Cited multiple times by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for excellence and as the recipient of a Governor's Award for outstanding service to the arts and arts education, Playwrights Theatre fulfills its mission through two programs, the New Play Development Program and Educational programming which includes the New Jersey Writers Project, Creative Arts Academy, New Jersey Young Playwrights Contest and Festival and Poetry Out Loud.
The multi-step New Play Development Program is designed to work closely with playwrights on the nurturing of their plays and prepare them for full-fledged productions at producing theatres. Working with professional playwrights, we help guide them through the process be it dramaturigal work, providing actors for the playwright to hear the words out loud, staged readings where audience is invited to participate in a post-show discussion with the author or fully-produced plays on our stage.
Playwrights Theatre maintains its commitment to supporting writers for the stage. Our reputation for paying close attention to playwrights and the playwriting process continues to attract exciting new writers from around the from across the country, including our affiliation with the National New Play Network, a nation-wide group of theatres dedicated to the development and production of new work.
Since Playwrights Theatre is a new play development theatre, our outward success is best measured by the works that move on to production after having passed through our development process. There have been some significant successes.
- Our 2009 production of Two Jews Walk Into A War by Seth Rozin played to sold-out audiences and was extended another week. The show has gone on to have a production at Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, NY in 2010 and in the Spring of 2011 was on stage at InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia, PA.
- Our November 2001 production (co-produced with Passage Theatre, NJ) of The Book of Candy, book & lyrics by Susan Dworkin, music by Mel Marvin, (featuring Adam Heller & Martin Vidnovic) was a critical hit and broke all box office records at Playwrights Theatre.
- Our Winter 2001 production of Kim Merrill's Criminal Acts received a staged reading this season at the Women's Project & Productions, NYC featuring Jessica Hecht.
- Our Spring 2000 production of our commissioned work Radium Girls by Dolores Whiskeyman (funded in part by the NEA) has received several productions nationwide and was voted Best New Play in NJ by The Star-Ledger.
- Playwrights Theatre's commission of a radio play by Rufus Caleb, The Rehearsal, (February 2000 production), (funded in part by the NEA) continues to air on National Public Radio Affiliates, was selected by the New Harmony Festival to be developed into a stage play, and was subsequently selected to be published in Applause Books Best Short Plays of 1997-98 in May 1999.
- Our 1999-2000 production of Guillermo Reye's A Southern Christmas (AT&T OnStage funding) won the National Hispanic Playwriting Award and his play Miss Consuelo, (1997-98 Production) was subsequently produced by Urban Stages, NYC.
- Our 1996-97 commissioned work, Rowing to America: The Immigrant Project, has been published by the Dramatic Publishing Co., and was Dramatic's most requested play script that year.
- Playwrights Theatre's co-production of Genesis has seen productions at the Lamb's Theatre in NYC and at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh.
- Plays by Keith Glover, familiar to Playwrights Theatre (Coming of the Hurricane and Thunder Knocking on the Door), have played at a number of regional theatres (Denver Theatre Center, Arena Stage, Crossroads Theatre and The Alabama Shakespeare Festival).
- An Asian Jockey in Our Midst by Carter Lewis was performed at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and at the Roundhouse Theatre in Washington.
- Other plays developed at Playwrights Theatre have gone on to future productions. Syncopation by Alan Knee and Spine by Bill C. Davis were produced at the George St. Playhouse. Kitty Chen's Eating Chicken Feet was co-produced by The Women's Project & Productions and Pan-Asian Rep, and Haris Orkin's DaDa was produced by American Stage in Teaneck, NJ. Come As You Are (N. Richard Nash), Appointment With a High Wire Lady (Russell Davis), Banner (Kate Clark), Any Friend of Percy D'Angelino Is A Friend of Mine (Jason Milligan) have all been produced Off-Broadway.
Actors who have appeared on the Playwrights Theatre stage include Allison Janney, David Strathairn, Frances McDormand, Julie Harris, William Schallert, John Astin, Edward Herrmann, Jay O. Sanders, Jayne Atkinson, Joe Morton, Maryann Plunkett, Daniel Jenkins, and Theresa Merritt.
Our educational programs have become a national model for comprehensive all-inclusive creative writing curricula. Playwrights Theatre's New Jersey Writers Project, a co-sponsored program with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, reaches 15,000 students a year throughout New Jersey. The New Jersey Writers Project brings seasoned teaching artists into the classroom to help students and teachers discover the joy of writing, performing and being creative. Standard and tailored residencies and workshops are available in various disciplines for your school or community-based program.
- Creative writing residencies in poetry, prose, and playwriting.
- Theatre and visual arts residencies.
- Professional Development workshops.
- Assemblies of student-written work.
All programs are designed to address Core Curriculum Content Standards.
The New Jersey Writers Project is the largest creative writing residency program in the country and since its inception, over 150,000 students have been served through 1,800 residencies at various sites throughout the state. Additionally, more than 45,000 students, teachers and parents have participated as members of the audience for the assembly and festival programs.