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Proudly Announcing the six Plays and Playwrights for our 2017 Conference!

July 11-30, 2017 
The Drake, a new home for new plays, 302 S. Hicks Street, Philadelphia, PA

Terence Anthony

The House of The Negro Insane

by Terence Anthony

Director: Tamilla Woodard
Dramaturg: Michele Volansky
Executive Producer:  Wyncote Foundation
Associate Producers: Nancy Boykin and Dan Kern, Gretchen and Thomas Quinn
Featured Actors:  Steven Wrights, Jayden Moore, Kishia Nixon, and Ross Beschler

The year is 1935 and the Taft State Hospital is one of seven psychiatric facilities in the U.S. built exclusively to care for "insane and idiotic negroes," where the homeless and downtrodden are housed alongside the criminally insane and diseased.  Attius builds coffins at Taft Hospital, where he has been locked up for over a decade, but when two new patients ask him to help them escape Attius dares to dream of a life beyond the hospital walls.

Terence Anthony has been awarded writing fellowships to the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale Foundation and the Santa Fe Art Institute. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Playwrights Union and the Chicago Dramatists. Terence’s play Burners premiered at Moving Arts/Atwater Village Theatre in April, 2017. His play Euphrates was awarded the Max K. Lerner Playwriting Fellowship in 2013. His play Tombolo was a 2012 Finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Blood and Thunder (2011 LA Weekly Award Winner for “Best Performance” – Candice Afia) premiered at Moving Arts, where it enjoyed a successful six month run in 2009-2010. Terence's work has been seen at the Chicago Dramatists in Chicago, the RADAR L.A. Festival in Los Angeles, the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha, the Without Walls Festival in La Jolla, and the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez.


Hard Cell

by Brent Askari 

Director: Paul Meshejian
Dramaturg: Michele Volansky
Executive Producer:  Anne M. Congdon
Associate Producers: Wendy and Lawrence White
Featured Actors:  Owais Ahmed, Kimberly Gilbert, Adam Howard, Sabrina Profitt, and Steven Rishard

Hard Cell is a comedy concerning Nick Abtahi, an Iranian-American professor whose car breaks down during a cross-country road trip. When a tough local thug falsely identifies the mild-mannered Nick as a terrorist – and threatens his life -- Nick feels he has no choice but to pose as a bomb-wielding terrorist merely to stay alive!  As the situation spirals out of control, Nick uses his attackers’ own Islamophobic stereotypes and fears against them, manipulating the situation in order to survive a modern American nightmare.

Brent Askari’s play Digby’s Home was a semi-finalist in the O’Neill Playwriting Conference and produced at Mad Horse Theatre. His play Cocktails and Travails won the Neil Simon Festival’s National New Play Contest and was produced at The Theater Project. His play Dirty Deeds Downeast (then titled Island Blue) was part of The Different Festival in Santa Fe. Brent has been a finalist in the Samuel French Short Play Festival, the Reva Shiner Comedy Award, and the Mountain Playhouse International Comedy Playwriting Contest. He was part of HBO’s New Writers Project and has written scripts for Paramount Pictures, Marvel Films, MTV, and Reveille Entertainment. 

Headshot Christine Evans


by Christine Evans

Director: Eleanor Holdridge
Dramaturg: Tessa LaNeve
Executive Producer:  Anne M. Congdon
Associate Producers: Joseph Zebrowitz, MD
Featured Actors:  Mary Tuomanen, Andrew Criss, Daniel Frederick, Sabrina Profitt, and Melanye Finister

Galilee takes place amidst the the competing pressures of climate change and economic survival in a small Australian coastal town on the Great Barrier Reef. As the sea temperatures rise and the world’s first hybrid black-fin sharks appear, biology student Carol, her mother Mardy, and the old-time diver Jimmy struggle with their own decisions—fight, flee, or adapt to the changing environment?

