Press Release - ​​​​2018 Pacific Playwrights Festival

2018 Pacific Playwrights Festival: Seven New Plays From the Nation's Hottest Playwrights

COSTA MESA, Calif.​ (Feb. 7, 2018)—The lineup for South Coast Repertory’s 2018 Pacific Playwrights Festival (PPF), April 20-22, includes works from playwrights Amy Freed, Qui Nguyen and Kemp Powers. This year’s festival offers two full productions and five staged readings. Tickets, including discounted packages to see all five readings, are available online at

“As the Pacific Playwrights Festival enters its third decade of operation, I’m heartened by the important role the festival has played in the discovery, development and dissemination of outstanding new plays, and in furthering the careers of America’s most talented playwrights,” said John Glore, SCR associate artistic director and PPF co-director. “We’ve helped launch well more than 100 plays in PPF, and we’ve done it with the vital support of both our local audiences and a growing cohort of theatre professionals who visit us every year to share in the work.  Like every PPF in the first 20 years, this one will be a glorious theatre binge for new-play lovers and a great big three-day party for all involved.”

Two of the seven plays have come out of SCR’s renowned play commissioning program.

“Many of these plays in the festival this year touch on the nature of love in all of its foibles and messiness,” said Kimberly Colburn, SCR literary director and PPF co-director.  “I think these are plays that exemplify how humans are united by their desires—and their sometimes humorous struggles—and that we are not as divided as some might believe.”

In addition to new scripts by longtime SCR collaborators Freed and Nguyen, works by four writers new to the festival are featured: Julia Doolittle, Caroline V. McGraw, Madhuri Shekar and Kevin Artigue.

The two full productions at the 2018 Pacific Playwrights Festival are:

SHREW!  (world premiere)
by Amy Freed
directed by Art Manke
dramaturg: John Glore
March 24-April 21, Segerstrom Stage
In Shakespeare’s battle of the sexes, The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio wins. But, what if a 16th-century woman had written it? In Amy Freed’s clever and wickedly funny spin on the classic, Kate triumphs, too. When her unstoppable force meets his immovable object (or is it the other way around?), the impact is red-hot and, oh, so sexy! From the author of The Beard of Avon comes a love story for our time.

Little Black Shadows (world premiere)
by Kemp Powers
directed by May Adrales
dramaturg: Kimberly Colburn
Julianne Argyros Stage
April 8-29, Julianne Argyros Stage
“We is shadows. And shadows is seen, not heard.” In pre-Civil war Georgia, Toy and Colis spend long days on the plantation silently serving adolescent twins Mittie and Daniel. But in the dead of night their world comes alive, as they lie beneath their masters’ beds whispering stories to each other through a vent in the wall. When Father announces the family is moving to Louisiana, the children face uncertain futures. Do they dare come out of the shadows? A compelling testament to the power of the human spirit from one of America’s most promising playwrights.

The five PPF readings are:

Poor Yella Rednecks
by Qui Nguyen
directed by May Adrales
dramaturg: Elizabeth Rothman
A commission of SCR and Manhattan Theatre Club
Friday, April 2​0, at 1 p.m., on the Segerstrom Stage
Shadows of their Vietnamese homeland haunt Tong and Quang’s attempts to settle in a foreign world called Arkansas. Married life is hard, especially for refugees—and even harder when it turns out your first marriage isn’t over. An irreverent hip-hop take on the immigrant story.

Love and Contracts
by Julia Doolittle
directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
dramaturg: Kimberly Colburn
An SCR commission
Friday, April ​2​0, at 4 p.m., on the Segerstrom Stage
Two 18th-century misfits share a passionate tryst in a boathouse. Will their illicit lust lead to a lifelong commitment? Sorry, that’s so 1791. But when they are thrust forward to the present day, they discover that love hasn’t gotten any easier. 

I Get Restless
by Caroline V. McGraw
directed by Jennifer Chambers
dramaturg: Andy Knight
Saturday, April 2​1, at 10:30 a.m., on the Segerstrom Stage
What happens when six years of your life suddenly get erased? Do you try to reconstruct what was lost, or build something new? Are you even the same person? And what do you do about a husband who’s become a stranger?  

House of Joy
by Madhuri Shekar
directed by Shelley Butler
dramaturg: Danielle Mages Amato
Sunday, April 2​2, at 10:30 a.m., on the Segerstrom Stage
In an Imperial Harem, in a place like India, in a time like 1666: Hamida, a bodyguard, wakes to the oppression in her midst and decides to do something about it. Seduction, skullduggery and swordplay in a mythic, swashbuckling action-romance for the ages.

by Kevin Artigue
directed by Leah Gardiner
dramaturg: Jerry Patch
Friday, April 20, 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 21, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 22, at 2:30 p.m., in the Nicholas Studio
Another black man killed by a white cop. Only this time the cop is the man you love. And you’re a black woman and a cop yourself. Can you trust your heart if the story keeps changing and you don’t know who or what to believe?

Playwrights Panel Discussion: The panel discussion will include playwrights featured in this year’s festival and takes place on Sunday, April 22, from 9-10 a.m., on the Julianne Argyros Stage. The panel discussion is free.

Related Information for the Pacific Playwrights Festival

Created in 1998, the Pacific Playwrights Festival has grown into one of the leading festivals of new plays in the country and showcases some of the best new work on SCR’s radar. The festival offerings generate lively conversation, future world premieres and subsequent productions for numerous playwrights. Of the more than 130 plays presented at the festival, nearly all have gone on to productions at other theatres nationwide. PPF-launched plays have been written by such American theatre luminaries as Craig Lucas, Sarah Ruhl, Octavio Solis, Lynn Nottage, Julia Cho, Nilo Cruz, Lauren Gunderson, Richard Greenberg, Qui Nguyen and Lucas Hnath.

The 2018 Pacific Playwrights Festival is made possible with support from The Shubert Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pacific Playwrights Festival Honorary Producers. Special thanks to The Time Warner Foundation, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Edgerton Foundation for supporting the development of new plays.

The festival’s Honorary Producers are Sally Anderson and Tom Rogers, Sophia Hall Cripe and Lawrence Arden Cripe, Yvonne and Damien Jordan, Samuel and Tammy Tang, and Linda and Tod White.

The Costa Mesa Marriott is the festival’s official hotel.


About tickets: The 2018 Pacific Playwrights Festival has several ticketing options:

  • Tickets for individual readings are $18.
  • Packages to see all five readings are available for $75
  • Tickets for individual full productions range from $23-83 each (SHREW! and Little Black Shadows)
  • The Sunday, April 22, playwrights’ panel discussion is free and open to the public.

Tickets and ticket packages for the general public and theatre industry professionals may be purchased online at

Theatre Industry Professionals: Theatre industry professionals may select single tickets or a full festival package. Contact the Box Office at (714) 708-5555 or go online at Complete theatre industry information is available from Festival Coordinator Andy Knight, associate literary director, at (714) 708-5062 or

Location: South Coast Repertory is located at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, at the Bristol Street/Avenue of the Arts exit off the San Diego (405) Freeway in the Emmes/Benson Theatre Center, part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Event parking is available for a $10 fee in the automated parking structure on Park Center Drive, off Anton Blvd.

ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson, is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers. One-quarter of SCR’s 525 productions have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio.