Kith and Kin: right to left, Linda Pierce, Graham Smith, David
Fitzsimmons, Scott Sowers, Rebecca Koon; revival production
Kith and Kin by Oliver Hailey
It began with this wonderfully dark comedy about a delightfully dysfunctional Texas family, written by one of theatre and television's unique voices. Hailey wrote many plays, and was one of the minds behind the TV cult classic Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. A friend, he sent us Kith and Kin after its West Coast debut, and Playworks then produced it twice, once independently and once with Spirit Square Arts Center.
More early history
Heathen Valley by Romulus Linney
Some Things That Can Go Wrong at 35,000 Feet by John Orlock (Premiere)
Finding Donis Anne by Hal Corley
Counter Girls by Michael Russell (Premiere)
Husbandry by Patrick Tovatt
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally

John Orlock, Hal Corley, and Michael Russell joined us for productions of their plays, reflecting the ideal of having playwrights at the center of the process on their work. Husbandry, originally seen at Actor's Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival, was also made into a film short produced by Playworks after its stage run, receiving an ASC Emerging Artist Grant. Playworks also produced a short film based on Christopher Kyle's award-winning play Boca, as a 'rehearsal' for possible feature production.

The last decade has had many collaborations including Shirley Valentine (photo), Willy Russell's Broadway and film hit about an unhappy housewife who falls in love with life again. The Playworks production traveled after its Spirit Square revival over the next eight years to many theatres including Twin City Stage, Riverside Theatre, and Blowing Rock Stage.

Playworks co-produced the SummerStage series with Spirit Square, which included Michael McKeever's Open Season, and a festival of new scripts in staged readings. These included Judy Simpson Cook's Starstruck, McKeever's The Garden of Hannah List, and Hal Corley's Brush the Summer By, with all three writers present, McKeever from Miami and Corley from New York, to join the rehearsal process. Shortly after the festival two of the plays received their world premieres, Starstruck at Flat Rock Playhouse, and Brush the Summer By at Adirondack Theatre Festival.

Director Steve Umberger collaborated with Karl Baumann, a veteran performer of five internationally acclaimed Cirque du Soleil shows, on a new production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, for which Playworks developed and produced an education component of workshops and student interaction in the three-city, four-production project. 
Thinking in Pictures was a collaboration with The Light Factory, one of only four museums of film and photography in the U.S. A festival of new work, Thinking in Pictures offered the unusual format of film scripts in staged readings. The titles included Dairy Queen Days, adapted by Bob Inman from his novel, and Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins by Brian Christopher Williams, as well as Jeff Stacy's Gospel Hill, soon after made into a feature starring Danny Glover and Angela Bassett. 

Gospel Hill, part of Thinking in Pictures
Acknowledging the essential part audiences play in the process, Playworks has made the audience/artist relationship a cornerstone of new script activities, through discussions and workshops. Also on the education/outreach side, the production of Open Season included a work/study partnership between Playworks and Davidson College with theatre majors working alongside professionals both onstage and backstage. And during the production of Dream, performer Karl Baumann, an international teacher of movement, conducted community workshops in self-awareness through physicality.

Recent projects have included Lunch at the Piccadilly, a new musical by Clyde Edgerton and Mike Craver, and The Christians by Lucas Hnath. Based on Edgerton's best selling novel, and with songs by Drama Desk Award winner Craver, Piccadilly was developed in three productions and a concert version at the York Theatre Company in New York. The show enjoyed a recent production through an innovative sponsorship by Aldersgate ccrc. The Christians featured a diverse onstage choir of 23 singers from the community. Many of Playworks' projects are expanded through outreach and events inspired by the projects' content.

Outside the theatre during Lunch at the Piccadilly

See how projects have connected with artists and audiences