James Ponsoldt’s New Short Play Highlights Latest ‘Unscreened’ Series (Exclusive)

Haven Entertainment and Firefly Theater & Films’ popular series returns next week at the Macha Theater

Haven Entertainment and Firefly Theater & Films has chosen the writers for their fifth annual “Unscreened” series, with James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now”), Jonathan Caren (“Melrose Place”), Aisha Muharrar (“Parks and Recreation”) and Liza Powel O’Brien selected to premiere four original short plays, TheWrap has learned.

Muharrar will direct her piece, while Caren’s will be directed by Larry Biederman. Liza Powel O’Brien’s will be directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, and Ponsoldt’s will be directed by Pedro Kos (“Waste Land”).

Cast includes Jerrika Hinton (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Ashlyn Pearce (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), Helen Hong (“Inside Llewyn Davis”), Stephen Ellis (“Hail, Caesar!”), Ahna O’Reilly (“Fruitvale Station”), Zoe Jarman (“The Mindy Project”), Melinda Wade (“Choke”), Christina Elmore (“The Last Ship”), Zoe Perry (“My Boys”), Steven Klein (“Burn Notice”) and Vine mega-star Marcus Johns.

Haven Entertainment’s Jordana Mollick and Firefly Theater & Films’ Steven Klein created “Unscreened” in order to give budding screenwriters and TV writers the chance to see their visions fully realized at a pace and depth of collaboration that film and television cannot accommodate but theater can.

This is the series’ fifth year, and this summer, the producers will continue the tradition they started last year of presenting a series of staged readings of four more new works, with announcements of those writers to follow the spring run.

“Unscreened” opens Thursday, April 30 at the Macha Theater. Performances will run on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings at 8:00 p.m. through Sunday, May 10. Tickets are available at www.unscreenedla.com or by calling Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006.

Several of the short plays created for “Unscreened” have led to further projects, including the recent Magnolia Pictures release “Life Partners,” starring Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs and Adam Brody. Leslye Headland‘s “T*TS” has been workshopped by Second Stage into a full-length play, while Beth Schacter’s “Turned Out” is being developed into a feature. Additonally, Corinne Kingsbury’s play “His Girl” is being developed as a cable TV show by Anonymous Content, while “Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau  and JP Derrick are developing “H40+1” into a feature screenplay.

Ponsoldt’s most recent feature, “The End of the Tour,” premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and will hit theaters this summer via A24 Films. The movie stars Jason Segel as “Infinite Jest” author David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky. His breakout 2013 film, “The Spectacular Now,” helped launch the careers of Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley.

Muharrar was an executive producer and WGA-nominated writer on “Parks and Recreation,” while playwright Caren’s “The Recommendation” recently won two LA Ovation Awards and led to his developing a crime drama entitled “The System” for Fox. Liza Powel O’Brien’s plays have been performed at the Lark Theatre, Ojai Playwrights Conference and Naked Angels Los Angeles.

“‘Unscreened’ encourages writers to push boundaries and to work outside of their comfort zones without traditional limitations and with a guarantee that their work will be produced. This couldn’t fit better with Haven’s mission to support emerging voices across myriad platforms and to collaborate in new and creative ways,” said Jordana Mollick of Haven Entertainment.

“Haven and Firefly are both passionately focused on developing and telling strong story stories in multiple media. The collaboration is as natural as it is exciting for us both, and ‘Unscreened’ is the perfect format for that collaboration,” added co-creator and producer Steven Klein of Firefly Theater & Films.

The company has over 20 years of award-winning storytelling experience, and Klein recently produced and starred in the feature film “Kensho at the Bedfellow,” which is now in post-production. He has also teamed with “The Office” alum Rainn Wilson to develop a faux documentary comedy feature that’s set up at 2929 and Magnolia.

Haven Entertainment recently produced Michael Showalter‘s “Hello, My Name is Doris,” which was just acquired by Roadside Attractions. The film stars Sally Field and Max Greenfield. The company is currently in post-production on Charles Hood’s “Night Owls,” which stars Adam Pally and Rosa Salazar. Both films premiered at SXSW. Haven partners are Mauricio Betancur, Kevin Mann, Rachel Miller, Jesse Hara, Brendan Bragg and Mollick.