A production group for the development of new work for stage and film
Playworks is a project-oriented production group formed to provide development for new scripts for stage and film through production, workshop, and collaboration, and to offer education opportunities through its projects.
Playworks has developed new scripts, produced, co-produced with other organizations, and toured. Among the past productions are the premieres of Counter Girls by Michael Russell and Some Things That Can Go Wrong at 35,000 Feet by John Orlock. Formed by director Steve Umberger, Playworks has collaborated with Spirit Square Arts Center, Davidson College, The Light Factory, Festival Stage of Winston Salem, and Florida's Riverside Theatre, among others.
Playworks has also maintained a commitment to new plays through staged readings and conferences such as the New Projects Festival. Partnerships have included Thinking in Pictures, produced with The Light Factory. TIP featured the unusual format of film scripts in staged readings. (Gospel Hill, an entry in the festival, was soon after made into a feature film starring Jullia Stiles, Danny Glover, Angela Bassett, and Giancarlo Esposito, directed by Esposito.) Other TIP scripts included Robert Inman's Dairy Queen Days, based on his best selling novel (and subsequently premiered at Blowing Rock Stage Company), and Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins by Brian Christopher Williams, 2010 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award winner.
Film projects include shorts based on the plays Boca by Christopher Kyle and Husbandry by Patrick Tovatt, which received an Arts & Science Council Emerging Artist Grant.
Education activities have included classes and work/study programs through which theatre students have worked alongside professionals both onstage and backstage, as well as workshops by visiting artists such as Karl Baumann, veteran actor/acrobat with Cirque du Soleil. Baumann is also the leading performer in a new version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, developed by Playworks in four productions at three theatres over seven years.
Current projects include the development of a new musical Lunch at the Piccadilly, based on the best-selling novel by noted author Clyde Edgerton, with a score by former Red Clay Rambler and Drama Desk Award winner Mike Craver. The show has had three productions, most recently at Festival Stage in 2011, and in 2012 enjoyed a concert performance in the developmental series at the York Theatre Company in New York, a theatre which has been a noted developer of many musicals including Avenue Q.
Funding for Playworks projects comes from private investors, from organizations involved with collaborations, and from grants and foundations such as Rockwell International and The Wesley Mancini Foundation.
Projects and productions include
The Lunch at the Piccadilly company with composerMike Craver, musical director Amy Jones, and director
Steve Umberger after a concert performance of the new
musical at the York Theatre Company, New York, 2012
Open Season by Michael McKeever
Heathen Valley by Romulus Linney
Counter Girls by Michael Russell*
Boca by Christopher Kyle (film pilot)
Thinking in Pictures (staged reading festival)
Shirley Valentine by Willy Russell (also touring)
Kith and Kin by Oliver Hailey (regional premiere)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (four co-productions)
Husbandry by Patrick Tovatt (stage and film pilot)
Lunch at the Piccadilly by Clyde Edgerton and Mike Craver
Some Things That Can Go Wrong at 35,000 Feet by John Orlock*
Visit the Links page for video reels and more information about Playworks projects
Photo credits on the site: Nyghtfalcon, Norris Greenlee, Tom Terrell, Donna Bise, Meredith Stephens