Orquiza has been in various work at the American Conservatory Theater, Bindlestiff Studio, Cal Performances, Campo Santo, Crowded Fire Theatre, Magic Theatre, and Theatre Rhinoceros among others. elysonnyorquiza.org

Katja Rivera (Director, Well, Actually) studied theater at LA City College Theatre Academy and the Drama Studio London at Berkeley. Bay Area acting credits include Shotgun Players, Magic Theatre, Theatre Rhinoceros, Center Rep, among others. Directing credits include Shotgun Players, Douglas Morrison, Custom Made, RPE in Danville, PlayGround, and TheatreFIRST. She is a proud member of AEA, Shotgun Players and PlayGround.

ABOUT PLAYGROUND

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 850 original short plays and 75 new full-length plays, with 6 more commissions currently in development. PlayGround also operates Potrero Stage (formerly Thick House), a state-of-the-art 99-seat black box theatre in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, home to some of the Bay Area’s leading new play developers and producers, including PlayGround, Crowded Fire, Golden Thread, and Playwrights Foundation. For more information, visit http://playground-sf.org.