2012 Pittsburgh New Works Festival


Staged Readings

August 19


Everything by David Blomquist
12 Peers Theatre

Everything is a play about the personally devastating effects of fear and the loss of freedom in a paranoid society.
About the PlaywrightDavid Blomquist has had several plays produced in Chicago, Louisville, off-Broadway, and Ghent. He has made his living as a speechwriter.

Life on Mars by Chris Gavaler

NASA studies the effects of long-term confinement on would-be astronauts during an eighteen-month mission to nowhere.
About the Playwright Chris Gavaler is a four-time winner of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival’s Outstanding Playwright award. His novels School for Tricksters was published by Southern Methodist University Press (2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here by HarperCollins (2002). His short fiction appears in over three dozen national literary journals. He earned an MFA from the University of Virginia and teaches at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. He blogs about pop culture at thepartronsaintofsuperheroes.wordpress.com.

Interlude by John Michael Duggan
Stage Right

A young man and a young woman meet on a subway. Nervous small talk turns into a much deeper conversation. As they ride, the feeling grows that they might be soul mates. Will she take a chance before they reach her stop?
About the Playwright John M. Duggan has been involved avocationally in all aspects of live theatre for 35+ years; from directing to crewing to treading the boards. After an 18-year hiatus playing part of father to twin sons (both of whom are BFA acting majors at their respective colleges), he decided to return to the world of the stage, both acting, directing, and  now writing for such. During the day, John works as a digital artist for companies as Disney, Sega, and Electronic Arts. He is also a published author, cartoonist, and humor writer.

August 26



Peace and Quiet by Kenneth Smith
Pittsburgh New Works Festival

A police officer struggles to reconcile a tragedy when he relocates to the idyllic rural countryside.
About the Playwright Kenneth Smith spends his days debugging code as a software developer at Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute; he spends his evenings herding sheep at the hobby farm where he and his wife and three boys live in rural Butler county. But he’s happiest seated at the piano bench with a nice single malt, playing and singing with his family and friends.

The Trick by Michele Scaramucci
Pittsburgh New Works Festival

In the lobby of a nursing home, Claire learns an interesting trick from resident Benny on how to outwit a disease, and in doing so, both Claire and.Benny learn a few things about themselves. About the Playwright Michele Scaramucci is a 1997 graduate of Slippery Rock University and currently resides in Belle Vernon, PA with her husband and daughters.  Her one-act play entitled The Desperate Man was performed as a staged reading at the 2009 Pittsburgh New Works Festival, and her skit entitled Retirement Party received a workshop production by 64 Crayons at Jozart Studios in California, PA in 2007.

Love Insurance by David Zinman
Actor's Civic Theatre

Happy Owens has hatched an idea for a 21st century product. She calls it “Love Insurance.” To kick off her sales campaign, she’s invited friends who may have had an unfortunate encounter with Cupid to an introductory talk. There, she tries to convince them Love Insurance will shield them from the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” About the Playwright David Zinman, a former reporter for the Associated Press and Long Island Newsday, has been writing plays since he retired. They have had successful premieres at Louisiana State University and the University of South Carolina Upstate, and at Chautauqua, the summer cultural center in upstate New York. His drama, Strom in Limbo, about the controversial South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, was nominated for the $10,000 Weissberger Award for excellence in playwriting. His play Who Killed the Kingfish–based on his book The Day Huey Long Was Shot –was performed in Baton Rouge in 2010 at the 75th observance of the death of the former Louisiana senator and governor. Zinman has also written ten one-act plays. One of them was a finalist at the Tennessee Williams One-Act Play Competition in New Orleans.


Week 1  September 6 – 9



A Light Subject Matter by Sara Baines-Miller
Greensburg Civic Theatre

5 women find themselves in an abortion clinic for 5 very different reasons.  When tragedy strikes, who will change their mind about their decision and who won’t?  What happens when their secrets are found out? About the Playwright Sara Baines-Miller is a freelance writer and designer in the Pittsburgh Area.  Her past works include The Red Brick Road, one of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival’s 2011 published works.  She most recently worked for 6 months on the Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship as their resident Production Manager.

Art Initiates Life by Connie Dillon
CCAC South

During the course of a Saturday morning, through the various appearances of family and friends, Warren wrestles with his responsibilities juxtaposed against what he truly wants out of life and what he feels he has been missing during this period of escalating discontentment. About the Playwright Besides owning a small business in Montana, Connie Dillon is a photographer and playwright. For the majority of her life, she has been taking photographs (ConnieDillonPhotography.com) but only recently has she concentrated on her writing. Last year she had a one-act fully produced by Venture Theatre in Billings, Montana and in February 2012 had a staged reading of another play, also at Venture Theatre. She has resided in various states: Illinois, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana & Virginia, and she thinks that experience has prompted her to explore the possibility of both seeing her work on stages outside of her home state, and also to set her stories in other areas as well.

