2018 Pittsburgh New Works Festival



August 19


Astronaut (or Frantic Action) by Shelby Solla
Brooklyn, NY
produced by Hambones Theater Co.

It's February, 2007, and NASA Astronaut, Lisa Nowak, is somewhere between Houston and Orlando, driving in adult diapers to kidnap and murder her ex-boyfriend's new lover. Along the way, she revisits the moments that brought her to this infamous drive, forcing her to confront the real reasons for the shocking turn of events that made her a news sensation. Shelby Solla is a playwright and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a Pittsburgh native (raised in Freeport.) Shelby is a May 2018 graduate of Marymount Manhattan College with a B.A. in Writing for the Stage. Her play, "Astronaut (or Frantic Action)," has previously been produced as a reading by NYC's Dixon Place Lounge. In addition to her work as a playwright, Shelby is an improviser and sketch comedy performer, and has performed at the Upright Citizens Brigade's annual Del Close Marathon.

The Once and Future King of Zanzibar by Ted Stenson
produced by Retro Red Productions
Calgary, Ontario

Greg wakes up to find himself in a small room with three strangers – and no way out. Greg struggles to understand the meaning behind his confinement and discovers he may be an unwilling participant in a strange political experiment – with possible extra-terrestrial overtones. As contrasting theories abound, the roommates become increasingly hostile and soon find themselves involved in a dangerous stand-off, with the future of their world – and the nationhood of Zanzibar – at stake. Ted Stenson is a Calgary-based writer and filmmaker. He is a graduate of the MFA Playwriting program at the University of Calgary. His plays have been performed across Canada. Recently his play A Chance on Love was a finalist in the NewMarket National Playwriting Contest.

Tagged by Jim Moss
produced by Split Stage Productions
Tampa, FL

Allie, a young girl is trapped in a motel room by a modified electronic tag cuffed to her ankle. A taser within the cuff shocks her if she attempts to remove it. The cuff contains a microphone, speaker, and language interface software that communicates to Allie what she is expected to do for each client that arrives. Nate, a brutish-looking man enters and presses his credit fob on the cuff to begin his time with Allie... Jim Moss’ plays have been produced at the Straz Performing Arts Center, Stage Works, and Carrollwood Players in Tampa FL, and also in theatres in Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Off-Broadway in New York, including: La MaMa La Galleria, the American Globe Theatre, and the Manhattan Repertory Theatre. In 2016, his play, “The Last Shirt Off His Back,” won the Audience Choice Award in “The Seven,” a national playwriting competition at the Cell Theatre in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


August 26



The Bad Bone by Jeremy Hermann
Berkley, MI
produced by South Park Theatre

Two couples must set aside their differences when they discover what their daughters are planning... Jeremy Hermann a Public Relations grad from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo Michigan, is relatively new to the space of playwriting. After being encouraged by his professor to submit to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Region 3, Jeremy submitted his 10 minute play which won in its category in 2016. He has had plays read in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Kalamazoo, and Detroit. Jeremy is a native from the Metro Detroit suburb of Berkley Michigan. "I draw a lot of my inspiration from a lot of the characters I've met throughout the Midwest," Jeremy says. "There are so many stories based in the coasts that we need more stories from those beautiful yet strange middle parts of the country."

