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Playwrights' ArenaNurturing the development of emerging playwrights

Playwrights’ Arena is the newest new play initiative developed by the American Voices New Play Institute. Centering on a small collaborative group of local playwrights dedicated to the support and development of each other’s work, Playwrights’ Arena, facilitated by Director of Artistic Programming Robert Barry Fleming will meet throughout the year to investigate each other’s work and develop their dramaturgical practice as playwrights while creating new work. Playwrights’ Arena will launch its second round in February 2015 with up to five D.C.-area playwrights.

To apply for Playwrights’ Arena,
please submit the following:

  • Résumé (including playwriting)
  • Proof of at least one professional production (program, reviews, etc.); in this case we are defining “professional” as a fully staged production for which an audience paid to see the work
  • At least one professional review of the playwright’s work (can be written by a blogger or professional critic)
  • Example of previous work via three scenes (either a three-scene play or three scenes excerpted from existing play written by playwright)
  • In 500 words or less, a proposal outlining why the playwright wants to participate in Playwrights’ Arena, including an idea or ideas for a new play the playwright might like to develop during Playwrights’ Arena
  • Proof of residence within the Greater Washington region (copy of utility bill or pay stub, etc.)
  • Three letters of recommendation from people familiar with the playwright’s work

Playwrights’ Arena inaugural group

Norman AllenNORMAN ALLEN’s work has been commissioned and produced by the Kennedy Center (The Light of Excalibur), the Shakespeare Theatre Company (On the Eve of Friday Morning), and the Karlin Music Theatre in Prague, where his contemporary Carmen (score by Wildhorn & Murphy) ran for four years. While playwright-in-residence at Signature Theatre, Allen premiered Melville Slept Here, Nijinsky's Last Dance (Helen Hayes Award, Outstanding Play) and In the Garden (Charles MacArthur Award, Outstanding New Play). Current and upcoming projects include an adaptation of George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda; productions of Carmen in Japan and Korea; and the premiere of Once Wild: Isadora Duncan in Russia with Word Dance Theatre. In addition to his work for the stage, Allen has provided essays and commentary for WAMU-FM (NPR), and for national publications, including Smithsonian and The Washington Post.

Randy BakerRANDY BAKER is a playwright, director and the co-Artistic Director of Rorschach Theatre which he founded with Jenny McConnell Frederick. Plays he has written include Forgotten Kingdoms, The Burning Road, The First Disobedience, The Gate and Dream Sailors. His plays have been produced at Rorschach Theatre, Source Theatre, Forum Theatre (re)acts, Extreme Exchange, Three Leaches Theatre (Colorado), George Washington University and The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. He has had readings and workshops at National New Play Network, Inkwell Theatre, Theater J, The Arts Club of Washington, Wordsmyth Theater, MTWorks, Primary Stages, American University, Theater Alliance and Rorschach Theatre. He has directed for Rorschach Theatre, Source Theatre, Inkwell Theatre, First Draft, NCDA’s Actors Repertory Theatre, Wayward Theatre, Cherry Red Productions and Young Playwrights Theater where he is a company member.

Jacqueline E. LawtonJACQUELINE E. LAWTON received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. Her plays include Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful; The Devil’s Sweet Water; The Hampton Years; Ira Aldridge: the African Roscius; Lions of Industry, Mothers of Invention; Love Brothers Serenade, Mad Breed and Our Man Beverly Snow. She has received commissions from Active Cultures Theater, Discovery Theater, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of American History, Round House Theatre and Theater J. Her play, Cinder Blocks, was published in Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project (University of Texas Press). A 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color, she has been nominated for the Wendy Wasserstein Prize and a PONY Fellowship from the Lark New Play Development Center.

Heather McDonaldHEATHER MCDONALD’s plays include An Almost Holy Picture, When Grace Comes In, Dream of a Common Language, Available Light, The Rivers and Ravines, Faulkner’s Bicycle, The Two Marys, Rain and Darkness and, upcoming, The Suppressed-Desire Ball. Her work has been produced on Broadway and at such theaters as The Roundabout Theatre, Arena Stage, The McCarter Theatre, Center Stage, The Actors Theatre of Louisville – Humana Festival of New Plays, and many others. Her work has been honored with a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, three NEA Playwriting Fellowships, The First Prize Kesselring Award and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her plays are published by Dramatists Play Service and Samuel French, Inc. She received her MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and is Professor of Theater at George Mason University.

Danielle MohlmanDANIELLE MOHLMAN holds an MA in Theatre Studies from Emerson College. Recent credits include Followed by a Sometime Cowboy at Forum Theatre’s Re(Acts) and Jim and Paul Meet in Dreams (Field Trip Theatre) and The Crow (Artists’ Bloc), both at the Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage Festival. Other credits include Stopgap at the Capital Fringe Festival and The Bed at DC SWAN Day. In 2012, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities awarded Danielle a Larry Neal Writers’ Award for Dramatic Writing. Upcoming productions include Apocalypse, part of 360° of America at the Atlas Intersections Festival, and John. John. John. at Station Nation—a festival honoring the victims of the Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Danielle is a co-moderator of DC-Area Playwrights and Artistic Director of Field Trip Theatre.

Shawn NorthripSHAWN NORTHRIP is a playwright and composer with an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from New York University and BA from Catholic University. His punk musical adaptation of Titus Andronicus appeared at Source Theatre Company and Off-Off Broadway at Chashama and the Tank, and is anthologized by New York Theatre Experience. Lunch, a musical about love in the eighth grade, was developed with support from the Kennedy Center's Kenan Foundation, earned the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust Grant, premiered at the New York Musical Festival, and is published by Playscripts. Cautionary Tales for Adults and the Many Adventures of Trixie Tickles, his parody of children's shows, earned the Audience Choice: Best Musical at the Second Capital Fringe Festival, appeared in Round House's Silver Spring Series, and was Spank!ed by Upright Citizens Brigade.

How to Apply

Please submit all of the required materials
by Friday, December 12, 2014 to:


Attn: Playwrights’ Arena
Artistic Development
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater

1101 Sixth Street SW
Washington, DC 20024

No phone calls, please.

Artistic Development