2014 Pittsburgh New Works Festival


Staged Readings

August 24


The Art of Seduction by Michael Wolfson
Valley Village, CA
Produced by Pittsburgh New Works Festival

He’s convinced her to come to his house by assuring her that he owns paintings by the same artists she’s seen in the art museum where they’ve just met. Now in his living room, in front of two small paintings, it would seem his assertion wasn’t just a pickup line. But, as they explore the subtleties of great art, it begins to appear that the art of seduction is the true focus of his intentions. But seduction can sometimes have unanticipated results.  Michael Wolfson‘s plays have received performances across the country. “Undue Influence”, L.A. Theatre Works (CA). “A Paradise Of Fools”, Ashland New Plays Festival (OR); Generic Theater (VA) and the Detroit Repertory Theatre (MI). “The Soul Sitter”, Sonoma County Repertory (CA) and Little Theatre of Alexandria (VA). “Will’s Grill”, Attic Theatre Ensemble (CA), Nantucket Short Play Festival (MA), HTM Players (NY) and Brief Acts Company (NYC). “The Prisoners Dilemma”, Pittsburgh New Works Festival (PA), Alleyway Theatre (NY), Vital Theatre (NYC) and Brief Acts Company (NYC). “Legerdemain”, Ashland New Plays Festival (OR); Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre Playwrights’ Festival (CA); Asylum Theatre (NV) and Lake County Repertory Theater (CA). “Work And Play”, Palm Springs Short Play Festival (CA), Spokane Civic Theatre (WA) and Brief Acts Company (NYC). “The Art of Seduction”, Pittsburgh New Works Festival (PA). “Party Time”, Little Theatre of Alexandria (VA), Eclectic Company Theatre (CA) and Brief Acts Company (NYC). “Watch Your Language”, Stagecrafters (MI) and Brief Acts Company (NYC). “Thinking Outside The Box”, Pittsburgh New Works Festival (PA) and Brief Acts Company (NYC). “Word Play”, Brief Acts Company (NYC). “Cat And Mouse”, Bridewell Theatre (London, England) and Penobscot Theatre Company (ME). “A Senior Moment”, Pittsburgh New Works Festival (PA), Geneva Theatre Guild (NY) and Brief Acts Company (NYC). “Wishful Thinking”, Brief Acts Company (NYC), Three Roses Players (CA) and North Park Vaudeville (CA). “Out-Of-Order”, Eclectic Company Theatre (CA). “Coffee And Cake”, Brief Acts Company (NYC).

The Double, Half-Broken Line by Christopher Cotten
Germantown, TN
Produced by The Company of Pittsburgh

Internet dating is hard enough. You already have to worry about whether the guy sitting across from you is a potential rapist. Annie Grace also has to decide whether or not he’s her rapist. Even so, the usual safety rules apply: Meet in a public place, make sure someone knows where you’re going, and when in doubt, bring friends along in case things go South. A word of caution: Although this play deals with its intense subject matter in what is hopefully a non-exploitative way, it may contain triggers for survivors of sexual assault.  Christopher Cotten has been performing and directing in theatres in the Memphis, Tennessee area for over 25 years. He received an M.F.A. in theatre with a concentration in directing from the University of Memphis, where he also studied playwriting. As a playwright, he has been a finalist in Actors Theatre of Louisville’s National Ten-Minute Playwriting Contest, and his works have been performed at the University of Memphis and Playhouse Nashville.

The Wager by William Sikorski
Birchwood Village, MN
Produced by Comtra

A chance meeting in a park leads to an interesting wager.  William Sikorski is originally from Western Pennsylvania and attended the University of Pittsburgh, but now lives in Minnesota, where he works as a laboratory manager at 3M. Over the past three years, he has performed in several plays at Lakeshore Players Theatre in White Bear Lake, MN, and has written plays for short-play festivals.


August 31



Roadway To Heaven by Marla E. Schwartz
Boca Raton, FL
Produced by Prime Stage Theatre

An elderly couple gets into a car accident on their way to a very important event and find themselves trapped in unexpected circumstances.  Marla E. Schwartz’s s plays have been produced in Miami at the New Light Foundation/GAB Studio, White Rose Miami/PAX, New Theatre’s Miami 1-Acts Festivals & last year’s 1-Minute Play Festival at the Deering Estate; in Los Angeles at the First Stage and Lone Star Ensemble companies; Off-Broadway and she’s been a Heideman Award Finalist, Actors Theatre of Louisville. She’s participated in numerous 24-Hour Theatre Projects at Lynn University and is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America, Inc. and the South Florida Theatre League.

Shadows by Austin Uram
Renfrew, PA
Produced by R-ACT Theatre Productions

A young artist struggles to finish a portrait after his model dies. When he begins seeing her spirit roaming the studio, he attempts to use the opportunity to finish the painting—at the cost of his sanity.  Austin Uram‘s works have been performed at the Butler Night of One Acts and produced as a short film by local filmmakers. He is a writer, director, actor, and student in the Butler area, working with theaters like the Butler Little Theatre.  Austin studies Professional Writing at Slippery Rock University.

Blowjobs in the Park by Tyler Jennings
Pittsburgh, PA
Produced by Industrial Gardens

Childhood friends and trust fund babies Miles and Laura meet in Central Park to discuss the issues affecting their lives. They rebel against the idea that their lives have been mapped out for them as they deal with maturing and taking control of the future.  Tyler Jennings graduated from Duquesne University with a double major in Theatre Arts and Psychology in 2014. He has had two plays performed by the Duquesne University Red Masquers, Welcome to Hell and Black Sheep.


Program A  September 6 – 15



Last Night by Dale Hess
Pittsburgh, PA
Produced by Red Masquers

Twenty-something Zach gets more than he bargained for when he goes on a internet date. We look at two relationships, one new and one established, and see how something can change us drastically when we least expect it.  Dale Hess is a Pittsburgh native and studied theatre at the University of Pittsburgh, with concentrations in stage management and lighting design. He grew up in the South Hills, but currently resides in the East End. With the exception of a few 24-hour ten minute play festivals, this is his first play. He is very excited to be a part of such a wonderful festival that celebrates new work.

Crisis On Infinite Earths by Chris Gavaler
Lexington, VA
Produced by Heritage Players

Three workmen debate superheroes while moving statues in a church.  Chris Gavaler is a four-time winner of the PNWF Outstanding Playwright award. He’s published two novels, School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002), and his short fiction appears in over three dozen national journals. He teaches at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA and blogs about pop culture at thepatronsaintofsuperheroes.wordpress.com.

Some Guy At The Airport by Patrick Rutledge
DuBois, PA
Produced by The Summer Company

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that there’s something weird about Rob. That much is clear to Dawn from the moment she meets him in the airport terminal, and he starts to show a strange talent for telling the future. There’s something strange about that man – and, as it turns out, the truth of that strangeness may intertwine her life with Rob’s in ways she never would’ve imagined.  Patrick Rutledge grew up in DuBois, Pennsylvania with his mother and father, Joan and Steve, his little brother Timmy and his big sister Anna. He began his involvement with theatre when he was eight years old, and has wanted to be a writer for as long as he can remember.  He currently resides in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, where he attends Juniata College and studies Theatre and Creative Writing.


Program B September 7 – 16



Lovie’s Spring by Kelly Bancroft
Youngstown, OH
Produced by Phase 3 Productions

Lovie Herman has suffered unexplained illness and pain since she was a child, but neither she nor her mother have found relief for her withering pain. Traveling to Cleveland, the nineteen-year old small town girl has finally found a physician to confidently diagnose her: Serpents inside of her are slowly consuming her. Are the serpents real or figments of her–and the doctor’s–imagination? What is the serpent she begins to talk to a manifestation of?  Based on the true story of a young woman living in 1910, “Lovie’s Spring” explores the inner workings of a mystery that was never solved–the cause of death on her death certificate has been crossed-out. It also investigates the larger issue of women’s health at the start of the century, and the metaphors the culture used to speak of it.  Kelly Bancroft‘s first play, “Arriving at Bessie” won the New Voices Award at the Youngstown Playhouse. “Lovie’s Spring,” was a finalist for the Tennessee Williams One-Act Play Award. New to playwriting, Bancroft’s prose and poetry has appeared in TIME, Puerto del Sol, and Mudfish. She is a recipient of two Ragdale Foundation fellowships and an Ohio Arts Council grant. She lives in Youngstown, Ohio.

Constant Companion by Benjamin Dean
Fort Collins, CO
Produced by Cup-A-Jo Productions

It is the future. Modern psychology, technology and robotics have entered the criminal justice system. LIZ has been sentenced to “learn how to live with herself.” Herself, in this case, is her genetically-derived cyborg clone. Her name is FRAN.  Benjamin Dean began his theatre studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, training to be an actor. Continuing his education, he was accepted into the graduate acting program at the University of Washington in Seattle. He then performed professionally for several years and in ’86 was cast as a member of New York City’s equity children’s theatre troupe, The Paper Bag Players. In 1987, he began writing plays. His first, The Playground (an existential farce) received a staged reading in the Actors and Directors Lab at Circle Repertory Theatre and shortly after at the Lee Strasberg Institute. In ’88, also in New York, his play Quandary (a comedic look at believing) was read at Terry Schreiber Studios. On the west coast in ’94, his farce Not Just Another Christmas Carol premiered in Santa Rosa, California to critical acclaim. The following year, his comedy Feet of Clay received a public reading at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles.  In 2010, Benjamin returned to playwriting after more than ten years. In May, his comedic drama Art Appreciation (a reworking of Feet of Clay) was selected for the 2013 Fall Festival of Readings at Artemisia Theatre in Chicago. In August, his ten-minute play titled Family Time (technology’s affect on society) was selected as a winner in the “New Rocky Mountain Voices” playwriting competition and received a production in Colorado in September of 2013.