Seeing Purple People by Michelle Giusto
The Theatre Factory

Chrissy is a ten-year-old girl struggling with bullying, insecurities and body issues when a figure in her mirror, Egid, comes and challenges her thinking with wit, honesty, and a unique world perspective.  Pre-adolescence is tough, and friends, family and loved ones can let us down to the point when peace can seemingly only be found in solitude.  However, with time to reflect and develop a potentially new outlook on things, there’s a gleam of hope for better days. About the Playwright Michelle Giusto is an educator, doctoral student in educational psychology and aspiring writer.  She is particularly interested in writing for and about children, particularly the moments when they feel alienation, hopelessness and a need for understanding. Her writing interests include fiction, poetry and plays.  She lives in Great Neck, New York, with her husband Stephen and one-year old daughter, Maria.  This play was written for Maria, in hopes that, when she is old enough, she will have an Egid in her heart who will pick her up and help her embrace who she is when all the world tells her not to.

Week 2  September 13 – 16


The Promise by Jeffrey Strausser
The Heritage Players

The rest of Mary Becker’s life was going to be great. She had earned it. The business Mary and her husband (mostly, she) had worked so hard to build was thriving; her daughters had grown into independent young women, and her marriage of twenty plus years was on solid footing. And then capricious Fate spun her wheel. Mary’s husband divorced her to put a trophy wife (formerly his personal trainer) on his arm and in his bed.  Naturally, Mary is devastated. It is a tragic story, but unfortunately, one that is not that uncommon. This is where the play begins. THE PROMISE shows us that Fate always has one more spin in her wheel. About the Playwright Jeff Strausser grew up in Pittsburgh and now lives in Houston Texas with his wife Beth. They have remained Steeler fans (Of course!) and visit the ‘Burgh when they can. His short stories have been published in various literary journals, and he has contributed articles to various magazines. In addition, Barron’s Educational Series has published four of his textbooks for middle school and high school students. Regarding his work in the theater, Jeff is a full member of the Dramatists Guild of America and a board member of the Houston Scriptwriters. High school theater groups across the country have performed his published plays, SOMEWHERE ELSE DREAMS and LAST STOP FOR THE A-TRAIN. His most recent community theater plays include the one-act comedy, FAMILY MATTERS, which was produced at the Upstage Theatre in Houston, and THE DECORATOR, a dark comedy, performed by the Overtime Theatre in San Antonio. Jeff is working on projects for the 2013 season and hopes to return to the New Works Festival next year.

Cones by Russell Weeks
The Summer Company

December 1st, 1969, the war in Vietnam is going from bad to worse and the first draft lottery in almost thirty years is conducted impacting the lives of nearly a million young men and their families.  As the birthdays are drawn one man is selected #32 and has no choice but to serve.  Another man has the good fortune to be #351 and has the freedom to choose his own future.  March, 1972, the two men meet in an alley; one homeless, the other going blind, the fate of both determined by a military physician and her music.  One man may be a miracle, the other a martyr.  “There but for fortune go you and I, you and I.” (Phil Ochs) About the Playwright Since receiving a Certificate in Playwriting from the University of Washington in 2002, twelve of Russell Weeks’ plays have been performed in 32 cities across the United States and Canada, including in Pittsburgh.  IT SOUNDS LIKE SCIENCE and OFF CAMPUS have recently won multiple contest and “audience favorite” awards and have been published.

Sophie’s Second Law (At the Speed of Life) by D.J. Jones
The Red Masquers

A woman, a mid-life crisis, a mysterious stranger, and a whirlwind journey through five decades.  Sophie is a reluctant celebrant at her 29th birthday (“surprise!”) party. As she struggles with a mid-life crisis, a mysterious stranger turns up. Suddenly, Sophie finds herself whisked through the next fifty years of her life–only to discover what was missing all along. About the Playwright D.J. Jones didn’t know she was a playwright until later in life. But when she tried her hand at a stage adaptation of the Sinclair Lewis novel, KINGSBLOOD ROYAL, she was hooked. Her full-length plays, LONG WAY HOME (the story of Ota Benga, the Pygmy in the zoo), and CONSTELLATION PRIZE, have recently won awards. The latter has been selected to be performed in the Ronald M. Ruble New Play Festival. Jones is a member of Dramatists Guild of America and Write Angle Productions (Denver).

