Bay Area Playwrights Festival Stays Online for 2021

Scanning the Bay Area Playlight Foundation alumni roster is a perusal of who is who in the modern theater icon. Founded in 1976, the organization has served as an incubator for Sam Shepard, David Henry Hwang, Anna Diverse Smith, Marcus Gardley, Jonathan Spector, Jackie Sibreez Drury and others.

But BAPF has never been obsessed with polishing trophies for past achievements. Rather, the Foundation has always been on the lookout for the future of art forms — aimed at developing new talent and focusing on innovative ideas.

One such idea was recently accidentally established. When the pandemic closed all live venues last year, BAPF did not hesitate to move the Bay Area Playwright Festival, the annual writer showcase, online. In the process, they discovered something amazing and encouraging.

“”[The Foundation has] By bringing our reading online, we saw these new plays and discovered that they were accessible nationwide to those interested in working with playwrights. ” By going online last year, the attendance of theater professionals increased by nearly 400%. This year, an additional 50% increase from last year. When we met in person, we were online. I hope I can maintain that feeling, because it helps the playwright to serve more deeply so that more people across the country can see their work. “

This year’s reading lineup includes a collection of five plays by BIPoC playwrights of various gender identities. For these plays, it’s as important to look ahead as it is to look back. The settings in each script execute the color gamut from the future after the end (Human Museum Miyoko Conley) and Japanese American Confinement Camp (Assumed house 2003 Pop Music Reality Show (by Sam Hamashima)Tiger beat Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin and modern family magic store (by Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin)The magic problem is By Johnny G. Lloyd). A common feature of scripts is that all characters are pondering the future when they are having a hard time understanding the past.

Despite this similarity, Beza argues that this was unintentional when choosing a lineup. “”[W]e is looking for innovative stories about who is written and how, and what resonates with what is happening in the world today, “she says. “At first, we don’t try to make thematic choices, but the plays often talk to each other and the themes become clear. Each of the 2021 festival plays is traumatic and healing between generations. Also speaks in a unique way. “

“The’fantastic elements’ are pretty normal to me,” says World War II playwright Sam Hamashima (they / they). Assumed house, Incorporates the prototypes and metaphors of modern anime. “This is my way of writing. Sometimes it’s difficult to play in time or blend anime and theater, but there’s no other way.”

Tiger beat The author Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin (they / she) agrees. “I love theater that deviates from the norm,” they say. “The writing that pushes the boundaries of traditional Western storytelling is as thrilling to me as the simultaneous development and dissection of metaphors.” At some point in Garvin’s play following a group of multiracial young girls. The story turns sharply to the left into the “meta” realm and focuses on the playwright trying to complete the script.

“I hope the audience will recognize their lives within the mechanics of the play’s meta-theater. Identity and values ​​navigation is not just the writing process, but many everyday tactics of our lives. It is certainly rooted in.[.]”

Playwrights also seem to agree that this year’s roster diversity speaks to how the Foundation is looking for new talent.

“One of the things I’m most excited about about this group of writers is that it’s a group of artists who are diverse not only in the background, but also in style and perspective.” The magic problem is Author Johnny Lloyd. “Festival programming is similar to season programming. It’s an honor to be able to talk to artists who are pushing their limits in their own way.”

Beza adds: “I think having a diverse list is the minimum that an arts organization can do, and it should be a standard, not an exception. The real hard work is the culture and systems that support safety, and each playwright. Is to build the diverse needs of

Lloyd’s play about a black and family-owned magic store under threat of gentrification has spent the last decade on the San Francisco Foundation’s location pricing diverse and eclectic residents and artists. There is no choice but to draw similarities with the method.Growing up in Mountain View, Garvin said, “Continuous gentrification of the Bay Area. [is] Deterrent to doing a new job. “

“This is my house,” she continues. “I love the coasts of the area, the rolling hills, the redwoods, the palm trees, and the strong community of artists raised here. I especially love the construction of commercial buildings, the destruction of our unique ecology, And because so many people in all professions are related to how they are priced from our area, we resist the changes we see in my home area. “

All writers thank the Foundation for the opportunities it presents, and Beza is optimistic about introducing the literally figurative “value” of moving forward writers. As she explains, “We have gone through a strategic planning process to articulate our best value as a playwright at the root. This is the work of choice. Not only does it focus on how the work is supported, and every day we ask us to include the playwright’s voice in the process. “

2021 Bay Area Playwright Festival

July 16-25 | Various execution times

Online | $ 5 – 175 | PlaywrightsFoundation.org

Charles Lewis III is a San Francisco-born journalist, theater artist and art critic. thethinkingmansidiot.wordpress.com

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