June 29, 2020
The 16th annual New Play Development Conference, which is put together by PlayPenn, will be held virtually this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The six playwrights who were selected for this year’s program will instead have their plays workshopped and read online. The readings will be presented live virtually from July 20-26 at the conclusion of each developmental process.
The virtual program will employ over 80 artists, most of whom are from Philadelphia, and all readings will benefit the Theater Philadelphia Emergency Relief Program. The initiative is aimed at supporting local theater workers who have seen their income impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
The 2020 in-person edition of the conference was originally scheduled to be held at the Drake Theatre in Philly from July 7-26.
Invited playwrights are given the opportunity to work with a director, designers, and Philly-based professional actors over a 20-day period that allows for rehearsals, workshops, artist forums, and staged reading time.
The process begins with a three-day roundtable that lays out the development process. The program usually includes two publicly-staged readings to assess the development of the play.
PlayPenn usually covers the costs of travel, casting, and housing for playwrights.
Playwrights who were interested in the program had to apply online by last September. The submitted application had to consist of a script, the number of actors needed, a resume, and the play’s development and production history.
The conference, which typically receives 700-800 applications, then goes through a multi-step selection process from October through April that includes local readers, producers, actors, directors, and designers assessing the plays.
Registration for the virtual readings begins on Wednesday on PlayPenn’s website. All public readings are free and open to the public. More information on the playwrights and readings, as well as when they will be held, can be viewed here.