Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our friends over at the New York One-Minute Play Festival blog have given us and our playwrights a little bit more press, and we're seeing double. 

First, they talk to Garret Groenveld.  Garret, one of Playwrights Foundation's resident playwrights, recently was a finalist for the Global Age Project with his work The Serving Class.  Not only a playwright, Garret reflects on the First Annual One-Minute Play Festival with a little bit of his background in poetry:
And here’s a case for poetry.  Critiques often say, “The writing was poetic.”  When it’s not, it might be elegant, it might be labored or it might even be full of flourish, but not poetic.  It’s poetic when it transports, when the unexpected is achieved through a combination of language, metaphor and spatial relation on the page/with the audience.
And then goes on to show his frustration with it:
I also argue against poetry.  Just say it, already and get over yourself!
Read the rest of his interview HERE.

The other mention we have is with Bay Area Playwright Festival and ROUGH Readings alum, Geetha Reddy.  She gets out all of her frustration, but telling the New York One-Minute Play Festival blog just how difficult it is to be a writer sometimes:

Here is what happens when your director sends you this email:
“Love your one minute play! Can you cut 30 seconds?”

First a Tantrum:
No. No I can’t. How can you ask me that!
See her hilarious account over at the NYOMPF blog.
Thanks for the New York One-Minute Play Festival for posting these, yet again, and DO NOT FORGET! This weekend: Saturday, 18 December, and Sunday the 19th are the FIRST EVER... FIRST ANNUAL San Francisco One-Minute Play Festival.  Tickets are ALMOST sold out, so don't forget to grab yours here!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

USArtists Announces Fellows of 2010 (And We're Proud!)

Every year the United States Artists awards millions of dollars to artists of all kinds, from Architects and Designers to those involved in Theatre Arts.  This year $2.5 million was awarded to these 50 different artists.  Why do we at Playwrights Foundation care so much?  Aside from it being quite the feat for ANY artist to achieve, one that should be applauded and recognized anyway, Playwrights Foundation is proud to announce that not one, but TWO alumni are recipients of this years USA Fellowship!

Rajiv Joseph, writer of the Pulitzer Prize nominated Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo finds himself at the receiving end of the highly esteemed $50,000 USA Fellowship.  And to think, Tiger was just a cub in our ROUGH Reading Series, back in 2006.  The LA Times talks about just how big of a deal this prize is:
Joseph and 49 other artists -- including four from Southern California --  were announced Tuesday as this year’s USA fellows. The $2.5 million in combined annual fellowships, first awarded in 2006, dwarfs all of the nation’s annual arts prizes except the MacArthur Fellowship, which currently antes up nearly $4 million a year for artists. MacArthur fellows get $100,000 a year for five years, and artists typically account for about a third of the 25 or so winners of the annual MacArthur “genius grants.” (source)
Wait, didn't we say there were two?  Yes!  Also from the 2006 ROUGH Readings comes fellow 2010 USArtists... fellow... is Brighde Mullins, who also received the Pinter Review Gold Medal for her work, Fire Eater about the Irish potato famine.

Congratulations to Rajiv, Brighde, and all of the other awarded artists, you all deserve it!

Read more about United States Artists over at their website, and see what other artists have been awarded!

Steve Yockey and the One-Minute-Play-Extravaganza

A recent face in Playwrights Foundation history has managed to go under our radar with talking to the New York One-Minute Play Festival blog, so we at PF apologize for not running this story sooner!  Steve Yockey, who recently had his new play, Wolves, read in our ROUGH Readings series discusses his involvement in both the First Annual LA and First Annual SF One-Minute Play Festivals.
I immediately thought the timing was going to be the hardest part. And it’s been a fun challenge to get my head around the time & production restrictions. But the comment that struck me most in the big explanation e-mail we all received was, “Also, while comedic plays are always a big hit, plays that tackle more serious themes are encouraged too!”
Check out what he has to say over at the NY One-Minute Play Festival blog!

Don't forget that Saturday Saturday Saturday! AND SUNDAY! Is the FIRST EVER San Francisco One-Minute Play Festival (December 18, and 19 at 8PM, and 7PM respectively).  Never before seen one-minute plays will be flying through the stage of the Thick House like a whirlwind of theatre, blowing minds instead of wind!  Don't forget to reserve your tickets over at!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More Press from The NY One-Minute Play Festival Blog!

Playwrights Foundation resident playwright, Marisela Treviño Orta talks to our friends on the East Coast, The New York One-Minute Play Festival blog about her role in next weeks FIRST Annual San Francisco One-Minute Play Festival.  She recalls her difficulty finding the right subject about which to write:
When I was first asked to submit plays to this festival I originally thought of digging up one of my prose poems. The last prose poem I wrote had been a special request of sorts. Fellow Bay Area playwright Aaron Loeb had asked several of us who were coming to celebrate his wife’s birthday to write short plays for her.
Like really short.
Like one-page short.
I opted to write a poem inspired by one of my works-in-progress because I felt sure I just couldn’t write a play that short.
Guess the joke’s on me ‘cause then I was asked to participate in this one minute play festival.
At first I looked through my poems to try and find something I could adapt into a play, even looked at the poem I had written for Kathy, but nothing seemed to fit…nothing felt…right.
I’m big on intuition when it comes to playwriting, that’s because I became a playwright quite by accident. Everything I’ve learned has been on the ground, so to speak. And it seems to me that the fewer pages you have, the more precise your writing needs to be. There’s no wiggle room here. Full lengths have lots of space to explore, ten minute plays hit the ground running establishing relationships and backstory quickly and one minute plays…well…they seem to be moments.
At least mine were.
Read the rest over at The New York One-Minute Play Festival Blog.

