2020 New Play Development Conference

Our 2020 Conference has been postponed.

As soon as a new date is found to support the development of these plays and playwrights, we will let you know.

Check back soon or join our mailing list here.

PlayPenn is proud to announce our 2020 plays and Haas Fellows:

What is the process for selecting a Haas Fellow? Find out more.

Badlands by Nora Leahy

Executive Producers: Howard T. & M. Jane Rosenfield, Catherine & Steve Schifter
Associate Producers: Dr. Richard Martin, Dr. R. J. Wallner

Director: Maura Krause
Dramaturg: Quinn D. Eli
Stage Manager: Emily Hayes
Cast: Taysha Marie Canales, Brian Cowden, Melanye Finister, Avery Hannon, Aimé Donna Kelly, David Pica
Intern: Jaedto Israel

Summer, 2017. As the country prepares for The Great American Eclipse, Philadelphia prepares to shut down El Campamento, one of the largest open-air drug markets and shooting galleries on the East Coast. The play follows three library employees in the heart of “The Badlands” who have become first responders to the opioid crisis and witnesses to a changing neighborhood. Badlands examines what we owe to each other, and to the places we come from.

Nora Leahy is a Chicago-based playwright and theatre artist. Nationally, her work has been developed or produced at Lean Ensemble Theater (Hilton Head, SC); The Shuler Theater (Raton, NM); Nashville Story Garden (Nashville, TN); The Arden (Philadelphia, PA); Actors Theatre of Charlotte (Charlotte, NC). In Chicago, her work has been seen at The New Colony, The Greenhouse Theater, Victory Gardens, and Jackalope Theatre Company. Her plays have been nationally recognized, including Badlands (Relentless Award Honorable Mention, 2019); If You Forget Me (Princess Grace Award Semi-Finalist, 2019); and The Bridge (Woodward Newman Award Finalist, 2017).

Nora currently serves as Managing Director of Jackalope Theatre Company in Chicago, a company committed to cultivating theatre that expands the American identity by producing new work that celebrates diverse perspectives. Previously, she served as Business Manager of Lookingglass Theatre Company and Managing Director of Two Pigs Productions. In 2018, Nora was named one of the “50 People Who Really Perform for Chicago Theatre” by NewCity Magazine. www.noraleahy.com

Covenant by York Walker

Executive Producers: Willy Holtzman, June & Steve Wolfson Family Foundation
Associate Producers: Dr. Joe Lex, Joel Witter & James Ijames

Director: Tamilla Woodard
Dramaturg: Michele Volansky
Stage Manager: John Flak
Cast: Sydney Banks, Kimberly S. Fairbanks, Jessica Johnson, Kishia Nixon, Brandon Pierce
Intern: Skylar Resna Jackson

Two years after his sudden disappearance, a guitar player returns to his small town as a blues star, setting into motion rumors that he may have made a deal with the devil to attain his musical genius. Based on the myth of Robert Johnson, Covenant explores the power of belief and tests the thin veil between rumor and truth.

York Walker is a writer based in Harlem, New York. He is currently a member of Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Mentorship Program. His work includes The Séance (Winner of the John Singleton Short Film Competition, 48 Hours… in Harlem), Covenant (Fire This Time Festival, Access Theatre’s 4 Flights Up Festival), White Shoes (Fire This Time Festival), Summer Of ’63 (The Actors Company Theatre’s New TACTics Festival, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville’s Apprentice Reading Series) and Of Dreams To Come (American Conservatory Theatre’s New Work Series). York received his MFA in Acting from the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.

how it feels to fall from the sky by Dominic Finocchiaro

Executive Producer: Elizabeth Anton
Associate Producers: Ari Frazer, Marta & Bill Kiesling, Wendy & Lawrence White

Director: Taylor Reynolds
Dramaturg: Julia Mauro Bumke
Stage Manager: Alec E. Ferrell
Cast: Kevin Bergen, Nancy Boykin, Frank Jimenez, Leigha Kato, Julianna Zinkel
Intern: Donovan Lafferty

After witnessing a woman plummet from the sky, five strangers in New York form a support group to process what they have seen. A melancholic dramedy about loneliness, loss, and the unending possibility of salvation inside human connection.

