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City Theatre will present four original plays for MOMENTUM


Last updated 5/26/2014 at 5:23pm

City Theatre has announced four original plays for MOMENTUM, the theatre’s annual festival of new plays at different stages.

This year’s selection features three of City’s favorite alums as well as a distinguished playwright new to Pittsburgh audiences. The play’s themes run the gamut from technology and football to history and community.

MOMENTUM is a celebration of new theatrical works featuring readings, workshops, panels, and conversation. The festival is a chance for audiences to not only see four new works in their earliest incarnations, but also to get to know the process of creating new plays and to glimpse inside the minds of the playwrights.

“MOMENTUM is vital to our mission as a home for playwrights and new play development,” says Tracy Brigden, City Theatre’s artistic director. “The festival provides an opportunity for writers to hear their work performed in front of an audience and a creative community, and that has impact. Last year, we featured a reading of Michael Hollinger’s new play, Hope and Gravity.

“Subsequently, after revisions, rehearsal, and collaborative artistic input, the world premiere of Hope and Gravity is now enjoying a successful run on City Theatre’s Mainstage. This progression exemplifies the goal of MOMENTUM—to launch new plays into their next phase of development.

This year, City Theatre welcomes playwright Madeleine George back after her success there with Precious Little. Her Pulitzer-nominated play, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, spans centuries and uniquely confronts our reliance on ever-changing technology.

In addition, Keith Bunin, author of Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir and The Credeaux Canvas, returns with The Unbuilt City, an enigmatic story set in Brooklyn about life, love and art. They’ll also feature Ken Weitzman’s play Halftime with Don. Featuring a retired NFL player, Mr. Weitzman’s engaging and topical script is inspired by NFL players suffering from game-induced trauma, including former Steeler “Iron Mike” Webster.

Lastly, playwright Daniel Beaty, returns with Mr. Joy, a moving solo play about how a Harlem community comes together in crisis. Audiences will have the opportunity to watch this poignant work progress from a reading at MOMENTUM to a fully-produced show on the Mainstage during the 2014-2015 season.

Staged readings are:

The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence by Madeleine George, directed by Sheila McKenna and featuring Harry Bouvy and Rebecca Harris.

Watson: trusty sidekick to Sherlock Holmes; loyal engineer who built Bell’s first telephone; unstoppable super-computer that became reigning Jeopardy! champ; amiable techno-dweeb who, in the present day, is just looking for love. These four constant companions become one in this brilliantly witty, time-jumping, loving tribute (and cautionary tale) dedicated to the people—and machines—upon which we all depend.

The Unbuilt City by Keith Bunin, directed by Tracy Brigden and featuring Brett Mack and Mary Rawson.

Still residing in the Brooklyn Heights townhouse in which she grew up, Claudia has lived a life of luxury and loneliness. Now as her health is failing, and her money is drying up, a representative from an archive visits with an opportunity. Hoping to persuade Claudia to sell her famously secret collection, Jonah uncovers mysteries surrounding the nature of her legacy and the untold history of New York City.

Halftime with Don by Ken Weitzman, directed by Christian Parker and featuring Tom Atkins, Kimberly Parker Green, Daina Michelle Griffith, and Cameron Knight.

Retired NFL player Don Devers has had more surgeries than he can count, experiences violent outbursts, and relies on Post-It notes to offset his struggle with traumatic brain injury. Just as he’s ready to throw in the towel, super fan Ed Ryan knocks on his door. With the help of Don’s daughter Stephanie and Ed’s wife Sarah, both pregnant and plotting from the sidelines, the fan and his hero find new resolve to get back in the game.

Mr. Joy by Daniel Beaty and featuring Bria Walker.

What happened to Mr. Joy? A Harlem community is disrupted when the Chinese immigrant’s shoe repair shop, a neighborhood pillar for decades, does not open its doors. Nine customers, ranging from 11-year-old Clarissa, a budding shoe designer, to Bessie, a “gangsta granny,” reflect on the shop owner’s impact in this moving exploration of one community’s efforts to heal in order to dream again.

Panels and workshops include:

Playwrights and Directors Panel: Participating artists join together for an insightful panel about the festival’s featured plays.

Workshop: Writing Across Dramatic Mediums: Instructor: Keith Bunin. Today’s well-rounded dramatist must be able to work across multiple storytelling mediums. To have a successful career, they want to be the master of as many mediums as possible. So what are the story principles common among plays, movies, and novels adapted for film? And what makes each form different from the next?

Join playwright and screenwriter Keith Bunin, who will lay out the similarities and differences, and share what he’s learned while working across mediums. Mr. Bunin is currently writing screenplays for Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, CBS Films, Fox Searchlight, and Likely Story/Mandalay Films, among others. He wrote the screenplay for the film Horns, directed by Alexandre Aja, starring Daniel Radcliffe, and based on the novel by Joe Hill.

City Theatre has produced his plays Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir (2011) and The Credeaux Canvas (2002). His plays, including The Busy World is Hushed, The World Over, Vera Laughed, The Principality of Sorrows, The King of Clocks, and the musical (book) 10 Million Miles, have also been produced at Playwrights Horizons, Atlantic Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, New York Stage and Film, Lincoln Center Lab at HERE, and Pure Orange Productions. He was a writer for the HBO TV-series “In Treatment.”

Thursday, May 29: 7 p.m., Reading: The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence.

Friday, May 30: 6:30 p.m., Playwrights and Directors Panel; 8:00 pm, Reading: The Unbuilt City.

Saturday, May 31: 2 -3 p.m., Workshop: Writing Across Dramatic Mediums; 4 p.m., Reading: Halftime with Don; 6 p.m., Momentum Party; 8 p.m., Reading: Mr. Joy.

Sunday, June 1: 2 p.m., Reading: The Unbuilt City.

All events take place at City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203.

Tickets are: $20 for four-day pass or $5 per show and are available by phone at 412-431-CITY (2489) or online at


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