Aurora Announces the Ninth Annual GAP Prize Winners

Aurora Theatre Company announces the four plays chosen as prize winners by a committee of local directors for the ninth annual Global Age Project (GAP), the company’s new works initiative that promotes the creation of forward-looking theater: #therevolution by Kristoffer Diaz; Technicolor Life by Jami Brandli; Sagittarius Ponderosa by MJ Kaufman; and Welcome Home by Stephen Brown. The selected GAP plays will be presented as staged readings in a four-week festival at the Aurora Theatre, Mondays, February 10-March 3, 7:30pm, coinciding with the company’s fully-staged Bay Area Premiere of Johnna Adams’ provocative new play, Gidion’s Knot (January 31-March 2), directed by Jon Tracy.

Each of the four prize-winners will receive a $1,000 award and travel and accommodation expenses; their work will also be considered for further development and production during Aurora Theatre Company’s regular main stage season. Each GAP reading will be followed by an audience discussion of the contemporary issues raised in the work; please see below for information about the festival lineup.

Aurora Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Tom Ross states, “The ninth year of The Global Age Project has brought the diverse perspectives of many new playwrights to our attention. We are excited to have the opportunity to present readings of fresh new works from Pulitzer Prize finalist (and author of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, presented by Aurora in 2012) Kristoffer Diaz, as well as rising stars Jami Brandli, MJ Kaufman, and Stephen Brown. We received over 360 script submissions, more than double the submissions we received last year, with subject matters focused primarily on home front issues, including parent and child relationships, sexual faithfulness, sexual identities, and bullying; we also received a number of relevant yet surreal political allegories. Led by GAP co-producers M. Graham Smith and Deborah Taylor, this year’s GAP script reading committee and the GAP Director’s Council sessions were filled with strongly expressed opinions and no holds barred excitement; I believe that our GAP audiences will feel the same way.”

2014 GAP Festival Lineup:


#therevolution by Kristoffer Diaz 


A young woman accidentally starts a revolution -- and discovers it's easier to overthrow the government than to actually govern -- in this social-media fueled absurdist comedy from the author of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.
Directed by Ben Randle
Reading: Monday, February 10, 2014

diaz bw2Kristoffer Diaz is a playwright and educator living and working in Brooklyn. Full length titles include The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (produced at Aurora in 2012), Welcome to Arroyo’s, and #therevolution. Awards: 2011 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award; finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; winner, 2011 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play; winner, 2011 OBIE Award, Best New American Play; and the inaugural Gail Merrifield Papp Fellowship from The Public Theater (2011). His work has been produced, commissioned, and developed at The Public Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Geffen Playhouse, Center Theatre Group, The Goodman, Second Stage, Victory Gardens, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Actors Theatre of Louisville, among many others.


Ben Randle directed Into the Clear Blue Sky by JC Lee for Sleepwalkers Theatre (BATCC Nomination, Best Director, Scenic Design); Sweeney Todd for Ray of Light Theatre (BATCC Nom, Best Director); Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dionysus (co-author, CounterPULSE); The Fisherman’s Wife, Chalk Boy for Impact Theatre; Last Five Years; Pansy (co-author), The Submission, Treefall, Don’t Ask, Doubt (BATCC Nomination, Best Director), Baptized to the Bone at New Conservatory Theatre Center. Ben has also worked at California Shakespeare Theater, West Edge Opera, Brava!, and Thrillpeddlers; he has a B.A. from San Francisco State University and was a member of Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab 2010.


Technicolor Life by Jami Brandli 


Maxine, a book-smart teenager, has to deal with family arguments, online dating, PTSD, and classic movie musicals when her sister returns from Iraq and their grandmother moves in. 
Directed by Marissa Wolf
Reading: Monday, February 17, 2014

brandli bwJami Brandli's plays include Technicolor Life, BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!), S.O.E., MTheory, ¡SOLDADERA!, as well as shorter works. Her work has been produced and developed at HotCity Theatre, WordBRIDGE, Ashland New Plays Festival, The Lark, New York Theatre Workshop, Great Plains Theatre Conference, Moving Arts, Milwaukee Rep, Rogue Machine Theatre, among other venues. She received the John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award and Holland New Voices Award and was a finalist for the Playwrights’ Center Core Writer Fellowship. A proud member of the Playwrights Union, Jami teaches dramatic writing at Lesley University's low-residency MFA program and is represented by The Gersh Agency.


