The annual Bay Area Playwright's Festival has nurtured some theatrical heavy-hitters since it was founded by director Robert Woodruff 30 years ago, including Sam Shepard, Mac Wellman, and Anna Deavere Smith. Festival alumni have gone on to win every major award in the theater world from the Tony to the Pulitzer. Spread over 10 days at the Magic Theatre, this year's lineup features workshop performances of plays by six up-and-coming and established dramatists. Inspired by Jean Genet's The Maids, Zakiyyah Alexander's Sweet Maladies follows the fortunes of three recently emancipated slave girls. In Annie Baker's Body Awareness Week, a stranger causes trouble in a small Vermont town when he starts to take pictures of naked women. Into the Numbers by Christopher Chen explores the effects of celebrity on Iris Chang, famed author of The Rape of Nanking. A quest for a missing half-brother is at the heart of Julie Hébert's play, Tree. I am Montana by Sam Hunter tells the story of an Israeli soldier turned mega-mart employee. Meanwhile, Kevin Oakes' futuristic mystery play, Mr. Fujiyama's Electric Beach, follows a detective on the hunt for a murderer through San Francisco's shady demimonde. Other festival highlights include a new play symposium featuring Woodruff and Jesse McKinley of the New York Times and a seminar on intellectual property rights.
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