Press Release: 2020 Pacific Playwrights Festival

2020 Pacific Playwrights Festival: Seven New Plays on a Global Scale, Plus the ATCA/Steinberg Award

COSTA MESA, Calif. (​​​​​Feb. 13, 2020)—South Coast Repertory Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei today announced the lineup for the 2020 Pacific Playwrights Festival (PPF). The annual showcase of new works, part of the theatre’s new-play development arm, The [email protected], includes two world-premiere productions—The Scarlet Letter by Kate Hamill and I Get Restless by Caroline V. McGraw—and five staged readings. PPF runs April 24-26, with morning, afternoon and evening events. Single tickets and value-priced ticket packages are now on sale at

The 23rd year of the festival includes five staged readings of works by Christie Baugher, Anchuli Felicia King, Shayan Lotfi, Tony Meneses and Erika Sheffer.

On April 25, prior to the evening performance of Hamill’s The Scarlet Letter, the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) will present the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award. It is one of the largest national new play awards of its kind and recognizes the best scripts that premiered professionally outside of New York City. Previous Steinberg Award-winners include Cambodian Rock Band, I & You and Vietgone, all of which were developed, in part, at South Coast Repertory. ATCA also will present its Osborn Award to an emerging playwright. ATCA's members, including theatre critics and journalists from around the country, will be attending the festival as part of its annual convention, held for the first time in Costa Mesa, Calif.

“The offerings this year at the Pacific Playwright’s Festival are gorgeous,” said Ivers. “I’m thrilled we can share the work of these tremendous and daring writers who confront the issues of our time with fervor, immediacy and grace.”

The festival draws theatre industry representatives from across the country, as well as southern California new play fans.

Festival Co-Director John Glore, SCR’s associate artistic director, said the 2020 festival is a must-see showcase for new play fans.

“This year’s festival manifests an extraordinary global reach that finds the personal in the political and vice versa,” said John Glore, associate artistic director and festival co-director. “Most of these writers are new to us at South Coast Repertory and we’re delighted to have a chance to get to know them and to introduce their work to festival audiences.”

Playwrights whose works are featured in this year’s festival will participate in a panel discussion on Sunday, April 26, from 9-10 a.m., on the Julianne Argyros Stage. The panel discussion is free.

“The lineup this year is incredibly exciting,” said Andy Knight, literary manager and festival co-director. “The plays are all singular in their storytelling and each contains an unexpected power. I have no doubt that, taken together, these plays will rivet, move, and delight audiences. It really is a quintessential PPF.”

The two full productions at the 2020 Pacific Playwrights Festival are:

The Scarlet Letter
by Kate Hamill
directed by Marti Lyons
dramaturg: John Glore
March 28-April 25, Segerstrom Stage
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s acclaimed masterwork comes to southern California audiences in a most riveting staging. Two years after her husband goes missing, intelligent, strong-willed Hester Prynne has a child and gets branded an adulteress. Further defying Puritan ideals, she refuses to reveal the father’s identity and is condemned to wear a scarlet A to mark her shame. Then her estranged husband shows up—bent on revenge.

I Get Restless
by Caroline V. McGraw
directed by Tony Taccone
dramaturg: Andy Knight
April 12-May 3, Julianne Argyros Stage
Hazel just landed a job at a top law firm, bought a condo and married Mitch, who adores her. Then an accident on her honeymoon leaves her unable to remember anything about the past six years. Adrift in unanswered questions, Hazel must find who she is without knowing who she was. And what about a husband who’s now a stranger? An eerily captivating drama about the mysteries of second chances.

There are five staged readings scheduled for the festival.

by Erika Sheffer
directed by Tyne Rafaeli
dramaturg: John Glore
Friday, April 24, at 1 p.m., Segerstrom Stage
About this play: He never appears, but the title character is ever-present in this epic suspense drama. It’s 2004 and Raya, a crusading journalist, runs afoul of the Russian government and its notorious leader. Raya will risk family, friends and freedom to uncover that rarest of commodities—the truth.

The Fitzgeralds of St. Paul
book, music and lyrics by Christie Baugher
directed by Danny Mefford
dramaturg: Jerry Patch
Friday, April 24, at 4 p.m., Segerstrom Stage
About this play: Memory play becomes gin-soaked vaudeville as two ghosts of the Jazz Age finally get to tell—and sing—their tragic story. This chamber musical offers a fictionalized reimagining of the infamous marriage of F. Scott and Zelda. 

El Borracho
by Tony Meneses
directed by Dámaso Rodríguez
dramaturg: Molly FitzMaurice
Saturday, April 25, at 10:30 a.m., Segerstrom Stage
About this play: Raul has always reminded his family of el borracho—the drunk in the Mexican game of chance, lotería. In the final months of Raul’s life, his ex-wife Alma is forced to care for the man she thought she’d never have to see again, while his son David has secrets he’s longing to share

Golden Shield
by Anchuli Felicia King
directed by Nana Dakin
Sunday, April 26, at 10:30 a.m., Segerstrom Stage
About this play: Chinese-American lawyer Julie Chen mounts a case against the American tech company that fortified China’s “great firewall” and put Chinese citizens in mortal danger. This dazzlingly theatrical play is part corporate thriller and part legal drama—on a global scale.

Park-e Laleh
by Shayan Lotfi
director to be announced
Friday, April 24, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 25, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, April 26, at 2:30 p.m., Nicholas Studio.
About this play: Amir seeks asylum in the U.K. after fleeing persecution in his native Iran, but he’s haunted by the love he left behind. Now he's attempting to 'settle' in a city full of strangers—looking for anything or anyone that might allow him to finally feel at home.

The Pacific Playwrights Festival is part of The [email protected] Since the festival’s start in 1998, PPF 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 including Lucas Hnath (A Doll’s House, Part 2), Qui Nguyen (Poor Yella Rednecks), Julia Cho (The Language Archive), Amy Freed (The Beard of Avon), Lynn Nottage (Intimate Apparel), Rolin Jones (The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow), Donald Margulies (Shipwrecked! An Entertainment), Lauren Gunderson (​I and You) and Lauren Yee (​Cambodian Rock Band).

The 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 Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust and the Elizabeth George Foundation for supporting the development of new plays.

The Pacific Playwrights Festival Honorary Producers are Sarah J. Anderson and Thomas B. Rogers; Sophia Hall Cripe and Lawrence Arden Cripe; Kristen and Adrian Griggs; Samuel and Tammy Tang; and Linda and Tod White.

The Costa Mesa Marriott is the official hotel of the Pacific Playwrights Festival.


About tickets: The 2020 Pacific Playwrights Festival has several ticketing options:

  • Tickets for individual readings are $19
  • Packages to see all five readings are available for $80
  • Tickets for the full productions range from $24-$88 each (The Scarlet Letter and I Get Restless)
  • The Sunday, April 26, 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 festival information for theatre industry professionals is available from festival coordinators Molly FitzMaurice and Anna Jennings at (714) 708-5841 or [email protected].

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 $12 (cash) in the automated parking structure on Park Center Drive, off Anton Blvd.

ABOUT THE [email protected]: South Coast Repertory’s comprehensive play development infrastructure provides resources with which artists can imagine, create and develop new work for SCR and for the American theatre. It includes the Pacific Playwrights Festival, the NewSCRipts play-reading series, more rigorous development of new American musicals, commissions for emerging playwrights, as well as mid-career and established writers, playwright residencies, and additional in-house readings and workshops. Learn more at

ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson, is led by Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei. SCR 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. Of SCR’s more than 530 productions, one-quarter 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.