Dominic Finocchiaro’s full-length plays include angel’s share, brother brother, brut, complex, The Found Dog Ribbon Dance, Gold Person, how it feels to fall from the sky, The Lucky Ladies, mother’s son, and Trees in their youth. His writing has been produced and developed around the country, including with Roundabout Theatre, the New Group, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Echo Theater, the Civilians, Clubbed Thumb, the Lark Play Development Center, the National New Play Network, Portland Center Stage, the Flea Theater, the Kennedy Center, PlayPenn, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Dixon Place, and the Amoralists. MacDowell and UCross Fellow. BA Reed College, MFA Columbia University, Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow at the Juilliard School.

My Mother the Sun by massi monfiletto

Executive Producer: The CHG Charitable Trust, Anonymous
Associate Producers: The Chatham Foundation, Lisa Wershaw & Steve Engelmyer

Director: Jackson Gay
Dramaturg: Gina Pisasale
Stage Manager: John Flak
Cast: Taysha Marie Canales, Suleyka Gómez, Zuleyman Guevara, Richard Henry, J. Hernandez, Anthony Martinez-Briggs, Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez, Iraisa Ann Reilly
Intern: Liv Shoup

When her mother goes missing in the desert between the US/Mexico border, Solana must journey out with a group of activists to bring her back. As her past begins to haunt her, she must undertake an extraordinary transformation in the hopes of keeping her family together.

massi’s a playwright and essayist from Albuquerque, NM currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in theatre about borders and takes her influences from the many incredible Latinx playwrights and poets working to shake up the current theatre scene. My Mother the Sun was recently performed as part of the Echo Theatre’s Young Playwrights in Residence program. Check out her other plays at New Play Exchange, particularly Penelope Clefts Herself in Two Along an Invisible Line (NTI Fall 2017), Las Marthas (Drake University 2018), and Calypso in Harlem (Great Plains Theatre Conference.) Special thanks to Boni Alvarez, who gives sensational advice, and Lourdes Gutierrez-Najera, without whom this play could not have been made.

Take My Hand And Wave Goodbye by Tammy Ryan

Executive Producer: Barbara Klock & Salem Shuchman, Anonymous
Associate Producers: Ashford Wealth Advisors, Moira & Ken Mumma

Director: Jessi D. Hill
Dramaturg: Erin Washburn
Stage Manager: Alec E. Ferrell
Cast: Corinna Burns, David Ingram, Jenna Kuerzi, Campbell O’Hare, Sabrina Profitt, Brett Ashley Robinson
Intern: Gauri Mangala

When Stef is shot down in a random act of gun violence in Pittsburgh, her fifteen year old niece, Cassie, begins dreaming her back into existence. In the months after the shooting, each family member is confronted with the question: “if they had done just one thing differently would there have been a different outcome?” Told with humor and heart, Take My Hand and Wave Goodbye is about the impact of gun violence on one family in Pittsburgh and the difficult necessity of grief.

Tammy Ryan’s plays have been performed across the United States and internationally at such theaters as The Alliance Theater, Florida Stage, Marin Theater, People’s Light and Theater Company, Portland Stage Company, Premiere Stages, Pittsburgh Playhouse and the Repertory Theater of St. Louis among others. Plays include The Wake, Molly’s Hammer, Tar Beach, Soldier’s Heart, Baby’s Blues, and The Music Lesson which received the AATE Distinguished New Play Award. Other honors include The Francesca Primus Prize, and The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Creative Achievement Award. She is a resident playwright of New Dramatists class of 2025.

This Much I Know by Jonathan Spector

Executive Producer: Nancy Boykin & Dan Kern, Jan Rothschild
Associate Producers: Phillip Hawkins & Ronnie Kurchner-Hawkins, Gayle & David Smith

Director: Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Dramaturg: Chelsea Phillips
Stage Manager: Emily Hayes
Cast: Suli Holum, Aubie Merrylees, Bernard White
Intern: Andressa Royer

A man’s investigation into his missing wife launches us on a time-hopping fugue across the 20th century. This Much I Know is an explosively theatrical exploration of how we make decisions, how we change our minds, and how much responsibility we bear for things over which we have no control.

