The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, now in its 42nd year, welcomes a new cohort of fiercely talented and insightful playwrights who present challenging and provocative developing new work this summer. These two weekends of six readings of six new plays are transformative, inspirational, and provocative. Witness the power of truth at this year’s fiercely honest festival.
The Artists & Their Plays
The House of The Negro Insane
It’s 1935. The Taft State Hospital, created during the Jim Crow era for ‘insane and idiotic negroes’, is overcrowded and understaffed – a toxic mix of the downtrodden and the mentally ill. Attius – an inmate resigned to his fate – has carved himself a safe haven from the mayhem, taking pride in his woodwork, when the fierce and defiant young Effie invades his sanctuary and radically alters his future.
Ilhan is a Somali high school student living in Minneapolis on the verge of deportation when she is visited by figures from far flung places: the Arctic, European fringes, and an African refugee camp. They draw her into an unseen and forgotten world that exists just beyond reality and appeal to her for the sanctuary of their souls. A poetic drama on migration, displacement and freedom.
It’s 1997 and Cynthia Cooper rules the WNBA. It’s no wonder every player on Plainnole’s Lady Train wants to “go pro,” and none more than Point Guard Starra Jones. And they’re damn good. However, the realities and pressures of life for black women in rural Arkansas threaten to tear them apart, and with it, their chance for the life they so crave. A play divided over 4-quarters of the game.
How the Baby Died
When the hapless, unemployed actress Stace opts out of her marriage, she becomes (rather suddenly) a live-in nanny for her best friend, his husband, and their newborn baby. But then she gets the chance of a lifetime: an audition for a French Horror Theater. Hilarity, mayhem and Grand Guignol hijinks ensue with the only prop available. Baby, it gets bloody. A dark, absurdly comic play about parenting and performing invisible pain.
Christopher Oscar Peña
How to Make An American Son
A “Model Immigrant” and business mogul, Honduran born Mando’s cleaning empire is bracing for a downturn and he must rein in his over-privileged American son Orlando — who is living large on his dime. To teach him a lesson, he puts Orlando on the floor with the cleaning team, but in the wake of a personal gay-bashing, Orlando suddenly finds himself responsible for the fate of a treasured undocumented worker and the future of his father’s entire enterprise. A play about the complexities of privilege, status, sexual identity and legal status within a newly wealthy immigrant family.
It’s Florida…sometime in the future. Violent militia rule is followed by violent resistance. Years later, the atrocities of this period are filtered through a rich cinematic lens and the distant memories of those perceived as perpetrators or victims — in an attempt at revealing The Truth, and achieving reconciliation. Through shifting time, ambiguous TV-style interviews, and unreliable narrators, Siesta Key investigates the complexity of moral absolutism, its personal cost, and the elusiveness of truth in acts of hate.
The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, now in its 42nd year, welcomes a new cohort of fiercely talented and insightful playwrights who present challenging and provocative developing new work this summer. These two weekends of six readings of six new plays are transformative, inspirat...