New Play Development Conference to be Held in Austin

By: Dec. 18, 2015
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Playwrights Kirk Lynn, Martín Zimmerman, and Joanna Garner will workshop new plays as part of the inaugural groundswell playwrights conference (GPC) January 17-23, 2016, in Austin, Texas. The conference is a new initiative to connect the work of artists from The University of Texas at Austin MFA theatre program with the Austin and national theatre communities.

The conference was founded on the notion of prioritizing writers over the selection of a specific script. Members of the newly formed Austin-based groundswell company invited three playwrights-a UT alum, a faculty member, and a current graduate student-and offered time and resources to work on whatever they want.

"Many play development opportunities are all about the play you submit," said groundswell founder Jess Hutchinson, a 2015 graduate of The University of Texas, Austin, MFA directing program. "We want to champion writers we love and trust them to bring in whatever strikes their fancy-a passion project; the play that they want to cheat on their other plays with."

An artist-centric celebration of adventure and collaboration mirrors the aesthetics of UT's MFA programs. Using the resources of the UT Theatre & Dance department-including a smart and responsive audience of students, staff, faculty, and local supporters-the conference capitalizes on the experimentation and discovery fostered at UT, and the innovation and risk-taking that is a hallmark of Austin's arts scene.

Writers will collaborate with a director, dramaturg, actors, and designers throughout a week of rehearsals in order to develop their play in whatever way makes the most sense for the piece.

On Saturday, January 23, the three plays will be presented on the UT campus as readings in a marathon celebration of new work. The readings will be free and open to the public. Attendees will engage in discussions with the writers throughout the day and in the evening gather for a party and networking event. Reservations are strongly encouraged by visiting

GPC is produced in collaboration between groundswell and UT's Department of Theatre and Dance.

"UT/Austin is proud to be one of the most widely-celebrated and artistically ambitious MFA programs in the country," said Steven Dietz, playwright and University of Texas professor. "We have alums on Broadway, Off-Broadway, at major regional theaters and festivals - theatre-makers of the first rank who are bringing the Austin spirit of boldness, rigor and renegade generosity to the field as a whole. Groundswell is offering a great opportunity to bring together alumni, friends, colleagues and national advocates for an early glimpse of the plays that the American theatre will soon be talking about."

Noted UT alums include Lisa D'Amour, George Brant, Frances Cowhig, Andrew Hinderaker, Abe Koogler, Kimber Lee, and director Will Davis.


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