Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Meet the Festival Dramaturgs

whisper fish

Lydia Garcia joined Marin Theatre Company as the Literary Manager and Resident Dramaturg in April 2016. Before becoming a member of the MTC team, she was the Resident Dramaturg at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where she dramaturged more than 20 plays in 8 seasons including the world premieres of Sean Graney’s The Yeomen of the Guard, Alexa Junge’s Fingersmith, Tracy Young and Oded Gross’s The Imaginary Invalid and The Servant of Two Masters, and Octavio Solis’s Quixote. Garcia is a current Executive Committee member of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). In addition to her dramaturgical work, she is a trained staff facilitator for issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity, and a proud member of the artEquity facilitator team led by Carmen Morgan. She is a graduate of Harvard University and the Yale School of Drama.

Non-Player Character

Laura Brueckner is a dramaturg specializing in new work development and digital dramaturgy. She is a proud resident artist at Crowded Fire Theater, where she has supported world premieres by stellar talents Lauren Gunderson, Christopher Chen, Dipika Guha, and Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, among others. She also currently serves as research dramaturg for an OSF American Revolutions commission by Idris Goodwin, and as a contributing journalist for Theatre Bay Area and HowlRound; she holds a Ph.D. in dramaturgy from UC San Diego. She’s thrilled to return to BAPF this year.

Before Evening Comes

Lisa Marie Rollins is a freelance director, playwright, and dramaturg. She dramaturged for Playwrights Foundation’s 2015 BAPF with Tearrance Chisholm’s Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies, and for Crowded Fire Theater on Dipika Guha’s world premiere Mechanics of Love. As a playwright she was a featured artist in Just Theater’s 2015-16 Play Lab where she developed her play Token. She has been a CALLALOO London Writing Fellow, and is an alumnus of the VONA Writing Workshop. She is currently a 2016 Writing Resident at the San Francisco Writers Grotto. She holds degrees from Claremont Graduate University and the University of California, Berkeley. She is Lecturer in the Race and Resistance Studies Dept at SFSU. She is currently developing her new play Token and finishing her first manuscript of poems. Look for her directing work fall 2016 on young jean lee’s The Shipment with Crowded Fire Theater.


Mame Hunt has worked in new play development for a very long time. She has been an Associate Artist with the Sundance Theatre Lab since 2000.  In the Bay Area, she was artistic director of the Magic Theatre 1993-98 and of the Bay Area Playwrights Festival 1991-95. She’s happy to be back.

Good, Better, Best, Bested

Julie McCormick has supported productions and workshops at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Crowded Fire Theatre, Just Theater, Theatre First, and Bay Area Children’s Theatre, including the world premieres productions of She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange, Fire Work, and Bad Kitty Onstage. While the literary associate at Berkeley Rep, Julie oversaw the theatre’s script submission program. Julie was the 2011-2012 Peter Sloss Literary/Dramaturgy Fellow at Berkeley Rep, and she holds a B.A. from Carleton College.

Wild Goose Dreams 

Andrew Kopke is a recent transplant from New York, where he attended the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at S.U.N.Y Purchase, the British American Drama Academy, and Hunter College. Since his arrival in the Bay Area, he has had the pleasure of working with a number of local companies and nonprofits in the capacity of literary associate and dramaturg.

Festival Lunches and Brunches, Cocktails and Conversations, Oh My!

Insider's Tip: Festival Special Events you shouldn't miss! 

In addition to the featured events below, we're REALLY looking forward to:

Re-envisioning the Theatre Experience
conversation and lunch with E. Hunter Spreen, Jon Bernson, and Sango Tajima (7/16 at 2:30PM)

Adventurous Season Planning
brunch and conversation with Mina Morita and Jon Tracy (7/17 at 11AM).

Here's a sampling of some of the many special events we've got lined up for you - check out the entire event schedule HERE!

Have Brunch with Playwright Sarah Sander –
Midwesterners and their friends!
Saturday, July 23 at 10:30AM

Join us before the reading of Sycamore for brunch and conversation with playwright Sarah Sander on finding artistic authenticity in the prescribed roles and expectations of the modern Midwest.
Free with play ticket.

Korean Lunch and Conversation – 
The Defectors’ Dilemma: Minority Life in South Korea
Saturday, July 23 at 2:00PM
Prior to the 4PM reading of Wild Goose Dreams

A conversation with Hannah B. Michell, internationally acclaimed scholar and novelist, and UC Berkeley lecturer on Korean Pop Culture and Asian American Cinema. Prior to the 4PM reading of Wild Goose Dreams, Ms. Michell will present her research on contemporary South Korean family life and structure in relationship to its minorities: defectors, mixed-race individuals and those separated by war. In a culture which idealized the multi-generational family unit, where do those fragmented families belong? 

Delicious box lunches provided by foodie fave Oakland Korean fusion restaurant FuseBOX. (Lunch is $10.00 - order in advance by email on event registration).   

Event Sponsor: Center for the Art of Translation

Post-Play Conversation – 

with Artist/Activist Shylah Pacheco Hamilton
after both readings of Before Evening Comes

Saturday, July 16 at 10PM
Sunday, July 24 at 4PM

Shylah Pacheco Hamilton is an AfroSurrealist artist and writer living in Oakland, CA. She received her MFA in Film, Video, New Media and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MA in Philosophy and Religion from California Institute of Integral Studies. Her experimental films have exhibited internationally and recently she was featured in the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation exhibition entitled, Power, Protest & Resistance: The Art of Revolution in NYC. Her latest works can been seen through August at SomArts in San Francisco as part of The Black Woman Is God and Night Light exhibitions.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Window to the Soul: Getting Intimate with the Global in an Election Year

At Georgetown University in 2009, then-Secretary Hillary Clinton was asked by an undergraduate playwright how she viewed the role of artists in helping to promote human rights and amplify policy. Her answer?

"I think artists are one of our most effective tools in reaching beyond and through repressive regimes, in giving hope to people…I think that artists both individually and through their works can illustrate better than any speech I can give or any government policy we can promulgate that the spirit that lives within each of us, the right to think and dream and expand our boundaries, is not confined,no matter how hard they try, by any regime anywhere in the world. There is no way that you can deprive people from feeling those stirrings inside their soul.”

To us, it was no coincidence that the question was posed by a fierce and passionate young playwright. Live story-making – playwriting - is a powerful and immediate artistic tool that reaches inside the intimacy of the human psyche to evoke insight, perspective, emotional connection and, ultimately, change. And that is why, at Playwrights Foundation, we remain deeply dedicated to advancing and amplifying diverse emerging voices.

Each of the six plays of the #BAPF2016 festival reveal the many dangers that individuals and members of targeted groups face in their struggle to expand beyond boundaries imposed on them, and so doing tap our hearts and create a  “window into the soul.” From many dots across the globe – and from points inside our imagination – Korea, Peru, Japan, an urban future, and a suburban Middle America, to the fantastical world of gaming, and the hedonistic world of Las Vegas, these six writers “illustrate the spirit that lives within each of us,…to think and dream and expand our boundaries.”

At this #BAPF2016 – six vital plays will take shape.  Our audiences are in for a meaningful and delightful ride. This year’s crop topples convention, defies definition, and most importantly, will find their way to our theaters and to the lives of thousands of audiences. You are a critical part of their journey to completion.  So many of our past BAPF plays and play-wrights have landed full productions all over the U.S. and the globe, in no small part due to the work we are doing here together: rebuilding and revolutionizing our theater, telling our stories, and revealing our very lives to us.

Naturally, the festival would not be complete without some brainy fun. We invite you to all the festival has to offer: discussions on alternate theater forms, topical experts, parties, panels and catered lunches!

We are so thrilled to share these six visionary works with you.

Amy Mueller
Artistic Director

Interview with a Playwright: Sarah Sander

Our next interview is with playwright Sarah Sander. We caught up with her to ask some questions about her poignant, sexy, and darkly funny play Sycamore:

BAPF: Why did the title "Sycamore" resonate with you? 

SS: For a handful of reasons. Sycamores are commonly found in the Midwest and the word, sycamore, is often employed in naming suburban streets or parks. For me, the title evokes tree-lined cul-de-sacs. There’s also this: the branches of sycamores are particularly twisted, as the trees age, the trunks hollow out to provide homes for various animals and the sycamore has bark that peels off and sheds (for a play dealing with a lot of physical transformation, it’s an easy metaphor). There’s this too: I like how the word sounds.

BAPF: The play includes a lot of "..." dialogue. How do you imagine the center action of the play with the silences? 

SS: The silences are integral. A lot of these characters have been brought up in a community that’s caring, but repressive. They don’t have the words to express all that they’re feeling. So, hopefully, when it comes to the play’s central action, a great deal of tension will be wrought from watching these individuals struggle to articulate all that they’ve been unwilling or unable to acknowledge.

BAPF: What drew you to the theme of people taking things? (i.e.: Celia taking boys, John taking pictures, Henry taking clothes?) 

SS: The motivation behind taking things is so layered. It can be an attempt to combat sadness (hoping that the prize will bring happiness), a means of releasing pent up anger and aggression, a cry for attention, etc. With Henry and Celia, it’s also a sly and subtle way to “wage war.” As for John, his “taking” pictures functions differently. It’s his means of disappearing. It’s a defensive technique.

BAPF: Thank you, Sarah! We look forward to seeing Sycamore on Sunday, July 17 at 6PM and Saturday, July 23 at 12PM.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Interview with a Playwright: Philana Omorotionmwan

Our next interview is with playwright Philana Omorotionmwan. We were fortunate enough to be able to ask her some questions about her imaginative and haunting play Before Evening Comes , a powerful dystopian allegory of black life in America: 

BAPF:  What was the inspiration for this play?  

PO: This play began with a prompt – vaudeville. That lead to me watching a lot of YouTube videos of the Nicholas Brothers tap dancing. Around that same time I had become somewhat obsessed with might happen to me if I ever ran down the street late at night in Oakland. (This was shortly after hearing a police officer threaten to “blow [someone’s] head off” as he ran past my bedroom window.) As a result, I began thinking about when people are and aren’t fully allowed to be in our bodies.

BAPF: What role does time play in this story?

PO: The honest answer is I’m still figuring that out. Since the play is set in the future, one function of time is to let us know that this world is like our own but isn’t quite our world.

BAPF: One of your characters, Mary, makes a comment about the difference between masculine (external, seen) and feminine (internal, hidden) loss. Did you identify with this idea?

PO: It’s certainly true in the world of the play that the men’s losses are external, as their bodies are physically altered. In our world, however, it would seem to be the reverse because men are socialized not to talk about or show what they feel. The current conversations, though, about police violence and the criminal "justice" system often focus on the impact on black men. There seems to be less discussion when it comes to the impact on women. Both in terms of women who are direct victims of police violence and those of us who experience victimization more indirectly.

BAPF: Although many scenes begin in different years, the dialogue repeats. What role does repetition have within the play?

PO: In “Elements of Style,” Suzan-Lori Parks writes about the way refrains create a weight and rhythm in poems. I’m a wannabe/failed poet, so I just dig rhythm. But I’m also interested in the weight that the characters accumulate with each repetition. And how moments change even when they appear to be exactly the same as before.

BAPF: Thanks so much Philana! We look forward to seeing Before Evening Comes July 16 at 8 pm and July 24 at 2 pm!