PHILADELPHIA: PlayPenn, the new-play development organization, has announced the six plays and playwrights who will receive workshops as part of the 2020 New Play Development Conference taking place July 7-26. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 timeline, PlayPenn is exploring a variety of options for their upcoming conference as part of their commitment to developing the plays from this year’s Haas Fellows.
“The theatre is an activity that brings people together,” said artistic director Paul Meshejian in a statement. “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 in person, we are committed to communing in support of the development of these six plays and have imaginative ways of doing so.”
Selected from over 700 applicants, the Haas Fellows will develop their plays through workshops with directors, dramaturgs, and professional actors with rehearsal time interspersed with time for writing and meetings. A reading of one additional work-in-progress will also be featured as part of the conference. This year’s plays and fellows are how it feels to fall from the sky by Dominic Finocchiaro, Badlands by Nora Leahy, My Mother the Sun by massi monfiletto, Take My Hand and Wave Goodbye by Tammy Ryan, This Much I Know by Jonathan Spector, and Covenant by York Walker.
Dominic Finocchiaro has been produced and developed around the country, including with Roundabout Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and the Kennedy Center. His play how it feels to fall from the sky is about five strangers in New York who form a support group after witnessing a woman plummet from the sky.
A Chicago-based playwright and theatre artist, Nora Leahy serves as the managing director of Jackalope Theatre Company in Chicago. Her play Badlands follows three library employees who have become witnesses and first responders to the opioid crisis in 2017 Philadelphia.
A playwright and essayist residing in Brooklyn, massi monfiletto specializes in theatre about borders, taking influence from Latinx playwrights and poets. In My Mother the Sun, Solana heads out with a group of activists in search of her mother after her mother goes missing in the desert between the U.S./Mexico border.
Tammy Ryan, whose plays have been performed at the Alliance Theater, Marin Theater, and the Repertory Theater of St. Louis, among others, is a resident playwright of New Dramatists class of 2025. Take My Hand and Wave Goodbye looks at the effect of gun violence on a family as family members ask themselves if there had been one thing they could have done differently to change the outcome.
Based in Oakland, Jonathan Spector’s work has been produced at Roundabout Theatre Company, South Coast Rep, and Berkeley Rep, among others. His play This Much I Know is a theatrical, time-hopping take on one man’s investigation into his missing wife.
York Walker, based in Harlem, is currently a member of Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Mentorship Program. His play Covenant, based on the myth of Robert Johnson, explores whether a guitar player who returns to his small town home after a sudden disappearance two years ago made a deal with the devil to become a blues star.
This year’s additional offering will be When We Fall, a work-in-progress by Emma Gibson, about telling stories and finding friendship in unexpected places.
A new play from a member of the Philadelphia residency program The Foundry will also be developed. That selection will be announced at a later date.
PlayPenn, founded in 2005, is committed to developing new plays and playwrights.