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We are proud to announce 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

Want to join us for one of our FREE public events during the conference?  Reservations open later this season, but why wait? Gifts of $175 or more qualify you for Donor Priority Access, including early ticket reservations and discounted parking! Make your gift today to take advantage of these benefits!

Terence Anthony

The House of The Negro Insane

by Terence Anthony

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 

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

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 

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

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

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

Playwriting is all too often an isolating activity. Even at playwriting conferences, we authors often meet only briefly before going our separate ways to work on our own pieces. The opportunity that PlayPenn afforded us to spend significant time with other playwrights, comparing notes and making connections that will outlive the conference, before we began work on our plays was as valuable as it is rare. - James McLindon, Playwright

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