SCR's Pacific Playwrights Fest Will Feature Greenberg's Latest

News   SCR's Pacific Playwrights Fest Will Feature Greenberg's Latest
Playwrights Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Bill Cain, Julia Cho, Howard Korder and David Wiener will see readings of their new works in South Coast Repertory's May 2009 Pacific Playwrights Festival, SCR announced March 6.
Richard Greenberg, Julia Cho, Howard Korder and Lauren Gunderson are among writers in the 2009 Pacific Playwrights Festival.
Richard Greenberg, Julia Cho, Howard Korder and Lauren Gunderson are among writers in the 2009 Pacific Playwrights Festival. Photo by courtesy of SCR

The centerpiece plays of the 12th annual festival in Costa Mesa, CA, are the world premiere full productions of Richard Greenberg's Our Mother's Brief Affair and Lauren Gunderson's Emilie – The Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life at the Petit Théâtre at Cirey Tonight.

This year's Festival weekend is May 1-3 and will feature five staged readings and two fully-produced world premieres on SCR's Segerstrom and Julianne Argryos Stages. Here's a look at the writers and readings in the PPF:

  • Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is represented by a staged reading of Doctor Cerberus, "the tale of a boy who finds solace in horror movies." The playwright's King of Shadows was featured as a NewSCRipts reading at SCR in 2007. His other plays include Good Boys and True, Based on a Totally True Story, The Mystery Plays and Dark Matters. For Marvel Comics, he is the Harvey Award-winning author of "The Stand." Aguirre-Sacasa is currently writing a new book to the classic Charles Strouse/Lee Adams musical It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's SUPERMAN! and also writes for the HBO series "Big Love."
  • Bill Cain's 9 Circles, "a contemporary drama about military justice during wartime," will receive a staged reading at the Festival. His widely-produced play Stand-Up Tragedy earned six Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for its premiere at the Mark Taper Forum, and later garnered four Washington, DC, Helen Hayes Awards and the Joe A. Calloway Playwriting Award for its Broadway engagement. Cain received a George Foster Peabody Award for Outstanding Achievement as co-creator, writer and producer of the TV series "Nothing Sacred." His play Equivocation is currently playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and will be produced at the Geffen Playhouse and Marin Theatre Company.


  • Julia Cho's The Language Archive, "the story of a linguist who suddenly finds himself at a loss for the right words when his marriage unravels, will be read. Her The Piano Teacher premiered on the Julianne Argryos Stage in 2007 after a staged reading at PPF 2006. The SCR commission later enjoyed a successful New York engagement. Her play 99 Histories was part of the 2002 Festival. Her other plays include Durango, The Winchester House, BFE and The Architecture of Loss.
  • Howard Korder is represented by In a Garden, "a drama about an American architect who plays a game of cat and mouse with the Culture Minister of a Middle Eastern country while the world teeters on the brink of disaster." His play Boys' Life was SCR's first NewSCRipts reading in 1985 and went on to be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His other plays include Search and Destroy (NewSCRipts 1989, Segerstrom Stage 1990), which has been widely produced and made into a feature film; The Lights (NewSCRipts 1992); The Hollow Lands (NewSCRipts 1998, PPF 1998, Segerstrom Stage 2000); and Sea of Tranquility (PPF 2003), subsequently produced in New York and across the country. Korder is currently a writer and producer on the upcoming HBO series "Boardwalk Empire," created by Martin Scorsese.
  • David Wiener's Extraordinary Chambers, commissioned by SCR, received a NewSCRipts reading earlier this season and will be read again. The drama "revolves around an American couple who find themselves caught up in the controversy surrounding the UN hearings currently taking place in the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia." Wiener was "born and raised in the shadow of South Coast Repertory in Orange County." His play System Wonderland received a staged reading at the 2006 Festival and received a full production at PPF 2007. His other plays include Guts, La Arana, Love Song (of the Apocalypse), Blood Orange, in vitro, Huera, Cassiopeia and Baltimore Star. The PPF weekend coincides with the longer runs of the Greenberg and Gunderson plays. Casting for those plays has not been announced.

    Greenberg's Our Mother's Brief Affair, directed by Pam MacKinnon, runs April 3-May 3. In it, according to SCR, "adult siblings Seth and Abby have reunited to tend to their elderly mother, Anna, who has the habit of playing out periodic deathbed scenes for her children. But this time something is different. This time Anna has a story to tell, about long-ago Saturday afternoons, about escorting young Seth to his viola lessons at Juilliard despite his constant protestations…and about what she did while he played scales. A love affair made out of weekly matinees at a small hotel, with a man whose name is synonymous with betrayal."

    Greenberg received the Tony Award for his play, Take Me Out. South Coast Repertory commissioned and presented the world premieres of Greenberg's A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, The Violet Hour, Everett Beekin, Hurrah at Last, Night and Her Stars, The Extra Man and Three Days of Rain, a Pulitzer Prize finalist which was recently revived on Broadway. SCR has also produced his play The Dazzle. He is currently represented on Broadway by the The American Plan and earlier this season by the revival of Pal Joey, for which he wrote the book. His other plays include Eastern Standard, Jenny Keeps Talking and The Maderati.

    Gunderson's Emilie — The Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life at the Petit Théâtre at Cirey Tonight, directed by David Emmes, plays April 19-May 10. According to SCR, this is "the true story of an 18th century Parisian noblewoman and her lifelong affair with the Enlightenment superstar Voltaire. In this highly theatrical rediscovery of one of history's great thinkers, Emilie must defend her life by tallying her achievements in love and philosophy — and searching for a formula that will convince the world of her worth."

    Gunderson is a New York City (by way of Atlanta) playwright, screenwriter and short story author. She is currently finishing her MFA in Dramatic Writing at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and is a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work has received national praise and awards including the Berrilla Kerr Award for American Theatre, Young Playwright's Award, Eric Bentley New Play Award, Essential Theatre Prize, Virtual Theatre Prizes and many others. She has been produced Off Broadway (Parts They Call Deep), Off-Off-Broadway (Sus Manos) and recently had many new plays produced in Atlanta (including The Van Gogh Café, Leap and Background), as well as regionally (A Short History of Nearly Everything). She has worked on commissions for the Alliance Theatre's Collision Project, Actors Express Theatre, City University of New York and Synchronicity Performance Group.

    Tickets to PPF may be purchased online at, by phone at (714) 708-5555 or in person at the SCR box office.


    SCR's 11 previous festivals have introduced 78 new plays to the national stage including Amy Freed's The Beard of Avon, Donald Margulies' Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, 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.

    PPF co-director John Glore said of this year's lineup, "It's a good mix of returning artists and newer voices, and a nice diversity in subject matter and style."

    Joining Glore as Festival co-director is Kelly Miller, SCR's newly appointed literary manager. She previously served as literary manager for Long Wharf Theatre and PlayScripts, Inc.

    Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, under the artistic direction of David Emmes and Martin Benson, was founded in 1964 and is committed to "theatre that illuminates the compelling personal and social issues of our time, not only on its stages but through its education and outreach programs." Its "productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre" and SCR "is renowned for its extensive new play development program, including the Pacific Playwrights Festival."

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