The Playwrights' Lab



The keystone of our annual programming, The Playwrights' Lab provides the time, space and resources needed for our company of 50 resident playwrights to develop and test new plays and musicals.

From September 2015 to the end of June 2016, the Lab supported 102 readings, work sessions and intensive studios, nearly half of which were FREE and open to our general audience of over 4000 visitors annually. The Lab involved 483 collaborators in these varied work sessions. We are grateful for these talented artists, who partner with our resident writers to breathe life into developing pieces of theatre.

Management of the Playwrights’ Lab is a central part of New Dramatists’ operations. Staff work closely with resident playwrights to provide casting, stage management, directorial, and dramaturgical resources they need to generate, test, and realize their ideas. Staff also provide the business management required to run Lab activity, including payroll and HR support for all collaborators, the majority of which are W-2 employees.

CLICK HERE for a full list of 2015-16 artistic collaborators in the Playwrights Lab.
Resident Playwright Erin Courtney conducts her "studio tour" during PlayTime 2015.


Components of the Playwrights' Lab

  • Playwrights' Lab Activity Report

    Playwrights' Lab ACTIVITY REPORT

  • New Playwright Welcome: Class of 2022

    During the New Playwright Welcome, each new resident in the class of 2022 was celebrated with a tribute and an excerpt of their work. Board Chairman Seth Gelblum offered the Board’s congratulations to the class, and alumnus J.T. Rogers, as Dramatists Guild representative, offered complimentary one-year memberships to the incoming class of writers.

    On September 21, 2015 we welcomed these writers, to a capacity house in the 2nd floor theatre:

    Clare Barron welcomed by Deb Margolin, read by Matt Freeman
    Kara Lee Corthron welcomed by Sharon Bridgforth
    Mashuq Mushtaq Deen welcomed by Sylvan Oswald, read by christopher oscar peña
    Jessica Dickey welcomed by Sam Hunter, read by Matthew Paul Olmos
    Jen Silverman welcomed by Laura Marks
    Karinne Keithley Syers welcomed by Erin Courtney
    Cori Thomas welcomed by Stefanie Zadravec
    Melisa Tien welcomed by Sarah Hammond, read by Tiffany Baran

  • Jerry A. Tishman Playwrights' Creativity Fund

    Based on years of writer feedback, requesting more time, space, and opportunities to develop new work “on its feet” with the assistance of artistic collaborators, the Creativity Fund was established in 2009, with a seed grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    One of the most sought-after programs in the Playwrights Lab, the Fund provides focused, in-depth resources for writers who need extended work time to develop a project. Fund projects typically run 4 to 5 days, and often support expanded creative teams and large casts; they may also be deeply explorative, allowing a creative team to build a project collaboratively, from the ground up.

    Early in the Fund’s programming, we realized the enormous need the Fund met for our writer community. It became clear that New Dramatists needed to find a way to continue to support Creativity Fund workshops at the end of the Mellon Foundation grant period. Because of the measurable impact and enthusiasm for this program, we sought – and secured – bridge funding from a few significant long-term funders (Theater Subdistrict Council, TimeWarner Foundation, and the Scherman Foundation's Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund) to continue the Fund as Mellon support began to sunset.

    Simultaneously, conversations with Jerry A. Tishman, who was interested in providing a legacy gift to New Dramatists, led to his designation of a leadership bequest gift to benefit the Creativity Fund. In recognition of his generosity, the Fund was renamed the Jerry A. Tishman Playwrights’ Creativity Fund.” To read more about this significant gift, CLICK HERE.

    Jerry A. Tishman

    In 2015-16, 14 Jerry A. Tishman Playwrights' Creativity Fund projects were supported, of which 7 presented an open rehearsal or presentation for a public audience. These projects ranged from plays to musicals, small-cast shows to large collaborative ensembles.

    For more information about individual projects, please review our Playwrights Lab Activity Report (at the top of this menu).

  • One-Day Readings

    During 2015-16, New Dramatists resident writers programmed 40 one and two-day readings/work sessions. These either occur as stand-alone opportunities, or as part of larger development plans. Specifically, they use these shorter periods to explore discrete text development questions, or to utilize presentation in front of an audience as part of their process.

    For more information about individual projects, please review our Playwrights Lab Activity Report (at the top of this menu).

