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PlayPenn New Play Development Conference Announces 2020 Plays and Haas Fellows

PlayPenn New Play Development Conference Announces 2020 Plays and Haas Fellows

PlayPenn, the new play development organization which assisted in the development of the Tony Award-winning international hit OSLO by J.T. Rogers, has announced their 2020 New Play Development Conference Plays and Haas Fellows. The conference, which takes place July 7 through July 26, 2020, includes workshops of six plays, plus two additional workshops of works-in-progress. Despite the international COVID-19 health crisis, PlayPenn is dedicated and committed to developing these plays, and is currently investigating a variety of options for the upcoming conference.

"The theater is an activity that brings people together," said Artistic Director Paul Meshejian. "Simply put, we will find ways to continue meeting our mission and purpose to support the development of new plays and to present them to you, our audience. Whether or not we are able to gather together in person, we are committed to communing in support of the development of these six plays and have imaginative ways of doing so."

The selection of this year's six Haas Fellows follows an exhaustive evaluation of over 700 applicants for spots in the 2020 16th annual New Play Development Conference. Conference playwrights represent a range of cultural and career experience, which contributes to the creation of a dynamic and diverse community. The plays that will be developed at the Conference are likely to find production on stages across the country, as has been the case for 60% of the 150+ plays PlayPenn has developed since 2005. The playwrights will develop their plays through in-depth workshops with directors, dramaturgs, and professional actors. Ample rehearsal time is interspersed with significant amounts of time for writing and for meetings - both formal and informal - between the writers and their creative teams.

As a result of substantial support from the Wyncote Foundation, the Haas Fellow Program allows PlayPenn to strengthen its role developing new works for the American theater and ensuring that the Haas name is linked to exceptional artists for years to come. PlayPenn recognizes Haas's extraordinary decades-long commitment to the arts and celebrates the support the organization has received from Leonard Haas and Wyncote since its very beginning.

The 2020 Conference plays and Haas Fellows are:

how it feels to fall from the sky by Dominic Finocchiaro: 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.

Badlands by Nora Leahy: 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.

My Mother the Sun by massi monfiletto: 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: 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: 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.

Covenant by York Walker: 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.

An additional offering this year includes When We Fall, a work-in-progress by Emma Gibson. 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 rooftop, somewhere between London and Pakistan, and now he has to do something about it. When We Fall is a new play about learning to fly, telling stories, and finding friendship in unexpected places.

A new play by a member of The Foundry, the three-year residency program for emerging Philadelphia playwrights, will also be developed. This selection will be announced at a later date.

PlayPenn continues to monitor the ongoing global health crisis and will announce in May how they will present the 2020 New Play Development Conference. A variety of options are currently being explored, including workshops via online platforms. Please visit for more details.

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