Commissions

TheatreWorks believes in supporting local and national writers in the earliest stage of development through
our recently launched Commissioning Program.

 

 ACTIVE COMMISSIONS

 

Happy Pleasant Valley: An Asian American Senior Sex Scandal Murder Mystery Musical

Music, Book Lyrics by Min Kahng

Vlogger “Self-Made” Jade Kim is in hot water for making ageist remarks on her channel. When she learns that her grandmother June is about to get kicked out of Happy Pleasant Valley Senior Apartments, Jade gladly comes to the rescue – in order to record and broadcast her heroine-ism, saving her reputation. What Jade doesn’t count on is the cause of June’s eviction threat: her “active-living” sex life, which seems to be killing the men she sleeps with. June swears that she and her libido are bring framed, and enlists Jade’s help in tracking down the real murderer.

Happy Pleasant Valley seeks to explode the myth that the enjoyment of sex stops after a certain age, and will explore themes of generation gaps, ageism, and finding connection and relevance in the digital age – all with a little bit of good old-fashioned murder thrown in.

Min Kahng is an award-winning Bay Area playwright and composer whose works include The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga, which debuted in TheatreWorks’s 2016 New Works Festival and received a hit production at TheatreWorks in 2017 that won seven San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards, including “Entire Production – Bay Area.” Kahng’s other works include The Song of the Nightingale, Inside Out & Back Again, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Kahng also wrote the NEA-funded project Story Explorers, an original musical for young audiences with autism. Kahng has participated in the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor Summer Lab, and TheatreWorks' New Works Festival. He has been a Guest Artist at Harvard University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, San Jose State University and The San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Kahng is a Resident Playwright at Playwrights Foundation, a member of Theatre for Young Audiences USA's Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.  

 

 

 

 

Gurley!

Music and Lyrics by The Kilbanes
Book by Lynn Rosen and Pia Wilson

A sassy and serious musical which follows the ongoing battle in America to celebrate, elevate, liberate, and DEFINE women. Featuring: Helen Gurley Brown, Betty Friedan, Pauli Murray, Flo Kennedy, Shirley Chisholm, and Ida B. Wells, among many others.

THE KILBANES (Music and Lyrics) began as a theatrical rock band led by married songwriting duo Kate Kilbane and Dan Moses. A film of their rock opera, Weightless, is part of WP Theater’s 2021 season. Weightless was previously featured at NYC’s Public Theater at Under the Radar in January 2019 and had runs at ACT in 2019 and Z Space in 2018. Their musical adaptation of As You Like It, commissioned by SF Shakespeare Festival, played throughout the Bay Area in summer 2019. Their intergalactic rock epic Eddie the Marvelous, Who Will Save the World, has been developed at the O’Neill National Music Conference, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor and Theatreworks’ New Works Festival. In collaboration with Jessie Austrian and Noah Brody of Fiasco Theater, the Kilbanes were awarded the Next Generation Commission by Theater Latte Da in Minneapolis. They are also under commission with ACT’s Youth Conservatory and, of course, Theatreworks Silicon Valley. Photo Credit: Emily Sevin

 

 

 

 

 Lynn Rosen’s plays have been produced by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, SF Playhouse, New Georges, Rivendell Theatre, Women's Project, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Baltimore Centerstage, Studio Theatre, Working Theater, ATL, among others. Her play The Imperialists received a reading at the 2019 TheatreWorks New Works Festival. Recent commissions include TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, EST/Sloan, Red Bull Theater. Rosen is a Resident Playwright at New Dramatists, has sold a pilot to Warner Brothers Horizon, and has developed a pilot with Milestone TV & Film. 

 

 

 

 

 

PIA WILSON (Book) is a 2020 Newark Creative Catalyst grant recipient, 2018 Traveling Master for Dramatist Guild Foundation, 2017 NJPAC Stage Exchange commissioned playwright, and 2015 Sundance fellow. She is a 2012-2013 resident with LMCC’s Workspace program, a member of the 2008 Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, and a 2009 playwriting fellow with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Her plays have been produced by Crossroads Theatre, Workspace Collective, Drew University, Adelphi University, Horse Trade Theater Group, and The Fire This Time play festival. Pia’s work as a playwright was part of the curriculum at Franklin & Marshall College in 2019. In television, Pia was a staff writer for National Geographic’s Genius Aretha. Twitter & Instagram: @pwilson720
Photo Credit: Joseph Moran

 

 

 

 

REVIVAL 

Music and Book by Chris Miller
Book and Lyrics by Nathan Tysen
Based on the short story "Eric Hermannson's Soul" by Willa Cather

Featured in the 2019 New Works Festival

In a small prairie schoolhouse at the turn of the last century, the leader of a religious sect persuades Elin Hermannson, wildest fiddler on the Nebraska frontier, to renounce sin and destroy her violin. Two years later, visiting Manhattan socialite Margaret Elliott encounters the now taciturn Elin and vows to save her from her ascetic existence and reawaken her passion for music. Margaret's undertaking proves more dangerous than she thought, as both her and Elin’s lives are forever changed. 