  • Alumni Readings

    Another iteration of one-day readings are Alumni readings, which support the ND alumni community of 600+ playwrights. 14 alumni programmed readings this year, including Liz Duffy Adams, Frank Gagliano, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Daniel Alexander Jones, Julia Jordan, Wendy Kesselman, Ellen Maddow, Clifford Mason, Chiori Miyagawa, Anne Garcia Romero, Lazarre Seymour Simckes, Deborah Stein, T. L. Wagener, and Donald Wollner. Of these, 7 were open to the public.

    For more information about individual projects, please review our Playwrights Lab Activity Report (at the top of this menu).

  • PlayTime

    The PlayTime Developmental Studio provides five New Dramatists writers with a two-week intensive retreat, designed to support the investigation of ambitious new works with support from each other and a company of talented collaborators. PlayTime’s company is rounded out by two additional resident playwrights who participate as “resource playwrights,” providing peer support to the five playwrights developing new plays. In 2014, in response to multiple requests from the playwrights to add full days off for writing, PlayTime shifted from December to November, enabling us to expand the schedule and incorporate two additional writing days.

    We’re grateful for PlayTime underwriting support from the Ted Snowdon Foundation, Isobel Robins Konecky, Jody Falco and Jeffrey Steinman, and the DJ McManus Foundation.

    Playwrights/Projects: (November 5-20, 2015)
    Andy BragenMonster, directed by Portia Krieger
    Sharon BridgforthWhen Black Mermaids Fly, in collaboration with Kyla Searle and Sonja Perryman
    Clarence CooThe God of Wine, developed with and directed by Kareem Fahmy
    Erin CourtneyThe Orange Balloon aka The Hoarder's Lament with music composed by Rick Burkhardt, directed by Mia Revegno
    Sibyl KempsonThe Securely Conferred, Vouchsafed Keepsakes of Maery S., directed by Sibyl Kempson with music by Graham Reynolds, Music Directed by Chris Giarmo

    Resource playwrights: Mashuq Deen, Karinne Keithley Syers

    Actors: Eryk Aughenbaugh, Jess Barbagallo, Dee Beasnael, Eboni Booth, Sharon Bridgforth, John Gasper, Seth Clayton, Jermaine Golden, Jan Leslie Harding, Birgit Huppuch, Jennifer Lim, Sonja Perryman, Eileen Rivera, Jon Norman Schneider, James Seol, Jeanine Serralles, Mike Shapiro, Robbie Collier Sublett, Julia Sirna-Frest, Michael Tisdale, Amelia Workman

  • Composer-Librettist Studio

    Our annual Composer-Librettist Studio, in its 31st year, was held February 17 - March 4, 2016 with an open rehearsal on March 4. Generously funded by The Jerome Foundation, the Studio focuses simultaneously on music-theatre development and the principles of collaboration.

    Ben Krywosz (Artistic Director, Nautilus Music-Theater) and his long-term music director Roger Ames work with five New Dramatists playwrights, five composers, and five performers immerse themselves in an intensive workshop on collaboration, where the full company commits to a round-the-clock experience. Over the course of 18 days, participants rotate working with one another to create overnight responses to different songwriting challenges, ultimately generating 25 new songs. The workshop animates different tenets of collaboration, within a supportive, fine-tuned framework that has been developed over 30 years. Playwrights are selected on a first-come, first-served basis from the ranks of resident and affiliated writers of New Dramatists. Composers are selected through an open application process based on extensive outreach, with an emphasis on aesthetic, ethnic and generational diversity.

    2016 Playwrights: Jami Brandli, Kara Lee Corthron, Jessica Dickey, Cori Thomas, Melisa Tien

    2016 Composers: Avi Amon, Julia Barry, Matt Frey, Sojourner Hodges, Joseph Rubinstein

    2016 Performers: Jen Anaya, Tim Jerome, Jessica Medoff, Tracy Michailidis, Karim Sulayman

  • Creative Sessions

    A relatively new use of the one-day work session format, Creative Sessions represent space and time given to resident playwrights for creative meetings that typically involve only a few key collaborators. These sessions run the gamut from planning meetings, to initial team interviews, to team writing sessions. New Dramatists hosted 12 of these sessions during 2015-16.

    For more information about individual projects, please review our Playwrights Lab Activity Report (at the top of this menu).