Come see Marisela, tons of other playwrights, and their one-minute plays NEXT WEEKEND (December 18 and 19, 2010) here in San Francisco!  Tickets are selling quick, so click here to purchase yours!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

PF Alumni Get the Star Treatment!

Two recent veterans of our humble theatrical organization have recently received quite the star treatment.

First up, we need to congratulate past ROUGH Readings playwright, Rajiv Joseph for his Pulitzer Prize finalist play, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, for getting its BROADWAY Premiere! Oscar winner Robin Williams returns to Broadway, this time not for his unique brand of stand-up comedy, but as the eponymous character of "Tiger," with Tony nominee Moisés Kaufman directing.  The curtain goes up for previews March 11, 2011, and tickets are on sale now! has the scoop:
"Rajiv Joseph's ferocious comedy…follows the intertwined lives of a tiger (Williams), two American marines and an Iraqi gardener as they roam the streets of Baghdad in search of friendship, redemption and a toilet seat made of gold."
Another Playwrights Foundation vet's star is rising.  Marcus Gardley, of various ROUGH Readings, and Bay Area Playwrights festivals of yesteryear has received enormous praise for his play Every Tongue Confess at The Arena Stage in DC, from The Washingtonian, having been awarded 3.5 out of a possible 4 stars:
Something is rotten in the state of Alabama in Marcus Gardley’s new play at Arena Stage, Every Tongue Confess—particularly in Boligee. The town is suffering through a litany of strange events—the temperature is 103 and rising, hailstones are falling and melting into the arid ground, and a string of churches have been set on fire. To make matters worse, ghosts seem to be lurking...
 Every Tongue Confess only runs until January 2.  THAT'S ONLY ANOTHER MONTH! Theatre-goers in these areas, do NOT sleep on these two plays, believe me.  Even Playwrights Foundation Artistic Director, Amy Mueller made it out for Every Tongue Confess, so it's worth the country-wide flight, and while you're there, make sure to book a flight and tickets for Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, as well.

Write on, playwrights!

Festival Alum Reflects on Writing One-Minute-Plays

Bay Area Playwrights Festival alum, and all-around cool lady, Erin Bregman, shares her thoughts on writing for the FIRST ANNUAL SAN FRANCISCO ONE-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL (December 18th & 19th at the Thick House, in Potrero Hill) with the NY One-Minute Play Festival Blog:
Six weeks ago I opened the longest, most exciting email I had ever received from someone I didn’t know–it was Dominic D. soliciting writers for the 1st annual San Francisco One-Minute Play Festival. (Actually, that’s only a half truth. The email was partially authored by the beloved Jill MacLean of the Playwrights Foundation, but we’ll let that particular detail slide for the sake of superlative.) Like any responsible person would do after receiving an emailed request from a total stranger, I wrote back immediately and accepted his proposition.
Read the rest over at their blog: “Writing a one-minute play wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be.”

Come see Erin, and our whole plethora of plays, playwrights, and actors December 18 and 19 at the Thick House: 1695 18th St, between Carolina and Arkansas.  Tickets are $15:

Friday, November 19, 2010

A New Face at Playwrights Foundation

Hello to the internet world.  A bit of forewarning: this post is less theatre, more vain ramblings of a twenty-something, given the power of THE BLOG!  ...If that didn't make sense (and I'm sorry if it did) then let me explain.  My name is Vinny, I'm the new Artistic Producing Intern here at PF.  What does an "Artistic Producing Intern" do, you ask?  Well that means I do pretty much anything and everything I am needed for.  Yes, of course it's vague! I'm an intern!  No one really knows what we do.  One of my jobs (in between my acting as a work-horse, and lackey [I kid, I kid]) is to be a cool and hip new voice to the social networking world.  That isn't to say that this place wasn't doing well on its own, but I will certainly not complain to having a job that includes checking up on Facebook and Blogspot throughout the day.

This is me! Oddly, it's hard to find a photo of me smiling.
So let me tell you a bit about myself, and my background.  I'm a recent college grad, holding degrees in both Theatre Arts and Communication from Monmouth University in lovely West Long Branch, New Jersey, just down the street from the Atlantic Ocean.  Waaaaait, a second.  New Jersey?  That's right.  Someone from the Jersey Shore... named Vinny; do go on!  Well, since you asked:  I come from a typical Italian-American nuclear family.  I have two brothers, two parents, a dog, and huge family gatherings every holiday.  Anyway! After graduating, I did what many who leave the educational setting wondering what I'm doing with my life, and when my academic mentor sent me a link to an internship across the country, I jumped at the chance and applied.  Being an aspiring playwright, this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  After a few phone calls, and a Skype interview I landed myself a new internship half-way around the world.

I've been here for two weeks, and I'm still trying to find my footing, but the Bay Area has certainly been very welcoming for this 22-year-old vegan, and I couldn't be happier with the area, the theatre scene, and my internship.  I look forward to keeping all of you theatergoers in the loop about the goings on here for the next year, so here's to new beginnings, new friends, and trying to not get lost on the MUNI!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Special Event! Book reading and signing with playwright/author Brooke Berman!


