PlayLabs festival runs October 12-18

The Twin Cities area is well known as a great theater town, so it is a fitting home to one of the nation’s most celebrated new play festivals. The 32nd annual PlayLabs festival runs October 12-18 at the Playwrights’ Center, a 44-year-old organization that is one of just a handful of play development centers in the country.  

During PlayLabs, Playwrights’ Center Core Writers Joe Waechter, Kathryn Walat, and Ken Weitzman will spend 30 hours each workshopping a new piece with a team of collaborators: top actors, directors, designers, and dramaturgs from the Twin Cities and around the country. Each play has two public readings, giving the playwrights time to rewrite and experiment.

PlayLabs also features a showcase of work by 2015-16 Playwrights’ Center Jerome and McKnight fellows, a panel discussion about collaboration in theater, and a party celebrating the theater community. All PlayLabs events are free and open to the public.

“Joe, Kathryn, and Ken are crafting brave, complex stories,” says Playwrights’ Center Producing Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen. “I’m proud that we can support them by bringing together amazing artistic teams—drawing from the deep pool of local talent, as well as bringing in non-local collaborators like actor Brian Anthony Wilson and directors Adrienne Campbell-Holt and Kip Fagan.”

Plays developed during recent PlayLabs festivals that will seen on stages around the country this season include Christine Evans’ Can’t Complain, Philip Dawkins’ Le Switch, Mat Smart’s Tinker to Evers to Chance, and Sarah Gubbins’ Cocked.

The 2015 PlayLabs festival is produced by Playwrights’ Center Associate Artistic Director Hayley Finn. Lineup is as follows:

Small Town Values by Kathryn Walat

Monday, October 12 at 7 p.m.
Friday, October 16 at 7 p.m.

John and Jane were high school sweethearts. Jane and Maryjane are best friends. Emma is back in the town where she grew up, where nothing ever changes—until suddenly nothing will ever be the same. An unexpected love story about the strange passage of time and what happens when you let go of all the old rules.

Director: Adrienne Campbell-Holt
Dramaturg: Wendy Weckwerth
Set design consultant: Joel Sass
Cast: Emily Grodzik, Larissa Kiel*, Matt Guidry*, Sara Marsh*
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association


Halftime With Don by Ken Weitzman

Tuesday, October 13 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 17 at 1 p.m.

Retired NFL player Don Devers has had over 30 surgeries, experiences violent outbursts, and relies on a blizzard of yellow Post-It notes to offset his ravaged memory. When a longtime fan appears at his doorstep, Don seeks to salvage his life with a single act of heroic self-sacrifice.

Director: Jeremy B. Cohen
Movement coach: Carl Flink
Cast includes: Brian Anthony Wilson*, Hope Cervantes*, Kris Nelson*, Emily Gunyou Halaas*
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association


The Hidden People by Joe Waechter

Wednesday, October 14 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 17 at 7 p.m.

Life isn’t easy for the world’s first family and their 47 children. When eldest twins Fred and Frieda run away in search of “a more super awesome life,” all hell breaks loose. In this dark, hysterical, and magical saga, Waechter mashes-up creation myths to forge a new story about family, the origin of the world, and the darkness that lurks within us all.

Director: Kip Fagan
Puppet design consultant: Alison Heimstead
Cast: Sun Mee Chomet*, Jim Lichtscheidl*, Tracey Maloney*, Michael Wieser*, Elise Langer, Miriam Schwartz, Sean Dillon*, Cristina Castro
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association


PlayLabs Party

Saturday, October 17 following 7 p.m. reading of The Hidden People

A party to celebrate the PlayLabs artists and the local theater community.


Playwriting Fellows Showcase

Sunday, October 18 at 12 p.m.

Scenes from new work by Jerome Fellows Ryan Campbell, Kristin Idaszak, Andrew Rosendorf, and Keliher Walsh; Many Voices Fellows Cristina Castro and James Anthony Tyler; McKnight Fellows in Playwriting Carson Kreitzer and Harrison David Rivers; and McKnight National Residency and Commission Recipient Erik Ehn.

Director: Lisa Channer
Cast includes: Christian Bardin, Aimee K. Bryant*, Hope Cervantes*, Ryan Colbert, Shawn Hamilton*, Steve Hendrickson*, JuCoby Johnson, James Rodriguez, Anna Sundberg*
* Member of Actors’ Equity Association


Panel Discussion: Collaboration & Interpretation

Sunday, October 18 at 2:00 p.m.

A discussion with theater artists focusing on the relationship between writers and their collaborators. Panelists: Kip Fagan, Alison Heimstead, and Joe Waechter (collaborating on The Hidden People at PlayLabs); Carlyle Brown and Noël Raymond (co-artistic directors, Carlyle Brown and Company); and e.g. bailey and Shá Cage (frequent collaborators).


All PlayLabs events are free. For tickets, see or contact the Playwrights’ Center at (612) 332-7481 or


Below: Charlotte Calvert and Ryan Colbert at PlayLabs 2014. Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp

Charlotte Calvert and Ryan Colbert at PlayLabs 2014