  • Playwright/Theatre Partnerships

    Another relatively new occurrence within the Playwrights Lab, Playwright/Theatre Partnerships represent New Dramatists’ facilitated support of work sessions between resident playwrights and outside producing theatres that are interested in a particular project. According to New Dramatists’ writers and producers alike, these sessions are both empowering for the playwright – who is the host, not guest, artist at New Dramatists – and freeing for the theatre, which can focus solely on the work at hand outside of intra-organization expectations for a piece in development.

    New Dramatists hosted 6 of these sessions during 2015-16; two of these projects (Burnished by Grief and Colony Collapse) received full productions during the 2015-16 season.

    For more information about individual projects, please review our Playwrights Lab Activity Report (at the top of this menu).

  • Frederick Loewe Award and Workshop

    Generously sponsored by the Frederick Loewe Foundation, the Frederick Loewe Award in Music Theatre at New Dramatists is given in memory of the Broadway Composer Frederick Loewe (Gigi, Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, Camelot, Paint Your Wagon). This annual award is adjudicated by an outside committee, to select a New Dramatists writer and composer/partner for the development of a proposed new music theatre work. The Award consists of a cash grant to writer and composer, and funds to support a musical theatre workshop of the new piece at New Dramatists. An additional award from the Foundation to New Dramatists, helps underwrite other musical theatre projects developed within the Playwrights Lab.

    2016 Loewe Award winners: Sibyl Kempson and Graham Reynolds for their new musical, The Securely Conferred, Vouchsafed Keepsakes of Maery S.

  • "After Seven” Festival of Graduating Playwrights

    Our season concludes with our annual After Seven Festival, held this season on June 14, 2016.

    Each year’s festival celebrates the cohort of talented playwrights completing their seven-year New Dramatists’ residencies. In 2016, Sharon Bridgforth, Michael Golamco, Richard Maxwell, Qui Nguyen, Sylvan Oswald and Andrea Thome elected to festivalize presentations of their work during this one-day celebration. In three sections, they presented excerpts of their work from the beginning of their residencies, the middle of their residencies, and excerpts from something they are currently working on.

    Sharon, Sylvan and Andrea were in the building for the festival, while Michael, Rich, and Qui included work that was read by the three playwrights present.

  • Full Stage USA

    Initially conceived as a local project with Time Warner and the Theater Subdistrict Council, in 2008 Full Stage evolved into a national, one-of-a-kind partnership program between New Dramatists and producing organizations to support the full arc of new play development. Sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Full Stage USA paired five writers with five producing teams, to develop ambitious projects with a range of producing models. Although this program has concluded, the projects live on:
    James McManus who created Love on San Pedro for Cornerstone Theater Company’s Hunger Cycle (Staged in November 2013) in Los Angeles, continues to develop this piece post-Cornerstone production.
    Sibyl Kempson who partnered with a collective of Austin, TX-based theatres to create From the Pig Pile: The Requisite Gesture(s) of Narrow Approach (produced by Salvage Vanguard in association with The Rude Mechs in April 2014) will have a second production of her play at Southern Rep in their 2018-19 season.
    Peter Sinn Nachtrieb who wrote The Totalitarians for The National New Play Network (the play received three rolling premieres via NNPN: Southern Rep in January 2014; Wooly Mammoth Theatre Company in June 2014, and Z Space in November/December 2014), continues to enjoy productions of The Totalitarians around the country.
    Oregon Shakespeare Festival commissioned Stefanie Zadravec to write a new play, Colony Collapse for its acting company; the play received its world premiere at the Theatre @ Boston Court in February 2016.
    • Playwright Carson Kreitzer and composer Matt Gould were commissioned by Yale Repertory Theatre to develop a new musical, Lempicka, which was featured in NAMT's October 2016 festival.

  • Charles Bowden Actor Awards

    Through the Charles Bowden Actor Awards, we annually salute four actors who have contributed substantially to the creation of new works by New Dramatists writers. This award is given in honor of Charles Bowden, former Board Chair of New Dramatists and himself a gifted actor, director and producer. He and his wife Paula Laurence’s tireless support of New Dramatists and their passion for actors is the namesake and legacy of this annual honor.

    2016 Charles Bowden Award winners: Andrew Garman, Jon Norman Schneider, Robbie Collier Sublett, Amelia Workman.