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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 Shakespeare Theatre Company, the Washington Ballet, Olney Theatre and the Karlin Music Theatre in Prague. Recent projects include the inter-disciplinary Once Wild: Isadora in Russia, named “a bold new work of art” by the Washington Post. His work for television includes documentaries on artists Van Gogh, Cassatt, Sargent and Cezanne. He received the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play for In The Garden and his Nijinsky’s Last Dance won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Play. Allen’s work in musical theater includes the books for Frank Wildhorn’s Carmen; the concert adaptation of Sweet Adeline at Encores!, New York City Center; the national tour of Cirque Ingenieux; and The Christmas Carol Rag, featuring a classic ragtime score.

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, wild42hold 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 productions at Rorschach Theatre, Source Theatre, Inkwell Theatre, First Draft, NCDA’s Actors Repertory Theatre, Imagination Stage’s Conservatory, Wayward Theatre, Cherry Red Productions and Young Playwrights Theater, among others. He received his MFA from Goddard College and is faculty at American University and the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts.

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 STAYAn Almost Holy PictureWhen Grace Comes InDream of a Common LanguageAvailable LightThe Rivers and RavinesFaulkner’s BicycleThe Two MarysRain and Darkness and the opera libretto for The End of The Affair. Current projects include Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and The Suppressed-Desire Ball. Her work has been produced on Broadway at The Roundabout Theatre, Arena Stage, The McCarter Theatre, Yale Rep, 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 For Emma with Pinky Swear Productions as part of the Tiny House Plays at Boneyard Studios, Nexus (Playwrights' Arena) at Arena Stage as part of the Kogod Cradle Series, Glenmont and What We're Talking About When We Talk About Technology in the DC One Minute Play Festival, The Hollywood for Rorschach Theatre's Six Impossible Things benefit at the Uptown House, an open movement workshop of Dust (Artists’ Bloc) and Followed by a Sometime Cowboy at Forum Theatre’s Re(Acts). Other credits include Stopgap at the Capital Fringe Festival (Field Trip Theatre), Dust (The Inkwell and Artists’ Bloc), Our Father (Field Trip Theatre) and Jim and Paul Meet in Dreams (Field Trip Theatre) at the Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage Festival; John. John. John., Followed by a Sometime Cowboy, and The Bed (Guillotine Theatre) at the National Museum for Women in the Arts; Apocalypse 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. The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities named Danielle a finalist for the Larry Neal Writers’ Award for Dramatic Writing in both 2012 and 2014. Upcoming productions include Nexus (dir. David Snider) at Hubbard Hall, and Squares with dog & pony dc.

Shawn NorthripSHAWN NORTHRIP is a playwright and composer with an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from New York University and BA from Catholic University of America. His punk musical Titus X appeared at Source Theatre Company and Off-Off Broadway at Chashama and the Tank, and is anthologized by New York Theatre Experience. His middle school musical Lunch 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 Best Musical at the Second Annual Capital Fringe Festival and appeared in Round House's Silver Spring Series. Shawn also has ongoing collaborations with DC’s Molotov Theater Group: The Horrors of Online Dating, The Red Velvet Curtain, An Adaptation of Julius Caesar, and (coming soon) Oedipus Rocks (working title); with comedian Katie Molinaro: On the Rag to Riches and R.I.P (really into partying); and with the Brazen-faced Varlets of Buffalo, New York. When not writing, Shawn teachers theater at George Mason High School in Falls Church, VA. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

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