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Feast of talent at festival

Renowned writers will join up-and-comers for this weekend's Pacific Playwrights Festival at South Coast Repertory.

May 03, 2007|By Jessie Brunner

New York-based playwright David Wiener, who was born at Hoag Hospital and was raised in Irvine, is back in town to present the world premiere of his latest production at South Coast Repertory, the very place where he was first exposed to theater as a young boy.

"System Wonderland," the comedic tale of a Hollywood couple whose careers are declining, is part of the 10th annual Pacific Playwrights Festival, running Friday through Sunday.

"It's a real treat to be back in Orange County to share the things I am making now with the wonderful people I grew up with," Wiener said. "I am trying not to get too starry-eyed about it, but to be sharing the experience with some of the best writers in the world is truly amazing."

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Over the past decade, the festival has steadily gained recognition as a hotbed of new plays, many of which have achieved national prominence, including Nilo Cruz's "Anna in the Tropics" and David Lindsay-Abaire's "Rabbit Hole," which snagged the Pulitzer Prize for drama last month.

With his play "Hurrah at Last" premiering during the first festival in 1998, Tony winner Richard Greenberg returns for the sixth time to showcase "Our Mother's Brief Affair" as a staged reading this weekend. He'll join Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies, José Rivera — whose screenplay for "The Motorcycle Diaries" earned him an Oscar nomination — and fellow repertory favorite John Strand, presenting the theater's first musical.

Julie Marie Myatt's "My Wandering Boy" will also end its run at the theater Sunday as part of the festival.

"We have a pretty stellar lineup of writers this year," said John Glore, co-director of the event. "We're happy to have the presence of those veteran playwrights who are so near and dear to our hearts balanced with several new, emerging talents."

One of those budding playwrights is Kenneth Lin, a graduate of the Yale University School of Drama who will offer a workshop production of "Po' Boy Tango," a story of a Chinese factory worker and an African-American nurse who reconnect over a duck sandwich.

Lin, the son of Chinese immigrants, broke with routine and wrote about a subject very familiar to him with this new comedy, which he hopes will speak to the immigrant community, a group he says is poorly represented in the media.

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