PLAY LA Theatre Festival Weekend

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HUMANITAS Prize and LA STAGE Alliance are pleased to announce the first ever PLAY LA Theater Festival Weekend with StageRaw, September 6-9. All events will take place at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring Street, Downtown L.A. 


All readings and colloquies are free, though reservations are required. Tickets to all festival events can be found on Eventbrite.

Friday, September 6 

  • 8 pm: Hydra by Leviticus Jelks, presented by Ammunition Theatre Company


Saturday, September 7 


Sunday, September 8 


PLAY LA was created in 2016 by HUMANITAS Executive Director Cathleen Young and a founding member/playwright/screenwriter Shem Bitterman. Every year they enlist five playwrights from Greater Los Angeles, including Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties. During the year, they start writing a play from scratch while meeting regularly each other and experts to discuss their plays-in-development. The project’s culminating event is a festival of concert readings of these plays in conjunction with public seminars and discussions. Each writer also receives a grant of $1,500. 


PLAY LA ensures that each writer becomes connected to a local theater. That theater is offered funds dedicated to help subsidize a production of the work by that playwright. 


What distinguishes PLAY LA from other play development programs is how timely the creative process is, so the plays can be presented in the cultural moment in which and from they were created. 


Between 2016 and 2018, PLAY LA enlisted 19 writers: Nine have been writers of color, 12 women and seven men, resulting in seven produced plays.  This year, for the 2019 PLAY LA reading-series, HUMANITAS has joined forces with Stage Raw, with generous support from LA STAGE Alliance. 


Applications for the 2020 PLAY LA Program will open in early September. Please check


Friday, September 6 

  • 8 pm: Hydra by Leviticus Jelks, presented by Ammunition Theatre Company

In a future America, without walled prisons and where the incarcerated can walk freely among the general population, inmate Nat Turner, struggles to be reunited with her son. However, with HYDRA – an implanted virtual software inside of her head, the promise of both freedom and family could have deadly consequences. 

Leviticus Jelks was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from Clayton State University, he went on to pursue further study of playwriting from The Horizon Theatre and The Alliance Theatre. In 2014, he was accepted as a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. His awards received are the Sloan Screenwriting Award (River Gods), the Lorraine Hansberry Award (A is for Apron), The Play LA Humanitas Award (Day of Saturn). 


Saturday, September 7 

  • Noon: Shrines by Ashley Rose Wellman, presented by Echo Theater Company

A family stuck in the horrifying cycle of perpetual mourning throws a birthday party for a dead teenage girl. When the girl’s former high school sweetheart arrives and drops a major bombshell, the night descends into chaos and forces them to contend with deeply held trauma and disturbing secrets. 

Ashley Rose Wellman’s plays have been developed at Pasadena Playhouse, EST/LA, The Blank, Midnight Summit Ensemble, Red Cup Theatre Co., the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, and a recent international production at Spinning Plates Co. in Melbourne, Australia. She is a two-time Finalist and two-time Semi-Finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. She is a member of New West at EST/LA, Antaeus Theatre Company Playwrights Lab, and the Barelight Writers Group. MFA in Dramatic Writing from USC.

  • 3 pm: Visiting Hour by Jami Brandli, presented by Skylight Theatre Company

Part Four of a re-envisioned Greek Myth Cycle. A reclaiming of the Persephone myth, now set in a psychiatric hospital, Visiting Hours follows the arduous journey of Stephie Green, a middle-aged music teacher who must break free from her complicated past in order to be reunited with her family.

Jami Brandli’s plays include Technicolor Life, M-Theory, Sisters Three, Through the Eye of a Needle, O: A Rhapsody in Divorce, and BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!)—named on The Kilroys List and an LA Times Critics’ Choice.  Her work has been produced/developed at New Dramatists, New York Theatre Workshop, The Road Theatre Company, The Women’s Voices Theater Festival, Chalk REP, among other venues. Selected awards: John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award, Holland New Voices Award, and Aurora Theatre Company’s GAP Prize. For more info, visit


Note: Marnich was not a participant in 2019 PLAY LA. Rather, she is participating as the annual honoree playwright, selected by HUMANITAS.

Julia has The Worst Insomnia in the World. It’s threatening her health, her sanity, her relationship with her fiancé, everything. After all sleep-inducing treatments fail, her unhinged-but-brilliant psychiatrist suggests she has Fatal Familial Insomnia (an actual disease that seems to only affect Italians with a certain strain of royal blood). A very desperate Julia heads to Italy for a cure. And it’s there that she discovers a sleepless woman who shows her the difference between not sleeping…and being truly awake.

Melanie Marnich is an award-winning television writer-producer and playwright. She co-created and serves as executive producer and co-showrunner for the upcoming Amazon series, The Expatriates. She’s written for Big Love on HBO; Showtime’s The Big C and The Affair (as co-executive producer); and for AMC’s Low Winter Sun. She also served as co-executive producer on The OAfor Netflix. Her episode, “Come, Ye Saints” for Big Love earned her a Writers’ Guild award nomination for best drama episode. It was also ranked in TV Guide’s 100 Best Episodes of All Time. She received a Golden Globe for her work on The Affair. Her plays have been produced at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Kennedy Center, Dallas Theater Center, Baltimore Center Stage, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and The Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival. She is a member of The Playwrights’ Center and an alum of New Dramatists. She also serves on the board of trustees for the Humanitas Foundation.