Join us this Sunday, Oct 17th at 3:00PM in the Union Square Borders in SF for a special glimpse into Brooke's new memoir No Place Like Home, A Memoir in 39 Apartments.  Here is a taste of what you'll hear on Sunday...


By April 1, 1991, I have moved to Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, to live in a house with Anya, my friend from Dance Theater Workshop. A real house! A
duplex! I hire a “Man with Van” whose number has been
posted on the bulletin board at the Screen Actors Guild.
The Man with Van is in his fifties, and he looks like
someone’s dad except that he’s wearing a beret. We have
only five boxes to carry, plus the purple board and two milk crates that make up my “desk” and the extra milk crate, aka my“dresser.” During the
drive, when I mention that I’m an aspiring actress and that
I’ve begun writing, he gives me advice on dialogue. At this point, I have no idea that I
will wind up a playwright, and I think his advice is a strange
gift, but I take it nonetheless. He tells me to listen in to
conversations and write them down— every day. He says,
go to public places, take a notebook, and write down what
people say verbatim.  It is quite a gift for an hour and a half’s move to Brooklyn.
By the time we hit Flatbush Avenue, I have ammunition
for a career that I don’t yet know is in my future.

The house on Bergen is spacious— a relief after East
Village walk- ups. My room is upstairs, next to the kitchen
and bathroom, while the other bedrooms (and thus roommates)
are on the main floor. The room is furnished with
a twin bed and a dresser. It has an enormous closet. I am
subletting from a Village Voice writer who will, years later,
disappear on Mount Rainier in a surreal accident— he goes
bird- watching and never comes back! But in 1991 the writer is
on a fellowship in Mississippi. He has left Anya, who lives
in the big room downstairs, in charge of finding the right
subletter, and Anya insists that person is me.

Anya can do anything with a glue gun and some glitter.  And most of her
friends live in the neighborhood, so weekends in Brooklyn
are always full of activity. Plus, Anya has been initiating me into the subculture
of Lower East Side dance and performance art since I was
in college. She takes me to Veselka, a Ukrainian diner on
Ninth Street where the artists hang out eating the most
amazing poppy- seed cake ever, and to symposiums and
workshops at Movement Resarch and parties full of the most interesting new people— and now, she initiates me into Brooklyn.

My mother is horrified. “Brooklyn” makes her think of gangsters and old Russian
Jews on the boardwalk— A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Coney
Island, Radio Days. She insists that this is retrograde motion,
not understanding how gentrified parts of Brooklyn have
become, or how many young people are claiming these
neighborhoods. If she only knew. If I only kept the lease. If
only there were a lease.

You can also hear a reading of Brooke's new play My New Best Friend, Or, Six Degrees of Sevrin Stein on Monday, Oct 18th at 7:30PM (Stanford University) and on Tuesday, Oct. 19th at 7:00PM (Thick House, SF)  in our Rough Readings Series.  For more information about these readings please go to 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Prudence and Pepper: Act Two

The dramatic conclusion of Prudence and Pepper...

The curtain rises to reveal a FOREST at night.
PRUDENCE CONSTANCE SORROWFUL is squatting by a heap of sticks, trying to light a fire.
PEPPER THØRRSSTEINSSØN stands apart, engaged in a paperback novel.
PEPPER turns the pages faster and faster.
PRUDENCE grabs the novel, throws in on the heap of sticks.
The sticks and novel burst into flame.
PRUDENCE and PEPPER jump back as a SMALL BOY in a sailor suit descends on a perch.
The boy sings all of Mariah Carey's "Someday," complete with vocal acrobatics. PEPPER and PRUDENCE pretend, unsuccessfully, not to notice the BOY.
When his song is over, the BOY hops off his perch and walks expectantly up to PRUDENCE.
She does a tightly choreographed dance with the BOY to a refrain of ‘Someday’.
The trees light up like disco balls.
The forest swirls in on itself.
PRUDENCE and the BOY dance into the twinkling lights and disappear leaving PEPPER
alone. He hums and hums and hums and hums and hums as the lights fade.

Dive into the bizarre! Julia & Brian's workshop STRANGE DAYS, STRANGE PLAYS begins October 16th.  For more info & to register, visit:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Prudence and Pepper: Act One

Julia Jarcho and Brian Thorstenson's class STRANGE DAYS, STRANGE PLAYS will be held six Saturdays starting October 16th. To kickstart the creative juices, they have co-written a Blog Drama in Two Acts. Act One appears here - stay tuned for Act Two later this week!

A Play in Two Acts
By Brian Thorstenson and Julia Jarcho

Act One.
The curtain rises on a sinister grotto. Lithe, shadowy FIGURES scurry around. Are they waiters? Probably.
PEPPER THØRRSSTEINSSØN sits at a table, heads in his hands. An enormous, inedible SCONE on a plate before him. From time to time he raises his head and eyes the scone, then drops back into his original posture.
After this has been going on for a while, PRUDENCE CONSTANCE SORROWFUL enters hurriedly, hat and coat askew. She drops into the chair opposite PEPPER.

(Without looking up, PEPPER nudges the scone towards her. She picks it up, examines it, and replaces it on the plate.)
I've told you, I don't engage with pastry. Pepper, for God's sake look at me. It wasn't easy to get away, I can tell you.  What's the [she pronounes it, badly, in French:] catastrophe?