Week 3  September 20 – 23


Leaving Antarctica by Alyssa Herron
Phase 3 Productions

In Leaving Antarctica, a struggling woman comes to peace with making a most difficult decision for her only son. To do this, she must be willing to accept the vilification and even the damnation that comes with the job of being a mother. About the Playwright Alyssa Herron is a local actor and playwright. Most recently on stage, she has appeared as Lady Macbeth and as the heroic counselor Allison in ‘The B.B.B.’ She will next be seen on screen in the horror film ‘Razor Days.’ Her original monologues and short theatre works have been presented by The Rage of the Stage Players and Cup-A-Jo Productions. In real life, she works as a physical therapist, and sadly, knows where of she speaks. This one, especially, is for her mother.

Often as the Moon by James Sheldon
Baldwin Players

The End of the World has come. And gone. On the morning after the much-prophesized Apocalypse of December 12, 2012, two young believers grapple with their disillusionment, their faith, and the budding love between them. About the Playwright James Sheldon has completed four full-length plays, including A Model For Mankind, which premiered at the Cock Tavern Theatre in London last spring, and 3-Hole Punch, which had its premiere in October, 2009 at the Grange Theatre in Copake, NY, and recently enjoyed a revival by the Rhinebeck Theatre Society in Rhinebeck, NY. A Model For Mankind, a tale of love and betrayal set in the Soviet Union, received very good reviews from London critics and has attracted interest for a London revival and for a translated production in St. Petersburg, Russia

Smoke and Fire
by F.J. Hartland
Thoreau, N.M. - A Production Company

“Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke”–Benjamin Disraeli  About the Playwright F. J. Hartland’s plays have been performed in Pittsburgh at Bricolage, Rage of the Stage, Red Masquers of Duquesne University, PrimeStage, Cup-A-Joe, South Park Theatre, Future Tenant, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre and a record-setting eleven times in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival (winning the Donna Award for Outstanding Contribution by a Playwright in 2005 for Postcards from a Dead Dog, in 2010 for Shaving Lessons and Half-Windsor Knots, and in 2011 for Funeral in the Rain). He was a 2008 recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship.  An award-winning director and professional actor, F.J. holds degrees from Westminster College and Carnegie-Mellon University.


Week 4  September 27 – 30


Forgotten Names by David Katzin
The Rage of the Stage Players

Roni is a happily married mother of four, but her husband Bryan wears a brave face to mask his depression. Lydia is an expatriate artist living in the UK, though her career has stalled, of late. The two women are both happy in their lives, but that sense of contentment dangles by a thread of forgotten teen-year trauma that gets cut when the two come across each other at their high school reunion. The experience causes them to question their own lives, whether people really change, and whether they’re worth getting to know a second time. About the Playwright David M. Katzin is a native of the suburbs of South Philadelphia , but has made Pittsburgh his home the better part of the last decade. Having received undergraduate degrees in Latin and Theater Arts from Duquesne University, he has worked in the area with the Duquesne’s Red Masquers, Spotlight, and Medieval & Renaissance Players, as well as Gemini Children’s Theater, The Summer Company, and the Pride Theater Festival. Outside of the city, he’s also worked at South Jersey’s Ritz Theatre Co. and the Arden Theater.

Helping Out by James Michael Shoberg
McKeesport Little Theater

A young man calls upon his flamboyant friend to assist him in the preparations for a “meet-and-greet” dinner party for both his parents and his new girlfriend. About the Playwright James Michael Shoberg has many years of diverse experience in theatre. He is an award-winning actor; a designer; a director; and a writer; with numerous plays and a collection of monologues to his credit. Two favorites among his plays, Alice’s Adventures in “Wonderland” and Dorothy in Oz, each the product of his dark and twisted sense of humor, have gone on to be produced both nationally and internationally. James is also the Co-Executive Producer, Artistic Director, and Resident Playwright, of The Rage of the Stage Players fringe theatre company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He acquired the permission of the filmmakers known as The Butcher Brothers, and Lionsgate Films, to write, produce, and direct a world-premiere stage adaptation of their award-winning, independent horror film, The Hamiltons, for The Rage of the Stage Players’ 2011 season. James is currently working on Hooked, a gritty, violent, drug-themed adaptation of J. M. Barrie’s children’s novel, Peter and Wendy. The production, one of the largest Rage has ever undertaken, will premiere in October of 2012. James is very proud to be celebrating his 14th season with The Pittsburgh New Works Festival. Helping Out is the first of his plays to be selected for mainstage production.

Revolution by Mark Cornell
Cup-A-Jo Productions

In a rural church in a small village in 15th century England, a group of re-enactors get a little surprise. About the Playwright Mark Cornell is a playwright, director, filmmaker, and father. His plays have been produced all over the country. They include Duped, The Inciting Incident, The Rental Company, Sprucehaven B, All the Answers, Medals, Bugs Bunny, and The Girl in the Yellow Gown (with The Rage of the Stage Players in PNWF 2007), among others. His play Tell Me You Love Me will premiere next month in NYC. He holds an MFA in playwriting from UCLA. He lives in Chapel Hill, NC.