2016 Pittsburgh New Works Festival


Staged Readings

August 21


Not About the Money by Amy Tofte
Los Angeles, CA
Produced by Comtra Theatre

An elitist needs a favor and in the process of completely offending someone less fortunate…he gets fleeced.  Amy Tofte is a playwright and award-winning screenwriter living in Los Angeles. She was awarded a 2015 Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Also in 2015, her play FleshEatingTiger had its Australian debut in Melbourne and her play Farm Noir was a semifinalist for the PlayPenn Conference. She developed her play The Scrambling Class as part of the The Vagrancy’s 2014/2015 writer’s group. Her play The Count Goes Down was a semifinalist for both the 2014 nuVoices Festival (Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte) and The Kitchen Dog Theatre’s 2014 New Works Festival.  In 2013, Tofte was a semifinalist for Washington, DC’s Source Festival with her play Relentless Pursuit of a Lady. She was also named a semifinalist for the 2013 Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship for her play FleshEatingTiger. Her plays FLOOZY and FleshEatingTiger premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2010, 2011, respectively). Tiger was remounted at the Hollywood Fringe in 2012 where it was named “Best of Fringe” and nominated for Best Play. Tofte participated in the 2015 Last Frontier Theatre Conference’s Play Lab (Valdez, Alaska), her sixth year as an invited writer. She has two monologues published in the Conference’s 2009 – 2012 anthology.

On Golden Sands by Mark Costello
Philadelphia, PA
Produced by Split Stage Productions

A plague ravages earth while Marie agonizes over boarding her evacuation space ship, which will carry her to her lover aboard a safe house space station. He comforts her remotely via hologram and learns that her fears aren’t only about her own safety: Marie is also pregnant with his child. What was simply comfort and support earlier becomes an urgent plea from her lover to evacuate before it’s too late and he loses them both.  Mark J. Costello is a candidate in the MFA playwriting program at Temple University, and is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. His plays have been recognized by the Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, Write Now, and the Great Plains Theatre Conference, and his dramaturgical and critical writings earned him a fellowship to the O’Neill Critics Institute in 2010. He has dramaturged and assistant dramaturged productions for companies all over Philadelphia, including Philadelphia Theatre Company and the Arden, and he participates in new play development with playwrights at all levels of their career and training.

Unlikely Event by Dennis Moore
Bothell, WA
Produced by The Bobcat Players

A long-term married couple must confront a horror peculiar to the 21st century.  Dennis Moore is an actor and writer in the Seattle WA area. UNLIKELY EVENT is his fourth work, and he’s pleased to submit it to the Pittsburgh New Works Festival.


August 28



Mercy Killing by Rikki Schwartz
Waterford, MI
Produced by Prime Stage Theatre

Mercy Killing examines a post-coital conversation, in which Abby reveals to her lover how the most damaging result of her adulterous choice (years earlier) was the forgiveness she received (from her then-husband).  Rikki Schwartz has had two of her original plays produced.

We Got This! by Sheila Rinear
San Antonio, TX
Produced by Pittsburgh New Works

When Don finds Lenore reading a stack of cook books in his kitchen, he rails against more than Lenore’s invasion of his culinary territory.  Sheila Rinear, an award-winning, published playwright and screenwriter,  has had over forty-five of her plays produced. Her full-length stage plays, Women of Letters, Chasing the Blues, Mission Improbable, Calais, and Watch and Prey have all won competitions and been produced in San Antonio and Austin, TX; Norman and Tulsa, OK; and, Los Angeles, CA. Many of her short stage plays have won competitions and been produced in Texas and NYC.  Rinear worked as a Public School Theatre Arts teacher and won North East Independent School District’s Teacher of the Year Award as well as the Trinity University Prize for Teaching Excellence. She is the Austin-San Antonio Regional Rep for The Dramatists Guild of America. She is also a member of ScriptWorks, San Antonio Theater Coalition, and International Centre for Women Playwrights. For complete bio and résumé you may visit: www.sheilarinear.com

That Time at Black Lake by Vicki Riba Koestler
Alexandria, VA
Produced by Retro Red Theatre Productions

It’s a tense Sunday morning at Amanda and Charles’s upscale Manhattan apartment. Amanda’s about to have a long-awaited meeting with her old camp bunkmate, Betsy. Amanda has something very important to tell Betsy, and she’s nervous. Charles reassures her that everything’s going to be alright….He’s wrong.  Vicki Riba Koestler’s full-length comedy We Gather Together was produced by The Chameleon Theatre Circle; her one-acts Googling Fin, Snedekker’s, Bad Move, and Minna Kwasnik’s Stupid Blouse have been staged in one-act showcases; and many other of her plays have had staged readings and placed in competitions. Her short play Orange Sunset was published in the volume Stage This! Too. Vicki’s personal essays have appeared in The New York Times, Child magazine, and New Jersey Monthly, among other places. She has also coauthored two books with self-help author Gary Null: Choosing Joy and The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Getting it Right the Second Time Around.
A native of New York City, Vicki now lives in the Washington, DC, area.