Revival is a co-commission between TheatreWorks Silicon Valley & Playwrights Horizons

CHRIS MILLER (Book, Music) Tuck Everlasting (Broadway 2016): The Burnt Part Boys (Playwrights Horizons/Vineyard Theatre, Lucille Lortel Nominee Best Musical 2011), Fugitive Songs (Drama Desk Award Nominee Outstanding Revue 2008, all have cast albums available at iTunes and Amazon.  Television: Sesame Street, Elmo’s World & The Electric Company. Upcoming: the book, music & lyrics for Ravello (Signature Theatre (VA) American Musical Voices Project), April Twilights, a song cycle for soprano & orchestra using the poetry of Willa Cather, The Goats, a commission for producer Barbara Whitman & Grove Entertainment and with Tysen, Dreamland, for the Educational Theater Association & Concord Theatricals. Proud Graduate of Elon University and NYU.

 

 

 

 

NATHAN TYSEN (Book and Lyrics) TheatreWorks: Tuck Everlasting. Broadway & West End: Amélie (with composer and co-lyricist Dan Messé, Olivier & Grammy nominations), Tuck Everlasting (with composer Chris Miller; Outer Critics & Drama League nominations). Regional: Paradise Square (Berkeley Rep). Off-Broadway: The Burnt Part Boys (Playwrights Horizons & Vineyard Theatre; Lucille Lortel nomination), Fugitive Songs  (Drama Desk nomination), Stars of David.  TV/Digital: A Killer Party, "Sesame Street," "Elmo's World" and "The Electric Company." Awards from the Kleban, Ebb, Rodgers, and Larson foundations.  Writer/director for Lovewell Institute, creating original musicals with young adults.  MFA NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, BFA Missouri State University.  Husband to writer Kait Kerrigan, father to Lucy & Tess.  nathantysen.com

 

 

 

 


Other Commissioned Artists

 

IDRIS GOODWIN is an award winning scriptwriter, breakbeat poet, educator and director of The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. He was recently named a 2021 United States Artist Fellow. In addition to Can I Kick It?, he’s had several publications from Haymarket Books including Inauguration co written with nico wilkinson, Human Highlight: Ode To Dominique Wilkins, and the play This Is Modern Art. He’s appeared on Nickelodeon, HBO Def Poetry, Sesame Street, NPR, BBC Radio, and the Discovery Channel.  His plays include And In This Corner Cassius Clay, How We Got On, Hype Man and Jacked!
Photo Credit: Idris Goodwin

 

 

 

  

MANSA RA (Formerly known as Jiréh Breon Holder) is a Memphis, Tennessee native now based in Los Angeles, CA. After Morehouse College, he found the perfect training ground in Sarah Ruhl's playwriting program at the Yale School of Drama. For his professional debut, Mansa returned to his Southern roots to tell a story blending Holder Family lore with the little known history of Nashville’s Freedom Riders. Too Heavy for Your Pocket won the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition and subsequently had an extended off-Broadway run at the Roundabout Theatre. Too Heavy for Your Pocket has been produced regionally in cities from Los Angeles to Chicago, Des Moines to Houston, and more. In 2018, Mansa expanded his craft to the small screen by joining the writing team of NBC's hit medical drama New Amsterdam. Mansa was a recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award and 2016 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, then honored as the Fellowship of Southern Writers' 2017 Bryan Foundation Award for Drama. Next season …what the end will be presented at the Roundabout Theatre in at the Laura Pels Theatre. He is currently developing Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon for ColorCreative. Mansa Ra has four plays pending the pandemic: In the Southern Breeze & What to Do About It, …what the end will be, Shutter Sisters, and A Pyramid on the Mississippi which is a devised ensemble epic developed by Pyramid Theatre Company.

 

GEETHA REDDY Play’s include A Mahābhārata (Ubuntu) Far, Far Better Things (Shotgun Players/ TheatreFirst), Hela (with Lauren Gunderson, TheatreFirst), Safe House (SF Playhouse), Blastosphere (with Aaron Loeb, CentralWorks). Geetha’s plays Me Given You, Girl in a Box, and On a Wonderverse were part of the Playwright’s Foundation’s ‘In the Rough’ reading series. Safe House and On a Wonderverse were featured in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Commissions include: TheatreWorks, SFPlayhouse,  Ubuntu Theatre Project, Shotgun Players, Crowded Fire, the Gerbode Foundation, and PlayGround (3). Her short film Obit appeared at LA Shorts, NY Indie Fest, Bend Film Festival, the GI Film Festival and many others. Geetha is a member of the Dramatist’s Guild, and alumni of the Resident Playwright at the Playwright’s Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

Works and artists we have commissioned in the past include:
  • The Sparrow and the Birdman by Chris Smith and Raquel Bitton
  • Molly’s Delicious(co-commission with Playwright’s Horizons) music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen, and book by Craig Wright, based on Wright’s play
  • Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (co-commission with La Jolla Playhouse) music by Brendan Milburn, lyrics by Valerie Vigoda, book by Joe DiPietro