Bricolage's expanded In the Raw festival of new plays drew more than 70 submissions this year, and Annie DiMario pored through them all. Ms. DiMario, working with Bricolage's Jeffrey Carpenter, Tami Dixon and Hannah Nielsen-Jones, is serving as dramaturg for the festival, which grants three playwrights the opportunity to develop and workshop their works with a director and professional actors, leading up to public readings that began last weekend and continue through May 5.
"One of big things we looked for was the play's point in development," Ms. DiMario said. "We didn't want something that was production-ready, but we picked our favorite ones, things that we could see a life for in production, even if not right away. I tend to look for the inherent theatrical value and something that had a good structure ... and then just things that excited us."
Ms. DiMario culled 10 new works from the original dozens before the Bricolage brain trust found the final three: "Ganglia: Instructions for the Symbiogenesis" by Peter J. Roth, "For the Tree to Drop" by Pittsburgher Lissa Brennan and "The Gospel Singer" by C.S. Wyatt.
The Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of the Americas, which awarded a grant to Ms. DiMario and Bricolage for In the Raw, lists dozens of roles a dramaturg can fill in theater and arts education.
"I have that word attached to my name, but I consider that I am first and foremost a teacher, even though I don't have a full-time teaching job and I also have done a lot on the production side," said Ms. DiMario, who worked with the youngsters at City Theatre's annual Young Playwrights Festival in October.
In the Raw opened with "Ganglia: Instructions for the Symbiogenesis" read by local actors Tressa Glover, Patrick Jordan, Bria Walker and Mark Staley and continues on Monday with a one-night-only reading of a classic, "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams. It's back to the business of new plays the following week with "For the Tree to Drop" on May 5-6. In an updated "Antigone," a plantation mourns the loss of its owner's son in a Civil War battle while a slave works to bury her brother, who has been hanged as punishment for an act of rebellion.
A reading May 13 of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun," in conjunction with its Tony-winning sequel, "Clybourne Park," at Pittsburgh Public Theater, is followed May 19-20 by the fact-based "The Gospel Singer," about a drag performer who wants to sing the gospel music dearest to his heart.
The playwrights are given the opportunity to network within Pittsburgh's theater community, and audiences play a role by providing feedback.
"I know it sounds cliche, but from the start, Jeffrey and Tami were adamant about this being a community event, for the audience and for the artists involved," Ms. DiMario said.
All performances are at 7 p.m. and are "give-what-you-can" at the door; make reservations by emailing email@example.com. More at bricolagepgh.org.
• As the CLO Cabaret show "I Say Tomato, You Say Shut Up!" winds down, the cast for the next show has been announced. Lenora Nemetz returns to the Cabaret at Theater Square stage for "Side By Side by Sondheim," May 23 through Aug. 18. The Broadway veteran is joined by local actors Billy Hepfinger, Daniel Krell and Caroline Nicolian, making their CLO Cabaret debuts, along with Michael Campayno and Kristiann Menotiades.
• New Yorker Eugenie Carabatsos is the youngest winner of Mountain Playhouse's 2012 International Comedy Playwriting Contest. Her play "Pine," a dramedy about a grieving family set on a Christmas tree farm, captured the attention of contest judges in Jennerstown while also scoring honors at the Trustus Playwrights' Festival for Drama in Columbia, S.C. The Mountain Playhouse will conduct a reading of the play for its 2013 season, which opens June 18.
• Among the nominees for the 79th annual Drama League Awards are the revivals of August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson" by Signature Theatre Company and the Stephen Schwartz musical "Pippin." Carnegie Mellon alumni Billy Porter ("Kinky Boots"), Patina Miller ("Pippin") and Judith Light ("The Assembled Parties") are nominated for the Distinguished Performance Award, a category that selects a single winner and the recipient can receive the award only once during his or her career.
Sharon Eberson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1960.