Sunday, September 8 

  • Noon: Truckers by Mariana Carreño King, presented by Rogue Machine Theatre

Near the US-Mexico border, morgues have run out of space. Bodies are then loaded into refrigerated trucks and truckers are ordered to drive around without a clear final destination. But who is really in charge of whom?

Mariana Carreño King Mariana’s plays include The Red Gene, Miss 744890 (2014 Winner, MetLife Nuestras Voces, Repertorio Español, 2016; picked for publication in Italian as part of the American Playwrights Project); Patience, Fortitude and Other Antidepressants, (commissioned by Intar Theatre and produced as part of Encuentro 2014, at the LATC); Dance for a Dollar (a dance-theatre collaboration, Miracle Theatre, Portland, OR); Ofelia’s Lovers (Mabou Mines Residency); Rare Encounters, Darkroom, The Wake and Fool’s Journey  (Intar’s NewWorksLabs); and Adela (Autonomous University of Queretaro, Mexico), among others. Mariana is also a director, translator, part of the Advisory Committee for The Lark Play Development Center US/Mexico Playwrights Exchange, member of LAByrinth Theatre Company, Humanitas Play LA resident (2018-2019) and Alumna, Hispanic Playwrights in Residence Lab (HPRL) at Intar.


The story of a prodigal daughter who returns home to her Italian-American family in New Jersey to discover that she’s not the only one who is queer. It is the playwright’s first attempt at realism and… well? We’ll see.

Gina Young is a queer feminist playwright and director. Her plays, musicals and salons have been presented by The Hammer Museum, REDCAT, Highways, Los Angeles Performance Practice, USC’s Visions & Voices Series and the Women’s Center for Creative Work. She is a winner of the Jane Chambers Award for Playwriting and the Humanitas/PLAY LA Prize. She is also the creator of the #SORORITYseries, a performance salon for women, trans and queer creators that has a cult following in Los Angeles. @ginagenius 


Ammunition Theatre Company was founded in 2015 by a group of passionate artists and activists to reflect the diverse, evolving identity of America. By fostering original works, Ammo’s mission is to celebrate underrepresented communities and their stories while inspiring the society that we live in to do the same. Ammo values inclusivity, community, and service, which they practice in their creative and philanthropic endeavors.


Echo Theatre Company is a group of actors, writers, directors, and producers dedicated to developing and presenting the work of playwrights at all levels. The Company hopes to make the world a better place by nourishing and supporting a theater that mirrors it.


The HUMANITAS Prize was created in 1974 by Fr. Ellwood “Bud” Kieser. Fr. Bud was deeply committed to celebrating film and television writers whose work inspired more compassion, peace, love and dignity in the human family.


IAMA Theatre Company is a Los Angeles-based ensemble of artists committed to invigorating live performance for a streaming generation. Through cutting-edge, cool and hyper-modern stories, IAMA is invested in the immediacy of production and strives to bring audiences out of their personal space and into a shared experience. 


Latino Theater Company’s mission at The Los Angeles Theatre Center (the LATC) is to provide a world-class arts center for those pursuing artistic excellence; a laboratory where both tradition and innovation are honored and honed; a place where the convergence of people, cultures, and ideas contribute to the future.


LA STAGE Alliance is a non-profit arts service organization dedicated to building awareness, appreciation, and support for the performing arts in Greater Los Angeles.


Rogue Machine Theatre was founded in 2008 as a performing arts organization to serve the greater Los Angeles community in developing and nurturing emerging playwrights, introducing important contemporary works to Southern California, and engaging diverse audiences by presenting vital, invigorating productions.


The Skylight Theatre Company expands the boundaries of mainstream theatre through the telling of relevant and more inclusive stories. A vibrant family of artists, STC discovers, develops and produces new works, introduces plays new to Los Angeles, and educates and nurtures the people that create them.  Dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion in our work and the people we work with, we make stories come to life.


Stage Raw is a community-funded professional journalism site that was founded in 2014 in response to the cutbacks in arts journalism across the region. It is dedicated to reporting on theater and the arts across the L.A. region that might otherwise lack professional notice.  


Theatre of NOTE is a democratic ensemble of L.A. theatre artists dedicated to creating high-caliber, original work that challenges both its ensemble and audiences. Theatre of NOTE aspires to more accurately reflect LA’s cultural make-up, to make our work resonate more deeply and honestly with our audiences, and better enable NOTE to tell more culturally diverse stories.


The Stage Raw/Play LA Festival Weekend is made possible through the generous support of HUMANITAS, LA STAGE Alliance, the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, Latino Theatre Company/Los Angeles Theatre Center and Footlights Publishing, Incorporated.

LA STAGE Alliance

LA STAGE Alliance

LA STAGE Alliance is a non-profit arts service organization dedicated to building awareness, appreciation, and support for the performing arts in Greater Los Angeles.