PEPPER (raising his head and looking at Prudence for the first time): Why the hat? Another new hairdo gone awry?

PRUDENCE: Tick tick tick. I don't have time for your obfuscation.

PEPPER: More like we don't have time.
(He carefully looks around. No one. Then he takes the napkin from his lap, carefully unfolds it, and covers the scone.)
Put on your sunglasses.
(PRUDENCE does. PEPPER pulls an envelope out of his pocket and hands it to PRUDENCE)
I've already unsealed it.

(PRUDENCE pauses, holds the letter aloft.)

PRUDENCE: So you still don't...


PRUDENCE: And I'm some sort of...

PEPPER: Pandora.

PRUDENCE: --Cassandra, Angora... --Hare?

PEPPER (losing patience): Tortoise.

PRUDENCE (voluptuously, toying with the letter): Hmmmmmm. What's in it...
... For me?
(PEPPER strikes the table with his fist. The scurrying FIGURES stop dead in their tracks and conspire in a foreign tongue.)
Don't cause a commotion!
(In a raised voice:)
I was ooonly kidding.
(Things go back to normal. PRUDENCE takes the letter from the envelope. PRUDENCE reads:)
Dear Pru. Hmm. Familiar

(The enormous scone starts vibrating)

PEPPER: Oh no.

(From the scone a barrage of news stories start being broadcast)

PRUDENCE: Server? Server, we're finished with this.
(No response from THEM, whoever they are. To PEPPER:)
Ten years in fine dining and you can't bus a table? 

PEPPER: Seven tours in the shotput nationals and YOU can't--
(PRUDENCE hurls the scone offstage. It continues to broadcast faintly from afar.
PRUDENCE crumples the letter and hurls it after the scone. She rises to go.) 

PRUDENCE: Make it good.

PEPPER: It's ... it's ... it's been a strange day and ... I ...

PRUDENCE: Now, now, now, now.

PEPPER: I think there's been an attempt.

(PRUDENCE freezes in an attitude of horror. PEPPER looks beseechingly skywards. The OTHERS imitate them and giggle. Curtain falls: End of Act One.)

To read more about Brian & Julia's class, visit:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Inspiration, Deadlines & Candy Corn: Musings by Erin Bregman

After a weekend up in the California foothills, PF asked one of our Resident Playwrights, Erin Bregman, to write some thoughts about her writer's retreat. This is a sweet response, pun intended. 
When asked the dreaded question what inspires you to write?’, I immediately
pull out my ready-made, slightly scrappy retort: Deadlines. But if the
latest (and first!) Resident Playwrights Retreat reminded me of anything,
it’s that my oldest writing companion is not plain old last minute panic. It
is last minute panic infused with a faithful yet unpredictable

My relationship with writing on Sugar began in college, when my
writing-on-a-deadline routine started with a quick trip to the corner store
where I would purchase a small bag of jelly bellies. Thus armed, I would
return to my room and write, popping a jelly belly every time I got stuck. I
got stuck often. The test was, could I finish the assignment before the bag
was empty, or would I be left feeling sick on Sugar without having produced
anything worthwhile?

As my Productivity to Sugar-sick ratio dropped, I all but abandoned the
routine, replacing the jelly bellies with popcorn, then cereal, then tea. On
the occasions when we did tackle a project again together, Sugar and I were
always either one of two things: wildly successful, or absolute failures.

So it was that I sat myself down in front of a large bowl of candy corn at
the latest (and first!) Resident Playwrights Retreat with more than a little
trepidation. Now, I know candy corn is perceived as an untouchable to many
food-consuming people out there, but for some reason I find it irresistible.
I opened my notebook, and popped a candy corn. Sugar and I were back.

The thing about writing on Sugar is that it facilitates, at its best,
writing quickly and without over-thinking. Such a strategy can either write
your play for you in record time, or write you straight off a cliff. Sixty
minutes into my candy corn frenzy, I saw the cliff. From about 10,000 feet
below. It was abundantly clear I had gone in the wrong direction with this
draft, and would have to start over. That seemed like a lot of work for the
moment, so instead I grabbed another candy corn, stood up, and went to ask
the wise Jonathan Spector for advice.

My candy corn experience at the latest (and first!) Resident Playwrights
Retreat may have felt like a complete failure in the moment, but looking
back I would have to call it a huge success. In a mere sixty minutes I
scrapped an entire draft, and made the not so easy decision to go back to
the beginning and start over. The result? I now have a vastly improved,
completely re-worked play that is one giant step closer to being finished.
Thanks, Sugar. I owe you one.

Erin Bregman's play TVA KAMILA premiered at the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival this past summer. To read more about Erin, and about our Resident Playwrights, visit:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Two Weekends. Eight Plays. Limitless Imagination!

Welcome to the Bay Area Playwrights Festival – a full throttle jettison into the new play universe.  

Every summer – counting 33 this year - 70+ artists gather to breathe stardust and substance into eight stellar new plays, offering their insights and talents to extraordinary playwrights who go on to illuminate the future of American theater.

We believe in the power of a living theater to stir hearts, awaken minds and unfurl the majestic beauty of hope – springing alive when we least expect it. A story has no bounds, the world can be changed, if only we can imagine it. Perhaps this is why we come together this weekend, to listen to our own stories in our own time and reflect on what lies before us.