Program A  September 1 – 10



Deck Chairs by Bill Arnold
Windsor, CT
Produced by Cup-A-Jo Productions

On the main deck of the Titanic while it is sinking.  Bill Arnold is a composer and professional musician with the band, The Rude Mechanicals. He has written numerous musicals and straight plays and is published by Heuer for musicals, and JAC Publishing for straight plays.

All Good Things by Michael Lill
Murwillumbah, N.S.W., Australia
Produced by CCAC South

A middle aged couple, Claire and Tom Nesbitt have invited a group of people to their home. Each guest, directly or indirectly, has had some kind of positive impact on the couple. During the course of the evening, Claire and Tom recount a series of personal stories culminating in a major announcement.  Michael Lill is an award-winning playwright and short story writer. He was shortlisted in 2014 for the Sydney Theatre Company Patrick White Playwrights Award for his play, In This Waking Hour. His play, Terra Nullius was shortlisted for the VARNA International Playwriting Contest and he received a Commendation Award for his play, The Water’s Edge from the Fellowship of Australian Writers. In 2015 he won the Literary Prize for his short play, The Big One at the biannual Drill Hall Theatre Company’s ‘Hot Shorts’ Competition. Michael won both the Literary and Audience-voted prizes in the 2013 ‘Hot Shorts’ competition. He has been shortlisted over ten times for various Short+Sweet Festivals. His short play, Out Of Oblivion was a co-winner of the ‘Writers At Work’ Playwriting Competition run by the Blue Elephant Theatre Company in Camberwell, London. Seven of Michael’s plays may be found on the australianplays.org website.

More Than Meets the Eye by F.J. Hartland
Johnstown, PA
Produced by The South Hills Players

What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.  F. J. Hartland is an playwright, actor, and director. Seven times his plays have been nominated for “Outstanding Contribution by a Playwright” in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival–winning four times. In 2014, he won rave reviews for his performance as “Charlie” in “The Whale” at Off The Wall. Currently, he is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre at Saint Francis University (Loretto PA).


Program B September 2 – 11



The Man Who Invented Love by Scott Romani
Pittsburgh, PA
Produced by Thoreau, NM – A Production Company

The Man Who Invented Love is a romantic comedy about an awkward second date spent cleaning out the apartment of a recently-deceased uncle. Mark and Kyle uncover secrets of a life in 1940s Hollywood that spark a connection in the present.  Scott Romani earned his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh. His fiction has won numerous Turow-Kinder awards and has been published by Blotterature. When Scott is not writing, he teaches, choreographs and adjudicates dance across the nation.

My Strange Journey by William Newkirk
Celebration, FL
Produced by R-ACT Theatre Productions

Lisa Murphy, an author in her 50’s, has had a string of unpublished manuscripts. Her new book, however, My Strange Journey, which deals with overcoming her abusive childhood, has received a National Book Award nomination.  W. L. Newkirk is best known as a playwright. His recently-written, award-winning stage plays include East Lansing (Winner, Best Play, 2014 Tampa Bay Theatre Festival), 5 to 4 (Winner, Best Play, 2015 4 X 6 Fest), and In Me (Winner, 2015 Vigoda Award, Best Dramedy). He has degrees from the Ohio State University (Medicine) and Harvard University (Government), where he was a John Harvard Scholar and Lecturer. He has received awards for his contributions to the arts and sciences, including Recognition from the Daniel Hanley Trust for “Courage, Leadership and Innovation.” He is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Writer’s Block by Derek Lynch
New Castle, PA
Produced by Actors Civic Theater

A struggling writer is visited by his muses, the embodiment of Comedy and Tragedy, who attempt to help him overcome his lack of productivity.  Derek Lynch has been writing plays since he learned what a play was. He has been on and behind stage, but his real passion is to create the story. He has never before had an original work performed and is very excited to see this one. He is a graduate of Westminster College, and currently works a crummy job at a retail store to support is play-writing habit.


Program C  September 15 – 24


Thread by Evan W. Saunders
Pittsburgh, PA
Produced by The Summer Company

When a one night stand turns into something more, their relationship hangs by a thread. Will Isaac and Amanda be able to sort out their feelings, or will love just string them along?  Evan W. Saunders is a student at Duquesne University, where he has acted in and directed several plays with the school’s Red Masquers. This is his first time submitting to the Pittsburgh New Works Festival.