Christine Evans is an internationally produced and published playwright and novelist. Selected theatres producing her work include American Repertory Theater (ART), HERE Arts, NYC, Crowded Fire, Spooky Action Theater, Perishable Theater, Chaskis Theatre at Arts Above and Playbox Theater (UK). In Australia: Belvoir Street, the Adelaide International Festival of the Arts, Vitalstatistix and Darwin Theatre Company. Awards include the Rella Lossy Playwrights Award, the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, “Plays for the 21st Century” Award, and two RISCA Playwriting Fellowships. Christine taught at Harvard from 2007-12 and is on faculty at Georgetown University. Her first novel, Cloudless, was published in 2015. 

CA Johnson headshot


by C.A. Johnson 

Director: Benjamin Kamine
Dramaturg: Val Dunn
Executive Producer:  Richard and Laura Vague
Associate Producers: Carol Baker and Mark Stein, Jan Rothschild
Featured Actors: Aimé Donna Kelly, Leah Walton, Aaron Bell, Akeem Davis, Dwayne Thomas, and Abdul Sesay

Samira and Greta lead a peaceful life. They have their own clearing in the woods, their own hut, and their son Kalil to keep them laughing.  When Kalil returns home one day without their water rations, however, Samira and Greta find themselves in conflict with the local political leader. Set in a tense segregated society, Thirst is a complex look at race and love in war-time.

C. A. Johnson is a Louisiana native currently living in Queens. Her plays include Gossamer, Mother Tongue, The Climb, Waitin’ On The Moon, Elroy Learn His Name and Thirst. She is The Lark's 2016 Van Lier Playwriting Fellow, a member of The Civilians’ 2016-2017 R & D Group, and a 2016-2017 Dramatists Guild Fellow. Her work has been developed at NYU Tisch, The Lark, Open Bar Theatricals, UC San Diego, and The Fire This Time Festival. C.A. was also a Mellon Mays undergraduate fellow and the winner of a Legacy Prize from The Creativity Foundation. BA: Smith College MFA: NYU



by Carter W. Lewis

Director: Skip Greer
Dramaturg: Gina Pisasale
Executive Producer: Jeanne Ruddy and Victor Keen
Associate Producers: Steven Engelmyer and Lisa Wershaw, Philip Hawkins and Ronnie Kurchner-Hawkins
Featured Actors: Laural Merlington and David Howey

Clifford and Minnie devolve into a world of often hysterical but ultimately heartbreaking minutiae as they navigate a blizzard, a dead son, a rat in the kitchen and a half decorated Christmas tree, to find dignity in their final days.

Carter W. Lewis is currently Playwright-in-Residence at Washington University. Previously, he was Literary Manager & Playwright-in-Residence for The Geva Theatre Center (NY), and was co-founder and Resident Playwright for Upstart Stage in Berkeley, California. He has won several national awards including The Julie Harris - Playwriting Award, The State Theatre - Best New American Play, The Cincinnati Playhouse Rosenthal New Play Prize (1996 & 2001), New Dramatist Playwriting Award, Playwright’s Center Jerome Residency, and is a two-time nominee for the American Theatre Critics Award.  He has had close to 200 productions of his plays nationwide. Carter lives in St. Louis with his dog, Bucket.

Norton Headshot2

penny candy

by Jonathan Norton

Director: Derrick Sanders
Dramaturg: Elaina Di Monaco
Executive Producer: Willy Holtzman
Associate Producers: Anonymous, The Chatham Foundation
Featured Actors: Melanye Finister, Aaron Bell, Joilet Harris, Steven Wright, DevinRe Adams, Aimé Donna Kelly, Jayden Moore, Ife Foy, and Bren Thomas

1988. Paw-Paw's Candy Tree has seen better days. Operating out of a one-bedroom apartment in a badly-aging apartment complex, business is dropping off as the crack epidemic ravages the neighborhood. Its owner, Dubba J, desperately fights to save the family business. While his wife, Laura Mae, fights to save her family's soul, and she wants out. Set in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas, penny candy explores the conflicting responsibilities of our duty to family and community.

Jonathan Norton’s work has been produced or developed by Dallas Theater Center, PlayPenn, Black and Latino Playwrights Conference, TeCoTheatrical Productions, Castillo Theatre, Soul Rep Theater Company, African American Repertory Theater, and the South Dallas Cultural Center. Jonathan’s play Mississippi Goddamn was a Finalist for the Mimi and Harold Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and won the 2016 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award. Other awards include: Artistic Innovations Grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, SDCC Diaspora Performing Arts Commission, TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund. His play My Tidy List of Terrors was developed at PlayPenn in 2012.

Additional Finalists

The City in the City in the City by Matthew Capodicasa
The Spanish Prayer Book by Angela Davis
One of the Women by Mary Hamilton
Baton by Daneen Danielle Reynolds-Knott
Paper Cut by Andrew Rosendorf
Stewart and Lamb by James Anthony Tyler

Additional Reading

Bobby James

by Anne Marie Cammarato

Director: Ed Sobel
Dramaturg: Michele Volansky
Featured Actors:  Michael Doherty, K.O. DelMarcelle, Aubie Merrylees, Jered McLenigan, Ed Swidey, Sarah Gliko, and Nancy Boykin

Bobby James has a story to tell and he thinks you need to hear it. In post-fact America, this ordinary appliance salesman finds himself in extraordinary circumstances, when he begins to wonder whose experiences actually represent the truth. As he digs into his beliefs and works to help a soldier in danger, he questions the loyalty and trustworthiness of those around him. He hopes you’ll listen to his cautionary tale and decide for yourself what it means to be an American hero.

Anne Marie Cammarato is a playwright and director, her plays include Milk Pie, A Scar, 10 Months, and The Big Room, among others. Her work includes development at PlayPenn and Resident Ensemble Players, and productions at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Madison Rep, Theatre X, Milwaukee Rep, and Delaware Theatre Company. Anne Marie studied at NCSA, NYU, and is currently at Temple University. She was a finalist for the Leah Ryan Fund prize (2015), nominated for the Kilroy’s List (2014) and for the Emerald Prize at Seattle Public Theatre (2016). Her work has been nominated for multiple Barrymore Awards, and she was a Literary Fellow in Playwriting for the State of Delaware (2012).

Foundry Reading

Pancake Queen

by Brie Knight

Director: Christina May
Dramaturg: Jacqueline Goldfinger
Featured Actors:  Kimberly Fairbanks, Eric Kramer, Nicholas Parker, Jake Blouch, Nastassja Baset, and Doug Greene

In 1893 St. Joseph, Missouri, Nancy Green strives to make peace with her painful past so she may live her future as a free woman.  When she finds herself employed by a local milliner, Randolph T. Davis, to portray his new, revolutionary merchandising symbol, Aunt Jemima at the Chicago’s World Fair, her past experiences and future dreams collide.  As Nancy fights to make a life of her own design, she risks being consumed by Aunt Jemima and the past she wants to leave behind.

Brie Knight is a 2nd year member of The Foundry, a Philadelphia Playwright’s Lab.  Her play Pancake Queen received the 2015 Sue Winge Playwriting Award  at Villanova University.  Brie has served as Dramaturgy Intern at People’s Light and is on the Board of Manayunk Theatre Company.  She received her M.A. in theatre from Villanova University.

Special Reading

Bottle Fly

by Jacqueline Goldfinger

We are kicking off the Conference with a reading of a new play from, Jaqueline Golfinger, PlayPenn's Director of Education, and the Philadelphia playwright of this spring's hit The Arsonists and our Barrymore Award-winning Conference play, Slip/Shot. Winner of the 2017 Yale Drama Prize, Goldfinger's new play Bottle Fly is an earthy, cruel and hilarious multi-generational family drama of profound and reckless love. Come see it at PlayPenn before it heads to The National Theatre in London this fall.

Alumni Monologues:  After the Election

The recent presidential election was a catalyst for great social and political action in our country, and one that would inspire varying responses from the creative community. To advance public dialogue, PlayPenn gathered thought-provoking written responses from its alumni playwrights in the form of brief monologues, which encapsulate the themes of displacement and assimilation. After the Election features a selection of monologues, representing a broad range of perspectives, about our current social, cultural, and political climate. The Alumni Monologues are free and open to the public. Reservations encouraged.

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