The REP opens its season with a celebrated work of contemporary drama. Tracy Letts' August: Osage County (2008) won a Pulitzer and multiple Tonys with its darkly comic story of a deeply dysfunctional Oklahoma family. John Shepard directs this production of Point Park's professional-theater company, starring a cast of top local actors including David Whalen, John Amplas and Mary Rawson. Fri., Sept. 7-23. Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. $24-27 (Sept. 6 preview: $15). 412-392-8000 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com
Pittsburgh's annual showcase bringing local theater companies together with playwrights from around the country (and beyond) continues. A program of the first three fully staged one-acts of this year's Pittsburgh New Works Festival gets five performances, Thu., Sept. 6-Sun., Sept. 9. The plays are "A Light Subject Matter," by Sara Baines-Miller (produced by Greensburg Civic Theatre); "Art Initiates Life," by Connie Dillon (CCAC South); and "Seeing Purple People," by Michelle Giusto (Theatre Factory). The fest returns with three new one-acts each week through September. Father Ryan Arts Center, 420 Chartiers Ave., McKees Rocks. $12-17 (discounted passes available). www.pittsburghnewworks.org
Starting this week, there's a rare chance to see a professional production of a great play for free, as the August Wilson Center for African American Culture presents the first of four performances of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean. The show reprises this past spring's potent production, directed by Mark Clayton Southers and starring the same excellent cast, that was staged by Southers' Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co. While the shows — at 7 p.m. on Tue., Sept. 11, Sept. 18, and Oct. 2 and 9 — are free, a ticket is required. 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. 412-456-6666
Speaking of Pittsburgh Playwrights, there's still time to submit one-act scripts for the troupe's signature Theatre Festival in Black and White. The fest matches four plays by local white playwrights with black directors, and four by local black playwrights with white directors. All subject matter is encouraged. The deadline is Sept. 14; winning plays will be staged at November's festival. See www.pghplaywrights.com for details.
Carnegie Mellon University hosts a Sept. 10 reading of 8, a new docudrama based on 2010's federal-court challenge to Proposition 8, the California law stripping gay and lesbian Californians of the right to marry. It's one of a national series of readings co-sponsored by Broadway Impact and Americans for Equal Rights. The playwright is AFER board member Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter behind Milk and J. Edgar. 7 p.m. Mon., Sept. 10. McConomy Auditorium. Free. www.drama.cmu.edu