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David Emmes/Martin Benson Theatre Center, South Coast Repertory. (Photo by Lance Gordon/McLarand Vasquez Emsiek & Partners, Inc.)

South Coast Repertory Announces Pacific Playwrights Festival Lineup

This year’s festival will present two world-premiere productions along with five staged readings of new works.

COSTA MESA, CALIF.: South Coast Repertory has announced the programming lineup for the 25th annual Pacific Playwrights Festival, to take place May 5-7. Tickets and ticket packages ranging from $20 to $98 are available here.

“The plays in the Pacific Playwrights Festival all have an incredible sense of vision to them this year,” said Andy Knight, PPF co-director and director of The Lab@SCR, in a statement. “It’s a real testament to the playwrights’ singular voices. Each writer has an acute ability to create vivid and dynamic worlds as playgrounds for stories, and those stories—which range from contemporary dramas to reimagined histories—promise to challenge, delight, and transport audiences. The mission behind PPF is (and has always been) to showcase the playwright’s imagination, and I think this year’s festival really does that. It’s a perfect way to celebrate our 25th PPF.”

The silver anniversary festival will present the world-premiere productions of avaaz by Michael Shayan and Coleman ’72 by Charlie Oh. Programming also includes five staged readings of works by Anika and Britta Johnson and Nick Green (Dr. Silver), Clarence Coo (Chapters of a Floating Life), Bleu Beckford-Burrell (Crasiss), Eleanor Burgess (Galilee, 34), and Noa Gardner (A Small Man).

Michael Shayan’s avaaz (performances April 29-May 27, 2023 at Segerstrom Stage) is a tribute to the playwright’s mother, portrayed by the person who knows her best: her son. Hostess Roya welcomes audiences into her home to celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. She’s preparing a feast, but the main attraction is Roya sharing her great American journey from Tehran to “Tehran-geles,” California. Traditions, humor, and passionate storytelling uplift this tale of unbreakable family bonds.

Charlie Oh’s Coleman ’72 (performances April 23-May 14, 2023 at Julianne Argyros Stage) follows Jenn, Michelle, and Joey as they look back at the summer of 1972, when their Korean American family piled into the Buick for an All-American road trip—spontaneously orchestrated by their father. But Korean parents and American kids hold conflicting ideas of what they’re looking for and the real purpose of their journey comes to light.

Dr. Silver (May 5 at 1 p.m.) with music and lyrics by Anika and Britta Johnson and book by Nick Green, was first presented as a Samples from The Lab excerpt in PPF 2022. Dr. Silver takes the next step in its development with a full concert reading. The musical begins as it is time for Dr. Silver and his followers to drink the divine tonic and join the heavenly orchestra. But in order for his congregants to face the end, they must first think back to how it all began.

Clarence Coo’s Chapters of a Floating Life (May 5 at 4 p.m.) is set in 1940s New York City, where two couples from China struggle to make ends meet. Uptown, Shen Fu and Yun long for their former lives as an academic and writer. Downtown, Tom and Elsie toil in their tiny restaurant. Chance meetings bring them together—and unlock the possibility of new beginnings.

Noa Gardner’s A Small Man (May 5 and 6 at 8 p.m., May 7 at 2:30 p.m.) follows Mother and Son as they spend every night playing cards and telling Hawaiian stories about the world’s creation. It’s better they tell those stories than their own, which are more complex and challenging. But without facing their past, they’re stuck without a future.

Crasiss (May 6 at 10:30 a.m.) by Bleu Beckford-Burrell is set in the house on a hill in New Market, Jamaica, where Granny and her five grandkids lived. In Granny’s house, there was something to fear. The kids are now grown and far away, but something still remains in the shadows.

Galilee, 34, (May 7 at 10:30 a.m.), written and directed by Eleanor Burgess, follows a group of disciples determined to keep spreading the message of their leader Yeshua after his death. The only trouble is the Roman Empire might want them dead. And they don’t have a leader. And they can’t quite agree what Yeshua’s message was.

Prior to the May 6 evening performance of Coleman ‘72, the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) will present the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing the best scripts premiering professionally outside of New York City. There will also be free panel discussion with this year’s festival playwrights on May 7 at 9 a.m.

South Coast Repertory is a professional theatre company located in Costa Mesa, Calif. SCR presents a balance of classic and modern plays and musicals. The theatre is known for its comprehensive new-play development program, The Lab@SCR, which includes one of the nation’s largest commissioning programs for emerging, mid-career and established writers. As of 2020, SCR had an approximate budget of $10.2 million.

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