2019 New Play Development Conference

    PlayPenn is proud to announce our 2019 Plays and Haas Fellows

    Archipelago by Amy E. Witting

    Three individuals isolated in their own pain come together in hopes of raising each other up before tearing each other down.

    Amy E. Witting resides in Queens where she received a QAF New Work Grant for her documentary play, Sunnyside Impressions. Other work includes Anne Page Hates Fun (American Shakespeare Center World Premiere), The House on the Hill (CATF World Premiere, Atlantic Theater Commission, NNPN Showcase, The Kennedy Center ACTF/NNPN MFA Alumni Playwright Workshop), and A Bad Night (NY Rep Workshop, MTC Creative Space). Her plays have been developed at Atlantic Theater, The Lark Play Development Center, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Tofte Lake Center, Roundabout Theatre, National New Play Network, Abingdon Theatre, and The Kennedy Center. She received her MFA in playwriting from Hunter College.

    Cave Canem by A. Emmanuel Leadon

    After a shocking confession from Clayton on the night of the presidential election, his next-door neighbor Jermichael cut off their lifelong friendship. In the present, Clayton has been caring for his brother’s obstreperous and possibly bigoted dog, while Jermichael has just been granted partial custody of his estranged son. They struggle to bottle their resentments before their collective rage takes complete control.

    A. Emmanuel Leadon is a writer, portraitist, and cartoonist from Dallas, whose art investigates mythologies and reframes them around topics of sexuality, class, and race. His theatrical works have been developed at Sitting Shotgun, Quick Silver Theater Company, and Yale University. He has been a finalist for the Downtown Urban Arts Festival and Young Playwrights Inc. Competition, a two-time semifinalist for the Blue Ink Award, and shortlisted for the Relentless Award. He is an alumnus of Yale College and the Townview School for the Talented and Gifted.

    Incendiary by Dave Harris

    Incendiary tells the journey of a Black single mother who is preparing to break her deathrow-bound son out of prison. She navigates the practical steps of planning her son’s prison break, like purchasing guns, getting a personal trainer, and preparing her daughter for a lonely life ahead. A collision between the absurd and the tragic, Incendiary explores generational violence, heroism, and the gendered expectations of emotional labor in Black families.

    Dave Harris is a poet and playwright from West Philly. His plays include Everybody Black (World Premiere: Actor’s Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival 2019, Kennedy Center Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award and Mark Twain Playwriting Award), White History (Manhattan Theater Club Reading Series, Victory Gardens Ignition Festival), Incendiary (Venturous Fellowship at The Lark, NNPN/The Kennedy Center MFA Workshop), Exception to the Rule (Roundabout Underground Reading Series), and Tambo & Bones (Black Swan Lab at Oregon Shakespeare Fest, SPACE on Ryder Farm) amongst others. His first full-length collection of poetry, Patricide, will be published in May 2019 from Button Poetry.

    Strange Men by Will Snider

    Harish lives a modest life running a restaurant in a small market town in Uganda. A member of the Indian minority, he is estranged from his family for reasons he prefers not to discuss, and at night he cooks elaborate dinners that he eats alone. When an openly gay Peace Corps volunteer comes to town looking for more than a good meal, Harish’s comfortable routine is broken, and his life is put in danger. Strange Men explores the limits of good intentions and the uneven stakes for Americans living abroad and the people whose lives they touch.

    Will Sniders play How to Use a Knife received a Rolling World Premiere through National New Play Network, won the Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play, and was a finalist for a PEN Center USA Literary Award. Other plays include Death of a Driver (Urban Stages, NYC) and The Big Man (EST’s 35th Marathon of One-Act Plays). He earned a BA in History from Columbia with a specialization in post-colonial East African political history and spent three years working in agricultural microfinance in Kenya and Ethiopia before earning an MFA in Playwriting from UCSD.