Jonathan Spector is a playwright based in Oakland, California. His plays include Eureka Day (NY Times “Critics’ Pick”, Glickman Award, BATCC Award, TBA Award, Rella Lossy Award), Good. Better. Best. Bested., In From The Cold, and Siesta Key. His work has been produced and developed with Colt Coeur, Roundabout Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Rep, Mosaic Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Custom Made Theater, Mugwumpin, SF Playhouse, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Crowded Fire, and Just Theater, where he is Co-Artistic Director. Jonathan has been a MacDowell Colony Fellow, a Resident Playwright at Playwrights Foundation, and is a recipient of South Coast Rep’s Elizabeth George Commission.

Additional Conference Offerings:

A reading of When We Fall, a work-in-progress by Emma Gibson.

Director: David Bradley
Dramaturg: Michele Volansky
Cast: Anthony Mustafa Adair, Jen Childs, Scott Greer, Susan L. McKey, Bernard White

7.7 billion people on earth and everyone is lonely. Perhaps. Trina definitely is, even though tonight is her birthday and she’s going to party like it’s 1982. But when Andrew and Clare turn up as Superman and Little Bo Peep, the ache of loneliness fills the night. Even Dalir senses it from the roof top, somewhere between London and Pakistan, and now he has to do something about it.
A new play about learning to fly, telling stories, and finding friendship in unexpected places.


Emma is a British theatre-maker, now living in Philadelphia, PA. She has worked as an actress in London, Edinburgh, on tour and for BBC radio drama, and film. In Philly she has performed with many local companies and was the founding producing artistic director of Tiny Dynamite. Her first play, Water In My Hands, was selected for The Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival (Aug 2018), Spooky Action Theatre (DC) new plays in development series (March 2019) and The Liz Smith reading series with Miranda Theatre Company at The Cherry Lane in NYC (date tbd). She has an MA in creative and critical writing from the University of Southampton (UK), worked as a freelance journalist for The Guardian Newspaper, and also directs Shakespeare at The Shipley School. More at www.britishemma.com

A reading of Flor Underwater, a work-in-progress by Foundry member Lori Felipe-Barkin.

Director: Benjamin Viertel
Dramaturg: Tenara Calem
Cast: Brooke Behmke, Lorenza Bernasconi, Maggie Bofill, Akeem Davis, Idalmis Garcia, Paul Nolan, Opalanietet, Alison Ormsby, Brandon Pierce, Scott R. Sheppard

In Florida, the water is rising, the climate is changing, and Flor and her children are looking to get theirs before it all goes to sh*t. Inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, and intended to be performed in slow rising water, Flor Underwater is a not-too-distant-future re-imagining of America’s loopiest state in crisis as its rednecks, Cubans, Miccosukee Indians, and Mar O Lagans struggle to claim a piece of the state they call home…or what’s left of it. Flor Underwater is a nightmare, yes, but it is above anything else a love song to Florida herself.


Lori has worked as an actor with a number of companies and directors including INTAR Theatre, Team Sunshine LTD., Third Space, Live Source Collective, Josh Fox (Oscar-nominated director of Gasland), and Lars Jan. She has also performed and self-produced her one-woman solo show, The Funeral of Enerio López, in both Philadelphia and New York City. You can hear Lori’s her voice anywhere from television to radio, and she has lent her voice to companies such as Nickelodeon, PBS, Samsung, and more. Lori would like to thank PlayPenn and her cohorts at the Foundry for this extraordinary opportunity. She hopes it is the start of many more years of toil, laughter, and collaboration as a playwright.

"My head is still spinning from the wonderful plays I saw last week. The characters jump in and out of my memory and get me a little dizzy. I'm the guy who told you I shall plan my summer vacations around PlayPenn for the foreseeable future."

-William Clovis, patron