This season in Pittsburgh, we were lucky to see the continued growth and appreciation for new work. Our playwrights had success both at home and afar, and those from other parts of the countries were set to have their shows kicked off here in the Steel City. As we begin to look at what new and exciting work is ahead for us here in Pittsburgh, we celebrate those productions that have brought new visions and stories to our stages.
The one-person show, Quentin Crisp: The Last Word, adapted for the stage by Philip Ward and Brian Edward from Crisp’s autobiographical text, was produced by City Theatre in February 2020. This was one of many new productions that took place at City Theatre that were separate from their “main stage” season, as they also hosted the first half of the CMU Graduate Playwright’s thesis productions. More and more playwrights are finding use of their black box space to produce their own works, a trend we are positive will continue into the next season.
Lissa Brennan saw a great collaboration with Off The WALL Productions that resulted in two of her shows being included in their season this year. Her first show, Hoard, opened on March 6 and was performing very well for Brennan before COVID-19 ended the production’s run. This show displayed the hardships of letting go as one woman struggles to hold on to literally everything she has and a young woman who tries to rescue her from the past. This play was a commission for Brennan and was set to have an off-Broadway debut following the run in Pittsburgh. She was also to debut part two of her Pittsburgh based series Grist From The Mill at Off The WALL in April. Brennan has been working hard to get this one-woman show in front of audiences and successfully launched part one of the series late last year. Grist From The Mill is an example of the self-production that is happening in the city, as Brennan not only serves as writer and performer but producer as well.
Pittsburgh has suffered a number of cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19. We’re sure if you’re reading this, we don’t need to tell you what a bummer that is for artists and audiences alike. However, it has been inspiring to see local theatres and artists pivot and come up with new plans for sharing the exciting work of the writers involved.
Musical Theatre Artists of Pittsburgh postponed their April production of Abduction, a new musical comedy with book and lyrics by T.J Pieffer, music by Brad Kemp and Becki Toth, and additional lyrics also by Becki Toth. The musical was to be the first production in their new Incubator Series and follows the story of a young girl named Pippa whose father (along with the town cow) is abducted by aliens during a key moment in her student council campaign. A new date for the production is yet to be announced, but in the meantime, the creators organized a digital concert with cast members from every reading and workshop the show has had singing the song “Gonna Get By.”
The Pittsburgh CLO postponed UNTITLED: A New Musical Comedy About Serious Drama by MATT SCHATZ for the fall of 2020. The show was developed as part of the CLO’s Spark Festival. As we await the fall production, check out the fun interviews the CLO has been posting with the show’s artistic team members, and contribute to their Google Doc musical!
City Theatre unfortunately had to close PERKUP PERKUP by ISAAC GOMEZ before it made it to the stage, but they were able to offer an audio play version of the piece and host online Community Conversations regarding the work. City Theatre also postponed their May production of F*CK7THGRADE, an exciting collaboration between singer-songwriter Jill Sobule and playwright Liza Berkenmeier.
In addition to all the great productions happening (or hopefully happening) in our city, we know there is great writing being done, especially now that the theatres are closed. To that end, we’d like to remind our local members to utilize the hashtag #PittsburghWritesPlays to their social media posts about their writing. We can’t wait to experience your art when we’ve made it to the other side of this pandemic. In the meantime, tell us what you’re working on!