PlayGround has announced its PlayGround Heroes, three individuals who have made an indelible impact on PlayGround and the PlayGround community over the past two-and-a-half decades, to be honored at the PlayGround Silver Jubilee, taking place Monday evening, September 23, at San Francisco’s vintage Verdi Club. They are: benefactor and past board member Robert W. Allen; founding PlayGround playwright Garret Jon Groenveld; and longtime collaborating artist Nancy Carlin. Chaired by Flour + Water co-founder David Steele and MC’d by PlayGround Company Member Stephanie Prentice, the glam gala marks twenty-five years of PlayGround’s award-winning new play and playwright incubator programs and will feature a cocktail reception, entertainment-rich silent auction, and seated dinner. Highlighting the program will be special performances of original 80s rock-inspired short musicals by PlayGround alumni Vincent Terrell Durham, Garret Jon Groenveld, Julianne Jigour, and Katie May, straight from their off-Broadway debut last April. Tickets are $250-$525 and all proceeds support PlayGround’s award-winning playwright incubator programs. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit https://playground-sf.org/benefit.
The evening’s short musicals, all inspired by the topic “Twist of Fate” and featuring an 80s rock song, include: LOVE IN THE DARK by Julianne Jigour (“Bright Shining Sea”), music by Bonnie Tyler; MISSISSIPPI GODDAMN by Vincent Terrell Durham (“Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids”), music by Joan Jett; F8 OR DOWN WITH CHADS: THE SINGULARLITY APPROACHES by Katie May (“A History of Freaks”, “Abominable”), music by Billy Joel; and TAKE ME ON by Garret Jon Groenveld (“The Empty Nesters”, “Disbelief”), music by A-Ha. All four works were presented off-Broadway at Theatre Row’s Beckett Theatre on April 15, 2019 as part of PlayGround’s NYC 25th Anniversary Celebration.
ABOUT THE HONOREES
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert W. Allen attended his first Monday Night PlayGround in 2000 and joined the PlayGround Board less than a year later, serving from 2001 to 2007. Over more than fifteen years, Robert and his family generously contributed to PlayGround’s strategic development and growth, including the launch of some of the most important initiatives and programs: PlayGround’s first full-length commissioning program; expansion of the PlayGround Festival of New Works; hiring of PlayGround’s first staff; production and touring of PlayGround-developed works; and, ultimately, the creation of Potrero Stage: PlayGround Center for New Plays, a state-of-the-art 99-seat black box theatre and home to PlayGround’s expanding incubator programs as well as numerous other new play developers and producers. The Potrero Stage auditorium is named in his honor.
Garret Jon Groenveld is a poet and playwright living in San Francisco, and a founding writer with PlayGround. An MFA in Poetry and an MA in Playwriting from San Francisco State University, Groenveld also studied Playwriting with Edward Albee at the University of Houston. His plays include Missives (PlayGround commission), The Hummingbirds (winner, Internationalists Global Playwriting Prize), and The Empty Nesters (PlayGround Festival, commercial tour), among others. His new play, Disbelief, based on the Cassandra myth, will premiere at the 24th annual PlayGround Festival of New Works next spring.
Nancy Carlin is a director, actor, writer, dialect coach, and acting teacher. A former company member of A.C.T., associate artist with Cal Shakes, and longtime PlayGround company member, she has performed and directed extensively in regional theaters, including A.C.T., Berkeley Rep, Aurora Theatre, Shotgun Players, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She holds a BA in comparative literature from Brown University and an MFA in acting from A.C.T. Ms. Carlin is a member of SDC, AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and the Dramatists Guild. She co-authored the musical, Max Understood, and appears in the upcoming Eleanor Coppola film, The Lunch.
For the past twenty-five years, PlayGround has provided unique development opportunities for the Bay Area’s (and, since 2012, Los Angeles’) best new playwrights, including the monthly Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series, annual PlayGround Festival, full-length play commissions and support for the production of new plays by local playwrights through the New Play Production Fund, among others. Founded at San Francisco State University in 1994 by Jim Kleinmann (Artistic Director), Brighde Mullins, and Denise Shama, PlayGround has supported more than 200 California playwrights in the development and staging of over 950 original short plays and 90 new full-length plays over the past two decades, including 30 that have since premiered in the Bay Area and around the country. PlayGround alumni – including some of the most distinguished new writers coming out of the Bay Area, such as Aaron Loeb, Lauren Yee, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, and Geetha Reddy, among others – 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, The Lark, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and New York International Fringe Festival, among others.
Bay Area alumni include: Trevor Allen, Linda Amayo-Hassan, Jen Anderson, Veronica Andrew, Robert Barker, Crish Barth, Tim Bauer, William Bivins, Cailin Boyle, Cass Brayton, Erin Bregman, Ed Brownson, Tom Bruett, Rachel Bublitz, Madeleine Butler, Patricia Cotter, Rob Dario, Victoria Chong Der, Sharon Eberhardt, David Garrett, Jerome Joseph Gentes, Kristina Goodnight, Lauren Gorski, Ruben Grijalva, Garret Groenveld, Daniel Heath, Sam Hurwitt, Genevieve Jessee, Nicole Jost, Tania Katan, Melissa Keith, Sang S. Kim, Amy Kirk, Ellen Koivisto, Jennifer Kollmer, Katherine Koppett, Molly Olis Krost, Brady Lea, Aaron Loeb, Jonathan Luskin, Michael Lutz, Karen Macklin, Carol Marshall, Katie May, Alanna McFall, Alex Moggridge, Genne Murphy, Peter Nachtrieb, Daniele Nathanson, Ross Nelson, Isaac Ontiveros, Sean Owens, Erin Marie Panttaja, Evelyn Pine, Ken Prestininzi, Kenn Rabin, Geetha Reddy, Molly Rhodes, Mandy Hodge Rizvi, Robin Lynn Rodriguez, Maria Rokas, Mark Routhier, Diane Sampson, Amy Sass, Mercedes Segesvary, Mark Sherstinsky, Kirk Shimano, Nick Sholley, Ken Slattery, Cleavon Smith, Sean Smith, Nic Sommerfeld, Martha Soukup, Jonathan Spector, Tom Swift, Mary Michael Wagner, Malachy Walsh, John Warren, Steven Westdahl, Arisa White, Joshua Williams, Davern Wright, Lauren Yee, Maury Zeff, and Ignacio Zulueta.
Los Angeles alumni include: Megan Breen, Diana Burbano, Ron Burch, Tiffany Cascio, Kathleen Cecchin, John Corcoran, Allie Costa, Andrew Crabtree, Kevin Crust, Vincent Terrell Durham, Forrest Hartl, Dan Hirsch, Julianne Jigour, Starina Johnson, Jonathan Josephson, Arthur Keng, Rhea MacCallum, Nicholas C. Pappas, Carolina Rojas, Jessica June Rowe, Mercedes Segesvary, Mark Sherstinsky, Nicki Spencer, and Jennie Webb.
In 2017, PlayGround completed renovations on its San Francisco home, Potrero Stage: PlayGround Center for New Plays, a 99-seat state-of-the-art performance venue and home to some of the Bay Area’s leading new play developers and producers, including PlayGround, Crowded Fire, Golden Thread, and Playwrights Foundation, among others. Most recently, PlayGround launched the Innovator Incubator, fostering the creation of innovative new theatre companies and productions, recently featured at the inaugural Innovators Showcase. For more information on PlayGround and Potrero Stage, visit https://playground-sf.org.