The 2008 Pacific Playwrights Festival will feature fully produced productions of new plays by Kate Robin (What They Have, April 4-May 4) and Tony Award winner Richard Greenberg (The Injured Party, April 20-May 11), a workshop production of a play by Sharr White and staged readings of plays by Amy Freed, Lauren Gunderson, John Kolvenbach and Lynn Nottage.
SCR's previous PPF festivals introduced such works as Amy Freed's The Beard of Avon, Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel, Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics, Rolin Jones' The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow and David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize-winning Rabbit Hole.
According to SCR, in What They Have, directed by Chris Fields, "Connie and Jonas are wealthy, and what they have is success — she as a movie producer and he as a TV writer. Suzanne and Matt struggle financially, and what they have is envy. Parenting, painting and the Law of Attraction collide in…Kate Robin's new play where lives can change in a heartbeat, and things aren't necessarily what they seem."
Robin's play Anon. was commissioned by SCR and presented as part of the theatre's 2004 NewSCRipts series. Writer and supervising producer of HBO's "Six Feet Under," her other plays include Intrigue With Faye, Swimming in March, The Light Outside, Bride Stripped Bare and Given Away.
"The Injured Party is set in a specific New York City moment — 2005, when the art installation Cristo's 'The Gates' captured the imagination of city dwellers with its 23 miles of billowing fabric in Central Park," according to SCR. "One of the viewers was Maxine, 94 years old and enormously rich. Her grandson Seth, who studiously avoided 'The Gates,' is not so rich, hopelessly stalled — and determined that 'redistribution must commence.' A bevy of inimitable New Yorkers aid and/or hinder Seth in this ingenious new comedy about family, love, art, money and ambition." Trip Cullman directs The Injured Party. Greenberg received the Tony Award for his play, Take Me Out. South Coast Rep commissioned and presented the world premieres of Greenberg's Hurrah at Last (PPF 1998), The Violet Hour, Everett Beekin (PPF 1999), A Naked Girl on the Appian Way (PPF 2005), Night and Her Stars, The Extra Man and Three Days of Rain (a Pulitzer Prize finalist), and also commissioned Our Mother's Brief Affair, presented at last year's Festival.
Also on the PPF slate:
PPF veteran Amy Freed returns to SCR with a staged reading of You, Nero, directed by Sharon Ott. According to SCR, "Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but who could have imagined the back story? In this comic take on an infamous historical event, Nero decides to add a little fun to bleak times by commissioning a play. The Story of Me (or I, Nero) could be the Colosseum's biggest hit ever — if its hapless author lives to tell the tale." Her past SCR commissions are The Beard of Avon (PPF 2001), Safe in Hell (PPF 2003) and Freedomland (a Pulitzer Prize finalist). Her other plays include Restoration Comedy, The Psychic Life of Savages and Still Warm.
Lauren Gunderson is represented by a staged reading of Emilie – The Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life at the Petit Théâtre at Cirey Tonight, directed by Kate Whoriskey. According to SCR, "Passionate. Independent. A great beauty. A prodigious scientific intellect. These are the qualities that inspired this story of 18th-century Parisian noblewoman Emilie du Châtelet — and her lifelong affair with the Enlightenment superstar Voltaire. In this highly theatrical rediscovery of one of history's great women, Emilie must defend her life by tallying her achievements in love and philosophy — and search for a formula that will convince the world of her worth." A playwright, screenwriter, short story author and actor, Gunderson's work has received the Berrilla Kerr Award for American Theatre, Young Playwright's Award and Eric Bentley New Play Award. She has been produced Off-Broadway (Parts They Call Deep) and Off-Off Broadway (Sus Manos).
John Kolvenbach's Goldfish, getting a staged reading directed by Loretta Greco, was presented earlier this year as part of SCR's NewSCRipts series. According to SCR, "Goldfish is a bittersweet comedy about two college students who fall quirkily in love. She's loquacious. He's solitary. But she persists, and — to his amazement — sweeps him off his feet. Then problems develop: namely, her mother and his father. In this wistful romance, dealing with eccentric parents stretches the power of love to its limits and sends Albert and Lucy on an imaginative search for a happy ending." West End productions of Kolvenbach's Love Song and on an average day were critical favorites.
Mark Rucker directs a reading of Nottage's newest work, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark. In it, "As African-Americans began to break into film in 1930s Hollywood, most were relegated to 'shucking and jiving.' But Vera, personal maid to the mega star Gloria Mitchell, goes after a meatier role in Gloria's big budget movie, 'The Belle of New Orleans.' By the Way, Meet Vera Stark follows the complicated relationship of these two women into the 1970s and then the present day, revealing much that was hidden about the roles they played and the lives they led." Co-commissioned with Centerstage, Nottage's Intimate Apparel (PPF 2002) received numerous awards, including the 2004 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play and the Outer Critics Circle Best Play Award. Her other plays include Ruined, Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine; Crumbs from the Table of Joy; Las Meninas; Mud, River, Stone; Por'knockers and Poof! She received the MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" Award.
Rising playwright Sharr White's Sunlight, directed by David Emmes, will receive four workshop performances during the three days of the Festival. His produced plays include Six Years, The Dream Canvas, The Last Orange Dying, Safe from the Future and Iris Fields. In it, "Matthew Gibbon is a charismatic college president who thrives on controversy. On one fearless night, he wreaks havoc upon his own campus and then sits back to watch as those around him try to survive the chaos. But this time he may have gone too far. Will his unprincipled pursuit of his own deepest principles finally bring him down?"
For a PPF schedule and tickets, visit www.scr.org or call (714) 708-5555 or stop by the SCR box office in Costa Mesa, CA.
The Festival's co-directors are John Glore and Megan Monaghan.
On the eve of the 2008 Festival, May 1, SCR artistic directors David Emmes and Martin Benson will receive the 2007-08 Margo Jones Medal. The award honors those "who have demonstrated a significant impact, understanding and affirmation of the craft of playwriting, with a lifetime commitment to the encouragement of the living theatre everywhere."
South Coast Rep won the regional Tony Award.