History

    PlayPenn is an artist-driven organization dedicated to the development of new plays and playwrights. PlayPenn fully supports the needs of the writer and the demands of the play in an ever-evolving process within which playwrights can engage in risk taking, boundary-pushing work.

    PlayPenn’s annual new play development Conference and year-round development workshops result in staged readings of at least 10 new plays each year for over 1,800 artists, producers, and theatergoers. Our robust educational programs include in-person and online classes with notable instructors, application assistance, and personalized dramaturgy services, plus The Foundry, a membership group for emerging playwrights resident in Philadelphia – serve nearly 250 playwrights from the region and across the nation. PlayPenn supports artists at all stages of their careers, and our playwrights represent a broad spectrum of cultural, economic, ethnic, and gender experience. In doing so, PlayPenn is working to advance Philadelphia’s reputation as a crossroads for theatre artists.

    Since 2005, PlayPenn has helped to develop over 140 new plays. Nearly 60% of these plays have gone on to more than 350 professional productions at esteemed institutions across the globe, including London’s National Theatre, National Theatre of Israel, English Theatre Berlin, Roundabout Theatre, Lincoln Center Theatre, Atlantic Theatre, Second Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, LaJolla Playhouse, Denver Center Theatre, South Coast Repertory, and a host of theatres in the Philadelphia region. In 2017, PlayPenn celebrated the first of its developed plays to hit a Broadway stage –  and win the Tony Award for Best Play – J.T. Rogers’ Oslo.

    Because PlayPenn does not produce plays, we are able to support the impulses of the artists and the developmental process in their purest form thanks to the experience and dedication of its staff and board, as well as its vast network of advisors and collaborating artists. PlayPenn has strong ties with the Philadelphia Dramatists Center, the National New Play Network, New Dramatists, the Playwrights Center, Bay Area Playwrights Foundation, The Lark, the Philadelphia New Play Initiative, and is a Dramatists Guild of America partner organization.

    PlayPenn playwrights and plays have received their share of awards, publication and recognition, including:

    Tony Award for Best Play: J.T. Rogers (Oslo, PlayPenn 2010)

    Yale-Horn Drama Prize: Jacqueline Goldfinger (PlayPenn, 2011, 2017)

    Whiting Award: Sheila Callaghan (PlayPenn 2005), James Ijames (PlayPenn 2013, 2015), Antoinette Nwandu (PlayPenn 2016)

    MacArthur Fellowship: Samuel D. Hunter (PlayPenn 2010)

    Guggenheim Fellowship: Gabriel Jason Dean (PlayPenn 2013), Jordan Harrison (PlayPenn 2005), J.T. Rogers (PlayPenn 2005, 2009, 2015)

    Independence Fellowship: Jacqueline Goldfinger (PlayPenn 2011, 2017)

    Lilly Award for Playwriting: Lucy Thurber (PlayPenn 2005)

    Pew Fellowship: Katharine Clark Gray (PlayPenn 2008), James Ijames (PlayPenn 2013, 2015)

    Sky Cooper Prize for American Playwriting: Samuel D. Hunter (PlayPenn 2010), Martin Zimmerman (PlayPenn 2012)

    David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize: Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig (PlayPenn 2009), Meghan Kennedy (PlayPenn 2015), Emily Schwend (PlayPenn 2014)

    Smith Prize: Jacqueline Goldfinger (PlayPenn, 2011, 2017)

    American Theatre Critics Association Osborn Award: Mia McCullough (PlayPenn 2012), Jonathan James Norton (PlayPenn 2012)

    American Theatre Critics Association Primus Award: Jennifer Haley (PlayPenn 2008), Lauren Yee (PlayPenn 2011), Stefanie Zadravec (PlayPenn 2011)

    Blackburn Prize: Jennifer Haley (PlayPenn 2008)

    Terrence McNally New Play Award: James Ijames (White, 2015)

    Barrymore Award for Best New Play: R. Eric Thomas (Time is on Our Side, PlayPenn 2015), Michael Hollinger (Ghost-Writer, PlayPenn 2009), Jacqueline Goldfinger (Slip/Shot, PlayPenn 2011)

    Top 10 Plays, New York Times: J.T. Rogers (Oslo, PlayPenn 2015; Blood and Gifts, PlayPenn 2009; The Overwhelming, PlayPenn 2005)

    Top 10 Plays, Time Magazine: (Oslo, PlayPenn 2015; Blood and Gifts, PlayPenn 2009; The Overwhelming, PlayPenn 2005)

    "The staged reading at the end of the conference went spectacularly well...I was aglow for days afterward. The glow wears off, as all glows do (though I clung FIERCELY to this one). However much I miss it, what remains is far more valuable. What remains is my script - tighter, deeper, and more lyrical than ever."

    -John Yearley, Playwright