Diamonds in the rough

River Stage will present “workshop” productions of ambitious new works this month through the Playwright’s Festival of New Works.

On Friday and Saturday this weekend (July 13-14), the series features The Kepler Project: When Science Lost the Soul, a play by Nina Wise with Ralph Abraham. It’s about a (female) contemporary astronomer, whose radical notions concerning the universe get her in trouble. The spirits of 17th century astronomers Kepler and Galileo advise her. Playwright Wise has won several Bay Area Critics Circle awards.

On July 27-28, the surrealistic musical troupe the Pink Toupee Collective rolls out The Cobra and the Hare. The story involves a land developer, a zombie and a good Samaritan. The Pink Toupee Collective is locally renowned for original shows with new songs, outrageous costumes and delightfully wayward storylines.