Henrietta by Joseph Krawczyk
New York, NY
produced by Actors Civic Theater

Cheating on his wife, Carl gets his comeuppance when he tries to meet his mistress at a motel. Henrietta, an upgraded, vehicle navigation system that also acts as a lie detector, thwarts his attempt at adultery. Through a harrowing ride with Henrietta, who takes over the control of his vehicle, Carl comes face to face with his own mortality. Will he decide to take his life off-road or will he make a u-turn back to his wife? Joseph Krawczyk is an award-winning, published playwright, based in Vermont and New York City. His latest play The Treatment, a Sci-Fi mystery thriller, was produced at the American Theatre of Actors in NYC. In 2014. He had a staged reading of Year’s End, a play about teachers in crisis, at Cape May Stage, a regional, Equity Theater in Cape May, NJ. It was selected from playwrights who had participated in 2013’s National Playwrights Symposium (in attendance were Lee Blessing, John Pielmeier, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and William Mastrosimone) and who were invited to submit a play for their 2014 Symposium. Year’s End was also produced in 2013 at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre. The play was published by Writers Amuse Me Publishing Company. Year’s End was also selected as one of the top three plays at Ohio State University’s 2012 New Play Contest. Joseph was nominated as Outstanding Writer for Macho Moments at NYC’s 2013 Midwinter Madness Festival, and was a semi-finalist at NYC’s Avant-Garde Theater Festival for his one-act play, The Tasting. He studied playwrighting at the National Playwrights Symposium, Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, Ensemble Studio Theater, and New York City’s Public Theater. Joseph is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

License and Registration by Elliot Kreloff
produced by Iron Horse Theatre Company

Two citizens are driving a car with a broken taillight. They are pulled over by two cops. 4 variations on this scenario are interwoven as portrayed by 4 actors (1 black man, 1 white man, 1 black woman, 1 white woman) The actors switch parts throughout, portraying the 16 different characters (both citizens and police). The 4 scenarios quickly devolve into violence involving racism, misogyny, sexual harassment, and homophobia—all ending in fatal results. Inspired by the numerous reports in the media of shootings (of both citizens and police), the play explores the problems inherent in our law enforcement system. Elliot Kreloff has been studying playwriting at THE BARROW GROUP, as a member of Arlene Hutton’s master class, for the past three years. His play, LEAP, is a semi-finalist for the 2018 O’NEILL PLAYWRITING CONFERENCE. His 10-minute play, TWO BROKEN TAILLIGHTS was performed as part of THE LANDING THEATRE’S REDEMPTION SERIES. As a founding member of THE FOURTH WALL REPERTORY, which was located at the Truck and Warehouse theater on West 4th Street in NYC from 1978 through 1990, he performed, directed and wrote topical comedy revues, and plays for children and adult audiences. He created and performed a one-man show, EVERTHING GOES: 60 YEARS IN 60 MINUTES at The Duplex and Don’t Tell Mama in NYC, and has directed the one-act "OMG CHOPSTICKS!" for various festival productions.


Program A  August 30 – September 8



The Survivor by Gordon Bennett
Coatesvilles, PA
produced by McKeesport Little Theater

A professional "holocaust denier" is visiting a university where a student editor, Vivian, has organized a Friday Night Forum where the denier will speak. Vivian's boyfriend James is a graduate student whose specialty is the holocaust and the Deniers' movement. When an elderly woman, new to the neighborhood, tells her story, Vivian and James find a new perspective and must decide whether to attend the Forum or take a different route on Friday night. Gordon Bennett has written, produced, and published both one-acts and full length plays. Most of the latter have been published on line at www.HeartlandPlays.com. His special interests are Moliere, political and social dramas, and plays based on historical events. Gordon won a $500 prize from CITA for a biographical drama about Moliere titled GOD OF LAUGHTER.

AleynaAnna by Allston James
New York, NY
produced by Cup-A-Jo Productions

A woman and a young girl, strangers, enter a conversation in a departures lounge of JFK Airport. They inhabit different worlds. What the woman learns from the girl may change her life forever. Allston James's plays have been performed in London, New York and elsewhere. He is two-time winner of the Bill Broyles Award for Distinguished Playwriting and two-time winner of the British Theatre Challenge. His play "I Knew King When He was Nobody" was longlisted for the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing in 2017 and has had stage-readings in New York, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh, at the PNWF's Original Play Reading series in May.

Survivor's Guilt, or, The Jumping-Off Point by Alex Flanigan
Winchester, VA
produced by The Duquesne University Red Masquers

A man and a woman reconnect at their high school reunion and recall a terrible tragedy that causes them to re-evaluate their decisions and priorities over the past 5 years of their lives. Over the course of an evening they realize they must come to terms with the part they've played in shaping their own pasts in order to embrace the power they have to change their futures. Alex Flanigan is an upcoming playwright from Morgantown, WV whose works have been performed in Winchester, VA by Shenandoah Conservatory's Playwrights Performance and Liminality Theatre, in Vero Beach, FL by Project Space 1785, in Chicago by Northwestern University's WAVE Theatre Group, and in New York City as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival in 2017. She currently lives and works in Winchester, VA and holds a degree from Shenandoah University.


Program B August 31 - September 9



Thursday Mornings and Sunday Nights by Charlotte Giles
Celina, TX
produced by The South Hills Players

VIVIAN has a problem with her next-door neighbors, CHERYL and GUS, a middle-aged couple so she invites them over for drinks and hors d’oeuvres with BONNIE, an elderly, spry neighbor. When VIVIAN reveals her dilemma, all of the characters uncover surprises about their past lives. Stories of infidelities, clunky marriages, and past romances. highlight some of the pitfalls of apartment living, married faithfulness, and faded memories. Charlotte Giles became an award-winning playwright after many years of acting, theatre educating, and professional directing. Her play, Pinky and Rhubarb won first prize in the 2017 Cloverdale Playhouse Page to Stage Contest in Alabama. Her play, Directions, secured a spot in the Renegade Theatre Festival in Michigan as well as first prize in the 2016 Helen Jean Prize for Literary Excellence. She has received performances and readings of her plays in professional, community, and educational theatres. Charlotte has earned a Master of Arts at Southern Methodist University and is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Brace by Annie LaRussa
New York, NY
produced by Little Lake Theatre

"The course of true love never did run smooth", especially on a crashing airplane. Annie LaRussa is a playwright/actor. She graduated from NYU Tisch School of the Arts Theatre Program and is so happy to be living in NYC again! She has worked as an actress at The Public Theatre, South Coast Rep, Mark Taper Forum, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Kenyon Festival Theatre, and many other wonderful theatres. Her recent plays include: FLESH AND BLOOD (finalist newTACTics Play Festival), FIERCE TEARS, THROBBING (Friday@TBG), GO (Jimmy's No 43), SALLY'S DAY, and BRACE(finalist at the LaBute theatre festival) and JANE DOE 24 (first cut at PlayPenn/Fridays@TBG in New York). Annie is an invited member of The Master Group, a writing group affiliated with The Barrow Group, NYC. She has won 3 Drama-logue Awards and 2 LA Weekly Awards.

Columbus Day by Stephen LaRocque
Bethesda, MD
produced by The Theatre Factory

A woman, recently widowed, packs up the contents of her beach house as the rising tide threatens to overtake it, and her. Faced with a choice between escaping to life in assisted living and taking a chance with the rising waters, she makes her decision... Stephen LaRocque has worked as an actor, director, and playwright in professional and community theatres in the greater Washington DC area since 1994. He has had thirteen One-Act and three full-length plays produced in Maryland, Virginia, New Hampshire, and California.


Program C  September 13 – 22


I Forgot to Worry by Lawrence Paone
Metuchen, NJ
produced by Stage Right Pittsburgh

A hostage desperately tries to determine if his surroundings are real, or if it’s all just a bad dream because he ate bacon right before bed. Lawrence Paone was born in Malverne, New York and at an early age showed an interest in the theatre. He graduated from Drew University with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. His full-length farce, Certifiably Yours was recently presented as a staged reading to benefit the New Work Series of Emerging Artists Theatre, NYC. With Matthew Aibel, Lawrence co-authored, Do You Have Anything Closer? which was produced in 2004 in the Midtown International Theatre Festival, NYC. Other credits include co-authoring the two-minute film, Continuity Malfunction; a collection of sketches, Great American Plays That Almost Weren’t; and the original screenplays, I Kill at Funerals and The Breakdown. Lawrence currently lives in Metuchen, New Jersey with his wife, Catherine LaMoreaux. He is particularly grateful that his two adult daughters, Anna and Laura, have recently moved out of the house, leaving Lawrence with nearly total control of the TV remote.

