Pittsburgh Playwrights festival looks at the season from different sides

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The 10th annual Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company's Black and White Festival, which pairs black directors with white playwrights and vice versa, returns for set of 10 holiday plays covering a variety of angles.

It opens tonight and runs through Dec. 17 at 937 Liberty Avenue, third floor, Downtown.

"This is an opportunity for Pittsburgh theater artists from different backgrounds to work together in a professional environment and learn from one another about their craft and their respective cultures," Mark Clayton Southers, founder of Pittsburgh Playwrights, said in a statement.

There are two programs of one-act plays, ticketed separately, meant to entertain and encourage meaningful dialogue:

* "True Meaning": A woman in her mid-20s, whose life has stalled, struggles to keep her temper and her dignity at a family Christmas gathering. Written by Andrew Ade; directed by Rita Gregory.

* "Cornucopia": Closing time on Christmas Eve at the Family Dollar store is interrupted by a cold hungry runaway who tests the employees' compassion and Christmas spirit. Tammy Ryan; Ashley Southers.

* "Christmas Star": It's Christmas Eve, and Kenny comes home from Iraq with a wounded foot and post-traumatic stress disorder to a family that is divided over the war. Ray Werner; Monteze Freeland.

* "Hanukkah in the Back Country": When Julie's girlfriend of six years walks out on their relationship right before Hanukkah, her big sister takes her for a hike in the back country. Judy Meiksin; Kim El.

* "And to All a Good Night": When Justin brings his girlfriend to dinner during the holidays to meet his family for the first time, her being white is not a problem. Her being an atheist is a different story. Lissa Brennan; Cheryl El Walker.

* "Where I First Saw the Light": It's Christmas Eve and two young men (one white, one black) are in a cemetery visiting the graves of their fathers. Painful family secrets are revealed. Tameka Cage Conley; T.C. Brown.

* "Just Jesus": A college student with a passion for African studies returns home to suggest that her conservative, dysfunctional middle-class African-American family celebrate Kwanzaa. Marlon Erik Youngblood; Kaitlin Mausser.

* "We Need a Ramadan": It's the 23rd day of Ramadan and a family fears eviction in the Hill District. Aasiyah El-Rice; Vince Ventura.

* "An Ubuntu Holiday": As an African-American family prepares to celebrate Kwanzaa, their teenage daughter invites her African-American classmate/neighbor over for the festivities, but her classmate's Christian mother does not want her daughter involved because she thinks Kwanzaa is anti-Christmas. Kim El; Stephen Santa.

* "St Clair Xmas": As the housing project St Clair Village is torn down, one man launches a "Bring back St Clair" campaign. Wali Jamal; Marcus Muzopappa.

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and Dec. 16 and 17; 3 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $20 advance; $25 at the door. www.pghplaywrights.com.

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