PlayPenn to Host 9th Annual New Play Development Conference, 7/12-28


PlayPenn, Philadelphia's professional new play development organization, will hold its ninth annual New Play Development Conference from July 12-28 at the Adrienne Theater (2030 Sansom Street) in Philadelphia. The Conference will feature two-and-a-half weeks of intensive work on six works-in-progress by Gabriel Jason Dean (Terminus); Lisa Dillman (No Such Thing); Deborah Zoe Laufer (Informed Consent); Peter Gil-Sheridan (Cockfight); James Ijames (A Thousand Kinds of Silence); and Joe Waechter (Profiles).

The Conference will culminate in staged readings of the plays on July 25, 26, 27 and 28, which are free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended and can be made online at or by calling 215.253.8838 beginning July 1st.

"The goal of the conference is the development of plays, through a process of collaboration, experimentation, rehearsal and rewriting, rather than offering fully realized productions of finished works. Each year PlayPenn's artistic staff evaluates our developmental process towards an-ever evolving and improved landscape for the next round of Conference playwrights. The needs of the playwright are paramount in our work, which manifests in the provision of a laboratory environment and the tools necessary for playwrights to create without the constraints and pressures of production, promotion and commercial considerations," said Paul Meshejian, Artistic Director of PlayPenn.

Terminus, by Gabriel Jason Dean, tells the tale of Eller Freeman and her bi-racial grandson, Jaybo, who live together down by the railroad tracks. When Eller's health and sanity begin to fade, her tragic and violent past haunts her from the very walls of the old family home. On the verge of discovering love and a place in the world, seventeen-year-old Jaybo struggles to provide what his wily grandmother needs most. Terminus is the second play in The Attapulgus Elegies. Through the lives of the citizens of Attapulgus, the seven-play collection chronicles the demise of a small mill town in Appalachia at the end of the 20th century. Terminus, directed by Lucie Tiberghien and dramaturged by Carrie Chapter, will be read on Saturday, July 27 at 8:00 pm.

Lisa Dillman's No Such Thing introduces us to a middle-aged married woman who takes an anonymous lover and begins an affair that blends sex and storytelling. Fact and fiction collide. No Such Thing examines the question of what makes a story - and the sometimes perilous consequences of finding one's bliss. No Such Thing, directed by Meredith McDonagh and dramaturged by Kittson O'Neill, will be read on Saturday, July 27 at 4:00 pm.

Informed Consent by Deborah Zoe Laufer investigates the genomic breakthroughs that happen at breakneck speed, allowing us to learn more about what our futures may hold than ever before. But how much should we know? And who gets to decide? Inspired by a recent court case between the Havasupai tribe and Arizona State University, Informed Consent takes us into the personal and national debate about science v. belief, and whether our DNA is our destiny. Informed Consent, directed by Sean Daniels and dramaturged by Kathryn Moroney, will be read Friday, July 26 at 8:00 pm.

In Cockfight by Peter Gil-Sheridan, we meet Juanie, a young artist with fabulously drunk parents, who paints on a man-sized egg. But when that egg hatches, the contents shake the fragile world of a family longing to achieve dreams that may be just beyond their grasp. Cockfight, directed by Anna Brenner and dramaturged by Lizzy Pecora, will be read Thursday, July 25 at 8:00 pm.

A Thousand Kinds of Silence by James Ijames places us in Mount Vernon on Christmas Eve, 1800. Martha Washington, widow to the first president, is ailing and surrounded by her half sister, Ann, and a group of faithful slaves who are all too aware that upon her death they will be emancipated. Drifting off into a fever dream where her slaves appear in visions both delightful and terrifying, Martha is taken through the great bend of American history. The irony of freedom in America, is played out by a cross section of characters from history like a three ring circus. A Thousand Kinds of Silence, directed by Niegel Smith and dramaturged by Michele Volansky, will be read Sunday, July 28 at 5:00 pm.

In Profiles by Joe Waechter, it's just another night of popcorn and Jeopardy, when Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins receive a phone call that changes their lives forever. Through turns both harrowing and humorous, Profiles explores how an unthinkable act of violence echoes through the lives of the perpetrator's family, as they struggle to find relief and forgiveness in a rapidly disintegrating world. Profiles, directed by Margot Bordelon and dramaturged by Sarah Mantell, will be read Sunday, July 28 at 2:00 pm.

Each year, PlayPenn also offers readings of plays that are at a stage in their development when the playwright is in need of simply hearing the play read before an audience, rather than engage in the full process of the two-and-a-half week Conference. In 2013, there will be readings of two additional new plays, which have never before presented publicly, including Uncanny Valley by Thomas Gibbons on Monday, July 22 at 7:30pm and Willy Holtzman's The First Mrs. Rochester on Tuesday, July 23 at 7:30pm.

The Conference Symposium will be held on Friday, July 26 at 6:00 PM. Titled "Different Approaches, Different Cities: Are Our New Plays Being Locally Grown," this panel discussion brings together artists and from other new play development organizations, located within and outside of Philadelphia, including Quinn D. Eli, Co-Founder of The Foundry (Philadelphia, PA), Lee Liebeskind, Producing Director at The Inkwell (Washington, DC), and Emily Morse, Director of New Play Development at New Dramatists (New York, NY.) PlayPenn's Director of Education Programs, Sarah Mantell, will moderate.

PlayPenn is an artist-driven organization dedicated to improving the way in which new plays are developed. Employing an ever-evolving process, PlayPenn creates a relaxed tension within which playwrights can engage in risk-taking, boundary-pushing work free from the pressures of commercial consideration. PlayPenn is made possible through the generous support of the Wyncote Foundation and other major funders including, among others, the William Penn Foundation, the Independence Foundation, the Dramatists Guild Fund, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, and The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative. For further information, please call 215.242.2813 or visit

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