Experience all the Festival has to offer: eight new plays, Playwrights’ TalkBack, Theater in One World Symposium & Playwriting Workshop with Marcus Gardley, crosstalk in the lobby or at the Festival bar!

Consider taking a playwright to lunch, and if you are so moved, support our festival and make a donation to Playwrights Foundation.  Enjoy!

----  Amy Mueller, Artistic Director 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Meet your 2010 Festival Playwrights, Week 6: Introducing Yussef El Guindi!

Each week we will be posting an interview with one of the playwrights featured in this year's 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival.  We are thrilled to be working with Yussef El Guindi to develop his new play Three Wolves and a Lamb.  " Funny, sexy, and irreverent ", this exciting production explores the love and the tension between a Palestinian and Jewish married couple as they face a series of personal revelations while planning a children's peace camp.  Come see it at Thick House at 8 pm on Saturday, July 24 and Saturday, July 31 at 4pm.  

1.   How long have you been writing for the theatre?  What was the creative spark that led you to become a playwright?

My failure as an actor was my main push into becoming a playwright. None of the graduate schools for acting accepted me. I’d applied to one graduating playwriting program (Carnegie Mellon University) as a back up plan since I also dabbled in writing (being an English Lit major). When CMU accepted me into their program, my first thought was, “oh crap, now what do I do?”

I never really thought of myself as a playwright until I stopped all thoughts of acting some time in the latter part of the nineties.

 2.   What inspired the creation of your play Three Wolves and a Lamb?  Tell us a little about the process of writing this piece.

The inspiration, truthfully, stemmed from a back ache. I had lain down to meditate, hoping a little deep breathing and relaxation would help with the pain. Within a few minutes of relaxation, the first line of the play came: “God damn. There are so many pork products in this fridge, you'd think there were a couple of Christians living here.” I jumped up (in pain) and started writing the play.

This play came in a rush. A rush for me is two months. Most plays for me take nine months to a year to complete (I’m that slow)....I had for a while been wanting to write an all out politically inflected comedy. My other pieces of late had been somewhat dour, so I was looking to have fun. I’m not sure why I thought wading into the Palestinian/ Israeli imbroglio might be fun, but some little imp in my imagination must have thought so.

Early on I worried that I would have to go into, and itemize, the history and grievances of this conflict. I didn’t want to do that and start splitting the audiences into “for” and “against”. Thankfully, I think I found a way to address what needed to be addressed without wading in into specifics. That can wait for another play. (Though I do glance by some issues.)

 3.   What do you hope to discover, improve, or change in your play during the festival process?

The main discovery to be had in a festival process is of course, does the play work? And with a comedy, that will become apparent pretty early on. I’m sure I will be making many adjustments, changes, as I hear the play in front of an audience. I will hear what lands, what needs cutting, what I can expand on, etc. Where do I lose the audience? How can I fix those moments, etc.

4.   After the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, what’s next for you?

Immediately after the festival, in mid-August, I am workshopping another play called Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World with ACT theater and the Icicle Theater Festival. Hopefully it will be a nice hot summer of creativity and rewriting.

 5.   Desert Island Top Five Plays, go!

Well, lets the top of my head:

Edward Albee: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  
Eugene O'Neill: Long Day's Journey into Night
Eugene O'Neill: Mourning Becomes Electra
Tennessee Williams: Suddenly, Last Summer / Clifford Odets: Waiting for Lefty (two one-acts count as one play, yes?)
Shelagh Delaney: A Taste of Honey

For more information on Yussef El Guindi and the play, and to see a Festival Calendar of Events, please visit our website:
The 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival takes place JULY 23 - AUGUST 1, 2010 at the Thick House in Potrero Hill, SF.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Meet your 2010 Festival Playwrights, week five! Meet local playwright Elizabeth Gjelten!

Each week we will be sharing an interview with a playwright featured in this year's 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. PF sat down with SF-based playwright Elizabeth Gjelten, who will be developing her play Hunter’s Point in the Festival on Saturday, July 24 and Saturday, July 31.

1.   How long have you been writing for the theatre?  What was the creative spark that led you to become a playwright?

I started as a solo writer and performer about 20 years ago. After years of writing poetry in my room, it was the love of being on stage that got me going -- until I didn't need that impetus anymore, and found myself wanting to sit back and watch actors make discoveries in the words that came through me.

2.   What inspired the creation of your play, Hunter's Point?  Tell us a little about the process of writing this piece.

First it was a voice that came to me in some freewriting. I knew who she was as soon as she appeared, but it took several tries and dead-ends before I found the form for her story. The play also came from my feelings of helplessness and guilt in the face of a loved one who lived on the streets for many years, as well as my own struggles with my unruly mind.

3.   What do you hope to discover, improve, or change in your play during the festival process?
I'm mostly hoping to work with some structural questions I have about the play -- I want to simplify and pare it down.

4.   After the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, what’s next for you?

See this puppy into production next spring. And work on two other plays that have been germinating and growing.

