PlayFest Santa Barbara

Welcome to PlayFest Santa Barbara

We hope you will join March 3rd and 10th, 2018!

The months of December and January were devastating to the greater Santa Barbara community and recovery efforts will take a great deal of time. And while PlayFest Santa Barbara did have Board members, artistic leadership, and many supporters who were evacuated, in some cases multiple times, to the best of our knowledge none of them suffered injuries or damage to their homes. As one can imagine, this was a challenging and disruptive time as well for Santa Barbara regional arts organizations, all of whom are now reevaluating their activities, and in most cases, looking to move forward. As is PlayFest. 

We are going forward, though with a scaled down Festival for 2018. We have shifted our staged reading date to March 3 and March 10, 2018 and will now present the reading of a single Honoree play, and two playwriting workshops that will precede the reading. Our new partner, The Santa Barbara Public Library will be hosting our Festival at the Santa Barbara Central Library, located at 40 E Anapamu St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. The Festival reading and workshops are made possible by a Community Arts Grant from the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture.

WHEN: Saturday, March 3rd from 10AM – 12PM and March 10th from 10AM – 12PM.

WHERE: Santa Barbara Central Library in the Faulkner meeting room at 40 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara.

WHAT: The focus of the March 3rd workshop is to serve and support the young storytellers from high schools and local colleges. With the lively guidance of Ellen Anderson, the workshop participants will, through a series of individual and group writing experiments, explore and deepen their playwriting skills and will begin to create a short written theatrical work.

The second workshop, offered on March 10th, is open to the general public as well as those writers from the March 3rd workshop who wish to follow-up on the writing experience of the earlier session. No experience is necessary, however, an interest in playwriting is a plus.

RSVP: Reservations are required as capacity in the workshop is extremely limited in order to assure more individualized coaching. To reserve a workshop participation slot, please send an email requesting a reservation to

WHEN: March 10 at 7pm.

WHERE: Santa Barbara Central Library in the Faulkner meeting room at 40 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara.

WHAT: The staged reading of Steve Karp’s Honoree Play, REUNION.

E. Bonnie Lewis and Ken Gilbert of DramaDogs will perform the roles of He and She. Maggie Mixsell of Speaking of Stories, will narrate. Anna Jensen, former Ensemble Theatre dramaturge and current co-host of Theatrixsb pod cast, will moderate a post reading talkback between the audience and the playwright. The reading is free.

Honoree Playwright biography:

Steve Karp: REUNION (full-length, currently in development: PlayFest/Santa Barbara, CA, Phoenix Theatre Festival, Neil Simon New Play Festival, Utah – semi-finalist); THE TOOLS OF IGNORANCE (full-length, currently in development); THE FAMILY STEERING COMMITTEE (full-length, still in development: William Saroyan Prize for Human Rights/Social Justice – runner-up, Charles M. Getchell New Play Award/Southeastern Theater Conference – semi-finalist); FRATERNITY (full-length, produced & published: Dramatic Publishing Company); THE WAREHOUSE (full-length, produced); RUBBAS (short-play winner – Drama Club of Washington, D.C.); IN RE: RADDING v GLAZER (short-play, produced).Filmmaker: THE TENNIS LESSON (most widely distributed theatrical short-film in the history of Columbia Pictures); THE JOGGER (Columbia Pictures, National Film Collection-Library of Congress, American Film Institute/National Endowment for the Arts grant-winner); THE TENNIS MATCH (Columbia Pictures); Short-Film Festival Honors: Melbourne, Chicago, American (NYC), Virgin Islands. Regional Theatre: Stamford Theatre Works (founder/producing director; Karp directed nearly half of STW’s 100 Equity full-productions, 1988-2008); Connecticut Critics Circle Award: Outstanding Contribution to Connecticut Theatre – 1997, Best Director Award: A FEW GOOD MEN (Westport Country Playhouse – 1992-93 Season). Actor: Broadway – THE CHANGING ROOM (Drama Critics Award: Best Play), HERZL; The Long Wharf Theatre (New Haven, CT), New York Shakespeare Festival, Lincoln Center (NYC), The American Shakespeare Theatre (Stratford, CT), The Light Opera of Manhattan (NYC). Training: The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Tufts University, The Loomis Chaffee School.

My diversification of professional experience – acting, directing, and producing – has informed my dramatic writing, and has helped me to feed my ambition to explore subjects of personal dramatic interest with enthusiasm and determination, if not always with confidence and courage. At this point in my creative development, it is the writing that provides the most satisfying challenge to my continuing passion for expression, and my enduring love-affair with the creative process.

Playwriting Workshop Leader Biography:

Local playwright Ellen Anderson will guide the participants as the workshop leader. Ms. Anderson has written 18 plays include BEDTIME IN DETROIT, NEW AMSTERDAMES, LIZ ESTRADA, SHIRTWAIST, and WHY MUD FLAPS? Her plays have been performed in New York, Portland, and Santa Barbara. She has taught introductory and advanced playwriting at both Santa Barbara City College and UCSB and loves new plays as much as she loves new babies. Currently, she is the artistic director of Dramatic Women and the director of Isla Vista Arts at UCSB. Ms. Andersen earned her B.S. and M.A. degrees from Wayne State University. She is a long-time member of the Dramatists Guild.

The 2018 Festival’s Honoree play is REUNION, by Steve Karp. Following the PlayFest Santa Barbara Festival of New Plays reading, REUNION, will be presented in a further development reading as part of the Phoenix Theatre Festival of New American Theatre.

The three finalist plays are:

CRIPPLED, by Richard Broadhurst

SIGNATURE PHOTO, by Michael Bucklin 


Artistic Directors, Jeff Meek and R. Michael Gros.

Artistic Directors, Jeffrey Meek and R. Michael Gros.

Santa Barbara’s vision is informed by our commitment to performing arts virtuosity. We aim to create a haven for diverse artists to develop and celebrate classic and new literary and musical works from conception to completion. We are committed to providing an exciting and creative environment for artists to hone their skills and promote their talent with the support and guidance of the world’s leading professional theatre artists. We believe the cultural vitality of our community is enhanced and reflected by the creative depths of our storytelling.

Above all, we expect to be a credit to the communities we serve, a valuable resource to our audience, and a place where dedicated artists can grow and prosper. Toward this end, we will not only listen to our audience and artists, but also embrace the idea that PlayFest Santa Barbara is at their service. 

If you’d like to submit a play, head over to our Playwriting Competition Page for information on awards, judging and submission procedures. Any plays submitted now through October 1, 2017 will be considered for the January 2018 festival. 

“I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics but for our contributions to the human spirit.” John F. Kennedy