    The Piper by Kate Hamill

    See Jane. Plain Jane. Poor Jane. See Jane suffer. See Jane find Harmonix. And then – watch Jane bloom…. Harmonix makes you feel good – better than you’ve ever felt before. With Harmonix, you belong. With Harmonix, you are loved. But at what cost? A woman in crisis finds a spiritual home – and encounters the darkest parts of human (or inhuman?) nature – in this exploration of how groupthink enables cycles of toxic masculinity.

    Kate Hamill is an actor/playwright. Wall Street Journal Playwright of the Year, 2017. Plays include Sense & Sensibility (in which she originated the role of Marianne)—Winner, Off-Broadway Alliance Award; Nominee, Drama League Award; Vanity Fair at the Pearl (originated role of Becky Sharp; Nominee, Off-Broadway Alliance Award), Pride & Prejudice at Primary Stages & HVSF (originated role of Lizzy; Nominee, Off-Broadway Alliance Award); Mansfield Park at Northlight; Little Women at Jungle Theater, Primary Stages. Currently developing: The Odyssey and The Scarlet Letter; a Christmas play called Scrooge for Senate; and several original plays (Prostitute Play, In the Mines, The Piper). Kate was one of the 10 most-produced playwrights in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. www.kate-hamill.com

    Wayfinding by Whitney Rowland

    Jane is an emotionally-numbed new widow. Harrison is an inattentive, self-sabotaging husband. These two strangers collide – both literally and figuratively – tangling their life lines and setting them on a time-bending journey involving an intercontinental plane crash, a magical forest, and a choice that leads them both to an unexpected destination.

    Whitney Rowland is a Minneapolis-based playwright and screenwriter. She has been a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill NPC, UMass PlayLab, Jerome Playwriting Fellowship, and shortlisted for the Theatre503 New Play Award. Her screenplay The Buzzbots was a winner in the CMU/Sloan Screenwriting Contest. Her work has been produced at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, Minnesota Shorts, Northwest Children’s Theater & School, among others; developed at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, Mid-America Theatre Conference, Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, and the Great Plains Theatre Conference. Bachelors from the University of Kansas, MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon.

    Additional Conference Offerings:

    A reading of Buffalo Bill or How To Be A Good Man, a work-in-progress by Meghan Kennedy.

    This provocative coming of age story takes a fresh look at boundaries and culpability when an unorthodox love triangle goes beyond abuse of power and into something entirely in its own category.

    Meghan’s plays include Napoli, Brooklyn (Outer Critics Circle Award nomination, Roundabout Theatre, Long Wharf Theater, upcoming London production) Too Much, Too Much, Too Many (Roundabout Theatre) Light (winner of David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize). Meghan is currently under commission from the Roundabout Theatre Company, and The Geffen Playhouse. Her plays are published by Dramatists Play Service and have been produced around the U.S., Ireland and Sweden. She is an alum of Page 73 and Ars Nova. Her TV credits include “Rise” (NBC) and the upcoming Apple series “Little Voice” (from J.J. Abrams & Waitress’s Sara Bareilles & Jessie Nelson).

    A reading of Esther Choi and the Fish That Drowned by Foundry playwright Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters.  

    Esther Choi is your favorite all-American, overachieving-Asian teen except she has a ghost. Anthony Gibson is Esther’s best friend and (spoiler alert) he’s dead. Mr. Choi is Esther’s grandfather and he owns a haunted dry cleaner on Cheltenham Ave. In an (un)likely turn of events, Esther must grapple with grief, loneliness, and winning first chair in high school orchestra, all while living up to her grandfather’s new expectations.

    Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters is a playwright with Foundry at PlayPenn and a founding member of Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists (PAPA). Are You My Father or the dream ballet of north korea, received a workshop reading with PlayPenn Education and HBMG Foundation and a residency with PAPA. Keep Me Posted received a staged reading at Philly Asian American Film Festival. Additional work: Dragon’s Eye Theatre, Revamp, and Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival. She currently serves as Lead Artist on PAPA Playwrights Project, is a Barrymore Nominated member of Actor’s Equity Association. Graduate of Bucknell University, London Dramatic Academy, and CAP21.

    The Foundry is PlayPenn’s professional development and membership program for emerging Philadelphia-area playwrights.

    "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