Pioneer Theatre Company artistic director Karen Azenberg.

Pioneer Theatre Company artistic director Karen Azenberg, who’ll direct a reading of “Alabama Story.”

Guest directors Julie Kramer and Shana Gold will join Pioneer Theatre Company artistic director Karen Azenberg to form the trio of directors separately guiding three new plays in PTC’s inaugural new-works reading series, dubbed Play-By-Play, this winter in Utah.

The series at the major resident theatre in Salt Lake City will provide developmental rehearsal periods for three new scripts, beginning Monday, Feb. 24, when the first play’s rehearsals commence in advance of a first presentation/talkback Friday, Feb. 28. The visiting playwrights — Jessica Provenz, Jeff Talbott and Kenneth Jones — will work alongside a professional director and a cast of professional actors (including members of Actors’ Equity) for a weeklong residency, culminating in three public readings of each title.

The directors were announced on Feb. 13. The titles were announced last fall by Azenberg and managing director Chris Lino. The casts (to be announced) will be culled from the Salt Lake City theatre community, with several performers brought in from out of town.

The three previously announced plays to be read on the campus of the University of Utah, where Pioneer Theatre Company makes its home, are:

True Art, written by Jessica Provenz and directed by Julie Kramer. Public readings on Friday, Feb. 28 at 8 PM and Saturday, March 1 at 2 and and 8 PM in the Babcock Theatre in the lower level of Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre.

A Public Education, written by Jeff Talbott and directed by Shana Gold. Public readings on Friday, March 14 at 8 PM and Saturday, March 15 at 2 and 8 PM in the Babcock Theatre.

Alabama Story, written by Kenneth Jones and directed by Karen Azenberg. Public readings on Friday, April 4 at 8 PM and Saturday, April 5 at 2 and 8 PM in the Dumke Auditorium of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts.

“In order to further focus on the script and keep costs down, the readings will be performed without a set or costumes,” Azenberg said in a statement. “These are bare-bones developmental presentations allowing the PTC audience a ‘first look’ at new works in progress. …We’re certain that this inaugural season of Play-By-Play readings and talkbacks will help lead to better plays that will find a wider stage in American theatre and more engaged playgoers here in Salt Lake City.”

Read my previous piece about this new PTC series here

Julie Kramer, who'll direct "True Art" by Jessica Provenz.

Julie Kramer, who’ll direct “True Art” by Jessica Provenz.

Director Julie Kramer is known for developing new plays and musicals. She directed her adaptation of The Best of Everything in New York. It was a New York Times and Time Out Critics’ Pick and is published by Dramatists Play Service. Other New York directing includes Mother Load Off-Broadway (also national tour), Pearl’s Gone Blue (Outstanding Musical, FringeNYC); Hillary (New Georges and The Public Theater); and None of the Above (The Lion). She has also directed for The O’Neill Theatre Center, Dorset Theatre Festival, the HBO Aspen Comedy Festival, The Uno Festival in Canada and the Mesto Zensk Festival in Slovenia. She’s a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Director Shana Gold‘s recent directing credits include world premieres Food and Fadwa by Lameece Issaq (New York Theatre Workshop), Lynn Rosen’s Goldor and Mythka (New Georges, New York Theatre Review’s Top 10), In the Crossing by Leila Buck (Culture Project), Hakawatiyeh/the storyteller by Nathalie Handal (Kennedy Center), John Walch’s The Nature of Mutation (Southwestern Rep/NMSU) and Circumference of a Squirrel (Austin Theatre Center/Taper Too, winner of the Austin Critics Table Award for Best Play), and Stanton Wood’s At the Pole (Urban Stages).

Shana Gold, who'll direct a reading of Jeff Talbott's "A Public Education."

Shana Gold, who’ll direct a reading of Jeff Talbott’s “A Public Education.”