Raghead by Tom Coash
New Haven, CT
Produced by McKeesport Little Theater

Nick, a New York City firefighter, is surprised when Sarah, his blind date shows up wearing an Islamic veil. An ugly incident early in the day has affected Sarah’s outlook on men and veiling, making Nick’s reaction doubly important to their future. Will sparks fly?  Tom Coash, a New Haven, CT. playwright and director,  also worked as the Director of New Play Development at Stageworks/Hudson for several years. Prior to New Haven, he spent three years in Bermuda and four years teaching playwriting at The American University in Cairo, Egypt. Coash has worked for such theatres as the Manhattan Theatre Club and Actors Theatre of Louisville. His plays have been produced around the world and have won numerous playwriting awards. His play CRY HAVOC was recently produced in the 2013 South African National Arts Festival and had a second production at the University of Johannesburg where he was an artist -in-residence. His new play VEILS was recently named winner of both the Clauder Competition at Portland Stage (Maine), where it will have it’s Equity Premiere Feb. 2014, and the Edgerton Foundation National New Play Award.


Program C  September 20 – 29


The Other Half by Garry Michael Kluger
La Crescenta, CA
Produced by Thoreau NM: A Production Company

Fran, Roberta, and Phyllis have the unpleasant task of gathering the outfit that their friend Marilyn is to be buried in. As they go about the task, the subject of Marilyn’s past is discussed, a long held secret is revealed, and friends have to come to grips with a woman they thought they knew.  Garry Michael Kluger has authored, 8 plays, 4 books, 2 TV pilots, several television series, and 12 documentaries. He also written for various national magazines on a variety of topics, was a movie reviewer, and an entertainment reporter for a Los Angeles newspaper.  Three of Garry’s plays have been semi-finalists for the prestigious O’Neill Playwright’s Conference, one of his plays, The Homecoming, was a finalist in the Warner International Playwrights Festival, the West Hollywood Gay and Lesbian Play Reading Festival, and winner of the Chaos Theory Play Festival in 2011. In 2010 Garry’s play Brotherhood, won “The Audience Favorite” as a part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival at the Tre Stage. In 2009 Garry was honored to receive the prestigious Red Carpet Award from Women In Theatre for his contributions, as a playwright, to Los Angeles theatre.

The Academy Of Super Heroes by Tom Cavanaugh
Northridge, CA
Produced by Actors Civic Theatre

A tour is being given to the audience by a doctor and several super hero students reveal themselves and their super hero problems with an interesting twist at the end.  Tom Cavanaugh received his M.F.A. in Playwriting from the Actors Studio Drama School in New York City. His full length play BEHOLD was a 2010 finalist in the New American Playwrights Development Program at the Utah Shakespearean Festival and was one of three winners of the 2011 Pickering Award for Excellence in Playwriting. His one act play, WONDER won the Irene Bashore Award for Playwriting from Firstage Los Angeles. Tom’s full length play ADAM & YOSHI is a finalist in The 2nd Annual McKinney Repertory Theatre New Play Competition in McKinney, Texas, one of three finalist for the 2013 New American Playwrights Development Program at the Utah Shakespearean Festival and won the 2012 Make the House Roar Prize for Comic Plays at the Lionheart Theater in Georgia. Tom’s screenplay THE WILDERNESS TREATMENT won an Honorable Mention at the 2012 Movie Awards and was a finalist at the 2013 Beverly Hills Film Festival.

Close Your Eyes by James Harmon Brown
Los Angeles, CA
Produced by CCAC South

A man and a woman, now long-divorced, meet one last time on the occasion of her impending death.  James Harmon Brown is a Los Angeles-based writer who has spent the past twenty-five years writing for such prime-time shows as “Dynasty” and “Father Dowling Mysteries” in addition to serving as head writer for such daytime series as “All My Children,” “The Guiding Light” and “Port Charles.”


Program D  September 21 – 30


Scattered by F.J. Hartland
South Park, PA
Produced by Baldwin Players

“Sometimes letting someone go is the ultimate act of love.” –Cassia Leo  F. J. Hartland has made a record-setting thirteen appearances in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, winning the award for “Best Play” four times. He has been the recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, and his work has been seen in Pittsburgh at Duquesne University, Future Ten, Pittsburgh Playwrights, Bricolage, Stage Right and South Park among others. In 2012 WRITERS NEW WEEKLY named him among the top playwrights in Pittsburgh. F.J. holds an MFA in Playwriting from Carnegie-Mellon University.

Sleeping Aide by Hamilton Kreeger
Baltimore, MD
Produced by Stage Right

A bout of insomnia draws a widower and a young woman sharing his bed into a life-altering conversation.  Hamilton Kreeger is the pen name for a writer and lawyer living in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Field by Jeff DeSantis
Baden, PA
Produced by The Theatre Factory

A father who is recovery from alcoholism learns that his estranged son is headed down the same path. His plan? Take his son to the Iowa cornfield where “Field of Dreams” was filmed for some father-son bonding, just like in the movies. And he’ll get him there by any means necessary…  Jeff DeSantis began writing comedy and drama sketches while he was a member of the Cellar Dwellers. Since then, he has written several scripts which were produced by Beaver County’s R-ACT Theatre Productions, including “Tap Dancing on the Radio” in 2002 and “Someone’s in the Kitchen” in 2009.