When Romcoms Go Bad by Ken Levine
Los Angeles, CA
produced by Prime Stage Theatre

Putting a modern spin on those screwball romantic comedies (romcoms) of the ‘30s and ‘40S, the classic trope is set up (beautiful heroine leaves conservative fiancée for former lover who is a charming cad while her best friend offers comic relief) then turned on its ear. It’s the romcom ending you’ve never seen. Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/playwright/major league baseball announcer. Plays include A or B? performed at the Falcon Theatre in Los Angeles and regionally, Going Going Gone produced at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood, Our Time performed regionally, Upfronts and Personal featuring staged readings starring Jason Alexander, Ed Asner, Andrew Rannells, Wendie Malick, Joanna Gleason, Ryan O’Neal, Kurtwood Smith, David Rasche, Chip Zien, Paul Dooley, Matthew Letscher, and Jennifer Tilly. Ken has also had numerous one-acts performed around the world. He is a member of the EST Playwrights unit. Ken has written over 200 episodes of television for such shows as MASH, Cheers, Frasier, the Simpsons, and Wings. He has directed over 60 TV episodes including Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier, Wings, Becker, Just Shoot Me, and Dharma & Greg. Additionally, Ken has been the play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and San Diego Padres and hosted Dodger Talk for eight seasons.

Malum by Ashley Rice
Boulder, CO
produced by The Heritage Players

The creation story told from the perspective of the serpent (who is actually a librarian), where Eve is a savvy renegade and Adam is kind of a schmuck. Ashley Rice is a Pittsburgh native living in Boulder, Colorado. She recently received her MFA in Theatre from Naropa University.


Program D  September 14 – 23


An Unexpected Mourner by Michael Wolfson
Valley Village, CA
produced by R-ACT Theatre Productions

David Ellis has been hired as a "shomer" - someone in Orthodox Jewish tradition whose job it is to pray over the dead in the hours before burial. Having never done anything like it before, David finds the prospect of spending the night in a mortuary reading Psalms to the departed a somewhat daunting undertaking. After his employer has instructed him in the intricacies of the job, David is left alone to "keep the dead company". Soon, though, he is interrupted by an unexpected mourner whose sudden appearance and unusual attitude adds to David's growing sense of discomfort. When a second mourner appears, things rapidly spin out of control, with music, dancing and seduction filling the air. When morning finally comes, David finds that he has acquired an entirely new appreciation of both life and death. Michael Wolfson's work includes “Undue Influence”, L.A. Theatre Works (CA). “A Paradise Of Fools”, Detroit Repertory Theatre (MI).“The Prisoners Dilemma”, Pittsburgh New Works Festival (PA) and Vital Theatre (NYC). “Legerdemain”, Ashland New Plays Festival (OR); Asylum Theatre (NV) and Lake County Repertory Theater (CA). “Work And Play”, Spokane Civic Theatre (WA). “Party Time”, Little Theatre of Alexandria (VA). “Watch Your Language”, Stagecrafters (MI). “Thinking Outside The Box”, Pittsburgh New Works Festival (PA). “Word Play”, Brief Acts Company (NYC) and Road Theatre (CA). “Cat And Mouse”, Bridewell Theatre (London, England) and Penobscot Theatre Company (ME). “A Senior Moment”, Pittsburgh New Works Festival (PA) and Geneva Theatre Guild (NY). “Wishful Thinking”, Brief Acts Company (NYC). “Out- Of-Order”, Eclectic Company Theatre (CA). “The Green Eyed Monster”, Pittsburgh New Works Festival (PA). “T.G.I.F.”, Starlite Players (FL) and Silver Spring Stage (MD).

