PPTCO Showcases Plays by Pittsburgh Playwrights

The Music Lesson by Tammy Ryan

“Using dramatic flashbacks and the haunting ghost of a young girl, The Music Lesson is a passionate discussion of bombing and its psychological aftermath. With the world’s eyes now upon the Middle East, this Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre production of Ryan’s drama takes the time to glance back…The show is serious, but not intense, didactic but good-humored.” Robert Isenberg, City Paper, 05/17/07

“…a play rich in cultural parallels, with an infectious, warm heart…In Ryan’s ambitious structure, past and present intertwine, putting demands on the actors, who, with the help of director John Gresh, generally keep everything clear and let the play tell its affecting tale.

“Judy Kaplan gives a dark and feeling frustration to the troubled Irena, and Mark Tierno has an awkward integrity as her more adaptable husband. Nadia Cook-Loshilov plays the doomed Maja in memory and flashback with bright fragility, neatly contrasted with the surly spunkiness of Cat, to whom Imani gives great appeal.“ Christopher Rawson, Post-Gazette, 05/22/07

Corps Values by Brendon Bates

“…intense story of Wade, a patriotic former Marine lieutenant and Vietnam vet, and his son, Casey, now a Marine private in Iraq, who comes home for his mother’s funeral and announces he’s not going back…Corps Values both admires the Marines’ values, especially the brotherhood of combat, and questions their consequences. And it invites us to compare them to core values, too…As Casey, Joshua Elijah Reese has a more youthful flash and ignites when necessary. Joseph Martinez is particularly strong as the captain, smiling but forceful, all business.” Christopher Rawson, Post-Gazette, 12/07/06

“Bates' play is about the myth of heroism. On the surface, all the major characters are decorated servicemen of great bravery. But Bates, using the thriller genre as his cover, strips away the jingoistic trappings to prove, vividly, that heroes are still human, and that there’s a corrosive cost to medal-winning wartime acts. Corps Values isn’t so much an anti-war play as it is an anti-“the lies we tell about”-war play…The director, John Gresh, smartly exploits Bates’ theatrical fireworks but gives the same focus to the smaller, more intense moments of the characters played strongly by Wali Jamal, Joshua Elijah Reese, Marcus Muzoppapa and Joseph Martinez. Ted Hoover, City Paper, 12/07/06

James McBride by Mark Clayton Southers

“A sweetly comic encounter [that] exudes a genuine love of poetry.”
Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 09/25/07

“Andrew S. Paul directs a strong and talented cast headed by Joshua Elijah Reese. Jay Keenan, E. Bruce Hill and Roger Jerome entertain as contentious and articulate Irish poets. Joseph Martinez and Theo Allyn add sparkle as McBride’s white rapper pal and a scrappy but sensitive barmaid.” Alice T. Carter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 09/25/07

From the Theatre Festival in Black & White

Comments by Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


“A Question of Taste” by Andrew Ade
“…a riveting one-room epic about politics and disillusionment, told in achingly human terms…smartly directed by Jeannine Foster McKelvia…with precise, passionate performances by Ben Blakey and Joshua Reese…a must see.”

“Cake Without Frosting” by F.J. Hartland
“Two sisters, who hate each other like poison, come together for a surprise birthday celebration; what impresses most is Hartland’s refusal to offer the feel-good ending any other playwright would have. The two-woman cast makes a strong and evenly-matched pair.”


“Ridin’ Dirty” by Brenton Mock
“…a taut 15-minute encounter between a middle-class cab driver and an unemployed friend…The fight turns violent, but the emotional pain is uppermost. No false ending is imposed.”

“F.O.R.D.” by David Turkel
“…a comedy with a focus on religious hypocrisy…funny and eccentric.”


Twenty Questions by Rob Gorman
“…a clever construct in which an attractive female case-worker in Limbo preps a newly dead guy for the next step into the afterlife.”

“Detention” by Wali Jamal
“…a brief pleasing parable in which fighting fourth-graders reach across the color divide and shame their squabbling teachers.”

“Awash” by J.P. Patrick
“This sketch of a single mom (a glowing, natural Shelby Wyzykowski) trying fruitlessly to take an uninterrupted bath, is a comic pleasure.”

“The Other Side” by Bob Gorczyca
“A former boxer consumed by resentment of blacks shows up at his local bar to listen to the second Joe Louis-Bill Conn fight (1946). As the bartender, mark Thompson makes every movement tell (and even better, every nonmovement): He’s like an Edward Hopper study come to life. Joseph Martinez unleashes bumptuous energy as the boxer.”


“The Powerhouse” by Tawanda R. Washington
“Director Gunther Kusior capitalizes on the more dynamic moments, especially with a knockout performance by Ja’ Sonta Roberts.”

“The Honeypot Redux” by Chance D. Muehleck
“…an interesting story about two reclusive, beekeeping brothers and their lovely mysterious customer, who upsets their world. It’s all very Pinteresque, with a creepy, off-kilter feel under the sure hand of director Art Terry and perfectly understated acting by Bridget Carey, Jeffery R. Simpson and Cory Rieger.”

“Pieces” by Vanessa German
“…an astonishingly delicate 30-minute encounter in a train station between two young women, one black and one white.”


“Half of Zero” by Amy Hartman
“…a chilling story of a retarded woman gradually revealing the truth behind a recent murder. Cheryl Young is superb, given firm support by Allison Cahill.”


Rob Penney, Rob Zellers, Ted Hoover, Judy Meiksin, Corey Rieger, Javon Johnson, France Luce Benson, Adam Kukic, James Michael Shoberg, Rage Stephenson, Eric Q. Irvis, Lynne Conner, Astrid Cook, Christina Maria Acosta, Brenton Mock, Dan Kirk, Nailah Blu Lewis, Michael Schwartz, Kim El, JaSonta Roberts Deen, Ginny Cunningham, Lynn Jackson, Jeff Benson, Jr., Randy Kirk, Lynne Wyant, Tony Zelonis, Laura Clark, Thomas Olson, Maureen Jenkins, Suzanne Danks…