Your Princess is in Another Castle by Whitney Rowland
Pittsburgh, PA
Produced by McKeesport Little Theater

Skip Whitaker is on a quest. After his Comic Con ticket is stolen, Skip performs for donations while dressed as Mario (from Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros). There, he meets Chuck, a foul-mouthed but enthusiastic Yoshi (Mario’s in-game sidekick) and the two join forces to get Skip into the Convention and meet his prophesied true love. But, when a weapon-wielding Pikachu and an angry Boba Fett show up, will Skip’s dreams of “Happily ever after” become “Game Over?”  Whitney Rowland is a playwright and screenwriter currently pursuing an MFA in Dramatic Writing at Carnegie Mellon University. Her plays have been produced at The Rochester Repertory Theatre, The Northfield Arts Guild, The Barn Players’ Theatre, the Lawrence Arts Center, and at several universities, community colleges, and high schools across the Midwest. She was twice commissioned by The Northwest Childrens’ Theatre & School in Portland, Oregon. Her work has also been presented at a number of conferences, including the Mid-America Theatre Conference, the Great Plains Theatre Conference, and at both the regional and national Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festivals, where she received a number of awards and honors; Six of her ten minute plays have competed at Regional Festivals as Finalists, with two of those works named as Regional Winners, and her play SUICIDE BY PUNCH BOWL was invited to compete at the National Festival in Washington DC. Her one act play LIGHTS FADE, CURTAIN was named “Best One Act Play” and was twice nominated for the John Cauble Short Play Award. She is also the recipient of two Kennedy Center “Certificates of Excellence” for her work in Playwriting. Whitney graduated with her Bachelors degree from the University of Kansas in 2009, where she was a three-time winner of the “Grant K. Goodman Playwriting Award.”

Key Ring by Steven Peterson
Chicago, IL

Produced by The Duquesne University Red Masquers
Four keys hang on a key ring. They can talk, they can bicker, they can fall in love. But when the keys begin to be taken off the ring, how will love survive?  Steven Peterson is a Chicago-based playwright whose recent full-length productions include AFFLUENCE (Theatre 40. Los Angeles), THE INVASION OF SKOKIE (Chicago Dramatists), and the workshop production of LYDIA LINDSTROM (Raven Theatre). Recent one-act productions include SOMEPLACE WARM (Step Up Productions) and A COUPLE OF NOBODIES (The Artistic Home). His plays in development have been presented at the new play fests of Cleveland Play House, Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Theatre, and Theatre Ariel (Philadelphia). He is a two-time winner of the Julie Harris Playwright Award and a winner of the Dorothy Silver Playwriting Competition. Steve is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and is represented by the Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency in NYC.


Program D  September 16 – 25


Brotherhood by Garry Kluger
La Crescenta, CA
Produced by The Theatre Factory

BROTHERHOOD is the story of two brothers, Joey and Frank. Growing up, Joey and Frank never really got along. When he was a teenager his mother threw Frank out of the house and the two brothers didn’t see each other again – until years later. Because of a mutual business deal, Frank and Joey are forced to confront each other and years of animosity explode on the scene forcing an ultimate showdown.  Garry Kluger has authored three books, eleven plays, two TV pilots, twelve documentaries, and several series. For television, Garry was head writer for The FX Friday Night FiX, and was nominated for a CableACE Award for the Ultimate Guide on the Discovery Channel. He was also the producer/writer for the original TV pilot, Office Hours.  As a playwright, some of Garry’s plays have been performed in theatres all over the world. He has won the DFAP International One Act Festival for The Other Half, won the Gold Award for Office Hours and the Bronze Award for Aquarius Rising from the World Series Of Screenwriting, Play Competition, won Highly Recommended from the Segora Playwrights Festival in France for Prodigal Returns, and a finalist from the Sterts Theatre in London for his one acts, The Other Half.  In 2009, Garry was the recipient of the annual Red Carpet Award from Women In Theatre for his contributions to theatre as a playwright.

Influence by Jennifer Tromble
North Tonawanda, NY
Produced by The Heritage Players

Annie, an eight-year old girl, is suspended from a school for gifted students for hate speech. Her parents suspect this is a direct result of her grandmother’s influence. The play takes place when Michael, Annie’s father, goes to his mother’s to confront her about this.  Jennifer Tromble‘s award winning plays have been produced at the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, NY, the Weathervane Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio, as part of the Oxford Theatre Festival in Oxford, Mississippi, and, most recently, as a semi-finalist in Little Black Dress Ink’s new short play competition.

Once Upon a Mattress Store by Stephen Engel
Pacific Palisades, CA
Produced by Stage Right Pittsburgh

Business does not go as usual one evening in a Los Angeles mattress store.  Stephen Engel has written several screenplays for producers such as Steven Spielberg, Tom Shadyac, Joel Silver and Leonard Goldberg. In 1991, Stephen moved to LA, where he has written and produced the HBO comedy “Dream On,” the NBC comedies “Mad About You” and “Just Shoot Me,” and the CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory.” Stephen also created CBS’s short-lived “Work With Me,” NBC’s short-lived “Inside Schwartz,” and ABC’s short-lived “The Big House.” Given the life span of these shows, Stephen expects to die soon.