The Civil War by Michael Champagne
Brooklyn, NY
produced by Thoreau, NM - A Production Company

A young woman must act as a lifetime referee between her husband and her mother as the two re-draw the lines of the Civil War throughout the couple's marriage. Mike Champagne is an actor/director and playwright and novelist. His new book Brother to the Blood is currently available on Amazon. Most recently his new musical song-cycle, Bittersuite: More Songs of Experience was produced at the Centenary Theatre in New Jersey. Together with composer Elliot Weise, Mr. Champagne has written a number of musicals including The Witch of Wall Street, which was workshopped at Lincoln Center’s Rose theatre after being selected for the Eugene O’Neill Theater’s summer Musical Theater Workshop. Their original version of “Bittersuite,” Bittersuite: Songs of Experience ran for fourteen months Off-Broadway and for two years in Los Angeles. It has had successful runs in San Francisco and Chicago, and, most recently, was performed by the Bulgarian National Theatre. Currently Mike has published a new novel, The Goat Woman, which is also available on Amazon and Kindle. He is working on a cycle of short plays entitled The Civil Wars.

Where the Star Fell by Kelly Bancroft
Youngstown, OH
produced by CCAC South Campus Theatre

Based on a true story, Ann Hodges' life in 1950's rural Alabama is upended when she becomes the first person to ever be hit by a meteorite. Kelly Bancroft's plays have been produced in Youngstown and Milwaukee, and her play "Lovie's Spring" was a Pittsburgh New Works Festival winner. An essayist and poet as well, Bancroft's work has been published in many journals and most recently her short documentary, "Arriving at Bessie" was selected for inclusion in the Cleveland International Film Festival.

Special Awards

Best LabWorks Production: "Tagged" by Jim Moss, produced by Split Stage Productions

** Finalists included "Astronaut (or Frantic Action)” by Shelby Solla, produced by Hambones Theater Company and "Henrietta" by Joseph Krawczyk

produced by Actors Civic Theater


• Outstanding Supporting Actress — A TIE!!!

Cindy Swanson in "Thursday Mornings and Sunday Nights" by Charlotte Murphy Giles, produced by The South Hills Players AND Nancy Batko in "The Civil War" by Michael Champagne, produced by Thoreau, NM - A Production Company

** Louise Fox in "The Survivor" by Gordon Bennett, produced by McKeesport Little Theater was also a finalist in this category


• Outstanding Supporting Actor: Steven Gallagher in "An Unexpected Mourner" by Michael Wolfson, produced by R-ACT Theatre Productions

** Finalists included Beck Seaman in "Malum" and Mark Conner, Sr. in "I Forgot To Worry"


• Outstanding Lead Actress: Kendra McLaughlin in "Where the Star Fell" by Kelly Bancroft, produced by CCAC South Campus Theatre.

** Finalists included Amy Ellefson in "Columbus Day" by Stephen LaRocque, produced by The Theatre Factory, Elena Falgione in "AleynaAnna" by Allston James, produced by Cup-A-Jo Productions and Laura Sanner Grossman in "Brace" by Annie LaRussa, produced by Little Lake Theatre


• Outstanding Lead Actor: Dave Joseph in "I Forgot to Worry" by Lawrence Paone, produced by Stage Right Pittsburgh

** Finalists included Nathaniel Yost in "An Unexpected Mourner" and Patrick Nolin in "Survivor’s Guilt, or, The Jumping-Off Point"


• Outstanding Director: Joe Eberle for "I Forgot to Worry" by Lawrence Paone, produced by Stage Right Pittsburgh

** Finalists included John Lane for "Survivor’s Guilt, or, The Jumping-Off Point" by Alex Flanigan and Nicole Zalak for "Malum" by Ashley Rice


• Outstanding Production: "I Forgot to Worry" produced by Stage Right Pittsburgh

** Finalists included "Malum" produced by The Heritage Players and "Survivor’s Guilt, or, The Jumping-Off Point" produced by The Duquesne University Red Masquers


• Best Play: Lawrence Paone's "I Forgot to Worry"

** Finalists include "Malum" by Ashley Rice and "Survivor’s Guilt, or, The Jumping-Off Point" by Alex Flanigan