She directed the regional premieres of Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles, Neil Labute’s Reasons to Be Pretty, and Underneath the Lintel by Glen Berger (Theatre Squared/Syracuse Stage). Gold’s work has also been seen at The Public Theater’s New Work Now, MCC Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Arkansas Rep New Play Fest, NYSF at Vassar College and Manhattan Theatre Club. She received her MFA in Directing from Brooklyn College and is a member of the LCT Directors Lab, Soho Rep’s Writer/Director Lab, and she is a New Georges Affiliated Artist.

Karen Azenberg recently directed A Few Good Men for PTC. Prior to becoming artistic director of PTC in 2012, she was a New York-based freelance director and choreographer. She served as the Executive Board President of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). She has directed and/or choreographed a number of shows at PTC, including most recently Something’s Afoot, The Odd Couple, Next to Normal, Rent, Miss Saigon. She created the musical staging for PTC’s hit runs of Les Misérables. She’ll direct and choreograph the Pioneer premiere of the Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields musical Sweet Charity this spring. Azenberg is known in national theatre circles through her leadership of SDC, the national union for professional directors and choreographers, and as a board member of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF), a launching pad for new musicals. She is also a voter for the Tony Awards, and has directed over 60 musicals and plays at theatres across the country.

Here’s a look at the plays and playwrights of the winter 2014 Play-by-Play series at Pioneer Theatre Company:


“An awestruck art history graduate lands a dream job at a world-class museum. But when she questions the authenticity of a newly discovered masterpiece, she finds herself swimming with sharks in the form of art curators, trustees, and art dealers. This chance of a lifetime quickly turns into a fight for her ideals, her reputation, and her very future.”

Playwright Jessica Provenz recently stepped into the world of politics serving as Director of Policy on Anthony Weiner’s New York City 2013 mayoral campaign. Her plays include A Wake on Chappaquiddick, developed with Amy Ryan at Cape Cod Theatre Project, Irish Rep and New Georges; Truth or Consequences, workshopped with T.R. Knight at the DR2; Better Than Chocolate, directed by Matthew Penn at Berkshire Playwrights Lab; Andromeda at Juilliard and Berkshire Playwrights Lab; and Sweet Perfume at The Barrow Group. Provenz is a two-time recipient of the Lecomte du Noüy Award for emerging playwrights. She was Playwright-in-Residence at The Juilliard School and is a graduate of Northwestern University.  

Playwright Jeff Talbott

Playwright Jeff Talbott


“Luke Paxton is a high-school math teacher and the new guy in the faculty room. He’s ready to teach, but completely unprepared for the other teachers, not to mention the nasty things somebody’s been posting on the web. Welcome to high school, where an education comes in ways you can never see coming.”

Playwright Jeff Talbott graduated with honors from the Yale School of Drama. His play The Submission was the inaugural recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Award in 2011 and was produced Off-Broadway by MCC Theater; it also received the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for New American Play in 2012. He lives in New York City.


“In 1959 Alabama, a segregationist state senator wants a controversial children’s book purged from the state library, but a fearless librarian refuses, putting both of their worlds at risk in a time of extraordinary social change. Inspired by real events, Alabama Story is a highly theatrical new play about tests of character in the Deep South of the Imagination.”

Playwright Kenneth Jones lives in New York City and is also a lyricist, librettist and journalist. His works for the stage include the play Alabama Story (seen in a 2013 Southern Writers’ Project reading directed by Karen Azenberg at Alabama Shakespeare Festival); book and lyrics for the musicals Voice of the City (music by Elaine Chelton) and Naughty/Nice (music by Gerald Stockstill); as well as songs with composers Roger Anderson, Marek Norman, Brad Ross and others. With Stockstill, he is the recipient of the Dottie Burman Songwriting Award from MAC. His work has been developed at York Theatre Company, Human Race Theatre Company and with the 72nd Street Gang. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, BMI and the advanced BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Visit

Individual Playb-By-Play tickets may be purchased through the PTC Box Office by calling (801) 581-6961 or online

Sponsors of Play-By-Play include Sandi Behnken, Lee and Audrey Hollaar, Mike and Jan Pazzi, The University of Utah Department of Theatre, and The Utah Museum of Fine Arts.