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PlayGround Announces 2020 Zoom Fest

The Bay Area theatre will present new works and celebrate its 25th anniversary online this summer.

SAN FRANCISCO: PlayGround has announced that its annual Festival of New Works will be held digitally May 11-June 14. The PlayGround Zoom Fest will feature 25 real-time live-streamed performances.  Tickets for premiere productions will start at $15, and readings and events will be free.

PlayGround has coordinated with SAG-AFTRA to develop an agreement for the employment of more than 140 actors under #FairWage. The festival will also celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary with highlights from programs throughout PlayGround’s history.

“This festival stands as a community celebration of the new works PlayGround has incubated and championed from their inception, and a hopeful reminder that even in the most uncertain of times, the stories we share and the communities they form shape our culture and our lives,” a statement reads on the company’s website.

The festival will kick off May 11 with a special anniversary celebration underwritten by the City of San Francisco Grants for the Arts, featuring short works by Martha Soukup, Jonathan Spector, Linda Amayo-Hassan, Genne Murphy, Cleavon Smith, and Tom Swift. The second evening of shorts (May 18) will include works by Cass Brayton, Nicole Jost, Robin Lynn Rodriguez, Kirk Shimano, Nic A. Sommerfeld, and Aaron Loeb. Full-length plays, all commissioned by PlayGround and since premiered, will include First Person Shooter (May 15) by Aaron Loeb, Safehouse (May 16) by Geetha Reddy, Lolita Roadtrip (May 17) by Trevor Allen (May 17), Abominable (May 22) by Katie May, 1980 Or Why I’m Voting For John Anderson (May 23) by Patricia Cotter, and Anna Considers Mars (May 24) by Ruben Grijalva.

The first premiere will be Disbelief (May 30-31) by Garret Jon Groenveld, a #MeToo telling of the Cassandra myth. Tracy Ward will direct.

Following will be the premiere of Genevieve Jessee’s The Rendering Cycle (June 6-7), a theatrical journey through 400 years of the African Diaspora. Margo Hall will direct.

The festival will also feature developmental staged readings of four new full-length plays by PlayGround alumni, including Translations (May 25) by Victoria Chong Der, Sapience (May 29) by Diana Burbano, Burst (June 1) by Rachel Bublitz, and The Nesting Instinct (June 5) by Tom Bruett.

Also part of the programming will be a Zoom Town Hall called PlayGround & the American Theatre: Past, Present & Future (June 8), with three micro panels including “Past” with Kent Nicholson (moderator), Lauren Yee, Aaron Loeb, and Geetha Reddy; “Present” with Annie Stuart (moderator), Lily Janiak, Ruben Grijalva, and Rinabeth Apostol; “Future” with Chris Steele (moderator), Christian Wilburn, and Diana Burbano, and one more to be announced panelist.

The Young Playwrights Project (June 12) will showcase short plays by this year’s top high school dramatists as part of the 12th annual Howard & Lenore Klein Foundation Young Playwrights Contest.

The festival will conclude with the Best of PlayGround (June 13-14), featuring 10-minute plays by Tom Bruett, Melissa Keith, Martha Soukup, Addie Ulrey, Leela Velautham, and Christian Wilburn. Following the final performance will be a live-streamed 25th anniversary and dance party.

In addition to the festival, PlayGround has launched a special 25th Anniversary Campaign with a goal of raising $250,000 in support of artist compensation, artistic innovation, and performance facilities (including digital broadcast capabilities and a new pop-up second stage).

Founded in 1994, PlayGround is a new-play incubator in the Bay Area and supports the development of new plays by local playwrights.

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