5.   Desert Island Top Five Plays, go!

Gertrude Stein, Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights
Brecht, Mother Courage
Suzan Lori-Parks, Death of the Last Black Man...
Caryl Churchill, Far Away
Tony Kushner, Angels In America
For more information on Elizabeth Gjelten and Hunter’s Point, and to see a Festival Calendar of Events, please visit our website:

The 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival takes place JULY 23 - AUGUST 1, 2010 at the Thick House in Potrero Hill, SF.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Meet Your 2010 Festival Playwrights, Week Four! Hello, SHEILA CALLAGHAN

Each week we will be sharing an interview with a playwright featured in this year's 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. We're thrilled to invite back Sheila Callaghan, whose play Lascivious Something finished its run in New York on June 6th.  This summer, we present her new play Port Out, Starboard Home.

1. How long have you been writing for the theatre? What was the creative spark that led you to become a playwright?

Been writing plays for 15 years. There was no spark for me really-- I loved making theatre and loved writing, and couldn't see a future without both in my life.

2. What inspired the creation of your play Port Out, Starboard Home? Tell us a little about the process of writing this piece.

foolsFURY went on a three day cruise and brought back material for me! I've been sculpting text based on their experiences and improv sessions with the gang since then.

3. What do you hope to discover, improve, or change in your play during the festival process?

I hope to have a text in decent shape and a cohesive performance vocabulary for when we go into production in the fall.

4. After the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, what’s next for you?

I'm still in the writer's room for my TV show, so I'm going back to that.

5. Desert Island Top Five Plays, go!

Erik Ehn, Beginner
Edward Albee, The Zoo Story
Caryl Churchill, Mad Forest
Suzan Lori-Parks, Imperceptibilities of the Third Kingdom
Sam Beckett, Waiting For Godot

For more information on Sheila Callaghan and the play, and to see a Festival Calendar of Events, please visit our website:
The 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival takes place JULY 23 - AUGUST 1, 2010 at the Thick House in Potrero Hill, SF.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meet Our 2010 Festival Playwrights, Week Three!: Say hello to....Cory Hinkle

Cory Hinkle, a Brown MFA graduate, is the author of Ciper, Little Eyes, Phosphorescence, and SadGrrl13.  We were blown away by the In the Rough reading The Killing of Michael X, a New Film by Celia Wallace, and are thrilled to be developing this exciting piece even further in the Festival this summer.

1.  How long have you been writing for the theatre?  What was the creative spark that led you to become a playwright?

I’ve been writing for about 9 years.  At first I wanted to be an actor, but I hated the actor’s life (I liked acting, but not headshots, auditions and all the other stuff).  While I spent a couple of years becoming disillusioned with all that, I was writing a scene or a monologue here and there, but didn’t take it seriously until I finished my first full-length.  As soon as I finished that first play, I knew it was what I wanted to do – even before I heard it aloud.  For me, the creative spark has always been people – the way they talk, interact and why they do what they do and I think my acting background still comes through in my writing – in terms of the language and the richness of the characters.

2.   What inspired the creation of your play, The Killing of Michael X: A New Film by Celia Wallace?  Tell us a little about the process of writing this piece.

I wanted to explore the subject of grief and what it means to lose someone close to you, but I didn’t want to deal directly with my own personal experience, which would have been too difficult.  So, the character of Celia Wallace came to me.  She’s a young Midwestern girl obsessed with the loss of her brother and in love with the movies he shared with her before he died. I’ve always been a movie fanatic. When I was a teenager I did my own survey of old movies with my own brother – we watched noirs and French New Wave and the great American films from the seventies.  That personal experience was the real inspiration for the character.

The play came to me quickly.  I wrote the first half at MacDowell in about two weeks and I finished it six months later in two more weeks.  The main character and her experience really popped for me, probably because of the emotional connection I have to her.

3.   What do you hope to discover, improve, or change in your play during the festival process?

The play is at different times fantasy, a film and a dream.  Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all three, so I want to make sure I clarify all of that. Also, I want to keep working on the end.  It’s always that way though, isn’t it?  Either the end or the beginning needs more work.

4.   After the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, what’s next for you?

A week after BAPF I’m going up to Northern Minnesota to the Tofte Lake Center to create a new show with a group of collaborators. We received a grant from the Jerome foundation to create a new theater piece based on the real-life story of the kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa.  It’s going to be a fantastic process building a play from the very beginning with everyone in the room – director (Jeremy Wilhelm), two writers and three of the best actors in the Twin Cities.

And this coming season, my play Little Eyes will be produced in a Workhaus Collective production at the Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio.  We’ve assembled a great cast of actors some of whom have been workshopping the play at the Playwrights’ Center for a couple of years now, so that’s very exciting.

5.   Desert Island Top Five Plays, go!

Hamlet, Uncle Vanya, American Notes, Godot, Aunt Dan and Lemon.

For more information on Cory Hinkle and the play, and to see a Festival Calendar of Events, please visit our website:

The 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival takes place JULY 23 - AUGUST 1, 2010 at the Thick House in Potrero Hill, SF.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meet Our 2010 Festival Playwrights, Week Two!: JEANNE DRENNAN

We're thrilled to welcome to San Francisco this summer Pittsburgh-based playwright Jeanne Drennan, whose play Atlas of Longing will be developed as part of the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. More about Jeanne...

1. How long have you been writing for the theatre? What was the creative spark that led you to become a playwright?

I've been doing this for about twenty years, if we don't count the plays written, produced, and directed by me for the neighborhood when I was about 10 or 11. An 8th-grade production of "HMS Pinafore," which I saw sitting on my father's shoulders when I was about 4, first drew me to the theatre. I can still see Little Buttercup's yellow gown and bonnet. But there's no one "creative spark" for me, just a need to tap into the stories in my head.

