GreenHouse playwriting program wins $10,000 grant

SF State’s GreenHouse Playwriting program received a $10,000 grant that will give five MFA students their first step into the professional world of theatre.

GreenHouse is an independent theatre production program run by SF State playwriting undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty from both the creative writing and theatre arts departments.

GreenHouse will put the newly acquired funds toward its annual spring festival, a two-week event where students host staged readings of their best play. This year, five selected students will have access to two union-paid actors and a director who is well-suited to their play’s subject matter. Students will also collaborate with a dramaturge, a theatre professional who works one-on-one with playwrights as they structure and define their final production.

“We want to bridge a gap between the experience of school and the gritty reality of being a theatre practitioner here in San Francisco Bay Area,” said creative writing lecturer Anne Galjour.

The grant also funds GreenHouse’s partnership with Z Space, a non-profit art and performance venue in the Mission District. Z Space will provide each student with a series of master classes, tools to help market and publicize their play as well as access to an 80-seat theatre.

Galjour was instrumental in funding GreenHouse’s partnership with Z Space. During her time away from lecturing at SF State, she works for Z Space as a playwright and performer.

Two actors will perform each play, script-in-hand, at Z Space’s theatre, a venue where professionals are likely to see it, according to Galjour.

“There’s a reputation that comes along with walking in these doors,” said Z Space Artistic Director, Lisa Steindler. “The public at large knows that Z Space is a venue for new work.”

MFA playwriting student, Nara Dahbacka, will showcase her play, “Blood Under the Bridge,” which was originally written as an assignment for Galjour’s class. Her script is an adaptation of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf.” The same characters act out a new story set 40 years later.

“When you finish an MFA, you’ve spent all this time becoming an expert in something, and you’ve been isolated in school,” said Dahbacka. “So having this chance to go out and work with local professionals is that step. It’s showing me a way forward so I can do this for real.”

The GreenHouse Playwriting grant is a gift from the Sam Mazza Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds programs furthering art and education.

The GreenHouse Playwriting Festival will premier at Z Space on April 24 and will continue through May 4. Admission is donation-based.