Currently in her fifth season as the Artistic Director of Crowded Fire Theater, Marissa Wolf’s recent directing credits include the World Premiere of The Taming by Lauren Gunderson at Crowded Fire, Precious Little by Madeleine George at Shotgun Players (2012 Top Ten list in the SF Chronicle), and the West Coast Premiere of Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven by Young Jean Lee (nominated Best Director by Broadway World San Francisco and the Bay Area Critics Circle Award) with Crowded Fire Theater and AATC. Other credits include, The Secretaries by The Five Lesbian Brothers, Good Goods and DRIP by Christina Anderson, Gone by Charles Mee (Crowded Fire), Act II of The Lily’s Revenge by Taylor Mac (The Magic Theatre), the Bay Area Premiere of Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno, listed as #1 on Bay Area Critic Sam Hurwitt’s 2009 Top Ten list, (Cutting Ball Theater), and Truce by Marilee Talkington (Vanguardian Productions). Marissa previously held the Bret C. Harte Directing Internship at Berkeley Repertory Theatre for two years, where she assisted renowned directors, including Tony Taccone, Les Waters, Lisa Peterson, Annie Dorsen, Frank Galati, and Mary Zimmerman. Marissa has her degree in drama from Vassar College, and received additional training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Sagittarius Ponderosa by MJ Kaufman 


Archer (still Angela to his family) returns home to the forests of eastern Oregon to care for his sick father. He meets a stranger who knows the history of the forests and the sadness of losing endangered things. As Archer says goodbye to his father he discovers the power of names and the histories they make and mask. 
Directed by M. Graham Smith
Reading: Monday, February 24, 2014

kaufman bwMJ Kaufman is a playwright and filmmaker. Originally from Portland, Oregon, MJ attended Wesleyan University and recently received an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. He has received awards and commissions from the Program for Women in Theater, the Playwrights Foundation, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, Young Playwrights Inc., New Harmony Project, and the Huntington Theatre, where he is also a playwriting fellow. MJ was awarded the 2010 Jane Chambers Prize in Feminist Theatre for his play, A Live Dress. His work has also been performed in Russian in Moscow. MJ received the 2013 ASCAP Cole Porter Prize in Playwriting and a 2013 Art and Change Grant from the Leeway Foundation for his play Merism.


M. Graham Smith is co-producer of Aurora Theatre Company's Global Age Project. He has directed at HERE in New York City and many venues in SF including A.C.T.’s Masters program, Aurora Theatre Company, The EXIT Theatre, Asian American Theatre Company, PlayGround, Playwright's Foundation, BRAVA, Cutting Ball, Berkeley Playhouse, Golden Thread, SF Opera, Bay Area Children's Theatre and New Conservatory. He directed the West Coast Premiere of Jerry Springer: The Opera in San Francisco as well as Truffaldino Says No at Shotgun Players for which he won a Best Director award from BATCC. He teaches acting in Barcelona, Spain, and at A.C.T. and Waterfront Studio in San Francisco. His next production is She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange, a former GAP finalist, for Crowded Fire opening in late March.


Welcome Home by Stephen Brown 


Tripleshot lattes, light saber battles, and an arson at Applebees are typical events in the life of nineteen-year-old Tommy. Such distractions are therapeutic when your older brother has been missing for months. But when a therapist shows up on Tommy’s doorstep, Tommy must finally face his loss.
Directed by Darryl Jones
Reading: Monday, March 3, 2014

stephen brownStephen Brown’s work has been produced or developed with Primary Stages, P73, Theatre at St. Clements, 59E59, Access Theatre, and the Kennedy Center. He was a 2013 finalist for the Juilliard Playwriting Fellowship and has been a semifinalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the P73 Playwriting Fellowship, PlayPenn, and the Lark Playwrights Week. He is a current member of Page 73’s writers group, Interstate73, and recently completed a playwriting residency with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.


Darryl V. Jones is Associate Professor of Theatre and head of the musical theatre program at Cal State East Bay. Previously, Jones was Head of the B.F.A. Directing Concentration at the University of Michigan. He was Directing Associate at Arena Stage where he directed PlayQuest the New Play Development Series and the Young Artist 2K Playwrights Festival. Jones directed in many of DC’s leading theatres including The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and the African Continuum Theatre Co. at the Kennedy Center. Locally Jones directed Spunk at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre and August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean for the Sacramento Theatre Company. Other regional theatre productions include From the Mississippi Delta, Colored People's Time, Oliver, The All Night Strut, Sweet Charity, Avenue X The A Cappella Musical, Mud River Stone, and Children of Eden. Darryl holds a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Boston University. As an actor Jones has worked at theatres such as Arena Stage, The Old Globe, Ford’s Theatre and The Kennedy Center.

GAP producers


M. Graham Smith (see bio above)


Deborah Taylor is in her 4th season as a producer with the Global Age Project. She has been producing new work with non-profit organizations for over eight years. Producing credits on Broadway include La Cage Aux Folles, American Idiot, The Mountaintop, One Man Two Guvnor's, Elling, Hands on a Hard Body and most recentlyThe Glass Menagerie. Upcoming, IF/THEN, a new musical, will be opening in the spring of 2014. She has worked locally with Marin Theatre Company, SF Ballet, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. She is a board member with Moises Kaufman's The Tectonic Theatre Project, a member of The Broadway League, and a guest speaker for the Commercial Theatre Institute in NY. She is extremely proud to be a member of Aurora Theatre Company's community, and a collaborator/curator on the Global Age Project. She would like to give a special thanks to all the writers who have submitted their work to GAP over the years. This new work program/festival reaches well beyond geographic, cultural, lifestyle or environmental borders thanks to their passion, talent and exploration of the art of storytelling, and the courage to share those stories.