2. What inspired the creation of your play, Atlas of Longing. Tell us a little about the process of writing this piece.

The immediate impulse came from a border crossing, a return to the US from Canada. The play ultimately took a very different trajectory and I'm not sure why. Characters and lines of development come to me largely unbidden and I have to pursue them, but I know they owe their existence to my being somewhat addicted to "The Economist," which has opened up new worlds for me. Ultimately, I'm sure I'll get back to that border crossing, but it will be a different play.

3. What do you hope to discover, improve, or change in your play during the festival process?

I'm always hoping for that "Aha!" moment when the silver bullet that will make everything come right in the play presents itself. In reality, discoveries tend to be small but sometimes far-reaching. What they'll be, I don't know yet, but I'm hoping for lots of them.

4. After the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, what’s next for you?

Composer David Berlin and I are aimed toward a workshop this fall of our new musical, "Dear Boy." Everyone should please say a prayer that the funding comes through.

5. Desert Island Top Five Plays, go!

In no particular order:

Chekhov, "The Cherry Orchard"
August Wilson, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone"
Tom Stoppard, "Arcadia"
Caryl Churchill, "Mad Forest"
Shakespeare, "King Lear"

Jeanne Drennan is inordinately happy to be in the Bay Area working on Atlas of Longing. Other full-length plays include Asparagus, Limoges, Medea at Athens, Wrong Side Out, 12 Dogs, and Waxworks, mostly produced and/or developed in the east. Besides Atlas, current projects include a chamber musical with composer David Berlin, called Dear Boy, and the more embryonic Left Luggage which she recently spent time researching in central Europe. She has been the grateful recipient of seven fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts in support of her writing and also has a sideline in teaching and dramaturgy for young playwrights through City Theatre in Pittsburgh, her adopted hometown.

For more information on Jeanne Drennan and to see a Festival Calendar of Events, please visit our website:

The 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival takes place JULY 23 - AUGUST 1, 2010 at the Thick House in Potrero Hill, SF.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meet Our Festival Playwrights: J.C. Lee

J.C. Lee's new play Pookie Goes Grenading will be developed as part of the BASH (Bay Area SHorts) program in the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival.  Read more about this prolific young playwright...

1.   How long have you been writing for the theatre?  What was the creative spark that led you to become a playwright?

  • At 17 I was a freshman in college and my roommate (a surly, awesome dude) brought home a flier calling for new plays. I'd always been a writer and he posed a pretty straightforward question: "yo, you always writin' shit an' you always doin' theatre; why don' you juss write theatre?" I'd never ever thought about writing theatre before because, truth be told, up until that very moment, I didn't even realize you could write theatre. That night I wrote a one-act play called The Sleepover that wound up getting produced that spring. Ever since then I've been a playwright. Thanks, surly roommate.

2.   What inspired the creation of your play, Pookie Goes Grenading?  Tell us a little about the process of writing this piece.

  • I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by incredible actors for as long as I can remember. One of them was auditioning for the Bay Area Generals and needed a monologue. I love writing monologues; it's like getting to write the best part of a play without having to do all the hard work of contextualizing it within a dramatic framework that justifies it. So I wrote her one (and coincidentally, that audition landed her a role in the Sleepwalkers Theatre production of my play This World Is Good in August 2010). It went over really well so I thought "what the hell?" and just ran with it. I'd never written anything as outrageous as Pookie before and really wanted to test myself . Plus my husband Adrian, who serves as resident dramaturge in our home, is always nagging me to write a comedy. So I did. Well...we'll see if I did.

3.   What do you hope to discover, improve, or change in your play during the festival process?

  • Ultimately I want this play production ready. That's always my goal in development. I'm lucky enough to have come from a school of thought that recognized the importance and pragmatism of the theatrical form - all developmental roads should lead to production - thus that's always in the forefront of the rewriting I do. At a more nitty gritty level, I'm interested in developing and clarifying character spines and choices, ensuring that the comedy of the piece doesn't mean the characters are sketches instead of people. I never know what that means in terms of discovery, which is why it's so fun to be a playwright.

4.   After the 2010 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, what’s next for you?

  • Sleepwalkers Theatre in San Francisco is producing a trilogy of my plays called This World and After which opens in August with the first play in the trilogy This World Is Good and rolls on all 2010-2011 with Into the Clear Blue Sky (which was a Bay Area Playwrights Festival finalist in 2009) and The Nature Line: all the plays deal with the end of the world, comic books and dorky joy. That project will be keeping me pretty busy all year. I'm also constantly blogging and spitting out new plays. I'll be spending plenty of time dancing, snuggling my cat and exploring various bars throughout the Bay Area.  Also,  I just found out (like a few minutes ago) that I'll be heading to Juilliard for graduate school in 2010-11! 
5.   Desert Island Top Five Plays, go!

  • In no particular order: King Lear, Hamlet, Angels in America, The Piano Lesson & The Pillowman though to be totally honest, if I was stuck on a desert island, I'd much prefer trading plays for hot island boys, an abundant food source and a mosquito net.

