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Lineup for SCR's Pacific Playwrights Festival a mix of new and familiar faces

March 4, 2010 |  7:30 pm

Southcoastblg South Coast Repertory's 13th annual Pacific Playwrights Festival will provide what festival co-director Kelly Miller calls "that perfect mix of established writers plus a distinctive and exciting next generation."  Five of the authors in the new works showcase -- which runs April 23-25 in Costa Mesa -- have past ties to SCR and two are newcomers.

Among the veterans, the one generating a lot of buzz right now is Julia Cho, whose "The Language Archive," just won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, which is given to the year's best English-language play written by a woman. The romantic comedy, which will receive its world premiere at the festival, tells the story of a linguist who knows what to say to everyone but his wife. Cho has had two other pieces presented at PPF -- "99 Histories" and "The Piano Teacher." 

The other full production will be Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's "Doctor Cerberus," a comic coming-of-age tale about an overweight 13-year-old in the '80s. "Cerberus," an SCR commission, was presented as a reading at last year's festival. Aguirre-Sacasa, whose "King of Shadows'" was featured in a NewSCRipts reading at SCR in 2007, has worked for Marvel Comics, writes for HBO's "Big Love" and is collaborating with Duncan Sheik on a musical adaptation of "American Psycho."

The first of five staged readings will be Itamar Moses' comedy "Completeness," about a computer scientist and a molecular biologist who fall in love. Moses, whose "Bach at Leipzig" was performed at SCR in 2006, also has written plays including "The Four of Us" and "Back Back Back."

David West Read, a graduate student in dramatic writing at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, is making his PPF debut with "Happy Face," the quirky tale of two orphaned siblings who come up with a plan to survive their rather bleak prospects.

Sofia Alvarez, a playwriting fellow at the Juilliard School, also is new to South Coast. Her "Between Us Chickens" follows a pair of small-town girls from Pennsylvania who come to L.A. and find their lives shaken up by a couch-crashing friend.

"Kin" by Bathsheba Doran shows how a couple's online romance can turn all too real, thanks to family, friends and their own complicated pasts. Doran's "Ben and the Magic Paintbrush," an adaptation of a Chinese fairy tale, is an SCR Theatre for Young Audiences commission that will premiere in May. Her other works include "Living Room in Africa" and an adaptation of Dickens' "Great Expectations."

Closing out the readings will be "Right to the Top," a tale of architectural ambition by Amy Freed, who has written several SCR premieres including "The Beard of Avon" and "Freedomland," which was a Pulitzer finalist.

--Karen Wada

Above: South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa. Credit: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times