PlayGround Festival Lineup!

PlayGround has announced the lineup for this year’s PlayGround Festival of New Works, showcasing the best new short and full-length plays by the Bay Area’s best new playwrights, May 9-June 16, 2019 at Potrero Stage. Highlighting this year’s festival are two world premiere productions by PlayGround alumni – ANNA CONSIDERS MARS by Ruben Grijalva and A HISTORY OF FREAKS by Katie May. The Festival will also include BEST OF PLAYGROUND 23, celebrating the top playwrights and ten-minute plays from PlayGround’s 25th Season of Monday Night PlayGround, as well as Festival Staged Readings of four bold new full-length plays in development and short play “curtain raisers” by top high school dramatists as part of this year’s Young Playwrights Contest, to be announced later this spring. Tickets for all Festival performances and readings go on sale March 18, 2019. For more information, visit http://playground-sf.org/festival.

The PlayGround Festival is 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.

ANNA CONSIDERS MARS is a PlayGround/Planet Earth Arts commission and was originally developed as part of the 2018 PlayGround Festival. The premiere production will be directed by San Francisco Playhouse Producing Director Susi Damilano and features a cast of Bay Area standouts, including Melissa Ortiz* (“Anna”), Wilma Bonet*, Soren Oliver*, Christian Haines*, Aaron Wilton*, and Katie Rubin*. Things aren’t going great for Anna, or the rest of the planet for that matter. As executive director of the flailing Center for the Preservation of Uncharismatic Species, she has a front row seat to a global mass extinction event. As her mother’s caretaker, she’s reminded daily reminder of our inevitable decline. And though a ubiquitous augmented reality platform renders a pretty face on it all, the flood waters keep rising, the food supply keeps dwindling, and there is a pervasive sense that humanity’s best days are behind us. In this context, the worldwide search for the first Mars colonists becomes a source of great hope. Anna is hopeful that there, with a human species attempting to start over, she can start over too. Now she just has to get her hands on a golden ticket. Anna Considers Mars is a play of our time, with its focus on the collision of issues just coming to a head – a planet in the balance with rising global temperatures, mass extinction, and rapidly rising economic disparity on one side, and significant advancements in technology that promise a bold new future on the other. While interested in emerging technologies, Ruben’s play is ultimately about the human journey and our struggle, as individuals and as a species, to survive.Ruben Grijalva is an award-winning San Francisco-based playwright and filmmaker. His short plays include Full Steam Ahead and the PianoFight ShortLived winning All The Worlds Are Stages. His full-length plays include Foresight, Anna Considers Mars, and the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award-winning Value Over Replacement, which premiered in the 2016 PlayGround Festival of New Works. He began writing for PlayGround in 2011 and is a three-time Best of PlayGround finalist and current Resident Playwright.

Ruben Grijalva is an award-winning San Francisco-based playwright and filmmaker. His short plays include Full Steam Ahead and the PianoFight ShortLived winning All The Worlds Are Stages. His full-length plays include Foresight, Anna Considers Mars, and the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award-winning Value Over Replacement, which premiered in the 2016 PlayGround Festival of New Works. He began writing for PlayGround in 2011 and is a three-time Best of PlayGround finalist and current Resident Playwright.

Katie May’s A HISTORY OF FREAKS was originally commissioned and developed in 2009 at College of Idaho, May’s alma mater. The play was a 2015 PlayGround Festival selection where it received further development and public staged readings. The premiere production will be directed by circus arts performer and director Doyle Ott and the cast includes Patrick Russell*, Elena Wright*, Laura Espino, Stephanie Prentice*, Sean Garahan*, and Steven Westdahl. The play uses the frame of a traveling circus and its sideshow acts to explore “otherness” and the question of who gets to tell our stories. When Joe returns from college to take the reins of his family’s traveling circus, he finds the sideshow performers under the big top, an animal trainer with no animals, a wire-walker grounded since the loss of her formerly conjoined twin, and a show struggling to find its footing in the modern world. To save the circus, they’ll have to face long-buried truths and rediscover the power of circus magic. Katie May’s plays include Abominable (PlayGround/Symmetry Theatre Company, Lark Playwrights’ Week Finalist), Manic Pixie Dream Girl (fringeNYC & A.C.T. Costume Shop, San Francisco), Black Sheep Gospel (Great Plains Theater Conference), and A History of Freaks (Finalist, David Mark Cohen Award), among others. Her short play Rapunzel’s Etymology of Zero (Best of Playground Festival, Short + Sweet Sydney) was published in the Best of PlayGround Anthology, 2011, and was subsequently made into an animated short film that screened in festivals both nationally and internationally. May has been a member of the San Francisco PlayGround Writers Pool since 2008, and a PlayGround Playwright in Residence since 2014. Her work has received productions in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Arizona, Idaho, and Sydney, Australia. May is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Virginia Piper Writing Center, National University of Singapore, Women in Film LA, and a two-time PlayGround Emerging Playwright Award winner. She holds an MFA from Arizona State University. 

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.