JC Lee is a playwright and director whose work has been seen throughout the country. Originally from New York City, he is the former founding Artistic Director of the Omicron Theatre Project and a former faculty member at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts. His plays have been seen at The Williamstown...
For more information on J.C. Lee and to see the rest of the festival lineup, please visit our website.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Interview with a Playwright: Aaron Loeb

Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party was a smashing success last year in San Francisco, and will premiere off-broadway at the Acorn Theatre on July 27th.  Meet the mad-cap creator of this hilarious play, Aaron Loeb.

Where do you most often find inspiration?
Watching and reading theater most often provides me visual inspiration – ways to accomplish theatrical moments, for instance. But my primary inspiration comes from people – conversations with friends about their passions, the news, watching people be irritating in public spaces...

What one tip can you offer aspiring playwrights?
Writing is solitary, but writers are not. Theater is a collaborative form and to get produced requires a whole long line of people saying “yes.” An aspiring playwright should be out there getting to know their future collaborators, making friends, being helpful and useful. Volunteer for your local theaters. If you have the resources, donate. Be a patron – go see plays. You should know the people in your theater community. Because when you have the script that is ready for production, it’s those same people who are going to have to say “yes” to get it onto the stage – despite the fact that all economic incentive in the theater is for them to say “no.”

And then, when you do get that production, be grateful! Listen to your collaborators and thank them for working with you. No one is obliged to produce your work, no one working on it is making enough money, and any theater producing a new play – even if it’s their entire mission to do so – is taking a risk producing your play in particular. Thank them.

How did you get your start in playwriting? Where and when was this seed planted?
My sister is an actor and I grew up watching her. I knew I wanted to make theater too, And for a long time, I was certain I would be an actor as well. When I was 14 a couple vital things happened – my high school hired a local artist named Jeff Glassman to come and work with the students to write that year’s Fall Play. We wrote it as a group (it was a collection of short scenes) and I was bitten. Then later that year, my high school gave an award to one of its famous graduates, Tina Howe. I think she had just been nominated for a Tony for Coastal Disturbances. She came to our school to speak about playwriting and I had the opportunity to perform a scene I’d written for her. It was thrilling and she was very encouraging (though I’m sure the scene was ghastly). I knew then I wanted to be a playwright. Years later, I ended up studying with Tina at NYU in the Dramatic Writing Program.

What was your most embarrassing high school moment?
Good grief, there are so many. I’m a chronic foot-in-mouth person, primarily because my family subscribes to the sacred belief: “anything for a laugh.” I have more stories than I can recall of saying something I thought would be funny only to have it deeply offend someone. The most embarrassing, though, was that rare case where I did nothing wrong and involves a love letter being read aloud in the student lounge. It went beyond the “embarrassing moment you laugh at years later” to the “embarrassing moment that gives you a painful appreciation of human cruelty.”

Beckett or Stoppard? One word only please.

Aaron Loeb has had plays produced in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Ft. Worth, San Jose, Connecticut, Virginia Beach and Atlanta. He was won two “Best New Play” awards from the San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle for his plays, First Person Shooter and Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party, and seven Emerging Playwright Awards from PlayGround. His 10-minute plays have been...

To Read More, Visit our Website

Friday, April 30, 2010

Interview with a Playwright: Eugenie Chan

1.    Where do you most often find inspiration?
In everyday actions -- the small rituals we do over and over again, like making a cup of tea, buying groceries at the same produce store, having the same conversation with the same person.  Seeing what happens when these daily activities are broken.

2.    What one tip can you offer aspiring playwrights?
Get connected.  Work, volunteer, get involved at the theater or organization where they're making the kind of theater you love.

3.    How did you get your start in playwriting?  Where and when was this seed planted?
In the 5th grade.  I wrote a play about Hermes and his brother Apollo herding cows and made our teacher the cow.  I thought that was so great and empowering.

4.    What was your most embarrassing high school moment?
Um, I'm still in high school, kinda sorta.  I teach.  Often in high school.  So, as a grown up dork, everyday I'm probably embarrassing myself.

5.    Beckett or Stoppard? One word only please.

Eugenie Chan's plays Bone to Pick and Diadem will premiere at the Cutting Ball theater on May 21st, to learn more about Ms. Chan and her work, visit our website.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Interview with a Playwright: Dominic Orlando

 1) Where do you most often find inspiration?

I'm not sure I understand the question.  In his gorgeous unfinished novel, Tulip, Dashiell Hammet has the title character, an ex-con, pestering his old friend, a writer, to take up his life story.  "It's a great story--I'll let you have it".  His friend responds:  "the problem is having too many ideas, not too few".

As for what keep me going:  coffee, toast, intelligent/enthusiastic response to the work.

2) What one tip can you offer aspiring playwrights

Artistically:  Keep writing and don't let anyone tell you what a play is supposed to look like.
Professionally: Go to grad school.

 3) How did you get your start in playwriting?  Where and when was this seed planted

I wrote, directed and performed in my first play, Lieutenant Rockstone and Golds and The Case of The Missing Stones in 5th Grade instead of handing in a science report.  We got the day off to perform the piece for the entire school.  It was the day off that sold me.

 4) What was your most embarrassing high school moment?

My Father picked me up from a party and I puked all over him and the car.  I told him I had eaten too many potato chips.

 5) Beckett or Stoppard? One word only please.


Mr. Orlando will be a teaching his immensely popular 'New Play Bootcamp' course this May at the Playwrights Foundation.  Get a first draft done in a matter of weeks!  Visit website below for details: