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About the Conference

Thank you for joining us for the 2017 Conference. To stay in the loop on upcoming events, please sign up for our mailing list.

PlayPenn's annual conference takes place over a two-and-a-half-week period each July in Philadelphia. The conference includes workshops and readings of six plays, additional readings of up to three works-in-progress, forums for artists, and a symposium on new play development issues. 

Each summer, six playwrights are invited to work with a director, dramaturg, and designers to develop a specific play, which will be chosen through a rigorous selection process. A three-day pre-conference retreat for playwrights, dramaturgs, directors, and designers begins the conference. Following the retreat, the playwrights then develop their plays through in-depth workshops with directors, dramaturgs, designers, and professional actors from the local theatre community, rehearsing a maximum of 29 hours. Rehearsal time is interspersed with significant amounts of time for writing and for meetings - both formal and informal - between the writers and their creative teams. Each of the six plays is given two free public readings, one at the conference midpoint and the other at the end of the development period.

Additional Readings

In addition to developing new plays through workshops, we also offer as many as three readings of works-in-progress.

The readings are open to the public, free of charge, and will be publicized with the other events in the conference through our website, mailings, and press releases. Plays that have been read in this context include Willy Holtzman's THE MORINI STRAD, Bruce Graham's THE OUTGOING TIDE, Tom Gibbons' THE UNCANNY VALLEY and other additional readings. Each summer, one additional reading will be given to a work-in-process by a member of The Foundry, one of Philadephia's newest organizations for playwrights.


Internal to the conference, we schedule two moderated artist forums, which focus on playwrights/dramaturgs and directors/designers, respectively. Finally, we also offer at least one public symposium as a part of the conference, focusing on topics of interest to theatre professionals and enthusiasts and featuring panelists from the local, regional, and national arenas.

My life is divided into BP and AP – Before Playpenn and After PlayPenn. Before PlayPenn I never had my work discussed and examined with such clarity, insight and care. I never had the chance to spend such an extensive amount of time focusing exclusively on my writing. I had never worked with a dramaturg before – and I kinda hit the jackpot, Michele Volansky is an amazing advocate for new plays and playwrights. After PlayPenn I write with a greater sense of purpose and responsibility. - Jonathan James Norton, Playwright

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